I collect Funko Pops! If your not aware of them they are these little 3 1/2″ tall vinyl figures that have tiny little bodies and big heads. Yes, they are kind of odd but a lot of people really dig these things, me included. They cost anywhere from $8 to $15 new and have taken the world of toy collecting by storm since they started making them. They are released in waves of 5 – 6 at a time for a multitude of different licenses. Some of the more popular lines include Marvel Superheroes, DC Heroes, The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Disney, and many other TV and Movie licenses.
I am starting to see a trend however that I do not like in the hobby. It is something I have noticed along the way over the last year or so since I have gotten into these things. That trend is a thing known as the ‘exclusive’ or ‘variant’ figure.
Funko, it seems, likes to produce ‘exclusive’ Pops! for what seems like just about everything. Online retailers have them, Brick and Mortar stores like Hot Topic and Barnes and Noble have them. Any comic book shop worth anything will carry them. Stan Lee has about a billion of them dedicated to him and they produce them for many of the more popular nerd gatherings. San Diego Comic Con being the biggest.
In a nutshell and to save some words here is my bitch.
- Exclusives are not really exclusive if they can be bought on multiple web sites, stores and at events at the same time. This last few days of San Diego Comic Con 2014 has shown me this. Not only have I not seen any numbers on how many of each of these things they release, but it seems like they simply are interested in putting a SDDC sticker on the box and then charging us consumers an extra $5 dollars per figure. It is more than annoying when I as a person take time out of my day to log in to a website at a specific time to purchase SDCC exclusives of which they are supposedly only selling a small amount of and jumping through the hoops involved only to find out that Barnes and Noble booksellers has a dozen each of the same figures with the same SDCC sticker on it sitting on its shelves for a cheaper price than said website did. This seems more than a little fishy to me.
- Secondly is a complaint about the so called variants produced for people to collect. The bigger websites sometimes have special paint variants of figures made for people to collect. The ‘Walking Dead’ line comes directly to my mind on this one. My problem with this line in particular is two fold. 1. taking a normal figure from the series and splattering some red paint on it and calling it “Bloody” is just lazy. 2. Doing it to literally every figure in the series in order to essentially make the completionist collectors of us out there buy the set twice is just fucking greedy. Its akin to the trend the comic industry went through when they raised prices, shortened page count and produced 8 different cover variants for each comic book. Guess who does not collect Comic Books anymore. The pictures below illustrate what I am talking about perfectly.
Personally I would like to see a few small changes. I would like to see number runs of each piece printed/stamped on the figures or maybe start sealing the boxes and print them on the box themselves. Are they making 50,000 of this one or 500? Yes, the Out of box collectors wont like this but they still would have the choice as always to break the box open or not. I would also like the variants and exclusives to truly be what they say they are. A bad repaint is not what I want, especially something as lame as a wet brush splatter.
I wonder if Funko is trying to fill a gap in the collector world by trying to provide enough product for literally everyone who wants to buy one of these things. I hope not. This will only flood the market and bring the after market value of these fun collectible toys down to nothingness. No one wants to ‘collect’ something that is always going to be worthless and can be found on the discount shelf at your local Wal-Mart. The chase part of collecting is a large part of why people collect. If its not a challenge then people will stop buying and lose interest all together.
I enjoy the hell out of this hobby but I have had to drastically reduce the number I buy recently and decided to only collect 2 specific lines of Pops! in particular. This was done partly out of frustration to Funko’s marketing of these things.
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