funko pop explained

What is Funko Pop?

David Karunaratne

Funko Pop is a product line of bobblehead characters of pop culture icons produced by giants Funko.

Funko themselves are an American-based producer of licensed collectible items, including t-shirts, mugs and others – though, most recognisably, their Funko Pop bobblehead characters.

Initially, back in 1998, the company released its first bobblehead character – the Big Boy mascot (a US restaurant franchise) - and its range has since grown to incorporate almost every well-known, influential figure they can get their hands on a license for. Their bobblehead characters are highly sought-after collectors’ items for both sentimental, but also in some rare cases financial, reasons.

In 2019, thanks to their popularity, Funko also took the leap into board and strategy games with their flagship game Funkoverse, whereby players use Funko Pop characters to work their way around an intense board game.

When and why was Funko founded?

The company was first originally founded after owner Mike Becker was unable to find an affordable piggy bank of the Big Boy restaurants mascot, Big Boy, and instead decided to buy a franchise to make and sell his own. Unfortunately, the idea proved to be a disaster, and the company were quickly forced into filing for bankruptcy. 

However, after acquiring the rights to create bobbleheads for Austin Powers – the comedy British spy film – the company saw a complete turn in fortunes and were quickly able to pull their first profits. 

Owing to the growth in pop and ‘influencer’ culture over the past three or four decades, thanks in turn to the growth of the media and internet, collectible items featuring singers, sportspeople, and other popular characters have exploded in popularity. Funko are just one of many companies that have capitalised on this, and their pop brand has certainly shown itself to be one of the more favourable among consumers within the market.

Who owns Funko?

Funko’s primary owner is now ACON investments, an American private equity company that have diverse holdings across both South and North America, as well as in Europe.

Funko are a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ under the ticker FNKO (Class A).

What different types of Funko Pop collectibles are available?

The Funko Pop brand is most well-known for its wide collection of bobblehead characters featuring famous people and other ‘influencers’. These include singers, rockstars, politicians, TV presenters and alike. There are also Funko Pops available for a wide range of higher-end footballers, such as Paul Pogba, Sergio Agüero, Marcus Rashford and other similar high-profile characters. 

Many will often play on certain visual characteristics, enlarging facial features in a comical, but still respectful, way. Bobbleheads may also come attached to a ‘scene’, purely for visual purposes.

Funko also release other collectibles such as t-shirts, mugs and alike, though their bobblehead Pop range certainly remains their most popular.

How expensive are Funko Pop bobbleheads?

The prices for Funko Pop characters can vary, though they will typically be in and around the $20 mark. Some, however, will be as low as  $14, whilst others can far exceed that number.

Be aware that the price of can fluctuate over longer periods of time – both downwards, but also sometimes upwards

Do Funko Pops appreciate in value?

As with a lot of collectible items, many Funko Pops will appreciate in value over time well over the 2% typical inflation rate in most countries, making them a very worthwhile – and easy to maintain – investment, if that’s your thing.

This means that, though you bought one collectible for a certain price, after a few years of holding it, it may be worth considerably more – and you can pocket the profit and keep for yourself! Whilst the profit may not be huge on just one character, if investing in a diverse range of Funko Pops and selling them all after appreciation in value, there could be some serious money to be made. 

Be aware, though, that this will not always be the case – and there will be many that may even lose value over time. If you are in collectibles purely for the financial benefits and potential money-making side of it, it’s well worth having a discussion with an expert before making any sort of purchase to gauge what they think will happen to the price.

As with stocks, index funds, houses, or any other investment it comes with a huge risk - but the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward! Ultimately, your money is probably much better off somewhere else if looking to invest it – but, if you have a keen interest in pop culture and enjoy collecting such figures, it could be a fun little side hustle if done right.

Why do people collect Funko Pop characters and similar products?

Whilst there can be the financial benefits, for many it is purely the enjoyment of collecting and holding items related to their favourite films, sports, and other aspects of popular culture.

Of course, with regards to special and one-off ‘con’ (convention) characters, it can very much be the excitement of holding something that very few people in the world do – and is very sought after by other collectors!

How do I start a Funko Pop collection?

There really isn’t too much to it! Funko Pops are easy to find online and buy, and most won’t set you back too far financially.

Most people will begin by starting out within a certain theme, such as football, politics, a certain period of history, or a certain TV show/franchise. From there, you can branch into other themes and slowly grow your collection over time!

Are Funko Pop characters licensed?

Yes – by law, Funko hold a license for each of their characters used, acting within all copyright legislation. Of course, though, there are a number of fakes across the market that are unlicensed – always make sure to verify legitimacy before making a purchase. 

Do Funko ever run exclusives for certain events?

Yes, they do! As briefly mentioned before, for specific events, typically conventions such as Comic Con, Funko will release one-off, limited edition characters that can be collected as a memoire of the event. These are, of course, considerably more expensive than their less luxurious, easier to find counterparts, so don’t be surprised if you have to fork out a bit more for them.

Such items are likely to see huge increases in value over a long period of time – this is not always the case, though, so do be aware of that.