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Funko Pops: The Plastic Scourge

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Revenant

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I was looking around at pop-culture news on the internet recently as I sometimes like to do, as nerds like me sometimes like to do, and I found an article saying that there’s going to be a Funko Pops movie - it’s going to try to piggy-back on the success of the Lego movies. This has me in the mood to rant a bit. So this is me being my best “super-judger,” as my wife would put it – anyone reading this is forewarned now.

It has been interesting to me that Lego sets have become collectable in recent years and that some of them have appreciated in value quite significantly - to the point that I’m now starting to see articles talking about them as “investments” and that economists have been doing complete studies and publishing papers about the returns they’ve realized. I think the whole thing is a ridiculous and insane bubble that is going to pop and leave some people in tears… but I’m getting off topic.

I like / love comics and comic characters and love watching the superhero movies - much to my wife’s chagrin - but I have not and likely will not ever buy one of these little Funko Pop figures, with their odd, cutesy, chibi-style artwork, that retail for about $8-15 each most of the time. I just see them as mas-produced plastic garbage, the likes of which we already have entirely too much of in the world already.

My brother-in-law does not share my view on this. He collects them, quite avidly. I’ve never been inside this room in their house and I’ve never witnessed it, but supposedly he has an entire room in their house full of boxes of these things. He has so many he has to store them in the boxes, and he can’t even pull them out and display them properly in a way that he might get some kind of enjoyment out of owning them. I find it vaguely insane.

One of the biggest head scratchers for me is that these things occupy a room in his house and my sister lets him get away with this. I think my wife would murder me if we had a room in our house that couldn’t even be used because I was using it just to store my collectables. The smallest room in our home serves multiple functions as an in-home office for me while also being the place where I store photography equipment, coins, coin books, gaming books, and we even keep a twin guest bed in there on top of it all.

At Christmas last year (2018) we got into a discussion about them and he claimed that some of them, some of the ones he has, can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. I think that if someone will actually give him that much for some of them, he should sell them now while the money is good and my sister agrees, but what do we know? I did some research after that conversation and found that there are a handful that collectors of these figures will pay $500 to up to $2,000 for, but these are almost all special, convention exclusive variants with limited productions of 500 or less. I didn’t see any of the off-the-shelf ones that he’s always asking for for Christmas on that list.

To me, these things are a fad. They’re not at all unlike beanie-babies, baseball cards, comics or anything else. They’re popular and new right now, you’re going to see some crazy prices for a while, but, eventually, those prices are going to pop, and they’ll probably never see those high prices again. I think this movie is going to help build-up, hype up and extend the life of that bubble, but, in the long-term, I see these things going the way of the do-do. I wouldn’t want to be collecting them and left holding the bag when that happens.

Don’t get me wrong - I know coin collecting has had its booms and busts over the decades as well and that’s something we all have to watch out for. However, I think those booms and busts in the modern context of coin collecting tend to be more contained to smaller sections of the broader market, in areas that I don’t currently participate in. I don’t think there’s a bubble in the 19th and 20th century European gold coins I’ve been buying for about 20-50% over the spot price of gold. I think we might one day see a crash in the values achieved by modern condition rarities, but I think that’s going to be a problem for people that collect those condition rarities. I guess we’ll see if I’m ever proven wrong there.

My brother-in-law compared his collection of these toys to my coin collecting at one point. Call me biased, but, no. These made-to-be-collected toys will never be the same as 18th, 19th, and early 20th century coinage. They don’t have the artistry. They don’t have the history.

It’s also odd to me though that he feels that his collecting experience is similar to mine. I don’t know if he spends time researching his collection beyond mere price-discovery activities, but it’s hard for me to imagine that there’s much to look into or research there (again, maybe this is my bias showing). But I spend a lot of time with my collection. I spend a lot of time researching it, reading about it, taking pictures of the coins and notes, writing about them here and elsewhere. His Funko Pops sit in boxes.

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I'm with you.....this Funko Pop mania is pretty insane!  I'll admit that I have bought some off the shelf that were what these collectors call "chases" for the purpose of reselling them on eBay.  And they did sell, fast and I made a profit from it too!  But that was a fluke and I'll flip almost anything on eBay provided that it's legal and I can make a little money.  But, yeah, they're a fad.   No doubt, they're a fad.  I first got back into coins around 1999, right at the height of Beanie Baby mania.  I remember people coming into the coin shop I patronized at the time and trading coins, jewelry and bullion for Beanie Babies!  The shop started stocking Beanie Babies because of this.  It was absolutely insane!  I remember someone trading entire rolls of silver Mexican Libertads to get Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant.....I don't remember how many rolls, but it was substantial.  And now where is Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant in relation to many ounces of silver in the form of one of the most collectible silver bullion coin series.  It really makes you think and it should really make anyone spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on Funko Pops think.  Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant sold for a couple grand at one point, if I'm remembering correctly, and this was in the 1990's.  $2,000 in 1999 would be about $3053 today.  Now, Peanut languishes in attics, thrift shops and on eBay, and they're not selling, no matter what the price is aside from one that I saw which sold for $5.99 and one that inexplicably sold for $600......does your brother-in-law shop on eBay?  That's a pretty sobering thought considering that someone 20 years ago may have paid $2,000 for it.  Funko Pops will have their Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event as well......it's just a matter of time.  They've already lasted much longer than I thought they would, though.  But that doesn't mean they're not fads.  Different fads have different expiration dates.

I'd say that your brother-in-laws comparison between coin collecting and Funko Pop collecting was completely off-base.  People have collected coins for thousands of years.  Roman royalty and the wealthy of Roman society collected Roman and Ancient Greek coins.  The hobby goes back that far.  Funko Pops do not have that kind of pedigree and they never will.  These toys aren't even marketed to kids, which would cause at least some attrition.  They're marketed to adults to do with them the very thing your brother-in-law does: fill shelves and a room with them in their little boxes, just staring out at you with their beady little eyes and taking up space.  As far as I know, the only "attrition" that these things have is when people "customize" them.....basically they give them a repaint to make them into another character or a different version of the same character.....the things you learn from flipping these things a couple of times, let me tell you........Funko world is a weird place, even if you only visit for a short while.  People actually make versions of themselves with these things and there's conventions...yes, Funko Pop conventions.  How'd you like to go to one of those?  Those conventions are often the venues where you see people dropping thousands on a single Pop figure.  They are apparently the height of insanity on Planet Funko. 

But, like you William, I have a very hard time looking at my Faustina the Younger collection and seeing how it shares any similarity with Funko Pops aside from being objects that are being collected.  To me, that's where any similarities end.  To me, my Faustina coins are a tangible piece of history and a connection to a time, place and person who I'm absolutely captivated by.  It's amazing to me to think that Faustina herself could have held my coins in her hand, that she could have used them to pay a soldier or a servant or maybe she bought something with them.  Maybe she had one of my coins with her when she was on campaign with her husband Marcus Aurelius, helping to make the hard decisions that could possibly send hundreds of Roman soldiers to their deaths if things went wrong.  Maybe she had one of them with her on her last campaign, in 175 CE, when she had the accident that led to her death.  She probably didn't actually hold any of my individual coins, but she could have.  And that possibility makes them so magical.....and almost any old coin can have that kind of magic.  My coins allow me to make a tangible connection to a person who died 1,805 years before I was born.  Can a Funko Pop do that?  I think we all know the answer.

In closing, I think I share your sentiments on this, as I do with many things my friend.  And I'd like to close with this thought:  I wonder what my numismatic muse would make of Funko Pops in general, and of the people who are nuts about them.  I think the expression on her face would be priceless and we'd all learn some pretty colorful words in Latin :)

~Tom

 

Edited by Mohawk

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I am out of the loop enough that I had to look up the name to see what a Funko Pop was. It is Holland in the 1600s and Tulip Mania all over again.

Edited by Just Bob

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1 hour ago, Just Bob said:

I am out of the loop enough that I had to look up the name to see what it was. It is Holland in the 1600s and Tulip Mania all over again.

Indeed it is Bob, indeed it is!  Tulip Mania is a chronic, recurring disease whose symptoms change slightly each time it comes back around, but it's still recognizable as the same ailment.

Edited by Mohawk

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I am a big-time fanboy of all things DC Comics and went to the San Diego Comic Con for 15 straight years in the 90's and early 2000's.  I have owned hundreds of action figures, statues, and actual comic books but when the Funko Pops first started appearing a decade ago, I had zero interest then and that still holds true.  My focus nowadays is exclusively on coins.  The comics and action figures and statues are mostly gone, just a few things that make me smile.  Coins are King.  (:

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Somehow I am disconnected from this latest fad. Up until this post I had never heard of Funko Pops. I guess I'm not missing much while quality coins will always be in demand.

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2 hours ago, Mokiechan said:

I am a big-time fanboy of all things DC Comics and went to the San Diego Comic Con for 15 straight years in the 90's and early 2000's.  I have owned hundreds of action figures, statues, and actual comic books but when the Funko Pops first started appearing a decade ago, I had zero interest then and that still holds true.  My focus nowadays is exclusively on coins.  The comics and action figures and statues are mostly gone, just a few things that make me smile.  Coins are King.  (:

I know some people that really love one franchise / character from that franchise and they have 1 of these figures on their desk just for fun. I think that's fun / reasonable. Having a room full of these things breaks my brain to some degree.

I love comics - though I'm more a fan of Marvel, having grown up obsessed with Spiderman, Ironman, Ghostrider, and the Punisher - but, if I were to get figurines and such for them, I'd much rather have one of the limited edition figures from Sideshow Collectables or something similar. Those are 12-21" tall and insanely detailed and cool. I'm going to spend $500 on something, I want it to actually look cool. I'd rather have 1 thing and display it with pride than 50+ little figures in boxes.

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So

55 minutes ago, Revenant said:

I know some people that really love one franchise / character from that franchise and they have 1 of these figures on their desk just for fun. I think that's fun / reasonable. Having a room full of these things breaks my brain to some degree.

I love comics - though I'm more a fan of Marvel, having grown up obsessed with Spiderman, Ironman, Ghostrider, and the Punisher - but, if I were to get figurines and such for them, I'd much rather have one of the limited edition figures from Sideshow Collectables or something similar. Those are 12-21" tall and insanely detailed and cool. I'm going to spend $500 on something, I want it to actually look cool. I'd rather have 1 thing and display it with pride than 50+ little figures in boxes.

As you correctly stated, muchof the product they are putting out in the statue arena are just insane in detail and price.  I saw a 1:1 Scale Wonder Woman Bust that looks exactly like Gal.  Price, I think, before shipping is 3500.  The most I ever paid for a statue 1/6 scale, was probably in the high 200s, but that was 15-20 years  ago. 

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4 hours ago, Mokiechan said:

So

As you correctly stated, muchof the product they are putting out in the statue arena are just insane in detail and price.  I saw a 1:1 Scale Wonder Woman Bust that looks exactly like Gal.  Price, I think, before shipping is 3500.  The most I ever paid for a statue 1/6 scale, was probably in the high 200s, but that was 15-20 years  ago. 

 These days a lot of the 1/6th scale stuff seems to run $450-$1,500, depending on the item. Before I found out I was having a kid I really thought about dropping $500 for a Striker Eureka figure from Pacific Rim or a War Machine figurine.

Edited by Revenant

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5 hours ago, gherrmann44 said:

Somehow I am disconnected from this latest fad. Up until this post I had never heard of Funko Pops. I guess I'm not missing much while quality coins will always be in demand.

Oh come on Gary......you don't want to start collecting Funko Pops?  lol

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3 hours ago, Mokiechan said:

So

As you correctly stated, muchof the product they are putting out in the statue arena are just insane in detail and price.  I saw a 1:1 Scale Wonder Woman Bust that looks exactly like Gal.  Price, I think, before shipping is 3500.  The most I ever paid for a statue 1/6 scale, was probably in the high 200s, but that was 15-20 years  ago. 

Though I'm not into comics or superheroes (those never grabbed me) I will admit to considering making a purchase of the Stripe the Gremlin statue that Sideshow put out with JUN Planning a few years ago.  But, I think it was almost $400 and I couldn't justify spending that on a statue of a character just because I loved him as a child.  Now, a nice Faustina the Younger coin, on the other hand.......

Edited by Mohawk

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I'll google funko pop in a moment.  But what's their melt value?

Hard to go too wrong with old gold.  It is kind of remarkable how low over spot mint state graded examples of a lot of late 1800's USA and Euro and even some South American gold is. 

Speaking of LEGOs, I need to move, to get a basement, to store my LEGOS.  But, these are just bags and bags of "circulated" pieces.  Junk Legos.

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On 6/30/2019 at 5:49 PM, deposito said:

I'll google funko pop in a moment.  But what's their melt value?

Hard to go too wrong with old gold.  It is kind of remarkable how low over spot mint state graded examples of a lot of late 1800's USA and Euro and even some South American gold is. 

Speaking of LEGOs, I need to move, to get a basement, to store my LEGOS.  But, these are just bags and bags of "circulated" pieces.  Junk Legos.

Hey Deposito..... 

A Funko Pop's melt value is whatever spot vinyl is at the moment ;).  And, I would agree that a lot of European and South American gold is a great buy right now, but I don't think I'd extend that to US gold.....I strongly think that a lot of the US market is overpriced currently and has been for years and I think that gold is definitely one of those areas.  I also like the idea of "junk legos"......if I scoured my mom's attic, I may even be able to find some of my old "junk duplos" from when I was really little.  My sister and I even had the red, plush rabbit bag to keep our duplos in...but you can imagine how well that actually worked out with a 3 year old and a 5 year old. 

Edited by Mohawk

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My fiancee cracked me up.....I was telling her about this discussion and she looked at me and said "If there was a Faustina the Younger Funko Pop, you'd buy it."

Sadly, I think she's right...........:whatthe:

Edited by Mohawk

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9 hours ago, Mohawk said:

My fiancee cracked me up.....I was telling her about this discussion and she looked at me and said "If there was a Faustina the Younger Funko Pop, you'd buy it."

Sadly, I think she's right...........:whatthe:

Like I said before, I could see owning one of these things if you were really into that character and liked the "art" style. I just would never want dozens.

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4 hours ago, Revenant said:

Like I said before, I could see owning one of these things if you were really into that character and liked the "art" style. I just would never want dozens.

Yeah....one or two wouldn't be bad, just bought as a novelty.  But I don't think that seriously collecting them with the idea they're some kind of an investment is the best idea.

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I just remembered a pretty cool video I saw on YouTube about the whole Funko thing.  This guy isn't a Funko collector or anything.....he examines companies and products and talks about why they're successful or why they failed....things like that.  He puts out a good video, so it may be entertaining for you guys, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ513v8Pquw

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22 hours ago, Mohawk said:

I just remembered a pretty cool video I saw on YouTube about the whole Funko thing.  This guy isn't a Funko collector or anything.....he examines companies and products and talks about why they're successful or why they failed....things like that.  He puts out a good video, so it may be entertaining for you guys, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ513v8Pquw

Company Man always has interesting analysis.  I haven't seen his Funko Pop one so about to watch. 

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26 minutes ago, Mokiechan said:

Company Man always has interesting analysis.  I haven't seen his Funko Pop one so about to watch. 

You dig Company Man too Mokie?  Awesome!  He's one of the best YouTubers going.  I don't follow too many YouTubers, but Company Man is pretty high up on the small list of ones I follow.  He makes a great case for Funko Pops being a fad and the prognosis for the Funko company when the fad bubble pops. 

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1 hour ago, Mohawk said:

You dig Company Man too Mokie?  Awesome!  He's one of the best YouTubers going.  I don't follow too many YouTubers, but Company Man is pretty high up on the small list of ones I follow.  He makes a great case for Funko Pops being a fad and the prognosis for the Funko company when the fad bubble pops. 

Yup Mohawk, I AM A Company Man!!!  Seriously, he always does such a thorough job analyzing his subject but makes it completely accessible to even dullards like me. Very entertaining guy, I also love Great Big Story, Only in Japan, and Curiousity Inc.

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42 minutes ago, Mokiechan said:

Yup Mohawk, I AM A Company Man!!!  Seriously, he always does such a thorough job analyzing his subject but makes it completely accessible to even dullards like me. Very entertaining guy, I also love Great Big Story, Only in Japan, and Curiousity Inc.

I'm going to have to check those channels out as well.  I think we have similar tastes in YouTube content :)

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