Barney the Dinosaur. Pauly Shore. Papa John’s Pizza. For one reason or another, there are certain brands in our culture that inspire a universal ire. These names are jokes, thrown around as if they were the lowest of the low in terms of quality. As we’ve definitely learned in the age of the Internet, endlessly repeated ideas permeate to the surface, even if they’re not completely true. While we’ve all accepted the fact that people “hate” these things, you can find Pauly Shore apologists. You can find people who genuinely enjoy Papa John’s Pizza. You can even find people who love Funko Pops.
Yes, Funko Pops. The dead-eyed big headed vinyl figures that you can find in every store in America. The same product that is basically keeping GameStop from fully collapsing. How could anyone defend these figures? Who would want to purchase cheap collectibles that reference more things than an episode of Family Guy? Who wants interchangeable little standees that all look exactly the same? If you agree with this sentiment, you’re not alone, but have you really thought about it? Are Funko Pops really offensive to you, or are they just easy to hate? As a self-proclaimed collector who has purchased more than a few Pops myself, here are a few reasons why your Funko hatred might just be outdated.
Funko has flair in 2019
One of the most common things I’ve heard when someone expresses hatred for Funko Pops is how they all look the same. I will admit, in the early years, this was not a lie. Going back to the early days of the toy line, you can see a lot of designs that lack variation or a real sense of identity. The early take on Marvel’s Phoenix is a prime example of that. Standard hair, standard pose, and flat coloring make it barely recognizable as the force of nature that is Jean Grey.
Thanks to the release of Dark Phoenix, Funko had a chance to release a new design based on the same character. The difference is night and day. The standard black eyes are turned into empty white vessels. The once yellow boots and sash are now bright gold. The generic action pose gives way to the character hovering in the air, complete with firey wings. There is no mistaking who this is supposed to be, and this level of detail is the norm for the figures in 2019.
Obscurity rules the Funko roost
Historically, a toy company will wait out a new franchise before putting a lot into their output. Even if a new phenomenon gets a line of figures, the focus tends to be set primarily on main characters. It’s a very old rule, everyone is going to want Optimus Prime and Megatron, but not everyone is going to be dying for Starscream and Jazz. Funko has been proving that rule outdated pretty much from its inception by releasing merch based on insanely obscure and unproven franchises.
Do you want a full set of characters from Disney’s 2015 flop Tomorrowland? Funko has your back. Are you seeking a Paul Feig figure to round out your shrine to Bridesmaids? Don’t even worry about it. How about celebrating ten years as a Target employee for some reason? Why not get a Funko? Is it your history teacher’s birthday? Why not let them enjoy a big head George Washington? Even ridiculously popular franchises can get into the realms of the obscure. You could just get a regular Spongebob figure, or you could get the specific Spongebob from Band Geeks. The examples never stop, and that’s part of the fun.
Pops are the action figures of your childhood dreams
If you’ve ever been into action figures at all, the Funko Pop line is basically an insane pipedream of a concept. When staging an epic crossover battle in your bedroom, you want Luke Skywalker to take on He-Man. Unfortunately, due to each line of figures having a different scale, these match-ups never felt right. Now, while I’m not saying that kids everywhere are “playing” with Funko Pops, it’s still unfathomably cool that there’s a single type of figure that encompasses every movie, TV show, video game and sports team in existence. My shelf can have Spider-Man, The Joker, Jack Burton, and Ric Flair all standing side by side and nothing looks out of place. It’s nuts.
On top of all that, unless you’re really digging into the vault, Funko Pops are crazy cheap. For some of these characters, you can drop around $12 on Funko’s offering or dish out hundreds for a more accurately proportioned statue. There’s really no in-between. So, even if you still think Funko Pops are the devil, look at it from a kid’s perspective. This is a line of hardy figurines that don’t break the bank and instantly represent whatever weird nonsense you’re into. Is that really worth raising a stink over? I think not.