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  • Writer's pictureSubZero Comics

A Complete Beginner's Guide to Funko Collecting

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

So you're at your local department store and see a section that's filled with Funkos. You like their cute appeal and low price tag but are on the fence about buying some. Or maybe you've already bought a few Funko Pops and are debating on whether they're worth collecting. Regardless of your situation, if you're someone who is contemplating getting into the world of Funko Pops, then you've come to the right place. This article will provide insight into buying Funko Pops from our years of experience in the collectibles industry.

We should start by noting that Funko Pops are fun collectibles if you're looking to get into them, but collecting depends on your situation (that goes for any collectible). We don't recommend investing in something like Funko Pops for the sake of making money. You should try to collect something you're passionate about, as it makes things much easier (be sure to read the rest of our article if you want more collecting tips).

We want to remind everyone that all of our blog articles are purely for entertainment purposes only. You should not make any financial decisions based on any of our blogs. If you want to start collecting Funko Pops (or any collectibles), be sure to consult multiple sources and make an educated decision based on your research. We do not give investment advice on our website, so please do not ask for our opinion(s). Asking strangers for investment advice is usually a bad idea anyway.

If you ever want to cut out the hassle that goes with selling a collection of Funko Pops, or any other collectibles, then be sure to give us a call, text, or email. We buy toys, Pops, comics, and other collectibles and pay cash prices. We've been in the business for years and our knowledge sets us apart from other buyers. If you just need our opinion (for entertainment purposes only) on selling your collection, then let us know, and we can do our best to help.

That being said, let's get onto our guide to collecting Funko Pops.

Funko Pops: A Quick History

Believe it or not, Funko as a company has been around since the 1990s. The company started by selling bobbleheads featuring original characters (ex: Bone Daddy and El Diablo). These figures didn't catch on, but in the mid-2000s we would see Funko tackle licensed properties with their Wacky Wobblers (a different kind of bobblehead). While Wacky Wobblers did slightly better, the company would reach new heights in the early 2010s when it started its new line; Pops.

New upper management came up with the idea of the Pop line of Funkos, and they quickly caught on. Many collectors liked the cute design of Pops and they made for great impulse buys. Having multiple licenses (movies, TV, comics, etc) made Pops so popular that Funko was able to become a publically traded company in the late 2010s.

Some of the earlier Funko Pops featured comic book characters such as Batman (they were in a different package and called Funko Force). The company would add more comic book characters and redesign the box into what we see today. They would also add various lines from all sorts of media such as TV, movies, games, and anime. The increase in licensed properties allowed for healthy growth for the company and its line of Pops.

Over the years Funko has tried other lines of vinyl figures, but most of them have usually ended in failure (ex: Rock Candy, Hikari), but lately, the Funko line of Sodas has caught on. It's hard to say what the future holds for Funko, but it seems like they're here to stay. The Pop lines have stood the test of time, but the Funko Soda line might be the next one to gain more mainstream success.

Are Funko Pops Rare?

The first question you might ask before you start collecting/investing in Funko Pops is how rare are they? The answer to this question is very broad.

A vast majority of Funko Pops are NOT RARE. Most non-exclusive Funko Pops are produced for a few years and are produced in massive quantities. They are not limited or low in production numbers. Many pieces are retired after a long production period, but by the time that happens, there are tens (or sometimes hundreds) of thousands of pieces already out there.

Store-exclusive Funko Pops (ex: Hot Topic) used to be limited, but today Funko requires tens of thousands of minimum pieces to be ordered to receive a store exclusive. They also require a minimum yearly purchase of Funko products from the retailer to qualify for an exclusive (which means that only the most prominent retailers now get exclusives).

There are some Pops that are very limited to conventions such as San Diego (and their Funko Party which takes place in a separate facility during SDCC weekend). These Pops are extremely difficult to obtain. See our next section for the effort it takes to obtain the harder-to-find exclusives.

Generally speaking, most Funko Pops that you see on the shelves at your local department store or FYE are very common and by no means rare (this includes chase pieces). The only Pops that are rare are early pieces, but many of those were sold before the popularity of Funko Pops skyrocketed. Today, popularity has caused production runs to skyrocket making a vast majority of Pops common.

Are Exclusive Funko Pops Difficult to Find?

So you're thinking of braving the convention or online scene to buy some more limited Funko Pops, but don't know where to start. Well, you're in luck, because we've been there and can provide our experiences to those looking to start. Store exclusives can be tough to find, but generally don't sell for too much unless you're looking for a chase version. Usually, if you regularly visit a store during opening hours, then it will increase your chances of getting the chase figures. Convention exclusives are really where things start to get difficult. Let's use San Diego Comic-Con as our example.

SDCC requires all attendees to pre-apply to purchase Funko Pops at their convention. You cannot buy any Funko Pops if you haven't been pre-approved, which has to be done on their website before the convention. As you might expect, getting through on the day of registration can be difficult and most people aren't able to complete the process as the site will usually crash due to volume. This is all to say that if you're thinking of buying a Funko Pop at their booth (without pre-approval), then you're most likely out of luck.

You might be thinking of asking someone on the line to buy you a particular piece, and we regret to inform you that Funko has strict security on its convention lines. This prevents anyone who is on the line to talk to anyone who isn't on the line. Trust us, security is very strict, and even hanging out near the Funko booth will get the attention of the guards.

The good news is that many exclusives at conventions such as SDCC can be purchased on the Funko website or other stores. Just note that those exclusive pieces will not have that same exclusive sticker. Some collectors are very particular about that exclusive sticker. This means that the price of a Pop with a non-SDCC (or other convention) sticker will most likely be much less than that with an SDCC sticker.

Note that very limited exclusives can be only obtained by attending the Funko Party which takes place during SDCC (at a different venue). Attending the party also requires pre-registration and approval, which can be difficult. Many of these things require you to be on Funko's website, which can crash due to volume (we compare it to buying a popular new console or sneakers on a website).

If you manage to snag a ticket to the Funko SDCC party, then you will most likely get some exclusives, but it still requires some luck to get the best stuff. The Funko reps will pick tables that get certain exclusives (ex: a gold Mark Hamil exclusive went to a hand-picked table of guests at the SDCC party in 2019). Note that you will be guaranteed some exclusives and prototype pieces if you attend the Funko Party, but the best pieces are usually given at random. You should generally think of getting the very limited exclusives as winning a lottery once (getting your Funko Party ticket) and then winning it again (getting the Funko reps to pick your table at the party).

What Are the Rarest Funko Pops?

Most Funko Pops aren't hard to find, but some can be considered rare. The problem is that most of them were produced early on before Pops caught on. This means that most of them won't be something you'll find at your local flea market. If you do, then be sure that they are legit as fakes are quite common in this hobby.

The rarest Funko Pops are the early pieces that were produced when the Pop line first started. These were not hard to find upon initial release, as the line wasn't as popular. Early San Diego Comic-Con exclusives were very limited and could be easily purchased (without a long wait in line or people getting into fistfights).

We specifically remember being at New York Comic Con 2013, which had a Flashpoint Batman exclusive (limited to 240). The retailer who had this exclusive had no limit to how many customers could buy and did not sell out immediately. Most people were just walking up to the booth and buying a few with no waiting in line. This Pop now sells for over 1k online.

As Funko Pops caught on, we saw the company capitalize by increasing the edition sizes. They would also require huge minimum orders from retailers if they wanted to get their exclusive (which they didn't require early on). By the end of the 2010s, a vast majority of Funko Pops being released were extremely common and only a few exclusives (ex: Funko SDCC party pieces) were rare.

Note that there are some newer Funko Pops that are very rare, but most of them were only obtained at the Funko SDCC Party as outlined in our previous section. There are also a few recalled pieces that are rare but don't expect to find those.

Today, Funko Pops are common and only the pieces with lower edition sizes are considered rare. We just need to remind anyone reading that these rare pieces have plenty of fakes. You can easily go on eBay and find sellers from China with old Funko Pops that were extremely limited (for very cheap). Just be sure to do your research as spotting fakes can be tough unless you know what to look for.

What Funko Pops Should I Buy?

So what Funko Pops should you buy? This one boils down to your personal preferences. The great thing about Funko is that they cover a vast majority of pop culture licenses. Whether you're a sports fan, anime fan or anything in between, then chances are that you'll find something you like. If what you want seems expensive, then think about alternatives. An example would be that some original Power Ranger Funko Pops are expensive on the aftermarket, but you can easily find the rereleased versions for cheap.

If you're looking to buy Funko Pops purely as an investment, then we will give a warning that investing in anything collectible comes with its risks. On the other hand, if you find a Pop you like and spend $10 on it, then chances are that there will be other people who want that piece as well (possibly making it go up in value later on). Even if it wasn't a good long-term investment, then at least you have something you like (and something that didn't break the bank).

On the other hand, if you purchased a $1,000 Funko Pop to purely hold as an investment, then you'll have no attachment to it and be much more likely to sell it if things start to look rough (ex: the price drops).

Don't buy Funko Pops as an investment, but as something you enjoy. If you buy what you like and try to find it for a good price, then at least you'll have something you enjoy. The price won't matter, but if it does go up, that will be icing on the cake. If you need help when buying Funko Pops, you can use the Pop Price Guide, but we don't recommend relying on it too much as some prices might be slightly off.

Collecting Funko Pops can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. If you have a game plan and know your collecting goals, then it can be a fun hobby. We know that collecting can generally be fun, and Funko is no exception. While it can be enjoyable, there are still some things to keep an eye out for if you're new to the game.

Here are some quick, final tips if you're new to collecting Funko Pops:

  1. Buy what you like. If you buy something you like, then you'll be more likely to keep it. Chances are that there will also be others who like that same piece.

  2. Be careful when buying online as there are many fakes.

  3. The condition of the box is very important for Funko Pops. If you have a damaged box or are missing the box completely, then the value will drop quite a bit.

  4. Join some Funko collecting forums if you're looking for insight on how to find upcoming exclusives.

  5. Don't get caught up buying pieces that you don't want (ex: glow-in-the-dark or chrome pieces). We get called all the time by people who have built a big collection of Funko Pops that they regretted buying. Those people usually have to liquidate their collection at a loss, due to things getting out of hand.

  6. Most Funko Pops won't go up in value. Only some pieces go up, and even if your figure does climb in price, it might not be anything substantial.

  7. Other lines of Funko (aside from Pops and Sodas) aren't generally worth much and there isn't much demand for them, with a few minor exceptions.

  8. Use the Funko Pop Price Guide, but try not to rely on it too much as we find it to be inaccurate at times.

  9. This one is just our opinion, but don't feel like you need to buy a piece, because it has a particular convention sticker. You might be able to find one with an alternate sticker for much cheaper (ex: a Pop with a "Summer Convention" sticker might be much cheaper than the same Pop with an "SDCC" sticker).

  10. Have fun! Collecting anything is supposed to be enjoyable. If you're not finding Funko Pop collecting to be to your liking, then try something else. There are plenty of other hobbies out there.

If you ever want our opinion (for entertainment purposes only) on collecting Funko Pops, then be sure to call, text, or email us. We offer completely free (non-investment) opinions for anyone who needs to be pointed in the right direction. Please note that we can't be your price guide and if you need values, then there are plenty of other sources you can use (such as Pop Price Guide). If you ever want to cut out the hassle that goes with selling your collection of Funko Pops (or any other collectibles), then be sure to let us know. We pay cash for all vinyl figures and travel to you. If you have 5 grails or 500 commons, then be sure to let us know. We've been in the collectibles business for years and have been known to be fair and reliable.


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