The Funko company has skyrocketed onto shelves with their Pop! vinyl toys. And now they're landing at MomoCon 2015 thanks to Lauren Murphree's push for a introduction to collecting course.
MomoCon’s invading Downtown Atlanta this weekend and a few new panels will be appearing. The rise of Funko, especially the "Pop!" vinyl figures, will definitely one worth catching.
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Starting May 28, the Georgia convention will bring together fans of Japanese anime, American animation, comics, video games, and tabletop games. According to the official website, MomoCon is “one of the fastest growing all ages conventions in the country,” where fans interact with each other as well as meet celebrity voice talent, designers, and writers.
Guests for the 2015 con include Tracey Yardley (Sonic the Hedgehog), Greg Weisman (Star War Rebels), the Nostalgia Critic (The Guy with the Glasses), Mike Reiss (The Simpsons), and Keith David (Pitch Black). If you’re a fan of anything, there’s probably a connection. So MomoCon is a convention for those looking to meet up and fan over a multitude of geeky things. But what is Funko and where does it fit in the convention line up?
“Funko is a brand which specializes predominantly in vinyl figurine collectibles ranging in size and sculpt. Funko "Pops!"—their most popular line—is a 3 to 4 inch vinyl with a chibi-ish style,” says “Funko for Starters” panel moderator Lauren Murphree.
And "Pop!" character design definitely fits the Japanese influence. “Since 2013, Funko launched into the toy stratosphere. These collectibles are easily accessible and cater to a wide range of audiences.” It’s not just "Pop!" figures, either.
The ReAction line recently launched a more realistic styling of Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins. Official blog reports that each character comes with an accessory, like a computer or chainsaw. Billy has a backpack while Gizmo comes with a keyboard and Santa hat. In a pairing of adorable creatures, Gizmo and Barney come with a trumpet and candy cane.
Other figurines include the Bandit Gremlin with gun and Cinema Gremlin wearing 3-D glasses. You can collect Mogwai Stripe and Gremlin Stripe, too. The now-classic Christmas film's licensing with Funko allows fans of the series to pick up the products worldwide.
Licensing fees offer a variety of pop culture classics, too. Anything from Scarface to Jaws is a possible product for the funky, off-the-wall brand.
Mike Becker started Funko in 1998 in Everett, Washington, as a Bobblehead company. He later sold the company to Brian Mariotti in 2005, whose vision for pop culture novelties landed deals with industry leaders like Lucas Films, Marvel, Hasbro, and Disney. By remaining a privately held company, marketing is personal, incorporating what people want with adorable shelf decorations.
In 2014, Mariotti told Rolling Stone, "We were in the $40 million range for revenue last year — and $28 million of that was from Pop figures alone." So the Pop figures definitely have staying power in the kitschy-niche world.
According to Murphree, lines include Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones, My Little Pony, and Disney animation characters. Anyone who has been in the toy aisle lately has probably walked by at least Frozen’s Elsa. Plus the end caps full of characters and products, like the Mystery Mini blind boxes of random characters from a series.
With a distribution deal that ranges from Target to Hot Topic, the collectibles are a hit among all ages, which makes them perfect for MoMo’s message and theme. Who wouldn’t want assassin Black Widow sitting next to Thor while sharing a chimichanga with Deadpool and Harley Quinn?
So what about casual fans?
“People who don't typically collect things would likely even find one they like.” For instance, say a Sharknado vinyl or a nostalgic Mickey Mouse throwback. Not to mention, some of the properties are Atlanta-based and filmed, so there’s a crossover there, too. The Walking Dead’s video game crosses both genres and Ant-Man was shot in town, too.
In a surprising move earlier this year, the company announced a deal to produce Doctor Who figures. People will buy items as the latest continuation comes up with cute, marketable products like Adipose and terrifying Weeping Angels.
Murphree notes that “demand has been high” due to the fact “they are only Hot Topic pre-releases and exclusives right now.” For international fans, the exclusivity may be worth the shipping price.
Produced in Asia, the figures are then moved to a 220,000 square foot warehouse facility just outside of Seattle. Both internal and external reps sale Funko products with the idea to draw multi-demographic hobbyists. Since customer accounts are never more than 10% of annual sales, the company has a chance to diversify and expand without interrupting sales or accusations of unfair marketing.
With a growing number of annual product release announcements, what figures does she think are missing from the current roster? “I'd love to eventually see Sailor Moon or Josie and the Pussycats.” Now would the Josie series be the classic cartoon or the tongue-in-cheek 2001 movie starring Rosario Dawson, Rachel Leigh Cook, and Tara Reid? Why not both?
For more information on Funko’s skyrocket, see the panel “Funkos for Starters” in Room A-135 at 12:30pm on May 29. You won’t be disappointed. To find out more about Lauren Murphree, you can check her Instagram or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Plus, she’s probably going to display at least one Pinkie Pie next to Captain America. It’s just the Lauren way.
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