A Call to Action (Figures): Funko
Funko was founded in 1998 as Becker, and became Funko as we know it in 2005, and has been one of the highest grossing toy companies in the world since. Their success has been in large part because of their line of Pop Vinyl bobbleheads. Credit given where credit is due: Funko revolutionized what bobbleheads were, turning from an unpopular mostly baseball-themed toy into the bedrock of their company, and a product that’s in virtually every comic book store. It’s safe to bet if a person has between one and five action figures, at least one of those will be a Pop Vinyl. In other words, they’ve gotten people who don’t buy action figures buying from them. They’ve seduced what must be every major license (at least all the ones that I can think of) into approving bobbleheads of their characters. Recently, Funko has been moving away from bobbleheads though, and their offerings have been less than stellar.
The Reaction figures were the first Funko products I was exposed to outside of Pop Vinyl. As I noted in November, the Reaction figures are a low quality, good-looking nostalgia grab. The foot of my T-800 fell off straight out of the package.
I’m wholely in favor of opening action figures, but I get that not every action figure is meant to be opened and played with, and the Reaction figures aren’t. I wished I’d kept that T-800 in box. The packaging was beautiful.
The same quality issues plagued my Sandor “The Hound” Clegane figure. His sheath broke off of his belt within fifteen minutes of me opening the figure. The way his armor is made restricts his joints from having a full range of articulation. His sword has a knob too large to get his hands over. (More on why the Hound isn’t good enough, as well as what Funko did well can be seen in my review).
Unlike the Reaction figures, the packaging isn’t beautiful. It’s a window box with a house insignia and that’s it. It’s not anything that I can show off to anyone. In fact, I’d be a little embarrassed to let someone see I hadn’t opened a figure that came in that.
Funko is a good company with a smart business plan. All the good licenses on action figures were taken in 2005, so I conjecture they used bobbleheads as a back door into the market. No other company thought to get their licenses to include those. They turned it into a juggernaut. Then they did the Reaction figures, another product based on nostalgia and quantity rather than quality. They were probably elated to get the license for something at popular as Game of Thrones, and I’m happy for them. They need to execute better though, for the sake of Game of Thrones fan. They need to execute better, so they can win more licenses as other shows blow up and the demand for action figures of those characters burst. They need to execute on those as well as they have their bobbleheads, or stick to the bobbleheads they make best. That’s what they did with their first Marvel Collector’s box, and while it’s not something that I’d invest in, it seems like Funko knows their strengths, and sticking to them until they’ve learned to do other things could be great for all of us.
A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be talking about why the new Mad Max movie should have a toy line.