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.

So cute with his little knife.

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.

Did I get it right? What do you think of Funko’s Game of Thrones action figures? Let me know in the comments!

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. I agree that Funko knows how to reach those outside of the normal collecting pool. The Pops seem to reach out across genders and ages in a way that Hasbro, Mattel, and other manufacturers have missed. I would prefer that they build up this deformed figure market and not worry with the more classic style of figures. That market is saturated, stick to your strengths. That’s just my 2 cents.

  2. The gripe I had with the Reaction figures was the way they were manufactured. I bought these figures to sell in my store. The issues I had with them is that around 50percent of all the figures I ordered had wrinkles on the packaging, a curved card or some other flaw that made them unsellable at regular price. The profit margins weren’t all that great so losing half the inventory to discount bins created a terrible loss. I wont buy these anymore until they fix the manufacturing process at the factory.

    1. I don’t think that it is necessarily how they are manufactured, but more how they are packaged and shipped to retailers. Most of Funko’s packaging isn’t very sturdy, which in the end results in damaged product going out to retailers.

      Out of most of the products that are currently at retail, I don’t think I have seen a company with more damaged packaging than Funko. Hasbro and Mattel don’t seem to have that problem with their product, among other manufacturers.

      Another company that seems to have this problem is also NECA when they release figures on a cardboard blister card. I ordered a case of the GOW 3.75″ figures in the past and most of the blister cards were loose with room to move around in the factory sealed case.

      I haven’t seen a full case of ReAction figures yet. How are they packaged in the case? Like Hasbro’s 3.75″ figures?

      1. I think for some of the cases I got, you are right about the packing and shipping. The worst issues I had felt like factory issues. The curved cards were so bad I can’t even do it justice. The cards were so curled the paper wrinkled on a bunch of them.

        Then there were indentations on a lot of them that were like some type of round stamp pressed into the cards randomly sometime creating clusters of 6 or 8 circle indentations in the cards.

        The last disappointing thing was on special edition figures with a sticker. The put the stickers on very crooked. If it was a little off that would have been at least a little bit ok but these things were almost 45 degrees off axis.

        There were two basic types of cases I received a 6 count and a 12. The 12’s seemed like they had room to spare inside. the 6’s were packed tighter. They did pack them with tissue between each figure and a cardboard topper but there were still some dings on the cards here and there. I would attribute those to issues shipping damage. The other problems were inexcusable breakdowns in quality control.

  3. I really wanted the Reaction figures to be great. So many great licenses. But the truth of the matter is that they just aren’t. They’re really not even on par with the original Kenner Star Wars type figures. Weird moldings, bad paint jobs, and warped packaging on nearly all I’ve seen.

  4. I so wanted the reaction figs to be good. But they aren’t. All I can figure is they can’t get the rights to actually make the face look like the person, or else they are just crappy sculptors. Pisses me off they wasted the license. But Funko… oh how I hate those POP figures. I cannot tell you why, but I hate them with a passion. If I had the money I would go skeet shooting with them. Some characters just should not be made with big 1970’s style doll eyes. I don;t care if someone else likes them, go right ahead. I just personally hate them as thought it was in my genes.

    1. I kind of agree on the Pop Vinyls. They seem pointless, and don’t look particularly good. It’s a hell of a business move though, and it really established them as a company. Too bad everything else there doing is low quality.

  5. My issue with Funko is quality control for sure. I have some really nice, perfectly painted bobble heads, some out of packaging, some in, and some really awful, poorly painted ones that made me want to hit my head against the wall because it was obvious zero quality control went into since a lot of it is mass produced in China now.
    Two examples are Nurse Harley Quinn, very very poorly designed and she can’t even stand on her own. Another really bad one, as much as I love him, is the Agent Coulson Bobble head. I have him displayed outside the box, but he is a mess design wise. I just got Agent May and she is no better. Her head won’t even stay in one direction, so i kept her in the box where she looks much better.
    I notice the paint jobs are much much better with exclusives and rarer Funko pops that are becoming worth quite a bit. Every exclusive funko i have is nicely painted, well designed and well executed. This includes my two SDCC 2014 Fire fly exclusive reaction figures from Firefly. I know the figures look like complete crap, so i never had any intention to open them because they are for display because the packing is spot on.
    My suspicion is, Funko assumes collectors will know this as well, so they put money into the packaging for the collector, not quality control. In this case, I guess I see their point, as maddening as it may seem. They don’t expect collectors to play with their toys! lol!

    1. Haha. Yeah. If I buy any more, I’m definitely keeping them shut.

      That’s really too bad about the Coulson bobblehead. I want some figurine of him, but I’ll probably hold out and try and save up for the Marvel Legends Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. three pack.

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Exit mobile version