Thursday, 23 May 2024

A Look at the Funko Pop! Collectible Phenomenon

If you’ve stepped foot in a collectibles store recently, you’ve likely noticed a certain brand of vinyl figures that have taken the market by storm. Funko Pop! Vinyls have become a phenomenon, covering a wide range of licenses and brands, including movies, TV shows, video games, sports teams, and even cereal mascots. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying their all-encompassing popularity.

We had the opportunity to speak with Mark Robben, the director of marketing for Funko, to gain some insight into the Pop! Phenomenon, as well as the licensing and production process behind these figures.

The Evolution of Funko Pop!

The iconic Funko design originated from a collaboration with DC Entertainment around 2010. According to Robben, discussions with DC led to the creation of a new stylized take on various characters. The artists drew inspiration from Japanese art and character design, as well as early plush designs that had a similar shape and feel. This evolution resulted in the distinctive Funko Pop! style we know today.

After the success of the DC collaboration and the adaptation of other licenses like Star Wars, the Funko Pop! brand experienced exponential growth. Funko now produces products for over 80 popular licenses, with most of them having Funko Pop! counterparts. The licensing process varies depending on the property, with some licensors approaching Funko to merchandise their content, while others require Funko to chase after them.

Behind the Scenes of Licensing and Design

The amount of time Funko’s artists have to work on a product depends on the licensor’s comfort level with sharing assets ahead of launch. Some licensors send reference art well in advance, while others provide shorter notice. Video game companies tend to be more involved in the design process, often wanting to protect their original creations.

Character creation is a collaborative effort between Funko’s designers and the license holders. Funko builds its designs based on what the licensees want to see while incorporating the trademark Pop! art style. Fan feedback also plays a role, with Funko monitoring social media channels to gather insights into the characters and designs that fans desire.

From Sketches to Shelves

The development process for Funko Pop! figures is complex and fast-paced. Artists start with 2D character renditions, which are then approved by the licensors before moving on to 3D digital sculpts. The sculpts undergo a painting process and are once again approved by the licensor. Mock-ups of packaging and hand-painted figure samples provide a better idea of the final product. After several rounds of samples and approvals, the figures go into production and are ready for store shelves.

The turnaround time for this process varies depending on the license and the characters being produced. Funko aims for a four-to-six month window but can work even faster if necessary. In some cases, licensors keep characters under wraps until the movie or game premieres, prompting Funko to quickly create figures based on the unveiled characters.

Why Are Funko Pop! Figures So Popular?

Funko Pop! figures have achieved unprecedented success in the collectibles market. Their accessibility and wide variety of licenses contribute to their popularity. When asked why people are drawn to them, Robben attributes it to the figures’ art style – cute, fun, adorable, and playful.


Q: How many licenses does Funko currently have?
A: Funko currently produces products for over 80 popular licenses, with most of them having Funko Pop! counterparts.

Q: Are video game companies more involved in the design process?
A: Yes, video game companies tend to be more involved in the design process, often wanting to protect their original creations.

Q: How quickly can Funko produce a figure after discovering a new character?
A: Funko can move quickly when necessary. In some cases, they can have a figure in the market within 90 days of discovering a new character.


The Funko Pop! phenomenon has taken the collectibles market by storm. With their unique art style and wide range of licenses, these figures have captured the hearts of fans worldwide. Funko’s collaborative approach with licensors and their ability to adapt quickly have helped cement their success in the industry. Whether you’re a collector or simply appreciate their cuteness, there’s no denying the impact Funko Pop! figures have made. So why not start your own collection today?

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