Haven’t posted one of these in a while because there’s just so much stupid going on in the world of Funko collecting these days that I’ve had to step back a bit. People lost their minds over Crota and the Grady Twins, then lost them again when Target got a restock and the prices dropped. ‘Funko must be dying’, they say, because their over-hyped commons fell back to reality. Stupid noobs.
Or maybe it’s Funko stock, which isn’t doing well, so haha on Funko, maker of the toys you numbnuts collect. Morons. I’m amazed that the same people who can’t figure out what a pop is worth are now experts in the stock market. Savants, every last one of them.
Or maybe it was the mystery boxes full of 8-bit pops that totally suck except for the chases, which still suck, but maybe can be traded for protos, rare Disney, Crota (ha!) or Geoffrey from Toys-R-Us. Thank you for polluting my FB feed. I didn’t really want to see how my family was doing, or see photos of my niece and nephew in New Zealand.
So, instead of penning one long, profanity-laced screed, I have decided to try and be a helper and not a hater. I see a lot of people asking how they should ship a pop, and for once I think I have some good advice. By no means am I an expert in what I’m writing about today, but I’ve been buying and selling pops online for several years now, and I have a pretty good handle on what I’m doing. Let’s see if I do.
Rule of Thumb 1 - Use a box.
I wouldn’t think that needed to be said, but it is not uncommon to see people ship pops (or any other soft-boxed item) in padded envelopes. If you’re one of these people who think a padded envelop is the way to go, quit the hobby. Get out now. Chances are you’re both cheap and stupid and you’re not doing anyone any favors, least of all yourself. You will be destroyed in the Facebook groups and your Ebay reviews will go to shit. Only marginally better are the inner case boxes that you sometimes get when you order in bulk. Avoid them. They’re not sturdy enough. They’re meant to protect items inside another box, not be the box itself. If you’re using them, you’re shipping on borrowed time. They will get crushed eventually.
No, to do this right you need to use good sturdy box. I used to ship a lot for my old job, and the shipping services always recommended that you have at least an inch or so of space around your item to protect it properly. Pop boxes are 6.25 x 4.5 x 3.5. So add two inches to each side for the minimum dimensions. I use a 9 x 7 x 6 box which is a little oversized, but I’m comfortable that it’s big enough, and I can fit two pops in it if I need to. I’ve seen it suggested that you can get by with a 7 x 7 x 7 priority cube you can get at the post office. You probably can, but I’m never comfortable with them, I think they’re too small. However, if you’re selling something expensive, they’re perfect to use for double boxing.
If you have the space to save boxes and shipping materials, do it. You’ll look like a hoarder, but you’ll save money. The post office offers free boxes for Priority and Express mail, and they usually have some at the post office. I treat them like a buffet and take as many as I think I’ll need. You can also order them online if you have a USPS.com account. The box dimensions don’t always work for me, and I don’t always want to ship Priority so I focus on recycling as much as I can. When recycling fails and the post office runs out, I buy them. Boxes can be purchased pretty much everywhere: Target, Walmart, Walgreens (might as well buy something when you can’t find any pops), Office Depot, Staples, etc. etc. Walmart tends to have the best prices when you’re buying in store. If you’re going to ship a lot, I suggest you check Amazon and my personal favorite, www.uline.com for bulk purchases. Uline has an incredible selection of sizes and styles and they’re not too expensive when you buy in quantity. They also sell bubble wrap and packing peanuts, which we’ll discuss a little later on.
Rule of Thumb 2 – Don’t cheap out on packing materials.
We’ve all seen it and some of have experienced it. Nothing more annoying than ordering the one piece you need to complete a set and having it arrive in a too big box with one air pillow to keep if from pinballing around. Goodbye ‘mint’.
The purpose of packaging is pretty straightforward, keep your things safe in transit. The box should sturdy enough to take some manhandling during shipping. When I recycle boxes, I tend to throw out (and actually recycle) boxes that have crushed corners or sides or are damaged in any way. I figure it’s been compromised and might not hold up too well if it gets abused again. I’m probably overthinking that.
After picking a box, I get my pops ready to ship by wrapping them in bubble wrap. I suggest you use small bubble wrap if you’re doing this, as it’s easier to work with. I’ve been told that the proper way to use bubble wrap is to face the bubbles outward. Supposedly this makes a difference. I have no idea if that is true and no interest in finding out, so wrap however you like. Once done, put your item in the box and add additional packaging to fill the 1 inch gap around the pop. You can use whatever you want to fill up space, more bubble wrap, newspaper, peanuts or air pillows. I received one once that was packaged with plastic grocery bags. The packaging between your pop and the side of the box should be able to absorb the energy from a drop or getting tossed around at the post office. I favor using bubble wrap or peanuts. Both are easy to buy, and they’re better at absorbing a crush. I used to use air pillows but they don’t absorb force, they transfer it directly to the pop. I recently received a package where the box was crushed, the pop was crushed, but the air pillow was a-okay. Also, I’ve heard people claim they’ll expand if subjected to changes in air pressure (flying) and damage pops in transit. Not sure if this is true but it sounds kind of like science.
Bubble wrap can be found pretty much anywhere that sells shipping supplies. Office Depot is a rip off when it comes to bubble wrap and their pricing on peanuts isn’t much better. Walmart and Home Depot are both good places to buy bubble wrap. If you think you’re going to need a lot, check online. Uline has pretty good prices. Peanuts are a little harder to find, and can be expensive (Office Depot). These can be bought online as well. Uline, again, is your best option. I would also suggest The Container Store if you have one in your town. I bought a 14.5 cubic feet bag of peanuts for 25 bucks. That’s about five feet tall and three feet around. That’s bigger than my grandma.
Rule of Thumb 3 – Keep the weight down.
Shipping is a trade-off between safety and weight. You want to keep the weight of your package below a pound if possible so you can ship UPSP First Class. You also don’t want to just shove something in a box and hope it arrives safely because that almost never works.
My method of packaging, which could be construed as overkill, comes in at a predictable 12-15 ounces depending on the pop being shipped. That’s under 16 ounces, that’s USPS First Class….Commercial Base Rates.
Turns out there are two USPS shipping rates available to us. Retail, which you pay at the counter or online with USPS.com, and Commercial Base, which you pay through Ebay, PayPal, or Stamps.com. Commercial rates are discounted about 30% from the Retail rate. That’s how people pay $4 when you’re paying $7 at the counter. You also get discounts on some services and Priority Shipping. Another plus is that Commercial First Class is available on packages weighing up to 16 ounces, whereas Retail stops at 13.
Priority Shipping is figured on weight and distance and goes by the pound. If you cross over into the next weight class, you might as well add a bit of extra packaging. It isn’t going to cost you more until you hit the next pound up. Shipping cross country, however, is going to hurt. If it costs you 7.40 to ship within the state, going from New York to LA can be double that. Luckily, I’m in the middle of the country so I don’t get screwed a whole bunch shipping to the coasts.
Retail Rates can be found HERE
Commercial Base Rates can be found HERE
If you’re going to ship a lot, I suggest you buy a scale. They’re about 30 -40 bucks for a 3 to 5 pound scale. I bought mine at Office Depot. I probably could have saved a little bit shopping online, but I was in a pickle. Before I bought the scale, I would drive to the post office near my house and use the self-serve shipping kiosk to weigh my packages. I’d return home to print out my labels, then go back to the post office to drop off for delivery. Don’t judge, it worked. Or I used the scale on the mail machine at work. Don’t judge, it worked, too.
(Side note, you can probably take your scale to the stores to weigh mystery boxes. You’ll look stupid, but you can do it if you’re one of those collectors.)
USPS tends to be the most economical option for shipping small parcels. I’ve used UPS and Fedex for bigger items, or in the case of Fedex, something I wanted to ship overnight. Shop around to find an option that works for you. All the websites have postage calculators.
Rule of Thumb 4 – Random thoughts
Flat Rate boxes from the Post Office – Avoid unless you’re shipping bricks. Flat Rates are intended for ‘convenience’, but are really meant to steal money from lazy shippers.
Insurance – USPS Priority comes with $100 insurance Commercial, $50 Retail. You can buy more if you need it. I would suggest getting insurance on anything you can’t afford to discount or refund.
Tracking, Proof of Delivery, Signature Required – Same advice as above. I did not have tracking on a package and got taken for 7 bucks. The money isn’t a big deal, but the guy was a scammer and did it to anyone who didn’t have tracking. It was four years ago. I’m still pissed off about it. Cover your ass.
Large Boxes – Forgot to mention this, but keep an eye on the size of your box. If two dimensions go over 12 inches, the box is now a large package and USPS postage will be based on the ‘dimensional weight’. Basically, bend over, this is going to hurt. Don’t be afraid to cut down a box to come in under the 12”. You’ll save a ton of money.
Commercial Plus Rates – You ever wonder how Funko ships everything for one low flat rate. This is how. You have to ship a lot, and I mean A LOT, to qualify for these rates. Or you’ll need to sign a contract with USPS.
Pop Protectors/Stacks – Send at your discretion. You don’t have to use either, but more and more buyers are coming to expect them. I typically go by the price of the item. Pop protectors don’t add much to the weight of your package, but they do cost you about 2 dollars a pop. I’ll include one depending on the value of the pop. Pop Stacks increase your shipping weight and add roughly 8-10 dollars to you costs. I’ll add one if asked, but not for free.
Double boxing - For expensive items, this is the way to go. This is a good place to use air pillows. I package the pop in the first box, then cushion it loosely with the air pillows inside the second box.
Okay…long post, but with the holidays coming up, I hope this helps.
Enjoy. I’ll be back next time with some thoughts on what a ‘true collector’ is. I’ll probably cuss a lot.
PS: Check out the associated images to see how I package a pop for shipping. Don't judge, it works for me.