Let’s talk about Fundays.
I know I’m a little late, but I’ve got good excuses. First, I went to New York to watch the Royals lose in Yankee Stadium. It was a nice change of venue. Also got to throw up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right in front of the Jackson Pollack, which adds a little drama. Then later threw up in Times Square. Leaned right over a railing and tossed cookies into a construction ditch. Honestly, probably not the worst thing they found on the site when they returned to work the following Monday.
This past week I’ve been enjoying the beauty of our National Parks, which are notoriously long on natural beauty and notoriously short on interweb connectivity. Even when there was wifi, I was lucky to creep along at modem-fast speeds. Less time for surfing, more time for Angry Birds and Brick-n-Balls. I could have used my time to draw or read or something productive, but VACATION! Time to hike.
I think this is my eighth Fundays. Not bad for a noob such as myself. I have friends who’ve been to nearly all of them which is why I consider myself to be new at this still. Some folks will accuse me of bragging, and maybe someone will post the ‘See, nobody cares’ meme, but I’m not bragging, just trying to establish a little credibility before I say this….
THIS WAS THE BEST FUNDAYS, EVER! (in my 8 years of going)
A little context. The first Fundays I went to was attended by, maybe, 200 people. Probably closer to 150. The next was about 250. Then 500. Then 750. At the 750 mark, Funko added a DJ and fancy lighting. After that is was moved to a bigger venue to accommodate bigger crowds and added a full-on floor show with professional entertainment, including a questionable rope dance last year that a friend of mine described thusly….’Great. How do I explain to my five year old what a stripper is?’
So, what made this year so great?
Oh, man. Where to start?
How about the theme? This is the first year that I’ve been that Fundays has had a theme. It was 80’s prom, which caught some flack on social media for being so ‘cringe’. First of all, describing anything as being ‘cringe’ just sounds stupid, and I say that growing up when people spoke in ‘Valley Girl’. Secondly, how f**king sad is your life that you can’t lighten up and go with the flow. Funko is, after all, about ‘Fun’. It’s the name of the company for Manny’s sake. Also, the 80’s…big hair, day-glo colors, horrible music. Stranger Things. If you sat there at your keyboard spouting off about how lame the theme was, maybe you’re the one who’s cringe. Totally. To the max.
I decided to go with the flow and put together an outfit for the prom. I was going to go the pastel blue tuxedo route until I remembered that we’d be standing in line out in the sun for a couple of hours. I opted for a white dinner jacket, ditched the puffy shirt and went with a t-shirt, then cut the legs off my tux pants, effectively turning them into shorts. To maintain the ‘look’ of a full pair of trousers, I went with black compression socks, and some flamed Chuck Taylors. I tried for the mullet, but ended up with a wig that gave off a ‘hair by Joan Jett/Grace Slick/the Ramones’. A bright orange Prom King sash and matching headband finished the look.
Riding in on an electric scooter was just extra toppings on the waffle (I’m eating breakfast, best analogy I have at the moment).
And I wasn’t alone in dressing up. Easily a third of the crowd wore something prom or 80’s or even a tuxedo t-shirt. It really amped up the energy for an event that is pretty much self-amping. Those three hours (or more) in the sun were a blast. Honestly though, they always are. It’s the only line at ComicCon worth being in. I’ve been collecting for 13 years, I’ve met a ton of people in that time, many who come to Fundays. The line is the best way to catch up with as many of them as I can. Being on a scooter made it easier. Last year, someone pitched a tent and a couple people brought coolers. An impromptu tailgate until the hotel shut us down. This year it was bands of roving prom couples handing out home-made swag. Shotglasses, buttons, bracelets, 3-d printed ‘Fundays’ thingies, and my personal favorite, custom wooden nickels. I loved those and am totally stealing the idea for next year.
Being the prom, some people spiked their own punch. Needless to say, the line to get in was a lot of fun.
Inside, unfortunately, is the same clusterf**k at the door that they have every year. I’ve decided that it can’t be helped. You have 1500 people trying to get in through a tiny, little door. Add to it the Can of Corn contest (eat a can of corn, win a proto), two photo booths, and the t-shirt giveaway and it clogs up like a cheap toilet. I think they could move some of booth/giveaways to the back, but then you’ll be moving the food to the front and that is probably worse, especially if attendees can’t get into the main ballroom to drop things off at their tables (which we couldn’t, at least right away). Then we’re trying to eat, mingle and balance a bag full of swag. Spills will occur. Things will be ruined. The box-nazis will loose their shit. This being my only gripe of the evening, it’s forgivable.
We had about an hour to mill about and mix. It’s not as easy to do inside the venue as it was in the line, so I spent most of my time eating. The food it pretty good ‘networking’ food. Meaning it’s all small portions and easy to carry with you around the room. Drinks are drinks and two drink coupons go quickly. Pacing is key.
The room was divided up into four sections, which they’ve done for the past couple of years. We’re encouraged to make noise and go apeshit for prizes which are handed out over the course of the evening. Every section wins something so, technically, you could sit on your hands and still win a prize, but what’s the point. You’re there to go nuts, so go nuts. I have noticed since ‘Deadpool’ a couple years ago that the section names are NOT easy to chant anymore. You’re welcome.
This year’s entertainment was top-notch. I’ve always said that the hardest part of planning these events was the timing. What worked in rehearsal drags out in front of a crowd. This year….spot on! Skits and breaks played just long enough. No dead air. They replaced last year’s Harley Quinn rope-dance/stripper with a male version, which was a major victory for gender equality. The magic act was fun as were the jugglers and the dancers. Becker emceed in his Principal character all night long and was pretty amusing. Celebrity cheer leaders Cletus ‘The Hewbrew Hammer’ Seldin (a fighter), Zach Ryder (a fake fighter), the Black Power ranger Walter Jones (an actor who played a guy who fights), and Comic Book Man Ming Chen (a guy who would get his ass handed to him in a fight) egged on the crowd for prizes and giveaways. There were pop-in visits from Stranger Things’ David Harbour (Hopper) and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and they gave things away, too. The music was the best of the 80’s so it was, you know, the 80’s, but it still had a good beat, you could dance to it, I’d give it an eight.
The upcoming release previews were all fantastic. Personally, I’m excited for the new Spastik Plastik and Ad Icon Pops, as well as Pez dispensers and some of the new Vnyls. I’d list them, but my phone was dead and my memory is a little hazy. You’re probably going to want to buy them all. You can go online and find images if you’re interested.
Awards were given out to several deserving recipients. Some people really hate on this part of the evening, I think because it takes time away from the prizes, but it’s always my favorite. This event is a celebration of Funko and its fans and it’s nice to see some of them get recognition for what they bring to the community. Our table is always on our feet to cheer on the winners and hug the new HOF members. Congratulations, everyone. Glad you made it.
After that, it’s the swag, and please note that I’m addressing it last. The proper order for enjoying Fundays is friends, fun, awards, and prizes. That’s it. If you don’t do it that way, you’re doing it wrong. But anyway, there were prizes and Funko outdid themselves this year. Not only was there the Tree-Friddy Box of Fun (Locker of Fun?), there was the Boom Box of fun, containing a proto, a dorbz and small trove of knick-knacks. There were also special Freddys given out to the different sections, Stranger Things Freddys, Limited Stranger Things Pops, Pez Freddys and a very rare, table 20’s only, golden Hopper Pop. Not only that, but they sold additional Boxes of Fun in the Funko shop using a special code given away during the live stream. If you came away from this event disappointed in your pile of prizes, that’s on you. You’re living in the Upside Down.
All in all, I thought this year’s Freddys were pretty cool. If there was a best in show, my money is on Yoda Freddy. Pennywise Freddy is amazing, but the edition size is nearly 10 times that of Yoda, so Yoda wins. I like the Chrome Freddys, which made the five (six actually) different colors a must have. Oh, and a big ‘Screw you’ to whomever traded the 1/24 Chrome Freddy (sixth) to my buddy ‘Wil with one L’. I am much more deserving of that piece than he is and you messed up the karmic balance of the universe. The gods will smite you, my friend. Mark my words, SMOTE! I was also a big fan of the Cuphead Freddys, the glow 8-bits, and the Dumb and Dumbers (which were mostly in the Box of Fun sold through the Funko Shop). The Stranger Thing Freddys went over pretty well with the crowd, but not me. Traded mine out for either a chrome or a Cuphead. In fact, I managed to trade myself into a complete set of the Chromes (less the aforementioned 1/24) and both Cupheads. Yay, me!
Oh, and speaking of trading…this year was brutal. Not that I didn’t do well, but in the sense that a lot of people were treating their piles of loot like, well, piles of loot. We all paid the same price to get in, we all have the same ‘money’ invested in what we got. Freddys hold value based on the character moreso than the edition size. Thinking that one 450 piece is worth two 1000 pieces is just wrong, especially if no one wants the 450 piece. I have a 1/24 Charlie Brown Freddy that I can’t seem to give away no matter how hard I try. The logical conclusion that trades should equal out monetarily based on edition size is that one Dumb and Dumber (1000pc) is worth four Pennywise (4000pc). Go on, make that trade you little American Pawn Star Picker wannabe. I dare you. My opinion when trading is that if I want what you have and you want what I have, we should maybe trade. Even if the edition-size ‘value’ isn’t the same, we both go away happy and that’s sort of the point of evening. Going home happy. Which I did.
Thank you Funko (and especially Mike Becker) for the best Fundays yet. Good luck topping yourselves next year.
Totally not cringe.