This one goes out to all the PEZ heads out there who are about to get run over by a train.
I’d like to say that’s tongue in cheek, but I think it could be a bird in the bush with two hands on the wheel or something like that.
I recently joined a Pop Pez group on Facebook. It’s a fun group. Very casual. ‘Chill’ as I like to say to embarrass my daughter. They have a pretty nice thing going on. As one collector mentioned, they have about 20-30 new releases a year, they only cost a buck and a half, and whatever exclusives there are can be had for 30-50 dollars. This Funko thing is new to them.
After going a couple of rounds trying to explain the ins and outs of Funko stuff over several different threads in that group (and with Larry), I thought that I might put as much as I could in one place, post the link and (let’s be honest) get some hits out of it. It’s better than me bitching about Funko things only I care about, right?
Here we go with the basics. Some of this should be pretty obvious. I’m trying to cover the bases.
Funko exclusives can be broken up into three types: Retailer, Conventions, Fundays.
Retailer exclusives are unique to a particular retailer. Funko typically does exclusives with, but not limited to: Hot Topic, GameStop, FYE, Target, WalMart, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books A Million, Entertainment Earth, and Walgreens. This isn’t the complete list, mind you, but should give you an idea of how much running around you might do if you’re trying to catch them all. They will also do exclusives with retailers in Europe and Australia. Most of the time these are the same exclusives given to US stores with the only difference being the sticker. It can sometimes be cheaper to buy and ship internationally than buy domestic. Weird.
Also worth mentioning here, release dates. They’re imaginary for the most part. More like release guidelines. With the exception of coordinated releases (like Star Wars day), things come out when they come out. It is not uncommon to see items that are supposed to come out in the middle of the month start appearing online a week or two earlier. It all has to do with the retailers distribution chain. Look for new items to show up on the coasts first then work their towards where you live. Your best course of action is to pre-order where you can, then make friends with store managers and employees. Don’t be the dickhead who throws a fit because Brickseek (an inventory tracking application) shows three in stock but you can’t find them on the floor. Yes people do that. Don’t do that.
Retailer Exclusives. Subsection B. Funko Shop.
Items exclusive to the Funko shop are found either online or in their retail store in Everette, WA. Nowhere else. Shop Exclusives usually drop in the Pop-Up Shop on Wednesdays, around 7:30 am, PST. They sometimes do additional releases throughout the week. It’s aggravating. Because of automated bots and collector demand, online releases can sell out in minutes. That’s aggravating, too. Funko is trying to beat the bots by changing URLs, introducing passwords, making you switch from the pop-up shop to the regular shop, etc. It has slowed down the sellouts, but only by minutes. It’s better, but still, it’s aggravating.
Convention (Booth) Exclusives are available at comic/pop culture conventions. It used to be that the only convention Funko attended was SDCC. It was not uncommon for there to be show exclusives available for other events, usually through a vendor attending that particular event. Now, Funko has a presence at SDCC, NYCC, and Emerald City (in Seattle, Funko’s backyard). They added D23 Expo (the Disney-con for lack of a better explanation) last time around as well as the Toronto Fan Expo in Canada this year. So far they haven’t done any convention exclusive Pez, but I thinks that’ll change down the road. SDCC exclusives used to be unique to SDCC and only available at the Funko booth. Now, many of show exclusives are shared with the retailers listed above which takes a little of the ‘special’ away, but also makes stuff easier to get, especially if you’re not a sticker-whore. More on those deviants later. Items that aren’t shared with a retailer are usually sold on Funko’s website at some time during a con. Retailers usually release their shared items for sale on the first night of an event. So instead of standing in line for hours at a show, you can now stay up for days trying to buy stuff online. Enjoy!
I only mention it here because the first 4 pez, the Freddys, were given away at Fundays, a special collector event held during SDCC. It is not free or open to the public, you have to buy a ticket. It used to be an easy ticket to get. My first Fundays 8 years ago was attended by 150 people, maybe. Now, it seats 1200+ and sells out in about a minute, minute and a half. Attendees are treated to dinner, drinks, entertainment, and giveaways. Pretty much everything given away at Fundays is in a numbered edition. A lot of people treat these items like found money and try to pay for their entire weekend selling their stash. These people are ghouls. Any giveaways leftover after the event go to Gemini Collectibles. Sometimes he lists the stuff while the show is happening, other times he waits until the following morning. Steve is on Ebay, too. He has an idea what things should sell for. They are not usually cheap
If you’ve collected other toy lines, you might have come across chase pieces. These are variations of a normal release, sometimes a special character. In the Funko world, they’re usually a different colorway (paint application). Common chases are different color schemes, glow in the dark, metallic, flocked (covered in dust), or blood splattered (for horror lines or murder shows). Occasionally, they’re different sculpts, but not as often as some collectors would like. I think that we’ll most likely see different stem colors and colorways for Pez Chases. Hopefully well see some glow, too. Chases are usually one to a case, so if a case is 6 pieces, one will be a chase. Find out how many Pez come in a case and you can figure out the ratio. Good luck finding chases in the wild because there are a lot of people who only buy chases and they get up earlier than people with jobs. They also don’t collect them, they resell them. They’re…..
This will be the most negative part of my post today. As Funko's collectability has risen, so has the opportunity it make money, which has attracted a large number of people who are in it ONLY to make money. The flippers. They're in every hobby, but ours seem unusually aggressive, destructive, and conscienceless. They like to spin their existence as a positive by saying that they keep the hobby alive by providing a secondary market or they provide a valuable service making hard to find pieces available to people who probably wouldn’t find them otherwise. Truth is, they are a cancer, a narcissistic bunch of tumors that are slowly eroding collector trust and enthusiasm. Their behaviors (combined with the hypebeasts – people who have to have everything RIGHT NOW! ) have forced retailers to amend their return policies, put limits on how many pieces someone can buy, change how they distribute chases, etc.. They’ve thrust Funko’s website into a arms race against bots. Think it’s frustrating to get blocked out of buying a new release, try doing at 7:31 am PST, then seeing 10% of the edition for sale on Ebay at about 7:35 am, PST. With them in the game (and I hate to call collecting a ‘game’) you will face an uphill battle finding exclusives or chases in the wild. Some people will say I’m salty or butthurt for missing out. Nope. Just honest. They’re killing the fun. I blame something. I think it’s society or their parents. I can’t decide.
Boxes and Stickers
Be prepared, Funko collectors are unnaturally obsessed with box condition and stickers. I understand that if you collect something like toys, you want the condition of everything, toy and packaging, to be as close to original or ‘mint’ as possible. I’m like that, too. But I also understand that mint is a pipe dream and that Funko items are packaged on the cheap. The boxes look nice, but they’re not that sturdy and they can get marked up pretty easily. It doesn’t phase me to buy something in less than perfect condition. Funko collectors, for the most part, don’t understand that. I have friends who collect other toy lines comment on the Funko box and sticker thing. That it’s weird. It looks crazy to me inside the hobby, to have it reinforced from the outside tells me that it’s true. If Pop Pez take off, and I think they will, be prepared for people to go all Pawn Stars on you over a bent tab. ‘I know it’s worth 50 bucks, but the most I can do with that tab wiggle is three-fifty.’ It’s aggravating.
As for stickers…yeah, they go nuts over them, too. Again, I know that the packaging can be important, but I’ve seen more than a few collectors go gaga over sticker alignment, lack of a sticker, or having the right sticker (convention exclusive over season exclusive). I’m kind of surprised there hasn’t been more noise over the lack of Target stickers on Captain Crunch. But I’m patient. It’ll come.
Hold on to your wallets. Since Pop Pez are based on licenses and sculpts that Funko already has, they could literally drop hundreds upon hundreds (thousands, really) of Pez dispensers into your world at any given moment. There are four variations of Deadpool so far (normal, Box Lunch, Hot Topic, Hot Topic Chase). If Funko really goes for broke (you broke), there could be another dozen easy. Batman is just as bad. They’ve already released 40 some-odd designs and it’s only been a month. My suggestion to you is decide who you want to collect and get out of the way. Steamroller, baby.
Anyhow, hope this answers some of your questions, especially if you’re coming into the Funko world ice cold. Personally, I'm very excited about the PEZ community, they're very cool and very supportive. I hope they take this in the spirit it was meant, which is to be helpful. There’s probably a whole bunch of stuff I could have written more about, and probably a few things I shouldn’t have written about at all(the whole flipper/cancer thing). Oh well. It’s how I am.