What will kill Pops?
It’s one of those questions that pop up on FB and the forums every now and again. It takes many forms, but the basic premise is still the same, how much time is left on the Pop clock?
Years, baby. Years.
For the record, I thought they’d be out of fashion by now. When they first released, I thought they were cute, but I refused to make any predictions regarding how popular they’d become. After their big blow up in year two, I figured they had another couple years in them before people got bored and Pop became a memory.
BOOM! Nailed it!
For the record, don’t ask me for stock tips.
So I was wrong, I won’t always be. If you’re worried about them dying off, stop. Pops will lose some luster and people will move on, but that’s still a ways off. My personal opinion (now) is that Pop will continue to be a thing until every man, woman and child in the industrialized world has had a chance to collect them. Since we keep making more people, it’s safe to say they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. No one’s going to go to bed with a collection worth thousands and wake up the next morning with a collection they can’t sell for a nickel.
But if you’re still worried about it, please enjoy my ‘Top Five Things That Hurt the Hobby’, while you’re waiting for you PPG Top 10 to crater.
Flooding the Market
I’m not talking about re-releases or those annoying US/Austrailian/European exclusives, although they are part of the problem. No, I’m talking about just too much product in general. New waves get introduced seemingly every day. They’re multiplying like tribbles. Out of curiosity (boredom) I tried to figure out how many pops had been made to date by adding up the numbers on the last box in each line. I topped out right around 1700, not counting multiples of the same number (Exclusives, Chases, Variants, Batman), mini-pops, boxed sets, 9” pops, or Freddy’s. Add those in and I bet you the final figure is closer to 2000. Being that Pop has been around for approximately 2190 days (six years time 365 day a year), that divides down to a new pop almost EVERY day. For six years! Those of us who are only buying one or two a week/month are seriously slacking.
A more sobering bit math for you...2000 pieces at an average price of 10 bucks...that’s 20G’s out of your pocket. No wonder some of you are selling out to pay the rent...you just spent your rent...on toys...good thinking.
What a great time to talk about hype, huh? Fundays (an annual party for Funko collectors) tickets went on sale last week...and sold out in less than a minute. I wish that was hyperbole but it ain’t. I was prepared, when tickets went live, it took me three clicks to finish my purchase. Click, click, click, done! It literally took you longer to read this paragraph than it did to buy tickets. But in the time that it did, poof, the other 999 tickets disappeared.
This is usually when people compare Pop to Beanie Babies. It’s an easy connection to make. Like Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids, or Dutch Tulips (look it up), Pops are the hot collectible of the moment. New Star Wars at Walgreens, people go nuts. New exclusives at Hot Topic, people go nuts. Mystery Boxes, people buy 10, because spending 200 for the one chase that might be worth 50 is good economics. Yep, very easy comparison to make.
That being said, I do think there is a little more to Pop than there were to Beanies. Since they’re licensed characters, Pops will appeal to larger groups of collectors. Yoda will attract Pop collectors AND Star Wars collectors. Batman will appeal to comic collectors and Batman collectors. Harry Potter, Marvel, Disney, Pixar, etc. all have audiences that would include Pops as part of a larger collection. By comparison, Beanie Babies appealed largely to collectors of stuffed animals…..and…. well...I don’t know. Giraffes, maybe? Teddy bears? I’m willing to bet there are more collectors of Jar Jar Binks than collectors of whatever stuffed mammal looks like Jar Jar Binks in the world. I think they call that ‘crossover appeal’. Like pop country music songs that don’t sound like total shit.
If you’re Funko right now, hype is great. Brings people to your door, sells product and makes your retailers a ton of money. Only downside, is that you can’t blow a bubble forever. Eventually they pop.
Our Fellow Collectors
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and sometimes the Funko family can be pretty contemptible.
Collectors run afoul of one another all the time. I think the majority of Funko FB pages were started by people who were kicked out of other groups. But rubbing one another the wrong way isn’t that big a deal. Everything you do offends someone. However, It isn’t the value-obsessed, top ten box-nazis who are slowly destroying the hobby, it’s those cockroach-wannabee scalpers, scammers and suckholes who are doing the real damage. Each of these quality individuals takes what we love and jams a cigarette right in its eye. Those Fundays tickets mentioned above...took about an hour before someone tried to sell a pair for $1500 on Craigslist because their kids couldn’t go. F**king liars. You knew you weren’t going when you bought the tickets. Give us a little credit.
I’ve been collecting for over 10 years, and I’ve seen ‘collectors’ do some terrible things to their fellow funatics. Lopsided trades, shitty shipping, hacked PayPal accounts, identity theft, mis-represented items, selling stripped or scraped ‘protos’, Peter Cao. Lots of trust burned to the ground there. Scalpers have made sure I never find an exclusive or a chase at any of the stores near me. Buying an extra piece or two to trade is one thing, buying every Pop on the shelf is kind of dirtbag. I get that it’s a earning a buck, just not an honest one.
Of course, the all-time topper on the shit-collector cake, is the guy dragging his senile relative from show to show, cutting lines, asking for special treatment, then using everyone’s pity to land super-rare items to flip. Wish I was making this guy up, but I’m not. I’ve seen him in action. He’s a creep. Been pulling this crap at D23, Fundays, the SDCC booth and other collector events for quite a while now. C’mon karma, you’ve got some catching up to do.
Hard bit of truth, but many of you are going to get tired of your mountain of pop. Sure, you say you love it and you’ll never sell, but you will. It’s a part of the collector’s circle of life.
- Jump in and buy everything.
- Look at your massive pile of crap and realize you’re deep down the rabbit hole.
- Sell some or all of your collection to regain your focus.
- Goto Step 1.
A vicious cycle? No, a natural one. I’m at the wall right now, just short of running into it. I don’t buy nearly as many Pop as I used to, and when I do, it’s usually so I can make something else (I kitbash mostly). I think a large part of my growing interest in Dorbz is that they aren’t Pop. I’m a guy with about 60-70 figures. For those of you with collections in the high hundreds, don’t you ever find yourself asking ‘WTF am I doing?’
I worry that with so many people jumping into Pop right now, that it’s only a matter of time before you all get tired and ‘get out to the game’ (and when you do, please don’t say ‘get out of the game’, it sounds douche-y). Mass selloffs will frighten the dabblers, prices will plummet, and grails will be burned for heat. The Pop landscape will become a wasteland.
On the upside, however, a lot of good stuff will become super-cheap again. Those of us still around are going to feast upon the remains of your collections.
The Next Big Thing
I think that Pop can survive one through four easily enough. Make less Pops, sell to fewer, but more passionate buyers who love Pops just because and won’t ever stop loving their collections. But this last one, ‘The Next Big Thing’...it’s non-recoverable.
Pop is lightning in a bottle. The perfect storm of cuteness, licensing, packaging and price point.
But storms pass.
Something will come along that we will all want more than we want Pops. Maybe it will be The Loyal Subjects or Titan mini-figures. Those Jada Metal figures are pretty cool and they’re cross-licensed. Hell, Mighty Muggs or Kidrobot could make a huge comeback and steal all the money out of your wallet.
Or maybe it will be Dorbz.
Whatever it ultimately turns out to be, rest assured that a lot of you will jump on that bandwagon when it rolls around.
And when enough of you leave, Pop will surely be dead.