Funko Pop: Invest in Your Favorite Pop Culture Characters

Funko Pop: Invest in Your Favorite Pop Culture Characters

These small vinyl figures resembling characters from pop culture franchises have found themselves to the center of the collectible zeitgeist. Can it last?

Funko Pop: Invest in Your Favorite Pop Culture Characters
Noah Weidner

Published Sep 21, 2022Updated Sep 21, 2022

Collectibles

Collectibles

Extra Income

Extra Income

Long Term Growth

Long Term Growth

Say what you will, but everybody collects something—whether it’s shoes, vinyl records, classy spirits, or something niche and weird. And those who say they don’t collect something are either lying or incredibly boring. Because, let’s face it, what we collect is a reflection of our interests (or a manifestation of our desire to buy, hold, and turn a profit.)

Pervasive as Pop culture might be, it’s hard to say whether or not these vinyl figures have the makings of other high-value collectibles.

That means every new collectible fad or trend with genuine collectors spawns a slew of opportunistic investors. They’ll buy up limited releases, keep them in the original packaging, and sit on them, hoping to sell them and make money.  Think Marvel comic books, Beanie Babies, or Cherished Teddies.

After record-breaking sales during the pandemic, vinyl figures called Funko Pops have the makings of a collectible that commands the weight and zeitgeisty-ness of those household brand names. But what are they?  What do you need to know about collecting Funko Pops? And how can you get your hands on Funko Pops worth collecting?

What are Funko Pops?

Funko Pops are small vinyl figure collectibles resembling characters and public figures from high-profile entertainment, games, and movie brands. Consumers have been collecting the highly sought-after Funko Pop collectibles, which gained newfound popularity in the last two years.

That popularity—and the high-value brands that joined the Funko family such as the NBA, Pokémon, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and Disney brands like Marvel and Star Wars—has drummed up a cult following among Funko collectors. It’s possible you already know somebody with a Funko Pops collection, too (especially if you have a family member or friend who is an avid collector of Pokémon cards, NFTs, or vintage video games).

Not all of them are created equal, but many Funko product lines multiply in value after the masses rush to add them to their cart. That doesn’t mean that Funko Pop Vinyls are necessarily a reliable investment, though.

To understand the factors affecting whether or not it’s time to get funky with the Pops or keep your cash on the sidelines, we’ve studied the finer points of Funko Pops finance and found some answers for how you could turn these packaged plastic figurines into cash.

Are Funko Pops valuable?

The short answer is yes, assuming you’re the parent company selling them and getting a kickback each time the vinyl figure products ship. Funko Inc, the parent company behind the Funko Pop collection, was founded in 1998. However, the debut of the company’s first line of Pop collectibles would only happen in 2010—when the company launched Funko Force 2.0, the company’s first Funko Pop product line.

Another decade would pass before Funko Pops would start to look and feel a little more familiar. Partnerships with high-profile companies such as Disney, the NBA, and Netflix transformed the decade-old packaged vinyl figure products into a global phenomenon. The consensus is strong, and the reviews are in—Pops are now a pop culture staple.

They also transformed the balance sheet of its parent company, Funko. The company’s stock has risen more than 220% in the last five years, compared to the S&P 500’s 55% increase over the same period. Even more impressive, the company’s stock continued to deliver and beat on investor expectations amid the 2022 stock rout.

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Chart tracking revenue and earnings of Funko Inc. since 2016.

Source: SimplyWall.st

In 2021, the company’s revenue rose more than 57% to $1 billion. In the first half of 2022, the company kept the magic going, reporting more than $620 million in revenue—well on track to beat their previous year's revenue. And for 2023 and 2024, analysts are expecting the Funko Pop love to stick.

Your first inclination upon hearing that might be to fire up your Robinhood app and buy shares of Funko Inc. That might not be misguided, especially if the company continues to fire on all cylinders with its product partnerships and demand. However, by buying Funko stock, you’ll enter into a world of uncertainty—where you have to account for global, monetary, and other annoying factors.

Instead, you could line up at your local GameStop (it’s not just a meme stock) or Hot Topic to get your hands on the latest Funko drop. And while, in some ways, that’s a different gamble entirely, it might be an even more valuable one. Let’s talk about what makes a Pop valuable.

What the Funk? Taking stock of the Funko market

Stocks come in all shapes, sizes, and industries—the Funko market bears its own complexity. For starters, though, it does help to know that a standard Funko Pop vinyl figure is approximately 4 inches tall.

That might seem like a lot of fuss for something so small, but fussing over product type and product details is the name of the game with these vinyl figure collectibles. Before you press ‘checkout,’ let’s check out some of the factors affecting the value of Pop collectibles.

Product franchises

Not all Pop products are made equally—certain Pop figures are more valuable than others. The franchise of a Pop is one of those key differences.

According to FunkyPriceGuide.com, Disney’s Funko Pops—which mostly include licensed Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Boba Fett, and Doctor Strange—-are among the most valuable. Getting your hands on all 792 Disney Pop vinyls would cost you about $22,244 as of this writing. Even sub-collections from Marvel films such as Star Wars would cost you hundreds to get in your Funko collection. Other franchises such as Attack on Titan, Breaking Bad, Batman, and Halo are also among the more valuable ones.

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FunkyPriceGuide.com is a resource that tracks the total value of Funko collections over time. 

Source: FunkyPriceGuide.com

Pop attributes and character popularity often determine demand among collectors. Of course, the most valuable pops aren’t necessarily the most popular ones. That’s because certain pops are rarer than others.

Scarcity of Funko Pops explained

In the world of Funko Pops, retail prices, stickers, condition of the original packaging, and the popularity of characters or franchises go a long way to determining how rare a Pop is. You can think of these as the market conditions affecting most Pops.

Let’s start with the most obvious factor affecting your investment: retail prices. Though most Funko products will cost between $8 and $20 on average, some rarer, more sought-after Funko Pops might have a sticker price of $75 or more. These more expensive, limited-release Pops are called Grails—and they tend to be more valuable on secondary markets like eBay because of their scarcity. 

That said, there’s more to Funko than Grails. Funko has a list of box stickers that make it easy to discern how rare a Pop might be. Stickers on the original box can tell you if it is an exclusive Funko Pop which was only available at a retailer like the Funko shop, a certain retailer, or a convention. Exclusive editions are generally more scarce than widely-available Pops and, therefore, more valuable.

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A list of Funko Pops stickers on Funko's website.

Source: Funko.com

Other stickers might call out that a Pop is a variant, a product type that makes a Funko unique in some way. Keep your eyes peeled for Pop vinyls marked with Flocked (fuzzy), Diamond Collection, Glow in the Dark, or another item sign like metallic or chrome.

However, the highest value Pop items tend to be ones with a piece count, Special Edition, or Chase sticker on the packaged vinyl figure. Here are more details on what each product element means.

Chase & limited-edition Chases

Many Funko Pops release with a rare variant featuring a different design from the original character design. Chase Pop vinyls are often the first to go at retailers because they are unique.

Getting a Chase Pop vinyl or limited-release Pop is a tossup when shopping online. Generally, when a customer buys exclusive Pops, they have a random chance of getting a Chase version. Funko says the odds are one-in-six, which means you could think you’re purchasing a common Pop at MSRP, but end up with one of the more valuable Chase Pop vinyls. These command a premium in the secondary market if you're lucky.

Special edition

Though “special edition” might sound unique, it doesn’t command much weight in the Funko community. This sticker just means that a retailer exclusive in the U.S. has “been made available to an international retailer as well.” This actually can reduce the value of a Pop in some cases because it suggests it's a more pervasive item.

Piece count

As the name suggests, a piece count sticker will show a precise number of pieces that were made of a certain vinyl figure. These are often the most valuable of all Pops because it’s easy to discern their rarity in the market.

Vaulted and Grail Pops

There are two more terms it might help to know when it comes to the scarcity of Pops: vaulted and Grail.

As we’ve noted, Grail Funko Pops are highly sought-after products or characters by the Funko community. Grails will traditionally retail at more than the $8 to $20 price mark of common Funkos. Instead, a grail will run you at least $75 each.

Vaulted Funko Pops are also important to keep tabs on—vaulted pop vinyls are ones that Funko ceased production of, meaning that the supply of these Pops will no longer increase. Funko says that “once an item goes into the vault, it does not come back out,” but suggests that future iterations of a character or item will be a different variant. Vaulted Funko Pops generally see an increase in value once they cease production. The official Funko website allows you to verify which figures have been vaulted.

Condition

Finally, it’s kind of a no-brainer, but the quality of Funko Pops makes a huge difference. The condition of both the vinyl figure and the packaging is crucial if you collect Funko Pops. That means damaged boxes or boxless Pops will often be worth a fraction of their potential value. Most Funko Pop collectors buy box protectors or cases for their Funko collection, especially if they plan to store more valuable Pops for long periods of time.

How to invest in Funko Pops

There are lots of marketplaces and retailers which sell Funko Pops. However, if you want to get your hands on ones that have the highest odds of multiplying in value (Grails, Exclusives, or Pops made with limited numbers), then your best shot is to order products directly from Funko.

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The Antonio Madrigal and Julieta Madrigal vinyl Funko Pop figures.

Source: Amazon.com

That doesn’t mean that buying from other retailers—Hot Topic, GameStop, and others—isn’t also a viable strategy. However, limited edition Pops can sell out quickly. Serious collectors will generally follow social media accounts, Facebook groups, YouTubers, and news sites to keep up with new offerings.

If you’ve heard enough and are ready to start collecting, here’s how you can buy Funko Pops.

Buy and hold Funko Pops

Once investors get their hands on a Funko Pop, they may choose to hold their figure similar to other long-term investments. You can check the value of the Pop using marketplaces like eBay, FunkyPriceGuide, or poppriceguide.com to estimate the value of an individual Pop.

Buy lots and flip individual Funko Pops

If you’re hoping to make a quick buck, you might choose to purchase lots or bundles of figures. Collectors looking to sell off many Funko Pops at once may sell them together at a discounted price on online marketplaces. Alternatively, you can buy these lots and then flip individual Pops at market price, but you'd practically be gambling your money. 

Buying second-hand Funko Pops on secondary markets

Since some of the more valuable Pops are from high-profile franchises, it might make sense to buy high-value Pops directly from a secondary marketplace. You’ll save time, likely pick up a good investment Funko Pop, but might spend more money to acquire these Pops. That’s because—at least in recent memory—many figures with labels and stickers from bigger franchises have held onto their value.

Are Funko Pops a good investment?

The question high on the minds of potential investors is 'are the Pops here to stay?' Pervasive as they might be now, they haven’t gained the track record of other high-value collectibles quite yet.

The purest way to invest in the future of Funko Pops is by buying Funko Inc. stock, which could make for a good investment if Funkos stay hot. However, it’s not a true collectibles play—it exposes you to certain risks you wouldn’t be exposed to by bandwagoning onto the Pop hype train and investing in Funko Pops directly.

That said, the demand for Funko Pop products is higher than ever. That means that you could take your chance by investing in a Funko Pop collection, or just the ones which are already valuable to genuine collectors, or ones you think could be valuable in the future. In the worst case, you might lose a few bucks. In the best case, you might double, triple, quadruple, or multiply your investment many times over.

If you’re sold on collectibles, but maybe not Funkos, you could zoom out even further from the Funko Fad and try alternative methods of investing in collectibles like comic books, collectible toys, and sports cards. Platforms like Rally or Collectable remove a lot of the due diligence and guesswork you’d have to do to start making money by investing in collectible assets.