Pop culture is everywhere and it has permeated through nearly every facet of modern media. From Star Wars to Marvel to Harry Potter, there seems to be a franchise out there for someone to enjoy. Many fans, however, go beyond consuming these pieces of media and start collecting merchandise.
Amid this pop culture boom, American company Funko saw an opportunity to creatively manufacture characters from popular franchises—ranging from the niche to the mainstream—for the fans who want to collect figurines of their favorite characters. For some, these pop vinyl figurines may just be one of many toy releases. For certain fans, however, these cute, distinctly shaped figurines have a uniqueness to them that makes these innocent-looking toys a valuable collector’s piece.
Each model is based on a specific character, ranging from real life personalities such as Abraham Lincoln, Stan Lee, and even of the Australian firefighters who valiantly faced the bushfires last 2019, to beloved fictional characters like Harry Potter, Anakin Skywalker, and Iron Man. There was even a limited run of a Jollibee-themed Funko Pop that almost instantly sold out. The sheer number and variety of available characters could entice nearly anyone into picking at least one figurine up.
However, Curt Luychinco, a second-year Export Management student from the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, has made it his goal to collect as many of these figurines as he can. Someone who can be regarded as a certified Funko Pop collector, he has amassed over a hundred Funko Pops to date.
The first Pop
An avid fan of popular media, the idea of a miniaturized version of his favorite characters has always piqued Curt’s interest. Before diving headfirst into the world of Funko Pops, he previously collected action figures, cards, and comics of heroes in the Marvel and DC Universes. Little did he know that a Deadpool figurine he purchased at a discount would be his entrance into the world of Funko Pops—having currently amassed shelves upon shelves of miniaturized figurines.
“It was a Walmart-exclusive Deadpool [figurine], which was yellow and blue. I thought it was cool and since there was only one left and it was going for just P500, why not?” he recounts. This was his first Funko Pop, and the emotions he felt when he held Deadpool in his hands sparked an interest in him that continues to this day. The allure of collecting beloved characters drew Curt into the world of Funko Pops. “The usual price I buy them [for] is about P595 but sometimes those can reach [up] to P900 to P1200,” he shares.
And though he says they can be financial investments, his passion for Funko Pops transcends the monetary cost of any of these figurines, being unwilling to sell any of them for any amount. He admits, “I just genuinely enjoy having them around my room.”
Taking quick Pop
Curt never expected nor truly planned to be an avid collector of Funko Pops. “I just thought they were nice to look at and there were a lot of figures of characters [that] I enjoyed in media like [in] TV movies and comics,” he confesses. But as he started to collect more and more, he started to become emotionally invested in the spirit of collecting these little figures, as well as the characters they symbolize.
This is echoed even in the priciest of his collection. His most expensive Funko Pop, Curt shares, was a New York Comic Con exclusive. “It was a diamond pony named Buttstallion, which was from one of my favorite games Borderlands 2,” he excitedly shares, even his expensive piece is grounded in his love for a piece of media.
For many collectors, whether it be Funko Pops or other things, the act of collecting gives them a sense of contentment that goes beyond the item’s monetary value. For Curt, he proudly says that there is something about collecting Funko Pops that gives him a sense of purpose. “There’s a good feeling you get when you finally get to have a figure that you’ve really wanted all this time,” he shares.
A popping community
Sharing collectibles can bring groups together but it is also one way for people to express their love for a fandom they adore. Funko Pops aren’t necessarily a new phenomenon, with collectable figurines dating back as generations, yet its mainstream availability and ability to market nearly every character and show imaginable has become a beacon to fans.
Truly, another aspect that draws in people is the sense of community it inspires—individuals that can relate, experience, and hold conversations about the things that interest them. Curt shares that there was a time where people came up to talk to him about their collections “just because they saw me with a bag full of figures.” Indeed, it is the communal sharing of one’s fandom—whether through Funko Pops, art, mugs, or sweaters—that truly engages a community further and gives fans a reason to stay invested. And as Curt says, “Meeting other people who are also interested in the hobby is pretty meaningful.”