AFJ TOY FAIR '16-FUNKO WALK-THROUGH!
By Jarrett Kruse
I screwed up big time for the AFJ FUNKO Walk-Through with my two terrific contacts from the Pacific Northwest, Yoko & Cameron. Thankfully, the dynamic duo were nice enough to realize that things like this happen at Toy Fair where running around from appointment to appointment can wreak major havoc on your planned schedule. As it turns out, those times you set up are much like going to the barber; if someone is in the chair ahead of you, you're gonna wait and possibly miss something very important. As I got to the massive FUNKO booth, I was greeted by Yoko & Cameron who understood how sorry I was for the error and knew that my Walk-Through of their booth was essential for the Junkies-faithful. Its that kind of niceness and understanding that makes AFJ's relationship with FUNKO such a good one. It was terrific to finally meet the pair face to face after an excellent year of give and take where AFJ has been supplied a tremendous amount of FUNKO product to both review and supply for our signature reviews, contests & giveaways. In addition, we were most recently fortunate enough to have Yoko use her business savvy to coordinate my interview with FUNKO Creative Director Sean Wilkinson for my monthly AFJ/MIDTOWN COMICS blog which you can find on their bustling website. MIDTOWN COMICS is not just a place for toys and comics but an NYC institution so the help from Yoko was invaluable when trying to get the inside look from a top executive into my blog piece, "POP! GOES THE TOY INDUSTRY" together for publication. Her input and coordination for the piece was incredibly valuable so it was really exciting to finally meet and thank her face to face.
When the pair broke down the wide and varied FUNKO display for me, their enthusiasm for their companies product was absolutely contagious as they pointed me in the direction of the newest lines. Not only does the staple POP! line continue to flourish with countless new licenses acquired, they also pointed out the burgeoning DORBZ line which are just, well, adorable. Along with that the ROCK CANDY line is stellar and the continued expansion of the underrated VINYL IDOLZ line was a real treat and I got to see the new additions that included the Batman Vs. Superman license as well as a clever Stan Lee tribute and an awesome Patrick Bateman from American Psycho that is an absolute must have. That is what I love about FUNKO, they figure out how to mold even the scariest characters from TV & Film into their well thought out and crafted sweet spot of cuteness and accessibility. The booth was absolutely hopping as I took close to a thousand pictures in my almost hour long tour of the massive space the Oregon based company took up this year. Every Toy Fair, it seems that FUNKO is taking up more and more prime real estate on the showroom floor. And why shouldn't they? Even the most hardcore of Junkies have at least a couple of POP! Vinyls in their wide and varied collections. I regaled to the two FUNKO execs how I personally got started by buying the two Back to the Future POP's available but soon expanded my small collection once I found out that POP! Rides made the famous DeLorean from the film. (Speaking of POP! Rides, their are quite a few new ones coming to market that quickly caught my attention.) Eventually, I discovered that their were more BTTF POP's that were Exclusive to websites like FUN.com and even one in a monthly LOOT CRATE box that I happily paid $40 for on the secondary market. By the time I had all of the BTTF POP's, I had already branched out into buying STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS POP's and pre-ordering several including ones for the hit NETFLIX show Daredevil. FUNKO knows they have a blockbuster line on their hands and they smartly are continuing to play to their strengths, aggressively acquiring licenses from just about every possible popular cartoon, film & TV show out there. I was particularly taken with the preview of the upcoming Suicide Squad product as well as the new Captain America sequel Civil War. As if that were not enough to satiate my appetite for cuteness, FUNKO now is going into the storied PLAYMOBIL line which is a wonderful way to introduce the younger crowd to their parents favorite characters from hit shows and movies like Doctor Who, Sherlock & Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And yes, they also made a Doc Brown & Marty McFly from Back to the Future, so I am of course in for a set!
2016 is sure to be another big year for FUNKO as every country seems to be quickly turning into a POP! Nation all their own. In addition, the popular monthly clubs like MARVEL's Collectors Corp and the soon to be released DC Legion of Collectors give fans the opportunity to get an Exclusive POP! or other FUNKO product that cannot be bought in stores. Right now it is FUNKO's world and we are just living in it. If I could, I would buy POP's of my own family to give as gifts and I have to think that that concept is not far off! Well done gang.