Years ago while walking through a Toys R Us for my weekly figure fix, I came upon a couple of collectors that strictly collected vinyl figures. It was interesting to me to see how dedicated they were to this one very specific genre of figures as it was a very niche market at the time. A great deal of what was available at the time had a heavy Japanese influence and most collectors considered these items to be what the industry was referring to as "niche designer toys." So their was definitely somewhat of a label attached to vinyl figures as high end but affordable with a heavy reliance on both Asian and American pop culture. It was hit or miss for me and it certainly was not a trend that I thought would catch on not only with hardcore Junkies but casual collectors as well. Enter FUNKO.

While the Everett, Washington based toy company was founded in 1998 as a "nostalgia themed low tech" toy company trying to capitalize on an increasingly digital world, it was not until 2005 that visionary entrepreneur Brian Mariotti took the helm as CEO and the transformation of the toy company began the metamorphosis into an absolute industry juggernaut. Mariotti and his team aggressively moved from niche bobblehead makers into a company that has revolutionized the toy industry in the past six years. The vinyl toy market was poised to change the fabric of the action figure world creating a product that not only appealed to the hardcore AFJ member but also all of the non-toy collectors in your life. POP! Vinyls were unleashed on a rabid community of collectors where FUNKO had the foresight to notice a gaping hole. Not only has FUNKO filled the hole, they have built a skyscraper made of vinyl on top of it.

The King of POP!, Brian Mariotti

After interviewing FUNKO Creative Director Sean Wilkinson last year for the MIDTOWN COMICS toy blog in a piece called, "POP GOES THE TOY INDUSTRY," I began to really understand the creative process behind the company's mission. Hearing first hand about FUNKO's collaborative process and Mariotti's aggressive strategy to vacuum up over 1000 (yes that is ONE THOUSAND) licenses was a gamble that has paid off in spades. The POP! universe has hit the sweet spot of the toy world that is constantly looking for the next big thing. But here's the kicker: POP's are actually gaining in their share of the market rather than be a one-off holiday hit. The dedication of POP! collectors is unlike anything I have ever seen in all my years of collecting and the company's Venn Diagram of cute, affordable and nostalgia has been the perfect storm for a voracious fan base with an appetite for starting a collection that will not hit your wallet hard.

While the majority of POP's can be purchased for as little as $7.99 to $12.99, FUNKO has managed to broker deals with many of the top online and brick & mortar stores with coveted Exclusives that fetch hundreds of dollars on the secondary market and in the plethora of social media groups devoted solely to POP's. Throw in Chase/Variant pieces, Con Exclusives and a seemingly endless supply of untapped licenses and FUNKO has become the talk of the toy industry as they expand into other lines branching off from their flagship brand. The FUNKO booth at Toy Fair in February has evolved into a massive feast for the senses with POP-ified versions of characters that we will likely never see traditional action figures made. And that is where FUNKO's Mariotti has become the Willy Wonka of toys, filling a void that has become an envious business model for other companies trying to compete.

While others have tried, the FUNKO model has reinvigorated a sorely untapped vinyl toy market that is now at the forefront of so many Junkies collections. I like to call POP's a "gateway toy" as it is totally affordable to start an awesome collection for a minimum amount of cash. Plus, The devotion to the FUNKO brand has reached its apex with a cult-like following that has made naysayers claiming the trend would not last eat their words. While meteoric brands like Beanie Babies eventually puttered out and then pivoting, it seems that POP! Vinyls gains momentum with each passing day. While their are tons of new POP's hitting stores this year, I started this list as a Top 10 but after an overwhelming response from the Junkies on Facebook, I had to up it to the "Top 20 POP! Vinyls We Want" because despite FUNKO mopping up licenses like a Sham-wow, their are still tons of properties that have AFJ members positively giddy hoping that the list below gets the ultimate nod that is to become "POP-ified."

PS--I even added my personal TOP 5 WISHLIST at the bottom because I just could not help myself...

20. HOME ALONE

I had not watched the original HOME ALONE in over a decade so I decided to pick it up around Christmas for myself. The magic was definitely still there along with the laughs despite it being 65 degrees in my first holiday season in Los Angeles. So we definitely need a Kevin McCallister, Harry Lime & Marv Merchants but a Kate McCallister (Catherine O'Hara) and a Gus Polinski (the late John Candy) would be nice additions as well.

19. HAPPY DAYS

The TV classic from comedy legend Garry Marshall was a staple in so many of our childhoods so where are the POP's?!? The Fonz's jacket is in the Smithsonian which means that we need a POP of the man that redefined cool with two thumbs up and the simple catchphrase, "Aayyyyyyy." Plus he could start a jukebox with the bump of his fist. So here is who we are going to need in POP form:

  • Richie Cunningham
  • The Fonz
  • Marion Cunningham
  • Howard Cunningham
  • Joanie Cunningham
  • Chachi Arcola
  • Ralph Malph
  • Potsie Weber
  • Al Delvecchio
  • Arnold

18. KNIGHT RIDER

While it was only recently by an episode of THE GOLDBERGS that I remembered my own childhood fascination with Michael Knight and the unstoppable K.I.T.T. If you did not live it, it is hard to actually describe what KNIGHT RIDER fever was like back then. I am sure I will come up with a comparable current craze but it won't hit me until 3 AM. Whenever you grew up, KNIGHT RIDER was a necessity. Here are the POP! Vinyls that we need!

  • Michael Knight
  • Michael Knight Variant (Bad Guy Evil Twin Garth)
  • Devon Miles
  • K.I.T.T. POP! Rides

17. TRON

Once upon a time, TRON was the ultimate in CGI entertainment. The 1982 cult classic was among one of the first DVD's that I purchased in the early 2000's but never did I think that we would ever get the likenesses of the characters from the grid. Here is who the Junkies would like POP-ified please:

  • Kevin Flynn
  • Clu
  • Alan Bradley
  • TRON
  • Lora/Yori
  • Ram
  • Crom

16. THIS IS SPINAL TAP

You know before the Internet when someone would say, "you've gotta watch this movie" and you would actually go and do it because it was one person your trusted and not an aggregate of all of your friends opinions on that one movie was? That is what SPINAL TAP was for me. A relative that I knew really knew funny recommended it to me and not a year goes by where I do not crank it up to 11. Here is who we need from the greatest band their never was. Mini-Stonehenge is a must!

  • Marty DiBergi
  • Derek Smalls
  • Nigel Tufnel
  • David St. Hubbins
  • Stonehenge
  • Morty the Mime

15. THE LOST BOYS

Now if their is one property that I think that FUNKO can get on board with HOT TOPIC on, it is most definitely director Joel Schumacher's last hurrah as a solid Hollywood director. (His magnum opus is of course my beloved D.C. CAB with Adam Baldwin & Mr. T but that film's pedigree is too small to ever get the POP! treatment!) The Goth kids will gobble up THE LOST BOYS POP's like bad Chinese food that is really maggots! Here is a list of who we need:

  • Michael
  • Vampire Michael (Chase)
  • David
  • Vampire David (Chase)
  • Sam
  • Edgar Frog
  • Alan Frog
  • Star

14. WATERWORLD

I feel like you have to have lived through 1995's WATERWORLD to truly appreciate the property in its entirety. The film was an absolute production nightmare with the cost ballooning to over $100 million--which was a lot of money in those days! Now, it is rare that a tentpole studio film does not have a *minimum* budget of $100 million and if said film only makes its investment back, it still has to clear a profit after marketing & advertising costs. Throw in the fact that the film is set entirely in an Earth encompassed in water and had this been made today, production would surely have been shut down immediately thanks to the Internet. All that being said, I friggin' love WATERWORLD! I even loved the action figures from the 90's when the toy industry was in this weird period of growing pains and getting adjusted to the digital age. The POP's of WATERWORLD will definitely be better than those figures so here is who we need.

  • The Mariner
  • The Mariner's Catamaran (POP! Rides)
  • Helen
  • Enola
  • Deacon

13. THEY LIVE

John Carpenter's most underrated classic has become a cult phenomenon in the Junkieverse. Between the rabid Carpenter fan base and those like myself that grew up with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as a kid, made this lost 80's gem one of the best ahead of its time alien invasion thrillers ever. I'm afraid we are going to need some POP's!

  • Nada
  • Nada with Sunglasses (Chase)
  • Frank
  • Frank with Sunglasses (Chase)
  • Holly
  • Male Alien (Suit)
  • Female Alien

12. MAJOR LEAGUE

It is apropos that we add MAJOR LEAGUE to the list on the Opening Day of the 2017 baseball season! The penultimate baseball movie comedy has spawned Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn jerseys, bobbleheads and even a "Jobu" figurine but never have fans received anything that they can truly collect. Here is who we will need to fill out the Opening Day lineup card. Lots of great choices here and no better time than the start of the season.

  • Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn
  • Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn with "Skull Glasses" (Chase)
  • Jake Taylor
  • Roger Dorn
  • Willie Mays Hayes
  • Pedro Cerrano with mini-Jobu
  • Harry Doyle
  • Lou Brown

11. THE LAST DRAGON

I remember leaving the theater as an 8 year old in 1985 like my mind had just gone to an entirely different world. Which was very strange considering I was less than an hour outside of New York City and my Dad commuted there everyday for decades. While my brother and I were absolutely obsessed with Ninjas in the 80's (most kids were), THE LAST DRAGON was something so totally different than the Sho Kosugi movies we had rented hundreds of times. It had laughs, a bad-ass villain, sidekicks, and a gorgeous pop star. And "The Glow." Never forget "The Glow" and its power in pretend fighting with your older brother. The movie has now reached cult status worldwide and it is just a really tough movie not to like. Here is who we need POP-ified:

  • Leroy Green (White Training Suit)
  • Leroy Green (Black Pants)
  • Leroy Green (Black Pants w/ "The Glow" action)
  • Laura Charles
  • Sho'Nuff
  • Shogun of Harlem (Final Battle w/ "The Glow" action)
  • Eddie Arkadian
  • Johnny Yu & Tai 2-Pack

10. MIKE TYSON'S PUNCH-OUT!!

The defining boxing game of all time on the NES! I still remember the cheat code to get to fight Tyson; I just need an original NES controller in my hand and my muscle memory would take over. This game introduced a slew of popular characters that had kids spending hours after school trying to legitimately beat the champ through a slew of classic Nintendo characters. While we were given a "Little Mac" Amiibo a few years back, that has been it in the way of merchandising. Its a long list but here is who we need to see in POP form from the classic game that doesn't seem to go out of style.

  • Little Mac
  • Glass Joe
  • Von Kaiser
  • Piston Honda
  • Don Flamenco
  • King Hippo
  • Great Tiger
  • Bald Bull
  • Soda Popinski
  • Mr. Sandman
  • Super Macho Man
  • Iron Mike Tyson

9. AUSTIN POWERS TRILOGY

It still happens today, take JOHN WICK for example, a modestly budgeted film catches fire on rentals, streaming, etc. and a franchise is born. That was the story when AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY hit theaters and then "home video" in 1997. The kids like me that grew up on WAYNE'S WORLD earlier that decade, could now relate to Mike Myers in a whole new way as a 60's throwback spy. By the time the sequel hit in '99, AUSTIN POWERS had become an absolute phenomenon. While it has been 15 years since GOLDMEMBER was released (wow, I feel like a fossil right now), rumors still abound that the franchise could be resurrected. Here's the kicker though--AUSTIN POWERS was one of the first movie properties that ushered in a new era of action figure development and design. McFarlane Toys did an amazing job of setting the standard at the dawn of the new millennium. So many great characters to POP!

  • Austin Powers
  • Dr. Evil
  • Number Two (Wagner)
  • Number Two (Lowe)
  • Scott Evil
  • Mini Me
  • Alotta Fagina
  • Frau Farbissina
  • Vanessa Kensington
  • Fat Bastard (6-Inch)
  • Felicity Shagwell
  • Foxxy Cleopatra
  • Goldmember

8. GREASE

The penultimate musical of my childhood was undoubtedly GREASE, screen icon John Travolta's 1978 follow up to the monster SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. Huge part of my childhood and the movie just does not get old, so where is the merch? By the way, Travolta took a percentage of both the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER & GREASE Soundtrack's netting him crazy residuals for 40 years as they are still two of the best-selling soundtracks of all time! Maybe Scientology is not so crazy. Anyway, where are the POP's and the POP! Rides for one of the most iconic cinematic vehicles ever. Don't ever forget FUNKO, GREASE will always be the word. Here's who we need:

  • Danny Zuko
  • Danny Zuko (Letterman Jacket, Chase)
  • Danny Zuko (School Dance)
  • Sandy Olson (Summer Nights)
  • Sandy Olson (School Dance)
  • Sandy Olson (Leather Outfit)
  • Sandy Olson (Leather Outfit, Bare Shouldered, Chase)
  • Kenickie
  • Rizzo
  • Frenchie
  • Frenchie (Chase w/ pink hair)
  • Cha-Cha DiGrigorio
  • Marty
  • Jan
  • Putzie
  • Doody
  • Grease Lightning POP! Rides

7. THE TERMINATOR FRANCHISE

Their has to be a major few waves to get through all of the TERMINATOR franchise and make sure they get the POP-due they deserve. Plus, can you imagine a T2 Harley or T-1000 Semi as part of POP! Rides? Wow! That'd be dope. Okay here is the preliminary list of who Ah-Nuld himself would approve.

  • Terminator T-800
  • Terminator T-800 (Classic Outfit)
  • Kyle Reese
  • Sarah Connor
  • T-800 (T2 Version)
  • T-1000 (Motorcycle Cop)
  • T-1000 (Regular Cop)
  • T-1000 (All Metal Chase)
  • Militant Sarah Connor
  • John Connor
  • Miles Dyson

6. SCRUBS

The NBC comedy was (and still is) one of my all time favorite sitcoms and I am a major sitcom Junkie. This series hits your funny bone, your heart and your imagination with some of the most original concepts (no laugh track, amazing soundtracks, guest stars, etc) ever produced in a half-hour comedy. We need the team from SACRED HEART Hospital to be POP-ified ASAP. STAT! There we go, I forgot the medial word for ASAP...

  • J.D.
  • Turk
  • Elliot
  • Carla
  • Dr. Kelso
  • Dr. Cox
  • Janitor
  • The Todd
  • Ted

5. TOP GUN

Love it or hate it, TOP GUN has become an American institution. It is hard not to put the late Tony Scott's masterpiece as one of Tom Cruise's best pictures where he is at the top of his game in an excessive decade where we still knew who our enemies were. It was a glorious time yet no kind of action figures have been made of any of the awesome characters from the epic testosterone fueled 80's flick. (FYI--Yes, director Tony was Ridley Scott's brother and killed himself by jumping off a bridge in Hollywood ending talks with Cruise about bringing back the Maverick character as a TOP GUN instructor.) We are respectfully requesting to buzz the proverbial tower FUNKO with these suggestions.

  • Pete Mitchell/Maverick (w/ Bomber Jacket)
  • Pete Mitchell/Maverick (Flight Suit)
  • Charlie
  • Charlie (Chase wearing Bomber Jacket)
  • Goose
  • Iceman
  • Stinger
  • Jester
  • Viper
  • Slider

4. SPACEBALLS

The story goes that Master Jedi George Lucas allowed legendary triple threat actor/writer/director and comedy legend Mel Brooks to make 1987's SPACEBALLS with one caveat: no action figures get made. Ironically, the mind behind STAR WARS, who just a decade earlier, FOX passed up an additional $500,000 in directing fees in return for letting the writer/director keep licensing & merchandising rights for himself. Since the studio was convinced the movie was a sure flop, it was a no-brainer decision. But in 1978, gross sales for STAR WARS toys and merchandise exceeded $100 million. Anyway, bottom line, outside of customs, we've got nothing SPACEBALLS! We need this FUNKO!

  • Lone Star
  • Lone Star Prince (Chase)
  • Barf
  • Dark Helmet
  • President Skroob
  • Yogurt
  • Colonel Sanders
  • Dot Matrix

3. PSYCH

USA NETWORK's PSYCH literally got me through the car accident that AFJ arose from. I bought season by season and fell in love with these characters. My brother had told me for years to watch the show but I resisted as this was at the beginning of streaming. Meanwhile, I wound up reviewing the last few seasons of PSYCH for a popular online magazine and as I fast became a "PSYCH-O," I realized that the power of the Pineapple was huge online with some of the most hardcore fan communities I have ever seen. I have to have these!

  • Shawn Spencer
  • Burton "Gus" Guster
  • Juliet "Jules" O'Hara
  • Det. Carlton Lassister
  • Henry Spencer
  • Chief Vick
  • The Amazing Psych-Man & Magic Head Two-Pack

2. CHEERS

CHEERS was the first "grown up" sitcom I was allowed to watch as a kid and it resonated with me deeply. It was so wonderfully written and executed giving a familial vibe to a place where everybody knows your name. This was the first sitcom that ever made me want to write comedy and it is one of the rare sitcoms that hold up well over 30 years later. I used to have tapes in high school marked, "CHEERS Anthology, VOL. 1, 2" that I would burn through--the old school way of binge streaming! Easily in the Top 10 sitcoms of all time by any critic, why haven't we seen any CHEERS loot? Talk about an equal ensemble cast where everyone gets their screen time. You guys can get three waves out of these!

  • Sam Malone (Member's Only Jacket)
  • Sam "Mayday" Malone (Red Sox Uniform Chase)
  • Diane Chambers
  • Rebecca Howe
  • Dr. Frasier Crane
  • Norm Peterson
  • Cliff Clavin
  • Woody Boyd
  • Carla Tortelli
  • Coach Ernie Pantusso
  • Dr. Lilith Sternin-Crane

1. SEINFELD

The sitcom of all sitcoms that has redefined how we see comedy despite being off the air for close to two decades. FUNKO has delved into the burgeoning SEINFELD brand with their underrated VINYL IDOLZ line that has given props to unforgettable minor recurring characters like Soup Nazi, Puddy, Mr. Pitt & George Costanza. The current POP=mania in the Junkieverse could make some serious coinage if only the core 5 (Seinfeld, Alexander, Louis-Dreyfus, Richards & Larry David) would sign off on their likenesses. However, I believe that FUNKO can reel in this whale of a property somehow and can even see it expanding into their returning new 3.75" figures. How can you not want a Puffy Shirt Jerry figure of any kind?

  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Puffy Shirt Jerry (Chase)
  • George Costanza
  • Cosmo Kramer
  • Elaine Benes
  • Kenny Bania
  • David Puddy
  • Frank & Estelle Costanza 2-Pack
  • Newman
  • Keith Hernandez
  • Soup Nazi
  • Babu Bhatt
  • Uncle Leo
  • Jackie Chiles
  • Larry David as "The Man in the Cape"

***JARRETT'S TOP 5 PICK WISHLIST!!!***

5. THE GOLDBERGS

Already wrapping up their 4th season, THE GOLDBERGS is the most accurate portrayal of my childhood to ever hit the small screen. Each episode is like a tour down memory lane for stuff that I myself experienced growing up in a very similar childhood with similar characters/family members. I am so psyched to see this show grow with a stellar ensemble cast that continues to expand and has already spawned a spin-off series for ABC due this Fall. So I think that THE GOLDBERGS merchandising train is a property to get the jump on. Here is who we need:

  • Adam F. Goldberg
  • Beverly Goldberg
  • Murray Goldberg
  • Barry Goldberg
  • Erica Goldberg
  • Lainey Lewis
  • Albert "Pops" Solomon
  • JTP (Jenkintown Posse) 3-Pack
  • Coach Mellor
  • Mr. Glascott
  • Ms. Cinnamon
  • Dave Kim
  • Emmy Mirsky

4. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

It turns out that co-creating SEINFELD was just Larry David's opening act. The curmudgeon comedian launched another groundbreaking show on HBO in 2000 that went on for 8 award-winning seasons and a 9th is coming later this year to the cable giant. It's Larry's world, we just live in it. But some of the characters have prime POP potential.

  • Larry David
  • Cheryl David
  • Jeff Greene
  • Susie Greene
  • Marty Funkhouser
  • Richard Lewis
  • Leon Black

3. COMING TO AMERICA

Yes my 80's nostalgia continues as this nearly 30 year old comedy has just last week spawned interest from star Eddie Murphy in resurrecting the franchise. So its prime pouncing POP positioning for FUNKO to get the likenesses for a film where Eddie plays four characters himself.

  • Prince Akeem
  • Clarence
  • Randy Watson
  • Saul
  • Semmi
  • Morris
  • Reverend Brown
  • King Jaffe Joffer
  • Cleo McDowell
  • McDowell's uniform Akeem
  • McDowell's uniform Semmi
  • Darryl Jenks

2. BEVERLY HILLS COP

When my Dad took me to see the profanity filled BEVERLY HILLS COP at age 7, I knew how smart he was about what was funny. He knew seeing Eddie Murphy was seeing something historic and pretty much every movie he did for a decade was somehow at the core of my childhood. But the centerpiece was always his portrayal of Detroit Detective Axel Foley in the fish out of water buddy action comedy BEVERLY HILLS COP. One of the funniest supporting casts with Judge Reinhold, John Ashton & Bronson Pinchot, this is our only hope of getting any toy love for one of my favorite films of all time.

  • Axel Foley
  • Det. Billy Rosewood
  • Sgt. Taggart
  • Jenny Summers
  • Victor Maitland
  • Serge

1. FLETCH

It is still my favorite comedy of all time that I rented over and over every weekend as a kid. I just need two POP's here from FUNKO guys so feel free to make these Con Exclusives!

  • Fletch
  • Fletch on Los Angeles Lakers

464 Comments

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reset Password