Why Are Funko Pops So Popular? Behind the POP! Sensation

Why Are Funko Pops So Popular? Behind the POP! Sensation

The origins of Funko Pops can be traced back to 1998 when U.S.-toy manufacturer Funko Inc. released the Big Boy Bobblehead. This novel creation featured Big Boy Restaurants’ mascot with an oversized head.

Funko continued producing their retro-themed bobbleheads to great success. However, by the middle of the noughties, things weren’t so great. With Funko’s clientele moving with the times, Funko struggled to keep up. In 2010, they shifted focus in an attempt to save the business – and it certainly worked.

Enter Funko Pops – a bobblehead that represented popular culture.

Almost a decade-and-a-half later, their popularity is still growing. By September 2023, a staggering 13,741 different Funko Heads had been released.

Read on to learn more about these iconic toys, their history, and how they became so popular. Plus, we’ll reveal the best places to buy them.

What Are Funko Pops?

Made from vinyl, Funko Pops have large heads, small bodies, and big, round black eyes.

They’ve become so popular amongst collectors, a wide range of designs have been made. Mainly based on pop culture figures, they cover characters from movies, TV shows, and video games. The range is broad and ever-growing, with over 1,000 Funko Pops released every year. Some are even designed to represent anthropomorphic food and drink packaging!

The Birth of a Collectible Icon

Whilst Funko’s Big Boy Bobblehead was initially successful, it was far from durable. In 2002, Funko got the license to produce bobbleheads for the Austin Powers franchise. That’s when Funko Pops were truly born.

These were the toys which made Funko a success and earned them a place in the toy collectors’ world. In 2005, Funko’s founder Mike Becker sold the company to Connor Orcutt, which saw a change of direction in their strategy.

Having seen the success of selling a bobblehead based on pop culture, Funko launched their first Funko Pop in 2010. That launch product, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con the same year, was based on DC’s Marvel Universe.

Rather than just one product, Funko launched their first four Pops at the same time: Green Lantern, Batgirl, and two incarnations of Batman. Collectors instantly loved them, and the toys have grown in popularity ever since.

Why Do People Like Funko Pop So Much?

Less than 11 years after the first Funko Pops were launched, Funko were reporting sales of over $1 billion in 2011. That success is all down to the Pops, as these vinyl figurines are Funko’s only product.

Aesthetic Appeal

There can be few products as easily distinguishable as Funko Pops. The oversized heads with big black eyes which dwarf their shrunken bodies make them instantly recognizable. This captivating design has been successful in keeping fans hooked.

Wide Range of Characters

Unlike many toys and collectibles, Funko Pops cover a vast array of fandoms. With Pops representing characters from numerous fantasy universes, fans of all kinds can find Funko Pops to match their interests.

Whereas a lot of collectibles are aimed specifically at sci-fi or action lovers, Funko Pops represent characters from movies and TV shows too. Top musicians and sport stars are also adorably recreated in miniature. There’s even a range of inanimate object-based Pops, including a Coca-Cola can, Slurpee’s and, bizarrely, a tin of Spam.

Social Aspect

Collecting these action figures isn’t a solitary hobby, it’s something that can be enjoyed with groups of likeminded enthusiasts. With so many Pops available, the most serious collectors subscribe to delivery services which offer random Funko Pops delivered regularly.

To make the most of this, collectors often trade pops with others and even create Funko Pop clubs.


Toy collecting can often become an expensive hobby. Especially where older and rarer examples are involved. Having only been on the market for a relatively short time, even the oldest Funko Pops tend to be fairly easy to find. With the exception of the original four, most ranges are mass-produced, meaning there aren’t too many rare Pops to collect.

As such, collecting Funko Pops comparatively affordable. Individual Pops tend to retail for around $10 to $15.


Given their aesthetic appeal and low cost, Funko Pops make great gifts. With so many ranges to choose from, it isn’t difficult to find something to appeal to most tastes. Even when buying a gift for someone you don’t know so well, their funky look makes them attractive without needing an interest in the character.

This increases popularity significantly, as people who aren’t collectors still buy and receive them.

Limited Editions and Exclusives

Whilst most Pops are created for the mass market, several limited editions have been added that attract significant interest from dedicated collectors.

Supply and demand are central to every economy and the collectible toy market is no different. Avid Funko enthusiasts go out of their way to get their hands on the rarest editions. Many are sold only at Comic-Con conventions and collectors’ fairs. These models tend to be worth the most money down the line.

Brand Collaborations

One of the biggest appeals of Funko Pops is that they cater to so many interests. There’s no Marvel versus DC rivalry here because Funko collaborate with both to create attractive toys for members of both fandoms.

A partnership with Star Wars over fifty Funko Pops devoted to the universe. Followers of Naruto and Dragon Ball are also catered for. Other big-name editions include Harry Potter, Willy Wonka, and Disney.

With hundreds of strategic brand collaborations, Funko Collectors from all the biggest franchises can participate in the same hobby.

Displayable Art

It’s not just toy collectors who love Funko Pops. Given their quirky look and cutesy appeal, they make great home décor too. Displaying Pops in home art installations has rapidly grown in popularity over recent years. So much so, special display cases are now available to house these collectible figurines.

The Psychology Behind Collecting

As with any collectible, it’s the thrill of the chase that makes amassing Funko Pops a popular hobby for many.

The satisfaction of completing a range, or finally finding that one hard-to-find Pop makes it addictive. Many buyers start with just one and keep on buying until they have the whole collection.

The Cultural Impact of Funko Pops

Funko Pops may be based on pop culture, but they’ve become so popular the tables are turning. Pop culture itself now draws influence from the Pops.

With over 180 licenses to produce toys for different brands, fandoms and franchises, Funko Pop is a pop culture in itself. To many actors, creators and artists, having a Pop made of them or their brand is a sign of success.

Where to Buy Funko Pops

Funko Pops are one of the most readily available toys today. Several top toy chains and large grocery stores sell them. For the avid collector, however, a pilgrimage to the Funko HQ Store in Everett, Washington is a must.

Pops are easy to get hold of online too. As with any online purchase, it’s always important to check the authenticity of a retailer. Buying from a well-established, respected brand such as ToyShnip ensures your purchase is safe and secure.

Join the POP! Culture

Funko Pops are one of the most collectible toys on the market at the moment. Having grown rapidly in popularity since their launch in 2010, they’re a firm favorite amongst collectors. As we’ve seen, they aren’t just collectors’ items, but great gifts as well. Their broad appeal is helped by their affordability and the massive spectrum of interests they cover.

Given their low prices, how readily available they are, and how attractive they look, starting a collection of Funko Pop is a great idea. There are so many Funko Pops available, start browsing ToyShnip’s catalog for inspiration.


What are the point of Funko Pops?

Funko Pops are designed to represent pop culture characters from movies, video games, and comic books. Distinctive in design, they have oversized heads, big black round eyes, and disproportionately small bodies.

Why do people like Funko Pops so much?

Funko Pops are great to collect because of their aesthetic appeal, low prices, and broad ranging designs.

Why did Funko Pops become popular?

The popularity of Funko Pops was helped by their cute design and unique appearance. Covering such a broad spectrum, they have become great gifts and home décor pieces even amongst those who aren’t fans of the franchise.

What makes Funko Pop special?

Whereas most collectibles focus on a particular niche or interest, Funko Pops are broad in their appeal. They cover multiple fantasy fandoms, sci-fi universes, and all areas of popular culture.

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