The first Funko Pop I bought was a Locutus of Borg figure from the geek collector store , with a questionable paint job on his silver armor that was a birthday present for my father. With my dad’s 60th birthday fast approaching, I remember that little Patrick Stewart replica has been sitting in my closet, undelivered, for years.
It’s not like anything has happened to my father since I bought the figure and now; he’s fine. I’ve never been able to wrap the thing up, drop it in a box, and mail it to you because, on some level, I’ve been wondering why I even bought the thing on a whim from a bookstore. all those years ago.It’s only now that I think I’ve figured out why.
Not long after buying the Locutus of Borg house, I slowly started buying Funko Pops for myself after I started seeing characters from genre franchises that I loved. First a limited edition Steven Universe Garnet, then Game of Thrones Daenerys in a flowing white dress, then a Secret Wars -themed Miles Morales figure that was only obtainable through a subscription box service. monthly.
At first, there was no real rhyme or reason dictating which Pops I collected beyond simply liking a particular character, which made the subscription box look like it might have been a good idea. But over time, something about the growing set of vinyl statues with small, glowing eyes found on my bookshelves began to bother me.
Although I don’t really think of myself as a hoarder, I can sympathize with the urge to collect things just out of curiosity to see all the little details that set all the individual pieces in a larger collection apart from one another. To this day, a folder full of perfectly good Pokémon cards that I have owned since first grade is one of my most prized possessions.
But my budding love affair with Funkos began to flourish, it began to die out as quickly as I considered exactly what it was that was coming out of them. The strange thing about Funko Pops is that, apparently as unique as each figure, at the end of the day, they are all based on a more or less standardized design. Storm, Amy Winehouse, and Marie Laveau from American Horror Story (portrayed by Queen Mother Angela Bassett) look nothing alike, and their Funkos do so based on brand need.
It’s that visual uniformity that made me contemplate what all the knickknacks really are, and the response I got was quite sobering. At the end of the day, Funkos (like all branded merchandise) are symbols – totems, if you will, meant to represent the emotional relationships we all have with the characters and stories they love. Every time I see eye contact with the Garnet looking forward through the plastic call of the box it came in, it takes me back to the moment when Ruby and Sapphire did their emotional musical reunion aboard the ship. Peridot and Jasper’s space in “Jail”. Break. “Brings me the kind of joy that Marie Kondo would approve of.
But as the number of Funkos increased, I had to ask myself: how much and what kind of joy is there in trying to save an ever-growing range of toys that, once again, all look essentially the same? The affection I feel for various television shows and movies does not depend on the number of physical objects related to them that I can accumulate in my finite living space. But that’s what Funko Pops is designed to be: statements to the world (or whoever sees them) about who you are as a fan.
But there is something about the very particular type of mass production that is exclusive to Funko Pops that makes owning many of them seem strangely soulless to me. Seeing the similarity of all of them is like seeing the broader commodification of fandom written in big, bold letters across my wall. It has made me much more particular in general about the types of merchandise that I buy.
I no longer subscribe to any gender-themed cashier services, and many of the Funkos that once messed up my apartment have been given away. But there are some scattered ones who have strong, positive memories attached to them. And they all remind me that I really need to bring that Borg Locutus to my old man.