One thing about fun is that it never gets old and has no boundaries. When Funko, Inc., an American toy company, started manufacturing pop culture figurines in 1998, nobody expected the company to grow to the levels of manufacturing figurines for popular characters such as the Grinch, the Cheerios Honeybee, and Tony the Tiger.
Founded by Mike Becker, a toy collector by then, Funko was on a mission to provide a connection between pop culture and a product line made of vinyl figures, plush, action toys, apparel, housewares, and accessories.
Funko Pops are nostalgia-themed toys featuring popular licensed celebrities and characters. These toys adopt a style called chibi, a Japanese artistic approach characterized by large heads and eyes.
For over 20 years, the Funko Pop Company has produced around 8,366 different designs of pop figures, which is enough proof of their popularity.
While the shares of the company went down at some point, the company is still kicking. In 2019, Funko acquired its second store in Hollywood with 40,000 square feet worth of space.
So, if you are a Funko fan, stick with us as we explore the first-ever Funko Pops to get made.
Funko Big Boy Bobblehead
Big Boy Bobblehead is the oldest Funko product to be made. Its production was a moderate success, with only 480 pieces being made. Its production did not catapult Funko to popularity or fame, but it remains a vital Funko piece that forms an integral part of the brand’s history.
Bobbleheads are classic collectibles that are thought to have existed for at least 150 years. We can trace similar toys from the short story, The Overcoat, by Nikolai Gogol in 1842. The toys described a character with a neck similar to the neck of plaster cats that wag their heads.
Big Boy Bobblehead is an iconic mascot for Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant. It features a chubby boy in red-and-white checkered overalls holding a piece of a double cheeseburger. While the 1998 edition only featured limited numbers, you can still find it in various online stores.
As earlier mentioned, Mike Becker, Funko Pop founder, created Big Boy Bobblehead after not finding an affordable Bob’s collectible. Whatever he found in the market was too pricey, so he went on to acquire Bob’s license to produce his own. This is how the Funko brand was born.
Austin Powers Bobbleheads
After experiencing modest success with the first Funko pop, Wacky Wobblers Bob’s Big Bobblehead, Mike Becker ventured deeper into the Bobblehead territory to produce Austin Powers Bobbleheads. Mr. Becker could hardly sell out inventory or pay all invoices with the first production.
But the story changed when Mr. Becker reached out to New Line Cinema to acquire a license for Austin Powers. Becker went ahead to strike a deal of $2,500 with the film bigwigs to make Bobbleheads of movie characters.
Austin Powers appeared in the market in 2002, and it is the product that placed the Funko Pop Company on the map. As a Funko collectible, you can easily find and purchase Austin Powers Bobbleheads as secondhand items on eBay through individual sellers. Through the deal, Funko shipped 10,000 units.
Bobbleheads were the company’s only products until 2010, when they started producing vinyl.
Mickey Mouse (Metallic)
Mickey Mouse (Metallic) is one of the rarest Funko action figures to be produced. Mickey Mouse was produced as a limited edition, with only 480 units being produced worldwide.
Mickey Mouse (Metallic) figure forms part of the 1,149 Disney action figures and a specific Mickey Mouse collection with varieties such as Conductor Mickey, Apprentice Mickey, Peaches & Cream, and Vintage Steamboat Willie.
Mickey Mouse Metallic (part of the Pop! Disney Line) remains one of the biggest Funko lines. It features a range of characters from popular Disney movies from as far back as the 1920s.
The line has also grown to include modern characters such as Dory from Finding Nemo (2003), Elsa from the Frozen, and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.
The best part is that you can easily find most of these versions through retailers like Walmart. Mickey Mouse’s vinyl action figure made its debut at San Diego’s Comic-Con, where it was considered number one on the POP under the Disney Line-Up.
Superman Chase (Metallic #7)
Superman Chase (Metallic #7) is one of the Funko Pop! Heroes world figures. It is rare and valuable, and unlike other POP heroes, it comes in various varieties, including Kingdom Come, Black and White, Metallic, and Silver.
It is still a reflection of the early Funko pop figure, Bobblehead, as it is until 2011 that Funko started making vinyl figures. You can only purchase the 2010 Funko Pop Superman Chase (Metallic #7) through individual sellers.
(Please note that as of July 18th, 2023, the Pop! Heroes Funko DC Universe – Superman Metallic Chase Vinyl Figure is currently unavailable on Amazon. Please check back later.)
Green Lantern Vinyl Figure (#9)
The Green Lantern Vinyl Figure (#9) was one of the earliest Funko Pop figures in 2010. It is one of the rarest Funko Pop Universe Heroes, as Funko has only produced 402 Pop Heroes figurines between 2010 and 2021.
Some of the superheroes produced under this line include the Joker, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn. Additionally, there are other versions of Green Lantern Vinyl Figure #9 that appeared as recently as 2017, including John Stewart, though not as rare as its older counterpart.
You can find John Stewart at Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers at lower prices. However, the overall availability of Green Lantern Vinyl Figure (#9) is quite limited, and you can only find it through mainstream retailers such as Walmart.
Star Wars Darth Maul (Holographic)
Star Wars Darth Maul was exclusively made for the San Diego Comic-Con of 2012. The Holographic figure of Star Wars’ Darth Maul’s limited release only had 480 units in circulation, which makes it one of the rarest and most valuable Funko pop figures.
Star War Darth Maul‘s limited edition was solely produced for the San Diego Comic-Con convention. The convention is one of the world’s biggest comic book conventions that attracts over 150,000 people. It is more than a Guinness World Record-kind of an event, with it being the largest comic and pop culture festival.
Star Wars Darth Maul Holographic is made using a glow-in-the-dark vinyl material and is part of the Star Wars Pop! line. Currently, you can buy Star Wars Darth Maul Holographic Funko pop through individual sellers. Its estimated value is $1,750, though some sellers list it at a higher value since it is rare and valuable.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was a great success in the 2016 Funko pop production. Willy Wonka was first released in 1971, and since then, it has remained a favorite among candy and film lovers. In 2016, it was further immortalized with various pop options to track down.
For so long, one of the kid characters in the Willy Wonka story, Violet Beauregard, was sidelined from the Funko pop lineup. The story made a turnaround at the 2016’s San Diego Comic Convention, where the Violet character was finally created as an exclusive figurine for the season.
Funko produced several other Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory figurines representing popular characters from the film, including Grandpa Joe, Veruca Salt, Mike Teevee, Charlie Bucket, and Augustus Gloop.
The Willy Wonka figurine is 3 ¾” tall. It is produced with vinyl, and its larger and more elaborate version can be found through the Funko Vinyl Idolz Line.
The latest on our list of the first Funko Pops ever made is Kool-Aid Man. Kool-Aid Man represents simpler times of at least the 1970s. The figurine was born in 2019 and is more like four inches, and not anywhere close to the original six feet tall.
The Kool-Aid Man figurine is made of standard vinyl material. It is considered a Target exclusive production but is also available online on Amazon, Walmart, and GameStop.
Kool-Aid Man is part of Funko’s Ad Icon line that made its debut in 2010. The line features brand mascots from the past 50 years of major products and companies. Some of these mascots include Dr. Pepper, Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, McDonald’s, Rice Krispies, and Tootsie Roll.
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