Can Funko Pops be Valuable?
Absolutely! There’s a lot of demand for these figures, and they’re one of the few collectibles that readily flows across genres. And there are a number of Funko Pop! designs which only saw very limited production runs. There are plenty of examples of rarer Funko Pop! vinyls breaching 5-figures in value on Ebay. There are a bunch of vinyls that are so rare and coveted that they appear too infrequently on the secondary market to really assign a confident value. Read on to learn how to value Funko Pops as accurately as possible.
How to Assess the value of Funko Pops
Collectors love their vinyls. Some to the point that letting them go seems unfathomable. But if you do want to assign a monetary value to a Funko Pop! vinyl, what’s the best way to go about it
Here’s how it works…
- Go to Ebay.
- Now, just to the right of the search button is a link that says “advanced”. Click that.
- This takes you to a search form where you can edit your search to only include sold listings. There’s a checkbox for this. It says “sold listings”. Click that.
- Now fill in the keywords section and search for whatever it is that you want to know the value of.
You can find some services that will allow you to value Funko Pops more automatically. For the most part though, these products will simply be performing the exact process outlined above, only a less reliably than doing it manually.
This is all amazing really. Back in the day you had to just hope that your collectible market was developed enough to have some type of listing agency that would publish a book of item values every year or so. Modern collectible valuation has become a rather simple task, and this is both good and bad.
So you can see exactly what people have payed for your item in past months. This can be quick, accurate and very powerful. But there are issues. These listings can be easy to manipulate. You have to use your common sense. If there aren’t more than a few sales coming up, the pricing may not be reasonable.
You also have the issue of condition. It’s tough to really understand where these products have come from. Getting a figure off an auction and ending up with some damaged, smokey box and faded paint is not unheard of and it can be super disappointing.
And when you consider the value of an item, don’t forget to include the cost of listing it, packaging it up and finding a buyer. If a Pop! is going for fifteen bucks on Ebay, that’s actually the value of the Pop! plus the cost, time and energy that someone put into selling and shipping it.
Grading Funko Pop! Vinyls
The condition of a Funko Pop! vinyl will have a huge impact on its value. I wrote a whole article on protecting your Pops that I recommend before digging into grading.
For the casual collector, grading is really as simple as assessing whether the box is present and undamaged. There isn’t much of a market really for unboxed or damaged figures at this point.
But for serious collectors or in cases where you are confident that your figure and packaging are in exemplary condition, you may consider sending it out for an official grade. More recently, PSA, a respected grader of trading cards, has begun offering Funko grading as a service. They offer further details on their site regarding pricing and grading standards.
I personally love the peace of mind that comes with getting a collectible professionally authenticated, evaluated and encased in a slick acrylic shell with an official looking label. But if your Pop is worth less than a few hundred bucks, the process is probably just not worth it.
Will Funko Pops Appreciate in Value?
Some of them will.
But many won’t.
Let’s take a little look at the economics…
Market prices are set by a balance of supply and demand. You have sellers and buyers. If selling is too easy, sellers raise their prices. If buying is hard, buyers raise their prices.
So in the world of Funko Pops, you have this supply that is managed by a company in Everett Washington. The company decides what to produce, how much of it, and what to charge. They appreciate and embrace their collectors, sure, but only because it supports their sales at their set price.
There is no incentive for Funko to ensure that any of their figures will grow in value over time. Ideally, they would produce exactly as many figures as the market demands and sell every one of them.
That being said, they only have so much production capacity. Sometimes they make too many of a specific figure, and sometimes not enough. Sometimes, for special events or giveaways, they intentionally limit the supply.
Predicting the future Value of a Funko Pop!
It’s impossible to predict the future value of these figures with any reasonable degree of accuracy. There are just so many factors at play. A licensed character or personality can unpredictably fall off the radar. An obscure character can blow up overnight. Someone can find a box of pristine figures and flood the market overnight. Anything goes.
But if you’re going to buy Funko Pop! vinyls anyway, you might as well do your best to build a model. So let’s give it a shot.
There are two key factors that will likely determine the value of a Funko Pop! figure.
There’s the size of the production run. In most cases, this is not public information. The term ‘vaulted’ has evolved in the Funko Pop! market to refer to a design that has been discontinued. However, even with ‘vaulted’ figures we may have no idea how many were produced, or if these designs are truly ‘vaulted’, never to return to production.
Then there’s the demand. The majority of demand for a given figure is going to be dependent upon the popularity of a character.
Now, Funko is heavily invested in balancing these 2 factors against their own cost of production. The performance of their business depends on their ability to predict the appeal of a character to their fanbase and to adjust accordingly. So a popular character will certainly get a larger production run.
So, predicting the future value of a Funko Pop! is not about picking the best characters or finding the lowest production runs. It’s more about finding the places where the Funko model may have failed. Is a fringe character on the way to widespread popularity? Or is there a popular character which may have had a limited run for some reason or another? This model is not infallible, but it may at least offer some guidance in curating a collection that may at least lose value more slowly.
Consider rarity and age carefully as well. Some figures will see their values escalate only due to supply chain issues. Someone flipping a recently released Pop on Ebay for 5x retail, is likely just taking advantage of temporary market conditions. It’s perfectly likely that a shipment will come in and drop that price through the floor. Conversely, having some certainty that a figure comes from a limited run means that the market will not be flooded, and an elevated valuation is not likely to deflate.
Something quite obvious that I only discovered as I became more interested in comic books. Focus on numbers is counterproductive. You might get excited to build up a massive collection of thousands of Pops. Don’t forget that every one of these figures takes up time and space in your life and your environment.
If you were to ever want to sell these figures, you would need to account for the time and energy required to find a buyer and package and ship each individual figure. This means that a collection of 10 Pops that are each worth 100$ is far more valuable than a collection of 100 Pops that are each worth 10$. A lot of people will get excited about acquiring collectibles without considering how difficult it can be to get rid of them.
Focusing on established Pops that are showing growth in value is another reasonable strategy. Pops that are going down in value are likely to keep doing so. Pops that have breached some multiple of their initial retail price are at least a little more likely to continue growing in value. Variations of this logic are widely applied by professionals in larger markets to great success. Again, I recommend larger markets if you truly want to grow your wealth. Funko Pop! vinyls are not going to make you rich.
Are there fake Funko Pops?
Absolutely! On top of all of the other issues, there are plenty of forgeries floating around.
Funko Pops are manufactured in China and Vietnam, where labor and materials can be much cheaper. This is not an ideal environment. That’s not to say anything of China or Vietnam. If there is an opportunity to turn a profit, someone will try. In an environment where materials and skills are available and a market exists, you’ll see all kinds of creativity.
Presumably, specific Funko designs are properly guarded. However, there’s very little you can do to truly guard against unauthorized production runs. Even without original designs or large scale manufacturing, it’s just not that hard to produce formidable forgeries of these products. You can often spot them if you know what to look for, but they are definitely out there.
Are Funko Pops a good investment ?
All of the above points to one thing. Funko Pops are not a reasonable investment. Sure, people have made money off of flipping them, or they’ve picked up some additions to their collection a lot cheaper than currently listed on Ebay. But they are not a reasonable investment unless you are a retailer, acquiring them from a distributor, and selling them at a set markup.
An investment is a money making endeavor. Commit value and receive a return. Funko Pops are toys. You buy them to enjoy them and celebrate your favorite characters. The likelihood that they will appreciate in value is minimal. Some will gain in value over time, but most will fall.
Collectibles also represent some unique challenges in terms of investment. Collectibles markets can be very small. You may find a community of 5 people on ebay who are willing to bid up a 6″ Kurama to 600$.
This is quite different from a stable investment vehicle. Coca-Cola stock for example. You have potentially millions of market participants, setting a price to a fine degree based on a wealth of information over many many years.
And Pop! vinyls in particular are a rather nascent collectible. With things like comic books or Pez machines we have decades to look back on when determining how to deal with a specific piece. There are entire industries revolving around the care and maintenance, acquisition, and evaluation of comic books as collectibles. While Funko Pops are growing in popularity, we have a long way to go in terms of managing scams and establishing reputable graders and traders.
Ultimately, buy and enjoy your Funko Pops. But you should never buy them with the mindset that they are an investment. Your money will be far far better off in a traditional investment, or even a more traditional collectible market.