Issue: Winter 2023
FUNKO COMES TO HOLLYWOOD
Have you ever wanted to stand with the Justice League, take a seat in Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder or stare down the terrifying Demogorgon from Stranger Things? There’s a place on Hollywood Boulevard where you can do all that and more. Ever since it opened in November 2019, Funko Hollywood has been a must-visit destination for pop culture obsessives.
Based out of Everett, Washington, Funko was founded in 1998 as a maker of vintage style toys and bobbleheads. However, the company is best known for its line of POP! Vinyl figures, which launched in 2011 and has grown to be a billion-dollar business. Even if you don’t know Funko Pops, as fans call them, by name you’ve probably seen them on store shelves, your co-worker’s desk, or in your friend’s Zoom background. The omnipresent Funko Pop design sees pop culture icons given round eyes on a big head and little body, reminiscent of the Japanese chibi aesthetic. Funko Pops have become so popular, that Pop tie-ins are now key parts of any blockbuster film’s merchandising plan. When Black Panther: Wakanda Forever came out in November, fans could go online and order Pop-ified versions of the films’ new characters before the closing credits finished.
Funko Pops have depicted everything from the Addams Family to Zoolander. In addition to the expected superheroes and cartoon characters, you can find Funko Pops of musicians, athletes, and even politicians. Funko Pops aren’t just for kids though, there are Pops of R-rated characters like Alex from A Clockwork Orange. In fact, nearly 60% of Funko products are sold to adult collectors.
Funko Hollywood represents one of Funko CEO Brian Mariotti’s big dreams for the brand.
In a 2021 interview with Forbes, Mariotti calls the store “the Disneyland of retail.” Funko had previously opened a 15-thousand square foot flagship store in Seattle, but at 44-thousand square feet, the Hollywood store is nearly three times that size. According to Mariotti, the Funko board were uncertain about going so big, but he knew that fans would love the opportunity to take selfies with Pop-ized versions of their favorite characters. As visitors enter Funko Hollywood, one of the first things they’ll see is a recreation of the Warrior Falls of Wakanda from Black Panther, with oversized Funko Pops of the films’ main characters.
The store has dozens of photo opportunities, allowing you to pop (pun intended) into your favorite fictional universe. Take a seat at a table with Harry Potter and friends, hop in Fred Flintstone’s car, or chill in a bowl of Crunch Berries with a larger-than-life Funko Pop version of Cap’n Crunch. It’s a one-of-a-kind store and Instagram attraction. As Mariotti explains in the Forbes interview, “I like to walk into a place, be transformed, and watch other people walk through the space and see how excited they get.”
But it’s not just the photo ops that are attracting people to Funko Hollywood. Not only are you able to put yourself in Pop-ified versions of beloved worlds, but Funko Hollywood is one of the only places you can turn yourself into a Funko Pop! Available exclusively at the Hollywood and Everett shops, the “Pop People!” experience allows you to work with Funko employees to make a custom Funko Pop that looks like you or a loved one.
The Pop People kiosks are all about customization, as you’ll get to choose from skin tones, eyelashes, facial features and over 100 different combinations of hairstyles and hair colors. That’s just the head; you’re also presented with many different options for your Pop duplicate’s body and props.
Unsurprisingly, the Pop People experience is incredibly popular. It’s become quite common on Hollywood Boulevard to see lines around the block to create Pop People, to the point that Funko’s website warns that “the process from when you first get in line to when you receive your pop can take anywhere from one to three hours.”
There’s no question that Funko Hollywood has added a lot of character (and characters) to Hollywood. It’s a match made in vinyl figure heaven. As a Funko spokesperson said in a statement to Discover Hollywood, “Hollywood is the home of film, TV, and all things entertainment, and therefore was a perfect fit.”