Veni Vidi Vici: My Amazing Trip to Funko
By Mario Wario:
Do you collect all things Marvel, DC Comics, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.? Then you will know about a certain toy company that produces unique vinyl figures and bubbleheads of many different licensed properties. Yes, I’m talking about Funko. And if you’ve ever been to a major comic book convention like San Diego Comic-Con, then you know how badly people want Funko’s products: witness the daily long lines to enter their booth. Founded in 1998, Funko is based in Everett, Washington, and their products are hotter than sriracha sauce. But what goes on over at their headquarters? Luckily, I can tell you just what it’s like at Funko HQ, thanks to having won a VIP tour of their offices while I was attending Funko Fundays 2016 at San Diego Comic-Con. I had the chance to see what goes on behind closed doors and I am allowed to discuss some of what I saw. After that, Funko will perform a memory wipe on me.
On the snowy morning of March 6th, 2017, a driver took me and my guest to Funko HQ. Once inside, I was greeted by Yoko McCann. She was our tour guide for that day, but her main job is marketing for the company. She took me, my guest and two others (another Fundays winner and their guest) to the main office area where you have two sectors – marketing and creative. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of these areas (only things against the wall), nor can I discuss anything I saw. I can say that awesome things are being made as we speak, nothing new there. Each cubicle had tons of past Funko products on display, making each station unique. Speaking of unique, we were able to go into the main conference room since it was not being used at the time. I was allowed to take pictures of the things inside of it. It had many past Funko products on display against each wall. Next to this room, on the left, is Brian Mariotti’s office, the CEO of Funko. It, too, had many products on display throughout. I didn’t take any pictures of his office, we were in that grey area if it was okay or not to take one but trust me, it was a super cool room that I am sure many toy-making CEOs wished they had. If you are wondering, he wasn’t there so I didn’t get to meet him. By the way, near the conference room and cafeteria there is a small game room called Freddy’s Arcade.
In the back of the creative area, there was a reference wall that had past Funko products for the creative team to use — to look back at things, if needed. The one that caught my attention (and thought it was funny) was that there was a Donald Trump figure. It was created long before last year’s election. I saw a Sarah Palin one, too. But before leaving the main office area, being a huge fan of their products, it was pretty cool seeing where the magic begins and what goes on. The next stop on the tour was their giant warehouse where the products are stored and repackaged before getting shipped to stores. The products are made overseas in places like China. The warehouse itself looks like a giant Costco that is housing only Funko products. On the second floor, Yoko took us to a room where they do unboxing videos of their products and where the workers could relax. The room had big purple chairs and couches, a foosball table, a pool table and a bar with tables. On the walls were pictures of classic cartoon characters. This room had an Alice in Wonderland vibe. Oh yeah, there was a hilarious life size Justin Bieber cutout in the room; there is a story as to why it is there. According to Yoko, before this cutout got promoted to this room, it was in a dark closet, positioned in such a way as to scare people whenever they would open up the door. After a while of this, it is now in this room. This company loves to have fun, am I right?
As the tour continued, Yoko showed us more of the second floor and her office area. Interestingly enough, the floor had a gym but as the company continued to grow, needing the space for more workers, they converted the gym into an office. Later, she took us to the sample room. Think of it as a mini Funko store. The neat surprise was that they were allowing us to take anything we wanted in this room. There were certain boxes that were not allowed to be opened, but it didn’t matter, all 4 of us had enough to pick from, such as t-shirts, lanyards, figures, etc. It was all free and they gave us the time we needed to browse. Oh, Ming Chen from Comic Book Men was also there touring the place and looking around inside the sample store. When he saw that I had a Logan figure in a box I was using (well, given by Funko) to carry around the stuff I was getting, he approved of my decision in taking that one. I got a ‘good job’ from him. The film had just come out when I was doing this tour. I had a chance to take a picture with him; he is such a nice person.
So after shopping like crazy for over an hour and amassing more loot than Scrooge McDuck, the tour sadly came to an end. I will never forget the amazing experience I had. Funko took great care of me and my guest — putting us up in style and giving us a once in a lifetime experience. But I shouldn’t be surprised, since in their eyes, as one banner states when you are leaving the building, “If it ain’t Funko it ain’t fun!”
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