Some people collect things of all shapes and sizes; whether they are records, toys, or even brand name clothing. What is it about collecting that people like? Or even better yet, why have a collection at all? Is it something as simple as a hobby, or can it become a big part of your life?
I had only 15 minutes to get to work. I should have been rushing through traffic to get to my shift on time, but instead I was prowling around EB Games, determined to get my hands on a Professor Snape pop vinyl. Alan Rickman had died earlier that day, and I knew people like me wanted to buy the Snape Funko figurine to remember him by. There were only a handful of them in Fredericton, and I had to have one.
After five minutes of searching and almost giving up, something caught my eye – sitting directly on the bottom of a pyramid of pop vinyls was the last Snape Funko in the store. After some help from a worker, I finally got my hands on it. I never thought I’d care so much about a tiny plastic figurine, but I did, and there were people out there who cared a lot more than I did.
One expensive Peanut
Pop vinyls are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to collecting. Collections can vary from records, to clothing lines, to vintage cars and toys like Funko Pop vinyls. They can keep the child alive in you and help you through tough times; and since the advent of Internet buying and selling during the Beanie Baby craze, there’s a world market. Some Beanie Babies were sold for a pretty penny, and their value has only increased over time. A royal blue Ty elephant named Peanut was released in 1995. Beanie Baby collector Dawne Picknell says that during the rage over Beanie Babies, the elephant was being sold on the secondary market for over $3,000.
“Truth be told, I still keep my eyes open when shopping at flea markets and thrift stores,” said Picknell. “You never know when a Peanut might turn up.”
Funko Pop vinyls are 3.7 inches tall, have a round head and black, pupil-less eyes. Basically, they’re toys that represent a variety of characters ranging from Disney films to slasher flicks – they can make any horror character look cute, like Regan from The Exorcist or Pinhead from Hellraiser.
The Funko company first started in 1998 when creator Mike Becker wanted to buy a vintage piggy bank that was in the shape of Big Boy from the Big Boy restaurant. Finally finding the item for sale on eBay, he noticed that the seller had it marked at a few hundred dollars. Becker decided that he could make a Big Boy replica of his own for much less.
He started from his own home, selling bobbleheads, piggy banks and puppets, etc. Becker’s first set of items had characters like Popeye, the Big Boy mascot, and cereal box characters like Count Chocula.
In 2002, big-time collector Brian Mariotti bought it. Mariotti had no experience, but he was a huge collector of items. He made his first down payment of his house by selling his collection of Pez dispensers. Mariotti started off the Funko Pop vinyls craze when he introduced the ever Pop vinyls in 2010 at the San Diego Comic-Con. He called them the Funko Force 2.0, a set of four Pop vinyls taking the shape of Green Lantern, Bat Girl, and two different Bat Man Funkos. The prototypes didn’t didn’t take off, but over time Funko received 25 more licenses to make character Pops and Mariotti started selling them in online retail stores as well as big-box stores.
Last year, Funko had $40 million in revenues, $28 million from the Pop figures.
Only in Canada
Dawne Picknell started collecting Beanie Babies in 1998 when she was shopping for Spice Girls photo cards with her daughter at a store.
“The owner of the shop had many rare and expensive Beanie Babies on display and he proceeded to tell us about Ty’s first exclusive Beanie Baby, Maple, which he had on display for $300,” said Picknell. “That piqued out interest and we became determined to find Maple at an authorized Ty Canadian retailer for the $9.99 retail price.”
Picknell was able to find a few Maple Tys for their Canadian retail price. She bought one whenever she got a chance and shipped it to her friends in the United Kingdom and the United States because Maple was a Canadian exclusive. In return, her friends would send her exclusive Tys from their countries.
Winnie the Pooh needs some dough, not honey
The most wanted Pop vinyls are store exclusives and those out-of-print: the vinyls no longer being made. The only way you can buy one is from online stores like eBay and Amazon. One out-of-print Pop that’s being sold at a high price is Winnie the Pooh. On eBay, you could snag one of these vinyls for around $300, while on Amazon you’re looking to pay between $200-$400.
Still, Picknell says nothing could compare to the collection of Beanie Babies.
“I don’t think there will ever be a collecting rage as huge as Beanie Babies. It was all about timing. The internet had just taken off, allowing for a much larger market in which to acquire them,” said Picknell. “I think if other companies followed the strategies that Ty Warner used, in that they started producing different generations, with different hang tags, errors or defects, they might bring back the type of interest and excitement that sparked all the Ty hype back in the late 90’s.”
Some vinyl fans are so into the figurines that they even have created their own custom vinyls. People create celebrities, friends and family, characters that haven’t been turned into a Pop yet, or even a character that they wanted to do in their own design. Pop collectors that make their own custom Pops can sell them at a hefty price, especially if the buyer is across the world.
One Disney movie led Samantha McMullin to start a collection of Pop vinyls with her boyfriend.
“I can have all my favourite characters from each of my favourite movies, without making my house look like I’m some kind of crazy person,” said McMullin.
McMullin first received a Wampa Pop vinyl from Star Wars as a gift. Interested in them, she decided to look around for any Nightmare Before Christmas models. From there, her collection began.
“…I came across a glow-in-the-dark Boogie. Honestly, ever since then…,” said McMullin.
McMullin and her boyfriend have between 300 and 400 Pop vinyls lining their shelves. Her favourite one is Baymax from Big Hero 6. She prefers to collect the ones based on her favourite movies like the Nightmare Before Christmas and old horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
McMullin says she enjoys collecting Pop vinyls because of how unique each one is.
“They’re just cool little figures that people like having around,” said McMullin. “They make you feel like a child again, without collecting children’s toys. They’re like those Beanie Babies that we all collected when we were young… or I suppose most had their collection of Webkins.”
Along with the thrill of hunting for Beanie Babies, collecting helped Picknell and her daughter through a tough time. Picknell’s mother died in 1998 and it heavily impacted them both. Looking for Beanie Babies helped the duo keep their mind off of their loss.
“It was a hobby that we both could enjoy together. It was the ultimate treasure hunt, where we would hit retail stores, collector shops and flea markets looking for rare, retired and exclusive Beanie Babies. It was challenging and fun,” said Picknell.
Over the years Picknell has collected over 500 Beanie Babies, and has become close friends with collectors all over the world.
Picknell has heard of the Pop vinyls and gets it – the market around hit TV shows and movies like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and the Disney franchise.
“As adults and children alike, all enjoy these shows… Their market and appeal is so vast,” said Picknell.