This month, Aardvark Swift’s Chris Mellor has written a guest article for Toy News on the ways in which Funko have developed their brand to take advantage of the licensing opportunities and the growing “kidult” market.
As a leading commercial recruiter, Chris specialises in sales, marketing and brand management, working with a huge variety of people and companies across the video games, toys and licensing sectors.
If you’ve not subscribed to Toy News, you can read Chris’ guest article for this month here. You can grab the whole issue at the link at the bottom of this article.
The earliest memory I have of a film-licensed toy has to be the classic Kenner Star Wars action figures.
While merchandising and licensing has become a staple of the revenue streams for a TV show, movie, comic book or video game, nothing managed to capture my imagination as Kenner’s classic action figures.
Until Funko’s Pop! Figures brand would likely to have been on of any number of brief fads. Like loom bands, fidget spinners and Tamagotchi, they could very easily have burst onto the scene, dominated store shelf space and hit the news for the summer. They would then disappear into drawers and obscurity as the next fad came along.
Now, admittedly, the market has changed a lot. Not that long ago, the world of collectables was seen as the reserve of children and hardcore fans. Grown-ups investing in and trading in Beanie Babies was seen as aberrant behaviour, the idea of keeping a toy mint in box was seen as weird, and the sort of ubiquitous merchandising tie-ins we see today were for specialist stores like Forbidden Planet or judged as outrageous cash-ins by brands like the K.I.S.S. Army.
Today, it is hard to walk into a book shop, toy shop or supermarket without seeing a wave of merchandised and licensed goods.
Some of this success can be attached to the advent of the “kidult” market, with increasing numbers of adults from their 20s and into their 40s bringing their spending power to the market. This is the generation that grew up with video games and the growth of comic books and Japanese anime, now getting their hands on the reigns of power. This is the generation that realised that genres and media are no just for children.
Since it’s founding in 1998, Funko has managed to tap into the geeky zeitgeist, timing it nicely to coincide with the explosion of geek culture and grown as a world leader in pop-culture. Since 2005, the firm has actively invested in licenses more than anyone else.
It is becoming harder and harder to think of a cult franchise that does not have a range of Pop figures. Looking at similar brands like Pogs or Heroclix, the longevity of POP is genuinely astonishing. With similar brands all too often undone by mimics or a change in fashions, it is hard to argue against 20 years of success.
The long-term question will become whether POP is only as strong as the licenses Funko invests in or if they will become like a Lalique, Wedgewood or Dinky and grow beyond their merchandise status and become an evergreen brand unto itself.
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If you are interested in finding new jobs & careers in toys or licensing, or if this article’s sparked an interest in the sector, feel free to get in touch with Chris, our specialist recruiter in this area.
Phone: +44 (0) 1709 83477