A Retailer Experiences POP Mania At The Funko HQ Grand Opening, With Photos

by Hannah Means Shannon

Chris Blewitt of Conquest Comics writes:

As I stood in line to enter the Funko HQ Grand Opening on Saturday morning, I realized that I was in the midst of some truly hardcore “funatics”. Now I’m no stranger to any of this, having carried their products in my shop for about 7 years, produced my own Pop Exclusives, attended Funko Fundays 4 out of the last 5 years, and interacted with a very large portion of the community. I’ve see and experienced the insanity firsthand many times. It just was stunning once again to see and hear about folks traveling to Everett, Washington from all over the US and as far away as Brazil. Folks decked out in their vests covered in Funko pins and patches. It’s a (mostly) tight community and they were foaming at the mouth to pop on inside this Mecca to see what was in store.

Scoring a Golden Ticket in order to attend the opening event was a royal pain. Not everyone who tried got one and some of those that did scored multiples for different time slots. There was no perfect way for Funko to appease everyone who came out, but hopefully next time they do an event there they will learn from a few of the mistakes made on Saturday to try to make it a bit more fair for folks that traveled so far, just to get shut out. They did backtrack on their own rules about not lining up prior to the morning of the event. That was something that was put out in an announcement by them weeks ago in a press release. That went out the window when they allowed people to line up the day before. That was one of the biggest gripes I heard by talking to people.

The cool thing was that if you did get shut out of the event, Funko also had a pretty awesome block party to coincide with the opening. It started with some speeches from the Mayor of Everett, Funko’s own Brian Mariotti, and Kevin Smith. During the speech Brian gave he donated $50,000 to a local charity and mentioned an art program called Funko University that’s available for kids interested in learning to draw. Not really sure of the details, but I’m sure more info will be made available as time goes on. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony.

A signing tent with Brian Mariotti, Kevin Smith, and the rest of the cast of AMC’s Comic Book Men was a huge hit. Kevin was classy as always and took time to mingle with every single fan who lined up, take photos, and give his autograph. They probably couldn’t have picked a better celebrity guest as he genuinely seemed to love every moment he was there. The artist tent had a line all day where you could get one of the many talented Funko artists/designers to draw your favorite character in Pop form. A beer garden was a nice touch to relax and throw back a few before playing some cornhole with friends. Food trucks, Jenga, a band, cosplayers, and some giveaways were just some of the other things to keep folks entertained.

For Funko, this event is the first of its kind. The exterior of the building is decked out with life size superheroes in Pop form while the window displays are brilliant and fun. I especially loved seeing the Freddys being produced on the conveyor belt. I’m looking forward to seeing future displays and scenes.

Ok ok….onto the actual Grand Opening. I was fortunate enough to gain access to the opening at a 10 am time slot, so my experience will differ from those in the later slots. One thing that personally irked me was that some folks that cut in line. Now this is not Funko’s fault, per se, but I do wish there was a bit more attention paid to this problem. When I got in the line for the 10 am opening, it was just a few minutes after 7 am and I was 6th and my business partner was 7th in line. I knew who was in front and in back of us.

When the doors opened and they let us in, while checking and stamping our tickets I was about 13th and there were a ton of faces behind us that weren’t there 90% of the time we waited in the line. It didn’t truly make difference and I certainly was not about to cause a scene, but it did bug me as most of these people were the “funatics”. Funko Funatics is a term coined for the loyal fans of the company and its products. Most of these folks post and are very active on the Funko message board. Most are good eggs, but in every group there are going to be a few bad ones.

The main thing on everyone’s mind were the exclusives. There were some pretty cool pieces only available at this opening. A Metallic Green Chromed out “Emerald” Freddy Funko Pop, Sikeoshriner Pop, and Kevin Smith Pop in a HQ jersey were all limited to just 500 pieces. A Freddy Funko Pop holding the Space Needle and Silver Robot Freddy Funko Pop were “limited” to the event but no edition size was given out on those.

The ones that caused a bit of a frenzy were the other 4 Comic Book Men Pops. Walt, Mike, Brian, and Ming. Those were only limited to 120 pieces each and were gone in a flash. A Freddy Funko Dorbz was also available. This was on top of hundreds of other really cool Pops, Dorbz, T-Shirts, Bags, Keychains which made it a fantastic shopping experience. I’ll also note that the exclusives were all limited to just 1 of each per person….or were supposed to be. More on that later, though.

The store itself is partitioned into several sections and all are decked out with life size Pop characters and amazing scenes. In the DC Comics section, you could climb into the passenger seat of the 66 Batmobile and snap a photo with Batman while the Joker and Killer Croc were locked up in jail cells. The Marvel area had a great NY city street vibe complete with a newsstand and Spidey clinging to a building while battling the Green Goblin. Star Wars showcased an upside down hanging Luke with Wampa in the cave and Darth Vader above. Belle and several Disney princesses were in a castle. Sailor Moon, Goku, Godzilla were there as well!!! I can go on but I’ll let you look at the pics for yourself to see how awesome the scenery is there. One section that I did wish was completed was the Pop Factory.

Eventually, you’ll be able to essentially build your own Pop right there.  It sounds awesome and I’ll definitely have to head back again to partake in that once it’s up and running. The staff were very nice and accommodating. One friendly young lady in the Harry Potter section complimented my Groot Beer shirt and we spoke and joked for a few minutes. Another staffer took my pic in the Batmobile for me. Thanks bud!!!

One grabbed me more shopping baskets when they saw my tremendous pile I was carrying around like an idiot. The staffers were all tremendous. They had several registers open in different areas which made for smooth and easy checkouts. The young lady who checked me out (not like that) said she wanted my Rosie the Robot 3 pk and hoped there would still be some at the end as she wanted to buy one so badly. I asked if she wanted me to hide it somewhere so she could grab it later and she laughed and said “No Thanks”. Well, girl who checked me out (definitely not in that way), I hope you got your Rosie!!!!

My biggest gripe of the day comes not at the hands of Funko, but at some of the “bad eggs” I mentioned earlier. The way it was setup inside, all of the exclusives were out on the floor in the back center. Mind you, these were all limited to 1 of each per person to make it as fair as possible for those in later time slots. Most people honored that. Some sadly did not.

There were folks that made their purchases and then left their bags with a friend or family member after checking out just to go back, reload on the rare pieces and then checkout again at a different register. This alone screwed over people in the later time slots. There were also folks that got multiple entry tickets at different times. One through the early access forum, and then one again as they waited in the physical line.

We spoke with several people who did these things and loaded up on extras while leaving the later groups to be a bit disappointed when the pieces ran out earlier than they should have. For a group that prides itself on being a close knit community, there was a massive amount of selfishness and shadiness that we saw and experienced. Being a 15 year veteran of insane shows such as SDCC where people go bananas for exclusives, I’ve been around and have seen the dirty tricks people use to score what they want. I expect it at a show that has 125k people attending where interests are all over. But here?!? Where a good percentage of the people know each other and call each other friends?!? That was truly disappointing to see.

I hope Funko takes the time to go back and look at the camera footage for that first wave or 2 of shoppers and see if they can identify those that double dipped. Shouldn’t be too hard as they personally know a lot of the shoppers in the first waves, since they were mostly filled up with members of their board that scored tickets to the event weeks ago. In fairness to the employees, there was no real way of monitoring or policing it in the manner it was setup. It was too chaotic, but hopefully they learn from this and figure out a way to correct it before their next event.

All in all, it was a cool and unique experience. I’m glad I went and have that memory to hang onto. I highly recommend taking the trip out there someday. Everett is a cute town that is  less than an hour from Seattle and I imagine the shop will be doing tons of business as the Funko empire continues to expand daily.

Here are a few more photos of this epic event:

Chris Blewitt is owner of both the greatest last name in the world and Conquest Comics located in Bayville, NJ.