Funko Posts

Rise of the Return of the Attack of 11 Star Wars Collectibles from 11 Episodes

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

With the final chapter of the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies about to hit theaters, let’s look back at the history of the franchise in terms of Star Wars collectibles. Which character (and related collectible) was the most significant from each movie? It could be the most popular, the rarest, the most controversial, or the most ground-breaking. Also, let’s look at these in the order you’re supposed to now watch them, instead of when they were actually made.

Star Wars collectiblesEpisode I – The Phantom Menace: Let’s just get this out of the way. It’s Jar Jar Binks. It has to be Jar Jar. Fans of the original trilogy (or the middle trilogy depending on how you count) had some trepidation about reviving the franchise for a trio of prequels. And much about Episode 1 was not received well when it hit theaters. History has been a bit more kind to the movie in the 20 years since its release, but poor Jar Jar was hated then and his persona has aged even worse. Some sort of talking Jar Jar figure has to be it. Perhaps one that dances as well?

Episode II – Attack of the Clones: “Boba, I am your father!” Boba Fett rivals several other characters for coolest rogue in the universe (Apologies to Han Solo and Lando Calrissian). This film concerns Jango Fett, Boba’s father. Well, Boba is his clone, so “father” is a loose term. Either way, Someone from the Fett lineage had to make this list, and since they’re genetically identical, it’s Jango time!

Star Wars MerchandiseEpisode III – Revenge of the Sith: Remember that plucky kid who won the pod race in Episode I? No spoilers, but it turns out he becomes the baddest of the bad, Darth Vader himself. If you watch the movies in order, this is the first on-screen appearance of Vader. This movie doesn’t have a lot of strong collectible contenders contemporary with the film’s release, so let’s go more modern with this diorama of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi dueling for the first time.

Episode IV – A New Hope: Over 40 years after its release, this movie has held up impeccably well. The entire cast of characters and the spaceship designs haven’t lost any of their magic over the years. This was also the dawn of the modern collectibles age, and the studio was not at all prepared for the popularity of the movie or the toys and other products it would inspire. One thing they did get right at the time… The Marvel comics adaptation of the saga. When the movie hit theaters, “Star Wars” issue #1 was not far behind. Lessons were learned, memories were made. Issue #1 combines everything great about the movies plus the world of comics. And there are some rare variants, too.

Star Wars ToysEpisode V – The Empire Strikes Back: In the first movie (or fourth?) Princess Leia was kind of a MacGuffin, a damsel in distress in a frumpy gown. But in this installment, she busts out a laser rifle on Hoth, and then gets several chances to be the hero in ways viewers never saw coming. And let’s face it, the scene with Jabba the Hutt and Salacious Crumb is memorable for so many reasons. So, this Funko Pop set with Leia, the giant space slug and his jester works.

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi: By the time the third installment (or sixth by this count) arrived, toy companies and collectors were becoming savvy on how to deal with collectibles. Tons of action figures were sold, and many of those were preserved in their packaging, so many of them are not all that rare. On the other hand, a pre-production glitch created one unintended collector’s item. Early versions of the movie poster referred to the film as Revenge of the Jedi, but for various reasons, Lucas decided to change the title to Return. So original posters with the early title are worth a lot more than the official version. (Just make sure it’s not a reprint!)

Star Wars collectiblesEpisode VII – The Force Awakens: A lot of folks saw this film as something of a reboot/remake of the first Star Wars movie (or the fourth… you get the idea.) Our hero Finn impersonating a Stormtrooper, Kylo Ren wearing a black mask and cape (nowhere near as menacing as Darth Vader ever was, though), and Rey… okay, not a damsel in distress, but a fierce fighter right from the get-go. But the movie, from a collectible standpoint, belongs to BB-8, especially the remote control version!

Episode VIII – The Last Jedi: No spoilers here, but it’s neat to see Luke Skywalker again, especially with Han Solo and Leia in short supply. Let’s just say Rey really owns this movie. So any figure where she’s wielding a lightsaber fits the bill here. (Not that she’s the Last Jedi referred to in the title or anything. No spoilers, remember?)

Episode IX – Rise of Skywalker: Baby Yoda isn’t in this movie, is he? Since it doesn’t come out until this weekend, we can’t be sure. So far, the available collectibles haven’t revealed any apparent spoilers. Regardless, it really feels like nothing in this movie can’t possibly top Baby Yoda.

Bonus episodes:

Rogue One – A Star Wars Story: This is a strange entry into the Star Wars Canon… it’s a prequel to Episode 4, but not part of the three other prequels. So there are a lot of characters who were never heard from before or after. So let’s give this to K-2SO by default.

Star Wars toys

Solo – A Star Wars Story: Not a character, but it’s gotta be young Han Solo’s Speeder, right? Sure the Millennium Falcon is the coolest spaceship of all time, but what piece of junk did Solo pilot before that piece of junk? Also, the rocket engines in the back look like the taillights of a 1960s Ford Falcon. That’s the kind of loving detail that makes the Star Wars saga so great.

If you have other suggestions for the most significant collectible from any of these movies, please let us know in the comments!

What are We Thankful For at hobbyDB? A Lot, Thank You!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

As we spend our long weekend preparing the turkey (or the tofurkey) while enjoying football and avoiding politics (or avoiding football and enjoying politics), this is the perfect time to reflect on the things that make life great. Here at hobbyDB, we have much to be thankful for.

Geek Culture. (And Nerd Culture, Fanboy Culture, Collector Culture…) It’s what drives the collectibles world. But the best part is when we talk about the things we go crazy for, we don’t judge each other. What’s the real difference between someone who collects vinyl art figures of obscure cereal spokes characters or someone who tries to snag one of every vintage Hot Wheels Redline button ever made? They’re the same person, really (Okay, that person is me. I do both. Along with license plates, lunchboxes, Star Wars action figures…).

thanksgiving collectiblesThe companies that keep making all those wonderful toys and collectibles. Some of us collect toys from old, defunct brands, which results in a finite set of items and variants to find on the road to “completion.” Reaching that final destination can be bittersweet. So thanks to companies like Mattel, Kidrobot, Funko, Hard Rock Cafe, and thousands more who ensure that our hobby of collecting never really has an expiration date.

Architect Charles Haertling. He was the Frank Lloyd Wright of the Denver area, known mostly for his wild mid-20th-Century commercial buildings and churches as well as some very unconventional house designs. In 1969, he created a strange, curved, multi-level, rounded building for an eye surgery clinic in Boulder. That building is now known as Tatooine, the home of hobbyDB’s global headquarters (and other fine companies as well). The walls are loud primary colors, very few of them are parallel or perpendicular, and it’s the perfect space to feel creative and playful at work.

Al Gore (or whoever invented the internet). At least, he sort of claimed he did on the campaign trail in 2000 (but let’s avoid politics, right?). Regardless of who deserves credit for our online world, hobbyDB couldn’t exist the way it does without it. Heck, we even have a European office and a South American office, and the camaraderie with those friends thousands of miles away is the same as it is with the person sitting at the next desk.

thanksgiving collectiblesthanksgiving freddieThe hobbyDB family. That includes you, our Users, our Curators… In addition to the fine folks who work here, none of this is possible without those of you who log in daily and make hobbyDB even better. From the Users who add to our database, to the Curators who expertly ensure our data is correct and complete, to our Advisory Council who shine their experience like a guiding light, you have helped build an amazing resource for collectors. And of course, our Marketplace has become a great place for Buyers and Sellers to come together. So, thank you all!

The holidays themselves. As much as we enjoy coming into the office at hobbyDB, there’s something to be said for the occasional long weekend. We love to celebrate various holidays around the calendar, and what better way than to look at some of the holiday-related collectibles out there?

As for my family, it’s turkey meatloaf, football all day, no politics allowed, and lots and lots of slots! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Interested in becoming an even bigger part of the hobbyDB family?  Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!

13 Advertising Spokes Characters Who Aren’t Just for Breakfast

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently looked at collectibles connected to our favorite food mascots (cereal and otherwise), but there are lots of beloved Advertising Spokes Characters for non-edible markets, too.

The granddaddy of all spokes characters has to be Bibendum. You might know him as The Michelin Man (which is actually his official name in the U.S.). Even though he’s French, his name is a Latin approximation of “I drink nails.” Bib has been around since 1894 when tires were white or light gray.

bibendum pep boysAlso from the world of automotive service, Pep Boys decided they needed not one but three spokes brothers. Manny, Moe, and Jack have been around since 1921. They are based on the three company founders, who are not brothers and none of whom are named “Pep.”

A perfect example of target marketing, Bullseye the miniature bull terrier has been the spokes mutt for Target stores since 1999. There have been various stuffies and toys of this mutt, most of them presumably exclusive to those stores. 

bullseye geoffrey snoopyAnother famous store mascot hasn’t fared as well lately. Geoffrey the Giraffe was the spokes mammal for Toys “R” Us stores since their inception and was there til the end when the chain finally went belly up.

Snoopy is really just a cartoon character, but honestly, he’s probably as well known as a spokes pup for, well just about everything, including MetLife Insurance. He isn’t available as a true spokes collectible, but he is represented in countless toys, possibly more than any other comics character in history.

 

reddy kilowatt naugaElectricity shouldn’t be a hard thing to sell. You kind of need it for all sorts of things all day. But in the 1920s, electricity was still not the dominant source of power in U.S. homes, especially in rural areas. In fact, a lot of farmers were downright skeptical of it. Enter Reddy Kilowatt, the “electric utility ambassador.” Fun fact: By the 1970s, Reddy changed his message to one of energy conservation, not consumption. Another fun fact: He was once a member of the Grateful Dead. No, really!

Fake leather shouldn’t be a hard sell, either, but Naugahyde brought out Nauga, a spokes monster made of that very substance. His legacy has endured longer than the material has, and it was pretty indestructible.

alfred e neuman bazooka joeSeveral magazines have had spokes characters from “Cracked” (Sylvester P. Smyth) to “The New Yorker” (Eustace Tilly), but none reigned as supremely stupid as Alfred E. Neuman, spokes idiot for “MAD.” Sadly, “MAD”
is ending its print run soon, perhaps allowing Alfred to really focus on his next bid for the Presidency (one of these years, he has to win, right?)

Gum isn’t food, is it? I mean, you shouldn’t eat it. Did you know that’s how Bazooka Joe ended up losing his eye? Sadly, they never really explain it in the comics printed inside the wrappers. And they don’t ever clarify whether he actually owns a bazooka.

Joe Camel tagamet tommyMedicine isn’t food either, is it? Alka Seltzer is kind of the antidote for food if you think about it. In addition to a memorable jingle and soothing action shots of tablets fizzing, the brand had its own spokes guy, Speedy.

Cigarettes are definitely not food, right? And certainly not for kids. Never mind the Flintstones shilling Winston cigarettes in TV commercials in the early ’60s. Of course, the most egregious spokes dromedary was Joe Camel, who swears he wasn’t trying to lure kids to the cool, rebellious life. The backlash against Joe was so severe that not only were cuddly characters banned for tobacco marketing, pretty much all cigarette advertising and sports sponsorships were forbidden.

The greatest spokes organ of all time has to be the Tagamet Tommy. Yes, he’s an anthropomorphic stomach. Which begs so many questions, like does he have internal organs? We’re going to say “no.” 

Freddy FunkoOf course, a lot of the collectibles seen here are Funko products.  Their company spokes figure Freddy Funko has taken on a life of his own over the last twenty years. He started out as a large scale store display Wobbler, and has since appeared in more costumes than you can keep track of. A character created to sell figures of characters created to sell other things… no wonder King Freddy wears that crown.

What are your favorite non-food spokes characters and mascots? Let us know in the comments!

Introducing the ALL NEW Funko PROTOTYPES Database Powered by hobbyDB and NSNBS!

A guest post by Martin Morales.  Martin has been heavily researching protos and fakes since 2016. He is also the creator of No Scrappers, no B.S., a Funko prototype Facebook Community that helps make sure collectors stay in the know about everything protos.

Different from many toy makers, Funko gives their prototypes out to collectors, making them some of the most sought-after of Funko items. Referred to as “protos,” these rare items are given out at Fundays or social media giveaways. With Funko prototypes soaring in popularity, certain issues come up that aren’t something other toy companies have to deal with.

Funko Prototypes

Here are some of Martin’s protos!

Protecting Proto Collectors

Funko proto collectors follow a strict guideline also referred to as “doing the homework.” This entails tracing back the owners of the proto as far back as they can to get to Funko HQ (where they are distributed from). Since Funko distributes protos regularly, we do not accept factory rejects or scrap pieces taken from the factory as these would ruin the proto market.

Funko Prototypes

Courtesy of Helen Smith

Following this guideline allows us to stay afloat despite many efforts from China factory workers to sour the market with cheap, rough and oftentimes beat up scraps known in the community as “scrappers.”

All of these factors make it a bit difficult to become a new proto collector or navigate the proto market. If you are not careful and educated, you can get burned easily.

Tricera Ops production model and color prototype

Tricera Ops production model and color prototype owned by Gavin Ng

But then it’s worth it!

Two years ago, I started a Facebook community called No Scrappers, No B.S. The Community was built to research Funko prototypes and fakes, so we could help inform and protect proto collectors worldwide. We track and assemble albums based on releases and keep albums of scrap and mindstyle pieces. Over the years, the group has attracted the best of the best proto collectors around, including more than 15 Funko Hall of Fame members. We also now have a resource library with over 700 photos of legit pieces.

Funko Protos

 

Now we want to take our mission to the next level. To help further protect proto collectors far and wide, we’ve decided to partner up with hobbyDB (the world’s largest collectibles database) to bring you educational information on collecting as well as a database of legitimate Funko prototypes to assist you with your homework. You can see the all-new Funko Prototype database here.

Within the database, you’ll not only have the ability to research your protos, but you’ll also be able to add items to your digital collection and wish list. You’ll also discover the Collector Showcase page where you’ll be able to easily share and show off all of the awesome items in your collection.

Funko Prototypes Database

hobbyDB will also be powering a marketplace where you can sell your prototypes. This will be heavily vetted so you can have a safe and secure place to purchase Funko prototypes. The secured marketplace will also help us with lineage as the proto owners can be listed if they are members of hobbyDB. Pricing will be more accurate here as curators will focus ONLY on Funko prototypes with a team of highly skilled Curators.

The Funko Prototypes Database Price Guide to Come

As most proto sales happen behind closed doors, marketplaces such as eBay or hobbyDB are really the only places to get pricing on sold protos. However, different from hobbyDB, eBay doesn’t have the resources to keep up with shill bids or scrappers or other junk in the marketplace. Moving forward, we’ve decided to start with a clean slate or baseline price in the prototype database. These baseline prices come from the community who shared their purchases and pricing during the planning of this database. Other baseline prices will come from community auction groups. As people start selling on hobbyDB those prices will also be reflected in real-time.

The goal is to create a safe and secure database and marketplace for Funko Prototypes. hobbyDB is providing the platform and along with a team of Curators from NSNBS, will be looking at this as the future of buying and selling Funko Prototypes.

19 Food Mascots Who Want You to Join Them for Dinner, Snacks or Dessert

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Last week we looked back at some of our favorite cereal spokes characters from big bowlers like Cap’n Crunch to the soggy, forgotten ones like Quake. But there are more meals to the day than just breakfast, so let’s take a look at other Food Mascots from healthy veggies to fast food.

Back when Funko started in the late ’90s, their Wacky Wobblers were heavy on retro, even forgotten, food spokes characters. It was a fun dose of nostalgia, with some deep dives into long retired mascots who still could provide a smile to those who remembered.

big boy toysmcconalds bobblheads

Big Boy was the very first Wobbler, and he has since been immortalized with other figures. During the restaurant’s heyday, vinyl figures and banks representing Big Boy were widely distributed. Bonus fact: It’s fun to guess where someone is from by whether they identify him as Bob’s, Shoney’s, Frisch’s, Azar’s and so on.

Many other restaurants have mascots, but most are on the fast side of the food spectrum. McDonald’s began rolling out friends for Ronald McDonald in the late ’60s. If you’re someone who finds clowns terrifying, you should the original Hamburglar. Also Grimace used to be Evil and had extra arms. The entire cast of characters exploded to enormous size by the 1980s, and has been scaled way back since.

kfc halloween maskIt’s hard to conceive now, but at one time Col. Harlan Sanders was an actual person, not a character played by an ever rotating cast of comedic actors (and also recently by another spokes character, Chester Cheetah!). Burger King used to be a real person, too, possibly a deposed ruler of a far away country, but more likely an actor. Either way, the rubber headed king of the last decade or so has been repping the restaurant and possibly scaring kids since.

kool-aid manwyler's funny faceThe Kool-Aid Man started off as a face drawn in the sweat on the outside of a pitcher of ice cold powdered beverage (didn’t we all?). Eventually, he grew appendages and then an affinity for smashing through walls. Many figures and toys and replica pitchers have honored him over the years, but the best was the early ’80s Kool-Aid Man video game cartridge! Fun fact: Bugs Bunny drank the Kool-aid briefly, too! In the mid ’60s, Wyler’s tried their hand at the powdered juice game with Funny Face. Each flavor had its own distinct character, although they may have tried too hard. While some of them are available in collectible form, several were based on, umm, questionable stereotypes that have not aged well.

poppin fresh familyMany of you know the Pillsbury Dough Boy has a name: Poppin’ Fresh. But did you know he had a family of dough people? Joining him in the 1970s were a wife (or maybe girlfriend, they never specified… Poppie Fresh), a son (Popper), a baby daughter (Bun-Bun), and pets named Flapjack and Biscuit. There are also some older folks, presumably someone’s parents, as well as good ol’ Uncle Rollie. The main family and pets were available as figures and finger puppets for several years.

hostess spokes character toysIf you prefer your baked goods already well, baked… Twinkie the Kid was your guy. Why he dresses as a cowboy is anyone’s guess. There is also a chocolate version of the Twinkie the Kid, also named the same name. Less enduring, but worthy of the Funko treatment were King Ding Dong and Fruit Pie the Magician. Spider-Man and other heroes got in on the Hostess gig for a while as well.

j k simmoms m&mThe kings and queens of the anthropomorphic snack world have to the the M&Ms characters. Starting with just a few different colors, they have added on to the crew increasing diversity, and even an occasional cannibalism joke (well, what do you call it when one candy eats another of itself?) Fun fact: Actor J. K. Simmons has been the voice of the yellow M&M for over 20 years. No, seriously!

jolly green giant toyscalifornia raisins video gameSpokes characters aren’t always trying to lead consumers astray… the Jolly Green Giant seems genuinely interested in selling you healthy vegetables. And of course he had a sidekick… apparently despite the family resemblance, young Sprout was an “apprentice.” Theoretically, the California Raisins were doing the same service, but honestly, they sold a lot of merchandise and stimulated an interest in Motown hits more than they did for shriveled grapes.

noid toyOf course, we need to address perhaps the most annoying, reviled, and despised restaurant mascot of all time… The Noid. Even in the pre-Twitter rage era of the early 1990s, the reaction to this mascot for Domino’s Pizza was swift and unified in revulsion. He was meant to represent the bad, incompetency of “other” pizza chains, but the stink stuck to Domino’s nonetheless. So of course, Funko has honored the Noid with a Pop! figure. The Garbage Pail Kids also did a more fitting tribute.

Of course, many non-food companies have memorable (and sometimes forgotten) spokes characters… we’ll look at those soon, too.

Who’s your favorite food spokes character? Let us know, and if there are relevant toys and collectibles add them to our database.