Prototypes Posts

Guest Blog: History of Funko’s Rare Prototype Pop! Figures

Funko Prototypes

hobbyDB and Pop Price Guide Squad member Javier Serrano, aka Fjaviserr, shares with us some history of Funko’s rare prototype Pop! figures.

Toy Fairs are always synonymous with surprise and good news from toy brands.

Sadly, some of the releases are cancelled every year and Funko is no exception. Sometimes, they are not produced because of licensor approval, others simply become urban legends.

However, those very rare original Pop! unproduced prototypes are treasures in the wild, just waiting on the proper auction for avid collectors around the world.

If you happen to have a spare thousands of dollars laying around, maybe you will get a one-of-a-kind for your collection. At the end, there’s always room to add them, isn’t there?

Let’s review some of them.


Funko Prototypes


My first stop is the Beetles Black & White. These variants from the Liverpool Band were supposed to be Gemini Collectibles Exclusives. Eventually, the project was cancelled by the licensor.

As same as another “White Whale” such as Clockwork Orange (Glow in the Dark) and its common version, each box comes hand signed and numbered by Funko’s Brian Mariotti on its bottom with the words “color reject,” — which had to be handwritten on the box as well.

There are only 10 existing pieces for each amazing and rare item. Following Beetlemania, Funko decided to cancel Captain Fred and Yellow Submarine Pop!s as well. Both were announced at the 2012 New York Toy Fair.


Funko Prototypes


Next, one of my favorites events, in which one we can find a long list of cancelled Pop! figures, was at 2015 NYCC Toy Fair.

At Toy Tokyo’s booth, Mindstyle, Funko’s partner to Asian market, presented several Pop! series, but most of them never received the green light to produce them.

The most relevant items could be the Freddy Funko variants and the Pope Francis Pop! figure. The latter was produced as merchandising for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in 2015. Mindstyle, as the legend says, ran 200 pieces, which were only available in the Philippines. The idea was released as a common after that, but the project was cold.


Funko Prototypes


Back to 2017, the Nick Morton Pop! from the movie The Mummy (2017), like in a Hollywood premiere, was shown in two parallel events in New York City. It was presented at BHImpact, at their annual showcase event for Universal Studios and 2017 New York Toy Fair. A few months later, this Pop! was cancelled. I don’t know how many of them were produced, but I guess less than 500 pieces.


Funko Prototypes


Finally, since 2011, Funko has shown different Pop! Concept Prototypes at different events, particularly NYCC Toy Fair. Many of them were scratched, such as Reservoir Dogs Pop! Series. Luckily for other designs, we only had to wait a few years until Funko decided to produce them. It’s interesting watching the very first concepts of Pop!´s  like the Godfather, Ron Burgundy or Sandy Olsson, and how different the final design is a few years later.

I hope you find this information helpful. Have an excellent week and keep on Popping! Click here to see all of the Funko Prototypes currently found on hobbyDB.


Funko Prototypes

Funko Prototypes

More Matchbox Prototypes With More Working Details

matchbox prototype lead

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A few months ago, we shared a treasure trove of Matchbox prototypes and preproduction versions of later production models from the collection of Rob Romash. Romash was a Master Modelmaker at Mattel, working primarily on 1/64 scale Matchbox vehicles in the early 2000s, but also on a surprising range of other toys. We also had the pleasure of meeting Steve Moye, who was one of the artists creating illustrated concepts for inspiration, and Glenn Hubing, who hand painted many of those prototypes and designed graphics for Matchbox cars.

The skill and precision required to turn a block of acetate into a finely rendered, highly detailed first rendering of a model car is beyond the comprehension of most collectors. Which is what makes these models so freaking cool. The ones you see here are early test shots made from the molds made from the original carvings, so only a couple of each one may have ever existed. Know what else is cool? These are all for sale on the hobbyDB Marketplace!

matchbox prototype ford explorerQuite a few of the cars in this batch feature moving parts, some with intricate detail. Take the Ford Explorer Sport Trac model. It’s a pleasant surprise for the tailgate on a truck like this to function, but in this case, the separate bed extender gate also works. That’s a pretty fine detail for a toy truck that sold for under a dollar! It’s incredible to see it in gray resin to see how much tiny detail is there.

matchbox prototype ramp trucksThere are two different ramp trucks in this batch. The first is a fantasy design, with a ramp extension that slides down from the main structure. The other flatbed tow is a little more restrained in design, not based on any particular real truck, but plausible enough to fit in with other licensed designs. The ramp on that one slides back flat before dropping down. The cab and chassis on the second truck are shared with another vehicle, a box truck with opening rear doors.

matchbox prototype cement truckThere’s also a cement truck with a spinning container on the back, complete with gear teeth to mesh with the rear axles. At this stage of development, the rest of mechanism wasn’t in place yet, so on the prototype, it just spins easily on its own. It doesn’t appear that this one ever made it into production.

matchbox prototype corvetteAnother car in the batch might not be recognizable to collectors. Sure, it’s a 1997 Corvette, the first year of the C5 chassis, but this particular model was never produced by Mattel. It features a very thin opening hood and more detail underneath that isn’t usually expected on a basic Matchbox car. The interior is also much better detailed than their usual offerings. Unlike most preproduction models, this one has a completely finished chassis complete with the text identifying the car, copyright dates, and country of origin. Also, this one has a clear windshield with graphics, not common on such models.

matchbox prototype tvrAnother car you really might not recognize is the TVR Tuscan, an oddball design from an oddball company (and as car enthusiats, we mean that sincerely). As rare as Tuscans are in real life, there are actually a pair of resin bodies in the collection.

matchbox prototype vw taxiThere’s also a Volkswagen Bug that feels like it’s’ actually made of metal. In fact, it’s a repurposed production body, but in this case, a tiny “TAXI” sign is fixed to the roof. It might not look like much, but that kind of detail had to be mocked up for production, too. On the finished car, the taxi sign was part of the main body casting.

matchbox prototype golf cartFinally, there’s a golf cart. While it doesn’t have removable accessories, it does have some remarkably finished golf bags in the back. It’s the kind of detail that usually gets simplified in the final process for cost or durability issues. On this one, you almost feel like you could pull out the driver and give a golf ball a ride.

And as we mentioned… All of these prototypes and more are for sale on the hobbyDB Marketplace. They’re one of a kind (well, except for the TVRs), so grab them while you can.