Five franchises that deserve the Funko treatment

Funko’s catalog of collectibles is vast—it encompasses a large variety of movies, television shows, pop culture franchises, sports, public figures and original creations. However, despite its large portfolio, there are still franchises Funko has yet to secure licensing for. We’ve put together a list of five fandoms we’d collect sets of and chase down chase variants for—some possible, others not probable.

1: Final Fantasy

Originally released in Japan in 1987 and America in 1990, the Famicom/NES game Final Fantasy launched a franchise that has appeared during every console generation since. Its blend of storytelling, presentation, battle mechanics and player freedom sat a standard for Japanese role playing games and the numbered releases now reach to 15, with sequels, spinoffs, mobile titles and forays into other forms of media.

March 2020’s launch of Final Fantasy VII Remake would be the opportune time for Square Enix to capitalize with associated merchandise.

This rich history has built a large fandom around an ever-growing collection of characters. Each numbered entry in the franchise introduces a new set of main characters, along with a new villain to antagonize them—think of each title as a new story, rooted in the traditions that came before it but still wholly its own. That means people play favorites, and their passion makes Final Fantasy a perfect fit for Funko.

Whether it’s the spiky-headed Cloud Strife and his foil Sephiroth from FFVII, lovebirds Tidus and Yuna from FFIV or best friends Cain and Cecil from FFIV, Final Fantasy is full of figures that resonate with its fan base—and Funko could tap that well for years to come.

A line of Pop! Vinyl party members and villains alone would rival the size of Funko’s Marvel Pop! Vinyl series, but Final Fantasy is also full of reoccurring monsters, as well as fan favorite creatures like Moogles and Chocobos that franchise owner Square Enix loves to dress up in different costumes. These are begging for a series of Mystery Minis.

Will it happen? Probably not. Square Enix creates Final Fantasy merchandise under its own Play Arts line of figures and sells a series of items, including statues and plush, at its online storefront and through retailers like Amazon and Entertainment Earth. However, a partnership with Funko would be a good idea—Funko figures can also be seen as a form of marketing and may help drum up excitement for their source material. Since Square Enix has released a number of remakes and remasters in recent years, timely Pop! Vinyl launches may help the company push projects like Final Fantasy VII Remake further into the public consciousness.

2: All Elite Wrestling

With its weekly episodic premiere slated for October, All Elite Wrestling has staked a claim in the professional wrestling world and positioned itself to reach millions of potential fans. Those numbers can translate to big merch deals, including contracts with Funko.

Some All Elite talent have already had the pleasure of becoming Pop! Vinyl. Chris Jericho joined WWE’s series with two figures, a Pop! Vinyl wearing red gear and an FYE exclusive clad in purple, while members of The Elite became the first figures in Funko’s New Japan Pro Wrestling/Bullet Club series.

The rest of AEW’s roster is ripe for Funko’s artistic re-imagining, and while the brand has yet to acquire the sheer depth of marketable, trademarked names sitting in WWE’s corner, AEW can use Funko to push its fresh faces to the forefront of American wrestling.

The Young Bucks have two Funko Pop! Vinyl figures available, this and a Hot Topic exclusive variant. Will we see a third, AEW version?

Will it happen? Chances are good. As stated earlier, AEW talents and decision makers have ties to Funko already, and it’d be mutually beneficial for both parties.

3: Gundam

Since 1979, Mobile Suit Gundam and its related projects have stood as the standard for stories about large robots. Those massive machines are as recognizable as the human characters who pilot them, and have permeated pop culture to the point that a 2018 film—Ready Player One—prominently featured a mobile suit (the franchise’s name for its robots) that debuted in Gundam’s original run 39 years earlier.

The sheer size of the Gundam franchise can’t be understated. So far, it includes 20 television series, several films and a massive yearly intake on model kits and licensed goods for Gundam IP owners Bandai Namco. There’s even a live action film planned that’s being penned by comics writer Brian K. Vaughn (Paper Girls, Saga).

Gundam and the animation studio it calls home, Sunrise, have crafted a universe that seems tailored to Funko’s product line. Mystery Minis of different mobile suits can be created for each series, while mobile suit pilots and the MS robots themselves would make shelf-worthy Pop! Vinyl figures (particularly in larger sizes). I’d be first in line for a Wing or Deathscythe Pop! Vinyl.

Will it happen? It’s possible. Funko created collectibles based on Sunrise anime Cowboy Bebop, so it’s safe to assume a relationship has been established. However, with Gundam models and toys a mainstay for Sunrise parent company Bandai Namco, the licensing department may be more careful with Gundam. I think our best shot at Gundam Pop! Vinyl is the impending Hollywood film.

4: McDonaldland

Funko has a large variety of items based on Ad Icons like Captain Crunch and Bob’s Big Boy, but the company could hit a home run with a nostalgic trip to McDonaldland.

In 1970, McDonald’s introduced a collection of characters around its established clown mascot Ronald McDonald and named their world McDonaldland. The canon McDonaldland universe consists of Ronald, Birdy the Early Bird, purple monster Grimace and kleptomaniac/burger enthusiast Hamburglar—other characters like Mayor McCheese have been removed thanks to a lawsuit from H.R. Pufnstuf creators Sid and Marty Krofft.

The characters were fixtures in McDonald’s marketing, particularly their Happy Meals and Play Place playground areas, until the turn of the century. In other words, they’re prime nostalgia bait for Funko’s demographic.

This screenshot is from the 1999 PC game Mission to McDonaldland.

Will it happen? Maybe. Funko already has restaurant mascots among the ranks of its Pop! Vinyl army, and McDonald’s isn’t shy about renting out its IP for merchandise. A McDonald’s-Funko relationship could also result in Funko-branded Happy Meal toys, which would result in a mass fast food binge among collectors.

1: Homestar Runner

Flash animation dominated the early days of the Internet. Before YouTube, creators hosted videos on their own websites and used Flash to create content in a world where downloading a music video took the bulk of an afternoon. One of the Internet’s most enduring early series is Homestar Runner.

Launched in early 2000, Homestar Runner chronicled the exploits of characters in the lives of Homestar, a great athlete, and Strong Bad, his great rival. Originally intended as a children’s book, Homestar Runner became a flash cartoon that utilized tropes, referential humor and unique quarks to make each of its characters endearing to audience members. Coach Z can’t say the word job correctly. The Cheat cheats. Strong Bad’s brothers, Strong Sad and Strong Mad, are unhealthily motivated by their emotions.

The cartoons quickly led to a line of merchandise and, eventually, a collection of point-and-click adventure games for PlayStation 3 and PC. The franchise also landed a song named after one of its most popular characters, Trogdor, in Guitar Hero 2.

Homestar Runner went radio silent at the turn of the decade, but the site has received semi-regular updates since 2014, including the launch of a tabletop game based on Trogdor.

Everybody at HomestarRunner.com.

Will it happen? I hope so. Homestar Runner kept me entertained for many a school night, and I remember rushing home from the bus stop to check for the week’s new Strong Bad Email video. My dream item? A Funko Pop! four-pack of Teen Girl Squad.

Which franchises would you like Funko to procure? Let us know in the comments below!

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