Becker “had a nice little run of success in comic book shops and gift and specialty shops and wanted to do something different, so I bought it off him,” said Mariotti, who ran and built nightclubs before buying Funko. “He was just a guy who liked to talk toys, and I’m the same way.”
Funko in 2011 distributed worldwide more than 2 million items, including bobbleheads, vinyl figures and plush dolls of pop culture icons. The company has grown much larger than its humble beginnings, agreed Mariotti, whose new Lynnwood office shelves hold easily recognizable Disney, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics characters.
“We’re going to be close to doubling our sales the past two years,” Mariotti said. “We just want to continue to expand.”
Funko’s products are designed at the Lynnwood office. Artists in-house do the majority of the design work on computers, then the plans are sent to other artists throughout the country so models of the products can be constructed. The final products are made in China, shipped back to Funko and then distributed and sold online and in stores around the world. Funko’s biggest customers include Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Toys ‘R’ Us, Amazon, Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic and Spencer’s. Their largest competition is NECA, or the National Entertainment Collectibles Association. The New Jersey-based company also makes bobbleheads, figures and plush toys.
Funko pursues any license that “makes a great collectible and that we feel people would enjoy,” Marriotti said. Since becoming owner, he has worked to buy licenses from franchises including “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “Star Wars” and Disney. In the past year, the company has obtained licenses for upcoming movies such as “Iron Man 3,” “Monsters University” and “Man of Steel.”
Funko manufactures 7-inch Wacky Wobbler Bobble Heads for an assortment of comic book heroes and villians such as Batman and the Joker and television icons including Cartman from “South Park” and Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.” The company also manufactures stuffed toys, known as plushies; electronics, including headphones and lamps with character designs depicting “star Wars'” Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a stormtrooper; and hundreds of different POP! Vinyl figures.
The company began releasing the popular POP! Vinyls in 2010, said Shawndra Illingworth, a sales associate. Unlike the bobbleheads, the 3-3/4-inch-tall figures typically don’t bobble or have a base. They offer much more stylized features. More than 200 types of the figures have been released.