Hey friend! Have you ever wondered what the very first Funko Pops were? As a fellow Funko fan, I‘m obsessed with learning about the history and origins of these iconic collectible figures we know and love.
In this article, we‘ll take a nostalgic trip back in time to the late 90s and early 2000s to uncover the stories behind the 8 first Funko Pops ever produced. From bobbleheads to early vinyl figures, we‘ll explore the roots of Funko‘s journey to pop culture ultra-stardom.
Funko Big Boy Bobblehead Kicked off the Craze in 1998
Let‘s go all the way back to 1998 when entrepreneur and toy collector Mike Becker founded Funko. Inspired by expensive vintage Big Boy restaurant collectibles, Becker had the idea to create an affordable bobbling head figure of the iconic Big Boy mascot.
At the time, most Big Boy restaurant collectibles sold for over $200. But Becker was able to acquire a small license from Bob‘s Big Boy and manufacture a 7-inch tall plastic bobblehead that retailed for just $5!
Only 480 of these first-ever Funko Big Boy Bobbleheads were produced, making them extremely rare today. According to PopPriceGuide.com, the Big Boy Bobblehead has a current value of $800 mint-in-box.
While this first product was a rather modest success, it paved the way for Funko‘s future bobbleheads and vinyl figures. The Funko Big Boy Bobblehead remains a prized piece of Funko history as the company‘s first-ever product.
Austin Powers Launched Funko into the Spotlight in 2002
Four years after the Big Boy Bobblehead, Funko landed their first major licensing deal with New Line Cinema to produce bobbleheads for the hit Austin Powers film franchise.
This line featured 7-inch bobblehead versions of characters like Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Mini Me, and FemBot. The wacky nature of these sculpts proved to be a huge hit.
Funko‘s Austin Powers bobbleheads shipped over 10,000 units – a massive increase from the Big Boy days. According to licensing industry reports, the Austin Powers line generated close to $1 million in sales its first year.
This major success firmly established Funko as a player in the bobblehead space. They continued to obtain licenses for popular movies, TV shows, video games, and more throughout the 2000s.
But most collectors agree it was the Austin Powers line that first put Funko on the map. Vintage Austin Powers bobbleheads now sell for $50-$100 mint-in-box.
Mickey Mouse Metallic Sparked the Vinyl Figure Era in 2010
Funko made bobbleheads its primary product for over a decade. But in 2010, the company decided to enter the designer vinyl toy space with stylized Pop figures featuring iconic franchises.
One of Funko‘s rarest early Pop releases was a glammed up metallic version of Mickey Mouse as #1 in the Pop Disney line. According to gemr.com, only 480 units were produced initially as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive.
The glittery silver paint gave Mickey an eye-catching display appeal. Early PopPriceGuide listings valued the Pop Mickey Mouse (Metallic) at a whopping $1700! Recent eBay sales are around $600, still a hefty sum for a single Funko figure.
Beyond just its high value, Mickey Mouse Metallic holds an important place in Funko history as one of the first high demand chase variants that kicked off the vinyl Pop era.
Since 2010, Pop Disney has grown exponentially to over 1,100 unique vinyl sculpts representing icons from Steamboat Willie to Frozen. But that ultra-rare sparkly Mickey Mouse will always have a special status.
Superman Chase Metallic #7 – A Heroic Pop! in 2010
That same seminal year of 2010 saw the release of Funko‘s DC Comics Pop Heroes line, featuring classic superheroes in funko-fied form.
The Man of Steel Superman was included in the first wave, styled in his classic flying pose with cape fluttering heroically behind him.
A rare chase variant with metallic paint was also produced, numbered #7 out of a 480 piece limited edition run.
This Superman Chase Metallic #7 is extremely valuable due to its early status. According to PopPriceGuide, it peaked around $900 in value and still sells for a minimum of $500.
Over 80 different Superman Pop designs have been created since 2010, including exclusives like Chrome, B&W, and Kingdom Come.
But serious collectors agree this special early chase version is the prime Superman Pop due to its place in Funko‘s history. It represents the company finding its groove with chase variants that added rarity and resale value appeal.
Green Lantern #9 – An Emerald Pop Grail from 2010
Green Lantern was another founding member of the DC Universe featured in Funko‘s first wave of Pop Heroes.
Modeled after his Silver Age comic appearance, the figure shows Green Lantern flying head-on with his ring hand outstretched.
As #9 in the Pop Heroes series, this vintage Green Lantern Pop carries extra weight and prestige. Only 402 different Pop Heroes figures were produced between 2010-2021, making these early classics extra desirable.
Green Lantern #9 has a high average value of $300 mint-in-box according to PopPriceGuide data. When you compare this to more modern Green Lantern Pops worth $10-$15, you can understand why the #9 is so coveted.
For DC collectors, this OG Green Lantern Pop is definitely an essential anchor for any collection. It represents the Genesis of Funko‘s now 200+ character-deep DC Universe lineup.
Star Wars Darth Maul Holographic Electrified SDCC in 2012
At San Diego Comic Con 2012, Funko dropped a show exclusive Darth Maul Pop that Star Wars collectors are still buzzing about.
Featuring a holographic glow-in-the-dark design, only 480 pieces of this amazing Pop were produced. The translucent vinyl paired with Maul‘s red-and-black Sith tattoos made for an eye-popping display piece.
According to PopPriceGuide, the median resale value for this Darth Maul Holographic sits around $1750. Recent eBay listings have it closer to $1000. Either way, this ultra-rare SDCC exclusive remains one of the most coveted Star Wars Funko Pops.
It demonstrates Funko‘s early mastery of using exclusive variants at prestige events like SDCC to create buzz and demand. Exclusives went on to become a core strategy for Funko, making them the juggernaut they are today.
Willy Wonka Pops Brought Pure Imagination in 2016
In 2016, Funko tapped into deep movie nostalgia when they obtained the license for 1971‘s classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Key characters like Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, and Veruca Salt were transformed into Pops. Their color schemes and expressions were tailored to capture the whimsical spirit of the film.
According to PopPriceGuide sales data, the Willy Wonka Pop is the most valuable, averaging around $200 mint-in-box. Collectors say Gene Wilder‘s eccentric expression is perfectly encapsulated.
A rare individual 2016 SDCC exclusive was Violet Beauregarde, marking the first time this iconic character was made into a Pop.
This stylish early movie line remains popular with collectors to this day. It reminds us Funko has always had a knack for tapping into nostalgic pop culture properties that connect with fans on an emotional level.
Kool-Aid Man Smashed into Pop Culture in 2019
Let‘s finish with a more recent Pop that shows off Funko‘s ability to mine nostalgic pop culture icons.
In 2019, the Kool-Aid Man joined Funko‘s Ad Icons line in his first Pop form. Standing at 4" tall, this vinyl jug of juice is an utterly perfect representation of the iconic brand mascot.
Target shoppers went crazy for this Kool-Aid Man exclusive. According to Funko financial reports, the Kool-Aid Man Pop exceeded sales projections by over 200%!
The overwhelmingly positive response shows Funko has perfected their ability to transform brands people feel an emotional connection with into cute collectibles.
Currently, a mint-in-box Kool-Aid Man Pop sells for around $25. That‘s a 10x return from the original $2.50 retail price. Not bad for a Pop that‘s only a few years old!
How The First Funko Pops Impacted Collectors Forever
Looking back at Funko‘s origins, you can see how a small startup leveraged nostalgia and geek culture to build an empire of vinyl.
Many of these early sculpts seem basic by today‘s standards. But they provide a window into how Funko found its voice with expressive stylization and loveable aesthetics.
Beyond their historical importance, these first Funko Pops also deliver immense value. Early figures like Big Boy and Austin Powers defined entire new collecting categories. Iconic vinyl Pops like Mickey Mouse and Kool Aid Man attracted vast new audiences to start collecting.
And exclusive early hits like Darth Maul built the hype-based marketing strategy that Funko now dominates .
Owning even one of these foundational Funko Pops provides a tangible connection with the roots of a collecting culture that influences millions globally. That rich legacy ensures the 8 First Funko Pops will continue inspiring fans and collectors forever.
Well, that wraps up our funkalicious deep dive into Funko‘s origins! I hoped you enjoyed this nostalgic trip back in time as much as I did. Let me know which of the first Funko Pops is your favorite by connecting with me on Twitter at @funkopopguy. And be sure to check back soon for more Funko history and collecting tips!