If you've been following Funko news over the last month - and not living under a rock - then chances are you've heard a rumour or two that Funko are "un vaulting" some of their Pops. So what's the deal?
Well, it turns out the rumours are true... sort of.
If you follow along with podcasts in the collectables world like Snack Attack, then you'll be familiar with the anxiety currently surrounding the Funatic community regarding the idea that Pops could, potentially, be taken out of the vault. This is problematic for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that collectors are typically willing to pay big bucks for these vaulted (i.e. out of production; no longer made by Funko) items. In fact, some of these items can go for as high as $20-$30k on websites such as eBay and Pop Price Guide. The more limited an item is, and the less likely you'll be able to find it in the wild, ever, the higher the cost and demand go up.
Now, the concept of these inflated prices can be problematic in and of itself. Many in the community refer to these sellers as flippers.
What's a flipper?
In essence, a flipper is someone who purchases a product, usually in bulk, at retail cost, and sells them for a wildly inflated price. Flippers are the bane of many collectors as they take away the opportunity to purchase these rare items at a reasonable price. Many preventative methods have been taken by companies such as Ozzie Collectables to avoid instantly selling out of collections such as Comic Con drops at the hands of flippers, such as maximum quantities per customer, bot-identifying technology, and even manually scrutinizing orders for suspicious, flipper and bot like behaviour. It can be a hard gig!
It's not the first time Funko have re-released a POP! Vinyl
Funko also found themselves in controversy a few years back when they saw an increase in re-releasing certain characters and moulds following the success-- and subsequent retiring-- of rare collector boxes. Many seasoned collectors in the community will argue that items just aren't as rare as they once were, with Chases falling somewhat out of popularity, convention exclusives on the rise, and Funko store exclusives less 'exclusive' than ever.
So why is a potential un-vaulting such a big deal?
To put it plainly, it changes a lot. Collectors typically operate under the assumption that they know what they're buying. It's not altogether impossible to avoid flippers; there are plenty of retailers out there who specialise in these vaulted, rare, or 'grail' figures. (Cough cough... ahem.) Some digging around on the internet or a quick search on PPG will tell you that these vaulted items tend to have a generally accepting going rate, or accepted value, that determines what a reasonable cost is without having to resort to the evil-god-like whims of the flippers. In some cases, that cost is really, really high, but that's all part and parcel of collecting these extremely rare figures. So collectors are understandably upset that these high value items which they've paid a lot for might become, essentially, worthless.
The positive side of un vaulting?
But there's a light at the end of the tunnel, too. It doesn't look like Funko are about to start un vaulting all the big ticket items any time soon. (So your original Disney, TMNT and Freddys are totally safe.) It looks like the rumour started circulating in response to Funko re-releasing items in general, beginning with the Star Wars 'black box' line and culminating into the most recent re-runs of certain items from lines such as Attack on Titan, garnering discussion from some European Funko retailers.
Whilst it doesn't seem as though the company is totally removing the door on their vault any time soon (phew!) the idea that they could possibly be releasing some re-runs of well-loved products understandably creates some anxiety - but some tentative excitement, too. The idea that some of these sought after products could potentially be purchased at a much lower cost has its appeal.
What do you think of the rumours? Are there any vaulted items you'd love to see snuck into the retail world at a reasonable price? Or do you want what's already locked up to stay that way? Tell us in the comments!