The benefits of investing in Pop! toys

Tim Falk 11 January 2017

pop vinyl

Investing in FUNKO’s collectible figurines could net you returns of up to 64,900%, so which Pop! toys represent the best investment potential?

If you’re searching for a unique investment opportunity with the potential to provide staggering returns, inexpensive collectible figurines probably wouldn’t be the first place you’d look. But that could be a big mistake, as finder.com.au’s recent analysis of the benefits of investing in Pop! vinyl toys shows.

With an average profit margin of 442% per figurine, not to mention a potential return on investment (ROI) of 64,900% for one particular figurine, these licensed pop culture collectibles are well worth a look for savvy investors.

But which figurines have enjoyed the biggest price increases, which are most in demand, and how can you maximise your chances of turning a profit? Let’s take a closer look at the data to find out.

What are FUNKO Pop! vinyls?

These cute, unique collectibles are produced by American company FUNKO. It has licensing deals in place with Marvel, DreamWorks, Disney, Warner Bros, WWE, 2K Games and many more, allowing it to produce thousands of pop culture collectibles of everyone from Batman and Buzz Lightyear to Kobe Bryant and Daenerys Targaryen.

Millions of FUNKO Pop! toys have been sold worldwide for a recommended retail price (RRP) of around US$20.

FUNKO Pop! vinyls price data

Why would you want to consider investing in collectible toys? Here at finder.com.au, we’ve been busy analysing data from Pop Price Guide, a website that offers valuation estimates of FUNKO figurines based on current sales activity around the world.

We tracked the market values of Pop! toys and discovered that the average return on investment for Pop! vinyl figures was 442%. The asking price for some of these toys, which had original RRPs of around US$20, has skyrocketed to hundreds and even thousands of dollars, representing massive profits for lucky owners.

Interestingly, most of the highly sought-after Pop! toys were released between 2014 and 2015, meaning a substantial increase in market value over a very short period.

Which Pop! toys have increased in value the most?

Several Pop! toys have seen substantial increases in value since they were first released in the period from 2010 to 2016. A total of 146 Pop! toys now have a market value of US$40 or more, representing a ROI of at least 200%.

The biggest increase is for the Clockwork Orange (Glow in the Dark) figurine, which has a current market value of $13,000 – a ROI of nearly 65,000%. Second place goes to a Glow in the Dark Buzz Lightyear toy, released exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, which is now valued at $3,050 (ROI: 15,150%). A total of 57 figurines have delivered profit margins of 1000% or more.

Pop! toys with the highest market value

The table below shows the top 20 FUNKO Pop! vinyl figurines that currently boast the highest market value.

Pop! collectibleReleasedEdition sizeCurrent market value (US$)ROI
Clockwork Orange (Glow in the Dark)Not a true production piece12$13,00064,900%
Buzz Lightyear (Glow in the Dark)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201112$3,05015,150%
Clockwork OrangeNot a true production piece12$2,58012,800%
Boba Fett (Red Hair)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201424$2,25011,150%
Freddy Funko (Toy Fair)Exclusively at Toy Fair 201312$2,25011,150%
Clone Trooper (Blue Hair)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201212$2,03010,050%
Beetlejuice (Glow in the Dark)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201212$1,9809,800%
Freddy Funko (Buzz Lightyear - Metallic)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201324$1,5007,400%
Batgirl (Black)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 2010240$1,1405,600%
Charlie Brown (Orange Shirt)Exclusively at 2016 FUNKO Fundays24$1,0505,150%
Charlie Brown (Red Shirt)Exclusively at 2016 FUNKO Fundays24$1,0405,100%
Apollo Creed (No Bruises)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201312$1,0305,050%
Bumble (Glow in the Dark)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201212$1,0305,050%
Boo Berry (Glow in the Dark)201124$9204,500%
Buzz Lightyear (Metallic)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201112$9104,450%
Bender (Gold)Exclusively at 2015 FUNKO Fundays24$8204,000%
Batman (Blue Suit)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 2013200$8103,950%
Biggs DarklighterExclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 2012480$7903,850%
Batman (Black Suit)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201312$7703,750%
Freddy Funko (Batman)Exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 201324$7703,750%

Factors that affect value

Looking deeper into the data, we find a few key factors that influence the value of different Pop! toys.

The type of character

The origin of the character is important. From DC Comics’ Batman to Peanuts’ Charlie Brown, iconic fictional creations have the potential to enjoy a substantial increase in value. This makes sense given the more memorable a character is and the greater its cult following, the greater the collectability of its figurine.

Of course, the value of each figurine is also affected by its unique design and the number made. For example, a 2013 Batman (Blue Suit) figurine, of which 200 were released exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, is valued at $810, while a Batman (Arkham Asylum - Blue) figurine, released exclusively to Hot Topic in 2014, will only set you back $13.

Event exclusivity

Another crucial factor that affects the value of Pop! collectible toys is where and when each toy was released. Several extremely popular Pop! toys are released in limited numbers exclusively at particular events or as special offers to specific retailers.

The most notable event for Pop! figurine releases is San Diego Comic-Con, the four-day comic book / sci-fi convention that has grown into a huge annual event attended by more than 150,000 people. It’s a key entry on the calendar of every comic book and sci-fi “nerd” in North America and around the world, so it’s no great surprise that many of the most highly valued Pop! figurines were released exclusively at Comic-Con.

FUNKO also holds an annual Fundays event at Comic-Con each year. There’s only a limited number of tickets available and they sell out fast, so limited-edition figurines released at the Fundays events are also often highly sought after by collectors.

Average selling prices of Pop! toys bought at exclusive events

The table below outlines the top 10 average prices of toys released at each event. Toy Fair tops the list based on the performance of one figurine, the Freddy Funko (Toy Fair) model, 12 of which were exclusively released at the 2013 event.

Event/retailerAverage price of exclusive-release toys (US$)
Toy Fair$2,250
FUNKO Fun Days$480.71
D23 Expo$400
San Diego Comic-Con$373.61
Blockbuster$210
League of Legends World Championship$195
Magic Pro Tour$180
Gemini Collectibles$163.50
London Film Critic and Comic-Con$125
Toy Tokyo$107

Supply and demand

Supply and demand are crucial factors across all investment classes. When a company’s shares are in high demand, its share price goes up as investors are willing to pay more for them. When forex traders can’t get enough of a particular currency, its value will increase.

The same principle applies to Pop! toys. When a particular figurine is in high demand but only available in limited numbers, expect its market value to head north.

Take the example of the Boo Berry (Glow in the Dark) figurine, 24 of which were released in 2011. Although there are 22 people who currently own that specific Pop! toy, 440 people want to buy it, so it’s no surprise that its market value has risen to $900.

It’s a similar story with the Clockwork Orange figurine – although the edition size was only 12, 688 people want to buy the toy. This puts its value at $2,560, and a ROI of 12,800%.

Which Pop! Toys haven’t increased in value?

There’s a certain level of risk involved in buying Pop! vinyl toys as an investment. While there is a long list of toys that have seen substantial increases in value, plenty more actually now sell for less than their original RRP.

For example, the Aquaman (Dawn of Justice) figurine, released in 2016, has a current market value of just $7, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the Dweller in the Depths’ reputation as one of the worst superheroes of all time. C-3PO, another fictional character that never reached high levels of popularity, is valued at $7.

A figurine of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who angered many Americans by refusing to stand for the national anthem in order to protest the treatment of black Americans, has a value of $4, while Agent 13 (Marvel Comics) and UFC fighter Jose Aldo are also worth just $4.

However, supply and demand also has an effect on value. As an example, the Gold Hand figurine of Game of Thrones character Jaime Lannister has dropped in value to $9, perhaps influenced by the fact that while 869 people want to own the figurine, 5,329 people already do.

Pop! toys with the lowest market value

The table below shows the Pop! figurines with the lowest current values:

Pop! collectibleReleasedCurrent market value (US$)ROI
Jose Aldo2016$4-80%
Agent 13 (Civil War)2016$4-80%
Colin Kaepernick2014$4-80%
Baze Malbus2016$5-75%
Dr HoovesVaulted$5-75%
Abby Yates2016$5-75%
Black Panther (Civil War)2016$5-75%
Agent Carter-$5-75%
Chandra Nalaar2014$5-75%
Aquaman (Dawn of Justice)2016$5-75%
Blue Ghost2016$5-75%

Simply buying up Pop! toys at random certainly won’t help you enjoy huge profits. But if you know what you’re looking for and get your hands on a figurine that combines a cult following with exclusivity and high demand, you could potentially see a very juicy return on your investment.

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