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Funko CEO Brian Mariotti Talks FunKon, Hopes for Nintendo Collaboration, This Year’s Exclusives

August 3, 2021 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
FunKon 2021 Funko

You may have heard of the collectibles company Funko recently. You know Funko? The company behind the little collectible figurines called the Funko POP! Vinyls; along with numerous other collectible lines, plushie, board games and apparel. This week, due to the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con, Funko is holding its FunKon 2021 event. This year’s event will be both virtual and live. So fans will be able to buy special, rare exclusive collectibles from Funko through the virtual event and also attend the show live at Funko Hollywood.

411mania was on hand today for a special press event to get an early look at this week’s FunKon, and we had an exclusive, one-on-one chat with the company’s CEO Brian Mariotti. Brian shared with his some of his favorite Funko collectibles, the one IP he really wants to nail down for Funko, and more. Here’s what he had to say about this week’s FunKon 2021.

Joe Manganiello (L) and Funko CEO Brian Mariotti (R) chatting during the FunKon 2021 press conference.

Jeffrey Harris: How does it feel that FunKon is here, and you will be able to put on a live event for fans this week?

Brian Mariotti: Yeah, it’s interesting, right? This might be one of the few things good that’s come out of the pandemic, [which] is a new way to possibly have events, which is physical meets virtual. And we learned a lot over the past 18 months over what to do to improve each and every one of our virtual events, but to have the first physical meets virtual event is pretty fun, so I think we’re excited. We’re ready for it.

Jeffrey Harris: This will be a live, ticketed event for fans who will be attending. Do you know about how many fans will be coming through this week between all the sessions?

Brian Mariotti: I think it’s around 20,000 people for the event over the next couple days. And again, obviously much more than that virtually. So, it is a great blend of doing some physical stuff, which we’re so used to doing with our fans and we missed doing over the last 18 months, and then combining it with all the cool stuff we’re going to do virtually as well.

Jeffrey Harris: Now, the exclusives.

Brian Mariotti: Yes.

Jeffrey Harris: An amazing lineup this year. When you’re doing the Funko lineup for exclusives for conventions and shared exclusives, how does Funko determine which brands and which properties are going to get those special exclusives?

Brian Mariotti: That’s a great question that I don’t get very often. I mean, obviously, I look at it as a well-rounded menu at a restaurant. You want to make sure you have the staples that are going to fill you up; the meals. That’s probably some Harry Potter, it’s going to be some DC Comics, it’s going to be some Marvel, it’s going to be some Star Wars, it’s going to be some Disney. Then you try to layer over it some hearty appetizers; a lot of anime; a lot of TV shows. And then we try to come up with some whimsy; the stuff that Funko’s known for; the really weird, off — whether it’s retro properties or really niche properties, we try to all mix it together. I think any time we can do all that, it makes for a perfect, perfect experience.

Jeffrey Harris: Is there a license or IP that you’ve always wanted to bring to Funko that you haven’t quite been able to line up yet?

Brian Mariotti: It’s always been Nintendo. It will always be Nintendo. It’s always No. 1 in our fans’ hearts and in my heart, and you know, some of our licenses like Harry Potter took like seven or eight years to get. So, we’re not going to give up hope. Nintendo people know us. They know how passionate we are about their brand and their Ip, so hopefully, you know, sometime in the near future we’ll be able to put that together.

Jeffrey Harris: As far as existing Funko IPs, what is the deepest cut that you are most proud of?

Brian Mariotti: I would say, believe it or not, Harry Potter. I love that we will do anything and everything Harry Potter. And I think the people that love Potter collect Potter because they know we’re going to go so deep into the world that all of their favorite characters that they loved, and loved in the movie, or whatever it is, that nothing’s off-limits for us. And I think that that’s one of the ones that consistently we’ve gone deeper than just about any other property.

Jeffrey Harris: What is your crown jewel Funko piece?

Brian Mariotti: For me, anything Scott Pilgrim. I’m a huge Scott Pilgrim fan. Any time I can do it, whether it’s a Scott Pilgrim Soda, or Scott Pilgrim Dorbz, or Scott Pilgrim Pops — anything Scott Pilgrim, for me that’s the most important. It’s certainly fun to run a collectibles company when you’re a complete geek, and there’s so many things I love. I love Wes Anderson movies, but man, I love Scott Pilgrim.

Jeffrey Harris: Is there a decision-making process when trying to figure out which Funko pieces get vaulted, and which ones might get reprinted?

Brian Mariotti: Yeah, you know it’s really just smart business. We are obsessed as a company with self-rumors(?) to sell in. Our jobs is to make sure that the fans respond to the products. If they aren’t or not to the expectations we thought, we just stop producing them, right? The last thing we want is to harm the brand by over-producing something and having it be put on clearance. There’s always going to be properties that don’t perform quite the way to your expectation, but we’d rather chase than overproduce.

Jeffrey Harris: As an LA resident, I feel very lucky that we have this store here in Hollywood, but are there any discussions about opening up a physical store at another location besides the one in Everett, Washington?

Brian Mariotti: Yeah, obviously, we think that retail’s not dead. It has to be experience meets retail, and we’ve done very well with the two that we have. We have other concepts in our head. Not all of them are going to be 44,000 square feet with huge worlds, but we think that any concept we do is going to be unique, it’s going to be different, it’s going to have experience in it. And I think we’re playing around with a couple of things as we speak. So, I think you’ll see something in the next couple years.

Jeffrey Harris: I’ve already pre-ordered the Gatchaman Funko Pops. I’m very excited about those. Do you think you might do more from Gatchaman, such as Berg Katse or the God Phoenix?

Brian Mariotti: Yeah, look, I think anything in that anime space is doing really, really well for us. Whether it’s old school or new school, it just continues to — the appetite for more and more from anime that is going to continue to fuel us.

Jeffrey Harris: Speaking of which, anything going on with Funko for Black Clover?

Brian Mariotti: I think we have something on the docket for Black Clover, yeah.

Thank you to Brian Mariotti for taking time out of his schedule to speak with us. FunKon 2021 will be running from Wednesday, August 4 to Friday, August 6 at Funko Hollywood and the official Funko website.