The Funko Booth at San Diego Comic-Con has, over recent years, become the stuff of legend and nightmare, as lines of hardcore, dedicated fans (“Funatics”) formed sometimes days in advance for prime spots to get their hands on those rarest of rare SDCC exclusives – the SDCC Exclusive-stickered POP! Vinyl bobble head figures. Over the past decade or so, it had become quite chaotic in that far corner of Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center, nestled behind Artists Alley… but not this year.
2018 saw the introduction of Comic-Con International‘s Exclusives Portal, an online process in which eligible attendees could request a slot during the weekend of SDCC and, if randomly drawn from the thousands of clicked applications, get in line for the POP!’s. Funko joined other desirable retailers at Comic-Con for the new process, including Hasbro, LEGO and UCC Distributing, meaning that attendees knew well in advance if they had been selected or not, and the lines were eliminated as the lucky got their ‘Golden Ticket’ and the unlucky slunk off to explore other parts of the convention.
It’s a process not without its flaws but, for Funko, it meant that the chaos that surrounded their booth fell away – but what does that mean for a company that thrives off the energy of its most dedicated fanbase? What does that mean for the resale market for these figures, as anyone with a Member ID has the chance to get their hands on the merchandise? How can the process be more fair for the Funatics, going forward? Interesting questions, indeed.
Hence, I found myself in literally the final minutes of the convention at a nearly bare-shelved Funko Booth, talking to the company’s Head Of Marketing Mark Robbin about how he felt the booth had gone, how attendees had responded and what this meant going forward for future SDCC events…