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Saturday, June 15, 2024

This is not a place of honor: up to $36 million worth of Funko Pops to be entombed in landfills

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As spotted by Kotaku, a recent earnings call by Funko Inc. revealed that the vinyl tchotchke manufacturer simply has too much inventory sitting in warehouses, and that it will be “writing off” $30-$36 million worth of it⁠—which is to say, pitching it in the trash. After some bountiful years, including an early-pandemic bump, Funko seems to be feeling the burn of a saturated market and reduced demand.

funk_pops_found_at_landfill_to_be_destroyed from r/funkopop

This dangerous burial should be accompanied by some kind of warning. When the inhabitants of Earth in the distant future stumble across this vinyl trove, they have to understand what they’re getting into. “We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. This place is not a place of honor,” our message to future civilizations would begin. “No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing is valued here,” the inscription on our massive gravesite for upwards of 2.7 million Funko Pops ($30 million divided by approx. $11 a Pop) would continue. “What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us.”

OK, so that’s actually part of a proposed message from Sandia National Laboratories to warn away those in the far-future from nuclear waste sites, but it is hilarious to me to imagine far-future archaeologists uncovering a vast trove of vinyl bobblehead Geralts, Grogus, and Green Goblins out in the wastes left behind by our society.

And maybe they’re not that bad. Funko Pops are not for me, but a self-conscious, pronounced dislike of the ubiquitous collectible has become one of those standard-issue, lazy signifiers, a reheated opinion you get to present like it’s some edgy or groundbreaking thing⁠—see also hating Nickelback and thinking Die Hard is the film to celebrate your spiritual or secular winter holiday of choice. Funko Pops aren’t literally nuclear waste, even if they are a bit dated⁠ by my reckoning—distinctly pre-pandemic, 2018-core like Instagram Live, “popcorn lung,” the pre-widespread-legal weed CBD craze, or having a sense of hope for the future. 

We’ve reached out to Funko to confirm the grim fate of the millions of little guys, but it doesn’t look good. A 2020 post by Funko fan account MayTheFunkoBWY documents the company’s destruction of excess stock in a prior write-down. This post from Reddit user edelwiess20 just a few days ago purports to show Funko stock at a landfill primed to be destroyed.

The burial of so many silly toys out in the desert (presumably, we don’t know where Funko’s treasure will be hidden away or if it’ll be spread across multiple sites), the sullying of Mother Earth with 2.7 million little vinyl guys? Now that’s a cry for help from a spiritually sick society if I’ve ever seen one.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this all before, though. Just this past week a Redditor spotted $100,000 worth of Magic cards in a landfill, while Atari’s mass burial of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial cartridges remained unbelieved by many until it was uncovered by a documentary crew.

Still, it’d be nice if we could maybe learn a lesson from this sort of thing for once. We seem to keep acting out these simple, absurdist morality plays about pride, excess, and manic profit-seeking. If the far-future archaeologists determine that these buried Funkos were our gods, we’ll deserve that indignity.

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