The Secret Life of Pops!

I am a collector. Not to be confused with THE Collector (shout out to Benicio del Toro), but there is an insatiable desire within to gather troves of…well…stuff. I blame Pokemon. I was young and impressionable in my early teens when Pokemon made its debut in America with its amazing story of a boy on a journey to “catch ’em all.” All these cute and fierce creatures waiting to be part of my mobile database, I was hooked!

To this day, I have yet to catch them all, but the damage has been done. I too am on a journey now, collecting whatever the new fad is, and I have found myself exploring some of the darker parts of Facebook in search of Funko Pops!

If you asked me a little over a year ago what a Pop! was, I probably would’ve told you to go the store and get a soda like any other respectable northerner. Turns out, Funko Pops!, licensed vinyl toys and bobbleheads, have been around since 1998. These 3.75″ figures are now a pop culture phenomenon. Funko holds licenses from Disney, Star Wars, Hanna-Barbera, DC, Marvel, and the NFL to name a few. In order to keep their hold on their fanbase, Funko makes items that are extremely common to exceptionally rare. This has led to new collectors (like myself) scouring stores and Internet sites, such as eBay and Craigslist, to find pieces that are “vaulted” (no longer in production) or convention exclusives (i.e. San Diego Comic Con, New York City Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, etc.). The problem isn’t necessarily finding these exclusives, it’s their going rate due to the exclusivity. Here’s an example:

I love graphic novels. Back in 2013, Funko released a Rorschach Movie Pop!, modeled after the character from the world renowned graphic novel and blockbuster movie Watchmen. At the time of its release to stores, the Pop! was approximately $12.99. According to PopPriceGuide.com (the go-to site for evaluating your Pop!’s value), in mint condition, this vinyl is worth $125! And that’s even not the exclusive! There was a Rorschach with blood on his coat that was an SDCC exclusive, limited to 480 pieces, whose going rate is currently $290!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to pay almost $300 for a collectible. But…it’s just so cool…as are many others. If only there was a way to get them cheaper…

Enter my newest addiction. Other like-minded Funko collectors like myself have created Facebook and Instagram groups specifically designed for raffling off their collectibles. Since Facebook tends to discourage and flag groups for gambling, these groups instead call these posts “waffles”. Each group has different rules, guidelines, and restrictions, but here are the basics:

  1. A person has a Pop! they want to “waffle”.
  2. They check the Pop Price Guide website for value and add up to 25% + priority shipping costs
  3. Divide up how many spots/tickets they want to offer
  4. Post pictures and the available spots to the group
  5. Wait for it to fill up with “ticket” buyers
  6. Payments are then sent to the Pop! owner via PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet, or other digital money manager
  7. Run a random number generator to determine who wins the Pop! at (what may be) an exceptionally low cost.

Odds are if there’s a Pop! you’re looking for, you can find it fairly easy on these groups. However, some of these groups have been known to breed untrustworthy sellers. Since these transactions are personal, no one is allowed to write anything in the Notes section on PayPal or Venmo when paying for fear of the companies learning of the illegal gambling that Facebook is not-so-knowingly perpetuating. Thus, these groups run on trust. Trust that the pictures are what they say they are, trust that the seller is actually going to send you the piece, and trust that the Pop! isn’t a fake. I have been a part of only a few of these groups on Facebook over the last five months, and already I have witnessed all of these issues first or second hand.

But, all that aside, if you are a Pop! collector looking for your holy grail like me, and if you have some faith in humanity, ask someone you know about “waffle” groups if you’re interested, as most are Invite Only anyway. I will not share any of my groups’ names for fear of their takedown due to this post. But if you’re looking for a deal, it may be out there. So in the comments below, tell me what you think: Are you a part of these groups? How do you feel about the unrestricted “waffling”? What are you collecting and/or looking for? Do you have a Bloody Rorschach for me?

One final note: I love to gamble, and at times I may bet more than I should. I’ve gotten some great rare Pops! (except my bloody Rorschach – pun intended), but as with all games of chance, I’ve lost more than I’ve won. If you think you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, this is not for you. There are no restrictions here. Should you need help, call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit their affiliate website. Remember, gambling is fun when played responsibly, but these are just toys, after all.

References:

http://www.heraldnet.com/business/lynnwoods-funko-turns-bobbleheads-into-big-bucks/

http://www.poppriceguide.com/guide/

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