I had never heard of Funko Fundays when my friend, a San Diego Comic-Con veteran, invited me to go this year. Even as he explained it, I struggled to fully grasp what exactly the event was. “It’s like a party and a game show with lots of prizes,” he said. “Audience participation is required. It gets very loud.” Sign me out. The last thing I need is to be surrounded by a few thousand people screaming their heads off for free Captain America Funko Pops. Then he explained what Fundays is really about. “On a bad year, I’ll make enough money to pay for my entire trip, hotel and all,” he explained. “On a good year, I’ll make a few thousand bucks on top.” Sign me back in.

Funko Fundays is a kind of scheme. A way for Funko to juice the aftermarket and maintain a high demand for exclusive Funko Pops. Tickets to the event are an eye-watering $250, they only sell 3,200 of them, and they sell out within seconds. My buddy who’s been going to SDCC for more than 20 years says he doesn’t even manage to get in every year. The reason it’s such a high-profile event is that every Funko Pop given away there is exclusive to the event. Even the most common Pop is just one of 3,200. The rarest are one in 100. Tickets are expensive, but those who attend can make a lot of money reselling their rewards. The only catch is that you have to work for it.

Let me walk you through the entire night, because I’m not fully convinced this isn’t a fever dream I’ve invented in my mind. The event takes place at the Rady Shell, an outdoor music venue that juts out into the San Diego Bay behind the convention center where SDCC takes place. I’m instructed to arrive before 5pm, two hours before showtime. I get there just after 4pm because I’m a deeply anxious person, and find thousands of people in a line that wraps all the way around the venue. I’m told the people at the front have been since the previous night. Why wait outside, baking in the sun for an entire day when our tickets guarantee us a seat? Some people believe being the first ones in gives you the best chance at the rarest Funkos. This appears to be pure superstition.

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When we filter into the venue just after 5pm, our group has to choose from one of four teams: Funamuck Bears, Chaseapeak Eagles, Protomoa Wolves, and Popawaka Lumberjacks. Every year has its own theme, and this year’s theme is summer camp. We choose the bears and are given our Box of Fun, a school bus-shaped cardboard box filled with a semi-random assortment of very rare, and potentially very valuable, Funko Pops and Funko Vinyl Sodas. Everyone is then given some team-oriented swag like hats and posters, and a box lunch containing a cookie, bag of chips, and one of the most unpalatable cold chicken sandwiches I had ever had in my life. This was a Fyre Festival-quality meal. Luckily, no one’s there for the food.


As soon as you get in and find your team’s table, it’s time to investigate your Box of Fun. Every Pop and Soda is a different version of Freddy Funko, Funko’s mascot, dressed as a famous character. Someone at my table pulled out a Freddy Funko as Hopper, one of 100, and excitedly showed the table. When I discovered all three of mine were one of 250, I figured they must not be worth much. I displayed my three Pops - Peacemaker, Wolverine, and Glow-In-The-Dark Anakin Skywalker - on the table for a photo, and before I could even get my phone out, someone walked up and offered me $2,500 for the set. Cash. I didn’t have a chance to process what was happening before one of my teammates shooed him away. “No lowballs!” he said. What the fuck is going on?

I later found out that I (and coincidentally, one of my other teammates) had the best box of the event. Wolverine and Anakin alone are fetching between $2,000-$4,000 on eBay. Add in Peacemaker and the far-less valuable Sodas, and my box is worth somewhere between $5,000-$8,000. That’s only half of what I ended up with at the end of the night.


The next couple of hours are a frenzy. People are roaming the field shouting the names of Pops they have for sale like drug dealers at Coachella. Everyone is trying to buy Wolverine. Everyone is trying to sell Pinnochio. I see people with five, ten, 15 Boxes of Fun and big wads of cash. It's an open-air market for wheeling and dealing, and I’m completely out of my element. I start drinking Rum and Cokes like water, clutching my Box of Fun like Smeagol. I started to loosen up once our team mascot, the Funamuck Bear, came out for a photo op. By the time the show started just after 7, I was four drinks deep and ready for anything. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what the next four hours of Fundays had in store.

The show starts with an introduction by the hosts, Chip Chipper and Activities Director Dale. Various other characters and Funko personalities like Camp Commander Briand and Camp Counselor Mike also take the stage. There’s a janitor that warns us about Bigfoot at one point. I can’t keep all of it straight, though the die-hard Funko fans in the crowd seem to be very familiar with all these personalities. They spend a while hyping up the Funko brand and promising more amazing prizes than any Funday before, before the show begins in earnest with the first game: building a fire.

Reps from each team are chosen to join together on a stage in the center of the field. All at once, giant inflatable logs and flames begin to move towards the stage, propelled from the four corners of the venue by the crowd. The first team to assemble a campfire wins the first prize, which happens to be the Chaseapeak Eagles. My friend tells me don’t worry, every team wins one game, and the prizes get better later on. After this, it’s time for the first celebrity appearance: comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias.

Fluffy brings the house down. If you were walking out of the convention center as he took the stage you would have thought there was a Taylor Swift concert happening. Fluffy is kind of like an unofficial Funko Pop spokesman, apparently. As the hosts reveal a new Gabriel Iglesias Pop (jumping variant) they note that this is something like the 19th Pop made in the comedian's likeness. They say this is more variants than even Spider-Man. I can’t tell if they’re joking.

Jumping Fluffy is going to be available on Iglesias’ website, but 250 attendees are about to win an exclusive, silver variant of the Pop. We’re told there are microphones attached to every table and the loudest tables will win the figurine. This is verifiably untrue, it’s obviously a random raffle. Everyone starts screaming their heads off anyway. 3,200 people yelling at the top of their lungs for a limited edition Gabriel Iglesias Funko Pop. Am I screaming too? You better goddamn believe it.

The final phase is a team game, hosted by Fluffy. Again, we play my favorite game Who Can Be The Loudest, with Igelsias choosing the team that wins the prize. If memory serves, it was the Popawacka Lumberjacks that won, taking home a one of 850 Freddy Funko as Spock from Star Trek. Current value: $250.

The night goes on just like this for several hours. The next celebrity guest is AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys. We do a raffle, we have a dance competition, the Protomoa Wolves win a random Freddy Funko. In between each celebrity, the entire audience is given various camp-themed Funkos as well. Each team gets a Funko of their own mascot - my favorite one of the night - as well as various characters like Freddy Ranger, Proto the Dog as a camp counselor, and the terrifying Smores Boy. When the final celebrity guest, 1980’s child star Corey Feldman, takes the stage, I’ve completely lost myself to the energy of the crowd. This is now a Funko Pop cult meeting, and I’m a new recruit getting dazzled by D-list celebrity spokesmen and awe-inspiring prizes, like Freddy Funko as Mike from Stranger Things (currently selling at $300 on eBay).

The hosts don’t even feign ignorance about why we’re all there. There’s several jokes about eBay, and at one point we’re all gifted eBay-branded Pop Protectors - plastic cases you put over your Pops to keep them clean and damage free. What makes them eBay branded? The paper insert inside the clear plastic shell. Once you remove the outer plastic and the paper, ostensibly to insert a pop as it's designed, it ceases to be eBay branded anymore. The protector itself is the collectible. We’re like five levels of abstraction away from finding any reasonable assignment of value to this stuff. The Pop economy is a wonderful, terrifying mystery.


The Funamuck Bears finally get a chance to win during Corey Feldman’s game (Who Can Recite The Camp Pledge The Best). We get Freddy Funko and Ron Weasley, which I immediately trade for a Pinnochio. I may be a disgusting capitalist but I have to draw the line somewhere. The Bears also win the final challenge, Smores Building (a reprise of Campfire Building) and take home a hand-carved wooden pendant and a bonus pop, Freddy Funko as Ted Lasso.

My table even won the final raffle: a metallic version of Spongebob Squarepants doing the Rainbow thing from the meme ($600). This caused quite a commotion, as the table next to us decided we didn’t deserve to have won it. According to them, we hadn’t been “bringing it” all night. I tried to tell them the whole microphone-under-the-table line was a ruse, but they weren’t hearing it. They were Freddy Funko’s biggest fans, and we weren’t representing our dedication to his greatness the way they were. Charles Manson probably instigated a lot of infighting among his followers too, I bet. Showing favoritism makes people even more desperate for approval, and it’s clear I was Freddy’s favorite that night.


So that was Funko Fundays. A thrilling nightmare of a game show where everyone walks away a winner (some more than others, heh). After the night I had, I can’t judge the Funko fans. Heck, I can't even pretend I’m not one of them now. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my Funko Pop windfall once it all sells, but I know I’m definitely going to set $250 aside for next year’s ticket. I’ll keep the wood pendant, not to remember, but just so I know it was real.

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