I know a lot of collectors despise Funko products due to their simplicity and overwhelming presence in stores. However, I personally love them and have been a collector of them for a few years now. As a former Beanie Baby collector, I realize that Funko products are pretty much the 2010’s version of them and that they won’t be worth much of anything down the road (outside of the super rare ones). The reason I like them is because of their deep bench of licenses which allows them to make products for basically every fandom I have. There are Funko Pop! Vinyls for all of my favorite things from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost (my two favorite TV shows of all-time) to World of Warcraft and even the NFL (and all of them have a nice similar but distinct look to them that allows them to fit well together while also having something unique about each one). A few months ago, a documentary about Funko was released on Netflix titled Making Fun: The Story of Funko (which was produced to help celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary). As a huge fan of documentaries and the company, of course I decided to watch it. Overall, I enjoyed the documentary but I will admit that is is quite self-promotional (especially towards the end). This documentary isn’t for everyone but fans of the company should still enjoy it.
Making Fun: The Story of Funko immediately starts off with the origin story of the company. Funko got their start by making bobbleheads (Wacky Wobblers) for the Big Boy chain of restaurants followed by other advertising icons and cheaper licenses. Eventually, the company got their big break when they released their first Pop! Vinyl figures. Surprisingly, these were originally hated by Funatics (Funko’s term for their collectors) but they eventually proved to be a major success. Outside of the original founder (Mike Becker) leaving the company after just seven years (and well before the company became huge), there really isn’t anything too interesting or surprising in the company’s history. However, not much time is really spent on the history of the company in the first place. The documentary spends much more time on their fans (especially their celebrity Funatics) and community. While none of them are in Making Fun: The Story of Funko for more than a few minutes, big stars like Elvira, Robert Englund, Lou Ferrigno, WWE’s Zack Ryder, Alice Cooper, Kevin Eastman (co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Tony Hawk, Chris Hardwick, Nichelle Nichols, and Kevin Smith all make appearances in this documentary.
Overall, I enjoyed Making Fun: The Story of Funko but I do feel like they spent a bit too much time on their celebrity appearances and especially the self-promotion and self-congratulatory content (which gets really bad towards the end with the Funko store). I wouldn’t have minded this too much but it all adds up to a lot of time that could have been spent on more interesting content. For example, there is just a brief look at Funko products being made. I’m sure it isn’t the most interesting process ever but I would have liked to have seen a bit more of it (especially the design process the sculptors use to make them). Plenty of collections are shown but you get such a brief look at most of them that you can’t drool at the amazing collections as much as you would hope. Also, certain aspects of the hobby are completely ignored like custom Pop! figures. Perhaps this was a legal issue of some sort but they could have at least showed people making their own unique character Pop!s if it was.
Even though I think this documentary squandered some opportunities, it is still enjoyable to watch. The two main interviewees Mike Becker and current CFO (Chief “Fun” Officer) Brian Mariotti are both interesting to listen to. The celebrity interviews are somewhat fun and it is definitely cool to see the passion the featured Funatics have for their hobby (and the brief glimpses we get of their collections are really cool as well). The whole documentary is pretty laid-back with some nice humor spread throughout to keep things light. Also, the documentary isn’t just about Funko as a company and their fans. It also is partially about the importance of fandom as well.
Making Fun: The Story of Funko is certainly well-produced (well-paced with great video and audio quality). As a fan of the company, I enjoyed the hour and a half I got to spend with the people featured in this documentary. However, I do realize that this documentary has a pretty limited audience. People who hate Funko products should definitely avoid this especially since there is a lot of self-congratulatory content in this. Funko fans like me will probably love it. For those in the middle of this divide, if you can ignore the self-promotion I think it is worth a watch especially if you enjoy collecting documentaries. Recommended.