Credit: Jenna Vandenberg
Maybe you could call Funko HQ a toy store. There are plushies to squeeze, board games to peruse and legions of figures in boxes to covet. But all of the jovial adults and grinning teenagers negate the toy-store vibe. This place is far more than a toy store.
So, perhaps Funko HQ is more like a museum, or even a slice of space plucked from a Disney theme park. Here, you’ll find different worlds to inhabit and giant Funko statues ready to be featured in selfies. You can sit in the Batmobile, peek inside Hogwarts or explore a snow-covered “Star Wars” landscape — all while choosing which Funkos to buy.
Whatever your pop culture interest might be, there is likely a Funko figure for you. Fans of “Friends” or “Stranger Things,” K-pop or anime can buy a Rachel Green or Eleven, a Jimin or Ginshi Shirazu Funko. There are Funko Pops! of U2, Boyz II Men and Daveed Diggs (as Thomas Jefferson). Sports stars, “Star Wars” characters, Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes can all be found inside this menagerie of ultracute figurines.
More than a toy store or a museum, Funko HQ is a haven for collectors — called “Funatics,” naturally. Pop culture enthusiasts from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Wetmore Avenue in Everett for a chance to shop near the place where it all began.
This purveyor of pop culture started in 1998, when Funko founder Mike Becker and founding artist Rob Schwartz bonded over their love of swap meets and roadside Americana vibes. They began Funko by designing bobbleheads — which they called Wacky Wobblers — and securing licensing deals with brands such as fast-food chain Bob’s Big Boy, cartoon character Betty Boop and New Line Cinema’s sequel to the spy spoof “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.” Soon they were creating Wacky Wobblers of all kinds of characters and shipping out toys from their office in downtown Everett. A cult following burgeoned, and in 2002 Funko hosted its first fan event: Funko Funday.
Now, Funko Funday is hosted for one night during the San Diego Comic-Con. Impossible-to-get tickets for the event sell out in nanoseconds.
The instantly recognizable Funko Pop! figures — giant-headed, big-eyed replicas of fan-favorite actors, characters and other notables from the pop culture zeitgeist — debuted in 2010, when the company began working with DC Comics. First designed to be a plushie, the block-head design was configured in vinyl instead and debuted at the 2010 Comic-Con. Although some old-school fans initially hated the design because it wasn’t a bobblehead, more women and kids started buying Pops! and a global sensation was born.
“I avoided collecting Funkos for years,” says Thomas Moore, a bona fide Funatic. “I can get obsessive with collections, but diving down the Funko wormhole seemed dangerous.”
But things changed when Moore’s young nephew started picking up Pops! “It became a way to connect with my nephew, who lives 2,000 miles away,” says Moore. “When Jake fell in love with Funko, we both started collecting.”
Now fully invested in the Funko universe, Moore has expanded his collection to more than 1,600 figures. When the Funko location in Hollywood opened in 2019, he drove from his home in Las Vegas to be there. At every Comic-Con, he enters the lottery for a chance to shop at the coveted Funko booth. He’s only gained access once.
“My favorite Funkos are the ones from Jake,” says Moore, explaining how his nephew looked all over the “Star Wars” convention floor to track down a particular one, buying it with his allowance money. “It might not be the rarest or the most expensive one,” he says, “but that Funko is my favorite.”
Planning your visit to Funko HQ
With all of Funko’s worldwide fame and obsessive fans, it’s a bit miraculous that the company’s headquarters, one of only two dedicated retail spaces, is located in Everett. It’s practically our duty as Pacific Northwesterners to pay homage to the place.
Despite what Google Maps indicates, Funko HQ is open seven days a week, opening at 11 a.m., Monday–Friday, and 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays (it closes at 6 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday, and 4 p.m. on Mondays). Because many search engines incorrectly note that Funko HQ is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, these are the optimal days to beat the crowds.
Every morning, a gaggle of Funko fans queues up to await the store opening in hopes of getting their hands on new or exclusive figures. Arriving early and joining this crowd can be fun, as you are likely to get an earful about the joys of finding a hard-to-get item. Exclusive Funkos are typically released on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays. However, if the Funatic whisper network telegraphs an exciting new release, long morning lines can accumulate at a moment's notice. Check out the company’s Facebook page for updated hours, peeks at exclusives and news about special events.
If you can’t make the trek to Everett until a weekend or school holiday, be prepared to wait in a line that snakes around the building. You could easily be standing there for an hour. Karl’s Bakery and Cafe is next door, should you require caffeine or sustenance. The streets surrounding Funko feature free 90-minute parking, and it’s usually pretty easy to find a spot.
Cash is not accepted at the store. Backpacks and water bottles aren’t allowed, but lockers are available to stash your belongings. There are bathrooms inside the store, but no food or drink options are available. There is neither a fee to enter nor a time limit once you get in.
Remember that line you stood in? You’ll appreciate that crowd-control protocol once you enter the store. Not only are fewer folks breathing and sneezing in your vicinity, but your attempts to take pictures of your kids next to the Princess Tiana statue won’t be thwarted by people walking through your photo shoot.
If you venture in a counterclockwise direction, you’ll first wind through Wetmore Forest, where mossy trees drape over woodland creatures. Next up is a pop culture and Marvel section, featuring a Batmobile to sit in and Godzilla to pose next to. There are toy safes tucked into the walls with levers to pull and gears to turn as kids try to crack the code. You’ll next navigate a 1950s-inspired section of Funko Vinyl Soda displays, featuring mini statues tucked inside soda cans, in front of a “Jeopardy”-style TV show showcasing Funko-related trivia questions. Then there is a Disney castle to walk through, complete with the Hulk busting through walls and Spider-Man clinging to the roof. The “Star Wars”–themed area presents a snowy landscape from “The Empire Strikes Back.” In the last world, you’ll be greeted by Harry, Hermione and Ron at Hogwarts.
Funko HQ also features kiosks where you can design your own custom Funko Pop!, selecting the body, hair and eye color, clothes and accessories. A team member will assemble the Pop! for you as you shop.
A standard Funko Pop! is reasonably priced at $12, so it is possible to leave the store with your bank account relatively undented. However, if you are in the mood to spend hundreds of dollars, there are scads of gift sets, pins, plushies, games, T-shirts and Loungefly backpacks to choose from. Plan to spend about an hour in the store, although if you want to examine every shelf or take a series of selfies, you could easily spend a couple of hours inside.
Make the most of your day trip to Everett
Once you’ve got your Funko fix, stick around to explore Everett. Nearby restaurants are plentiful. The New Mexicans (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) and Amante Pizza & Pasta (closed Mondays) are both easy and delicious options. The kitschy Strawberry Patch Cafe is also nearby.
The award-winning Imagine Children’s Museum and the family-friendly Schack Art Center are situated a mere two blocks away. The museum recently underwent a huge expansion, so it’s worth checking out if you haven’t been recently. If the weather is nice, head to the rooftop play area to enjoy views of mountains rising over the Snohomish Valley. The Schack Art Center is free to visit. Stop in to watch glassblowers at work and to check out the exhibits, which typically feature local contemporary artists.
The ice rink at Angel of the Winds Arena, just four blocks away from Funko HQ, has a few slots of time open for public ice skating. And if a playground stop is needed to get the wiggles out before heading home, sprawling, wooded Forest Park is the go-to destination for area families.
If you are in Everett between September and March, see if the Everett Silvertips are in town. This WHL junior hockey team plays at Angel of the Winds Arena. Silvertip matchups are fun and much more affordable than Kraken games. Bring noise-canceling headphones if you have a little one.
If you make your Funko pilgrimage to Everett during the spring or summer, closing out your evening with an Everett AquaSox baseball game is a perfect way to end the day. In 2019, Funko partnered with the Mariners minor league team, resulting in a huge Freddy Funko statue in left field and a giveaway every Friday night. Free loot (with ticket) ranges from Pops! to sweatshirts to Funko-stylized baseball cards.
If sports aren’t your thing, Village Theatre is across the street from Funko. Its May world premiere production of the musical “How to Break,” the story of two teenage hip-hop dancers, looks perfect for families with older kids.