Funko has grown into a toy industry behemoth since launching as a bobblehead company in 1998. By obtaining more than 1000 licenses, it's transformed nearly every pop culture icon into a charming figurine, including real-life celebrities like LeBron James and cartoon characters like Naruto. Forbes recently took a behind-the-scenes look into Funko headquarters to see how the vinyl dolls in their wildly popular Funko Pop! line get made.
The first step in turning a character into a Funko Pop! is getting the right license—something that can be difficult depending on whom the rights holder is (Jerry Seinfeld still hasn't warmed up to the idea of becoming a Funko doll).
Once the legal stuff is taken care of, the character is sent to the creative team. Maintaining a consistent look throughout the Pop! line—those beady eyes and big, blocky heads—is just as important as getting the details right for each character. Everything from the outfit to the pose is taken into consideration when designing a doll.
A 3D model is made on a computer, and that design is used to produce the final 4-inch vinyl figurine. The whole process—from licensing to packaging—takes about four to six months to complete.
To learn more about how the dolls get made—and to take a peek inside Funko's Everett, Washington headquarters, complete with life-sized characters and themed areas—check out the video below.