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Go inside Funko's massive Funkoville at SDCC, featuring Mondo record shop and tons of exclusives
SYFY WIRE gets an exclusive look inside the Funko party to come this week.
With San Diego International Comic-Con returning this week at full capacity for the first time since July 2019, plenty of companies are finding space around the Gaslamp or on the show floor to welcome back fans and communities in a big way.
One of them is Funko, the collectible company which has long catered to corralling their hyper-engaged audience with live events at cons and at their HQ stores in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, California. After having to go virtual with their FunKon event in 2021, SDCC 2022 finds Funko incorporating the lessons learned during the pandemic and applying them to their massive new show floor booth space which they've dubbed Funkoville.
Built out like a mini town with separate buildings for each of its brands, Funkoville hopes to attract hardcore and casual fans at SDCC with the scale and spectacle of their show floor space. For the lucky ones who win lottery spots to enter the space, they'll get treated to not only the the retail area featuring their coveted con exclusive Funko Pops!, but also a curated carnival experience with giveaways, community events and more.
To get the whole story on how Funkoville was developed for SDCC, Dave Beré, the Vice President of Brand & Marketing at Funko, connected with SYFY WIRE to provide the background on how, and why, Funko decided to come back to the event with the biggest booth space they've ever had at the con.
"It really has been a journey over the last three years with how we've had to handle our fan engagement and our events," Beré explains of the company's pivot to retain their audience. "When the pandemic hit, we had to move everything virtual and we learned how inclusive that was for our fan base. Fast-forward 18 months, when we started to do some light, in-person engagement, we didn't want to lose that inclusive, virtual component. So we put those two together and rounded out a great experience for fans."
And that's how Funkoville was conceived as a mixing bowl of online and in-person connection again at the biggest con of the year for the company. "When it did look like San Diego was going to be back in relatively full force, we knew we had to show up in a big way because our fans have been with us on this journey," Beré continues. "What you'll see from us in San Diego is unlike anything we've done before with our Funkoville experience. It just feels like this is our Super Bowl. We haven't been there in three years, so everything's built to this moment and we're super excited."
In order to take up such a large space of the convention center show floor, Funko also worked closely with con organizers to get their buy-in early so they could make the concept happen. "When we came to them with this idea of an attraction, it was going to require more space," Beré says. "They bought into the vision and helped us make that happen. We obviously couldn't do that without them doing some configuration for us. But it was all part of our partnership with them."
Beré says when you arrive on the show floor, Funko takes up booth spaces #5341, #5137 and #5145 making up a literal town community with a road that takes you into the experience. "We're gonna have trees and people in character," he enthuses. "Within the village, there are different brand identities. The main event movie theater is Funko. Mondo has an urban record store vibe. Loungefly is a boutique. And if you're at the diner, you're gonna see workers in aprons and you're going to be engaged in a way like you're walking into a diner. Or at the boutique at Loungefly, the menu you get when you walk into the booth is like a restaurant menu but it has the items [to purchase] on it."
There's also a roving Mayor of Funkoville welcoming the community with exclusive giveaways and swag like buttons, pins and posters. Beré says the multiple storefronts allow the various fans to have a shared experience, but still be authentic to their individual brands.
The space also caters to the hardcore collectors who aim to buy as many of the limited run exclusives only available at the booth or through their exclusive retail partners. "Our fans are very conscious of the different stickers and types of items that you can get, which we know our fans love," Beré continues. "But one of the one of the other things that we are applying to San Diego that we've learned from other events is how do we take something at the physical show and make it the best it can be? We looked at something like the line queuing, which people enjoy because it is a part of the experience. But the question we asked was how can we take that and make that the most entertaining part of the process?"
Starting with FunKon in 2021 and continuing this year with Star Wars Celebration and Wonder Con, and now at SDCC, Beré says before people are let in to purchase product, there will be entertainment to make the wait go much faster. "We call people up on stage, we'd let them win prizes, and we get them excited to go into the booth," he teases.
And for those who don't get the lottery tickets to purchase exclusives, Beré says the booth is also set up for the more casual fan to have their FOMO moments. "We have different photo sites throughout the town and just outside the town that you don't have to have a ticket for. You can just come up and take a picture with your friends or family and still engage with Funko even though you know you're not necessarily purchasing products. And then there's going to be a lot of separate free giveaways like buttons and posters that fans can only get on the show floor."
Looking towards the fall con season, Beré says they're already finalizing their plans for New York Comic-Con in October. It too will have an expanded Funko booth footprint, but not Funkoville itself. "It's similar, with that same "come engage with us, come engage with our brands" vibe where you feel like you're stepping off the show floor into an experience that only Funko can give you. And experience-wise, we're going to continue to set this new bar for us. Everything we do going forward, we want to be on a Funkoville level, or even higher."
San Diego Comic-Con begins in earnest Thursday and runs through Sunday. SYFY WIRE will be on site covering all the big news, including big reveals for SYFY originals like Reginald the Vampire and Resident Alien. NBCU will also have an activation at Tin Fish in the Gaslamp for anyone visiting SDCC, featuring first looks at SYFY shows as well as NBC sci-fi hits like La Brea and the upcoming Quantum Leap.