This year’s Emerald City Comic Con saw Funko erect the “Festival of Fun” booth in the exhibit hall, featuring an exterior designed to look like a winter wonderland-and a Funko-fied version of Buddy from Elf. I interviewed one of Funko’s social team members, Hilary Gray, about the Festival of Fun booth and why it would bring a smile to Funko fans’ faces.
BUT WHY THO?: How is this year’s booth set up?
Hilary Gray: It’s completely different than any booth we’ve done before. It’s our first holiday-themed booth, and it’s also our first booth where we’re really engaging with our fans for their lineup. People wait a long time to get exclusives for Funko, and we wanted to make the queue more entertaining. You can see a stage in front-we do giveaways, we do a full show, there’s a DJ in our booth. And as fans purchase exclusives, they’re able to come to the other side for photo opportunities.
So it’s a completely immersive experience instead of just the ability to purchase exclusives. They’re able to take photos, play games, get prizes. As they walk around the outside of the booth, we actually have an artist signing and sketching booth where they can go meet Funko artists and get a one-of-a-kind drawing to take home with them.
BUT WHY THO?: What was it like setting up a booth for the first ECCC since COVID?
Hilary Gray: Oh my gosh I think it’s a little nerve-wracking because you don’t know and you haven’t done it for a few years. But we did get a really cool trial run with Fun-Kon. It wasn’t part of an actual Comic-Con but we took over the parking lot from across our Hollywood store last July. And so we did this kind of show to test it out, to see how the line system would work with a ten-minute show we put on a loop. And it worked really well, the fans loved it. So we decided to bring that into the convention hall. We’ve gone through one day and it’s been really great.
BUT WHY THO?: Are there any Funko exclusives that fans should keep an eye out for?
Hilary Gray: Absolutely! There are some exclusives that are always rarer than others-we have two exclusives that are only available at the booth at Emerald City Comic-Con. There’s a Play-Doh Boy exclusive as well as a Great Garloo pop, but even though those are the most exclusive at our booth we’re seeing that all the fans have been excited about our Blacklight Jimi Hendrix pop. And that has been one of the first pops to go at the show.
BUT WHY THO?: Was the Festival of Fun developed since this year’s ECCC falls on a holiday season?
Hilary Gray: Absolutely. Since we’ve never done a holiday-themed booth before, we wanted to do something where it felt like a festival and not a booth with exclusives, so that’s why we went with Festival of Fun.
BUT WHY THO?: Do you have a personal favorite Funko Pop?
Hilary Gray: Oh my gosh, of all time or at the booth?
BUT WHY THO?: Of all time!
Hilary Gray: I have so many favorites. I’ve been at Funko for six years so I’ve seen a lot of exclusives. I’m a huge fan of Maleficent-I’m a Disney fan. I also like horror movies. So probably at this booth, my favorite is the Cheddar Goblin from the movie Mandy.
BUT WHY THO?: Can you give us a preview for next year?
Hilary Gray: We haven’t completely planned out what we’re gonna do for next year. We won’t do this specific booth for Emerald City since next year Emerald City takes place in August. We will be at Emerald City-it’s our hometown and we love coming to this convention. But we do want to carry on Festival of Fun so more news to come on that!
After my interview, I got in line and saw the festive atmosphere for myself. The DJ played a mix of holiday hits and other songs while a Funko employee encouraged fans to make as much noise as they can; this resulted in multiple pops being handed out to the audience. Fans could also win exclusive pops by testing their pop culture knowledge, doing a dance, or performing air guitar.
I was given a Hulk bobblehead Funko, along with a card game centered on Aladdin that featured a mini Funko of the Genie. I also purchased the New York Comic Con exclusive Funko of Star Wars bounty hunter Cad Bane. With ECCC scheduled for two more days, Funko will have plenty of opportunities to spread holiday cheer.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.