The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl.
Somehow, I doubt Mr. Barry was talking about this type of vinyl. The Funko Pop! Vinyl figures, an explosive range of models of society’s favourite fictional and non-fictional characters, do, however, seem to be holding up a corner of the world. You can instantly tell if something is ridiculously popular if people begin treasuring them on their shelves as mint-in-box. People are doing that with these Pop! Vinyl figures, as they are doing it with Nintendo Amiibo figures.
Collectors of these plastic, bobbly-headed beings span the globe – there is a man in Dubai who has collected over 600 of them, all methodically lined up on his shelf. He has all sorts – common ones, rare ones, big ones, tiny ones.
There are two main problems with these Pop! Vinyl figures that I can think of. The first problem is their title of a ‘figure.’ Consider the other times you may have heard the word ‘figure’ and the connotations that word brings.
An action figure is the first thing that comes to my head. A five-moving-parts toy that could be chucked from a fifth storey window into an empty bird table and live to tell the tale. A heavy Action Man who you attach a sheet of paper to in your expectation it will act as a parachute. The slender Barbie whose limbs you can break off. The massive-headed Bratz dolls whose feet you could take off. These three examples of figures have 500% more moving parts than the Pop! Vinyl. If you are lucky, the head will bobble a little. That is the Pop! Vinyl figure’s only source of locomotion.
Continuing on, they are rather brittle little things. I personally have two figures, one little keychain of Thor, and a regular-sized figure of Thor. Both these Marvel’s Thors are in rather volatile positions. One crashes against my rucksack constantly, and the other stands overlooking a vertiginous precipice. Should Big Thor fall off, his top-heavy head would smash into the washing machine below… a very embarrassing death for the God of Thunder. At first glance, this, perhaps, does not seem like it would break a figure… but it did. There is now a tasty crack in the top right hand side of Thor’s head.
If anyone asks, I will tell them he got a bit too excited with his hammer.
The small figure has not fared much better. Being attached to a keychain, he has saved himself from the humiliating fall that his bigger clone took, but the Little Thor has demonstrated to me the issues with the paint. Having only had him on my bag for a few months, I realised his horrifying, ash-pit eyes – the main selling point of any Pop! Vinyl figure – had been partially scraped off by the everyday goings on of my rucksack. Little Thor is now blind and, in an effort to maintain the feeling that I did not waste £10 on the little bastard, he now lies safely in a drawer.
Although… in considering my second complaint about these figures, perhaps it is a good thing Little Thor is blind.
This Dubai man who collects the figures, Aaron White, stands with his back to them in the picture. As we should have learned from dealing with other predators, especially pack-hunters like these figures, you should never turn your back.
These little things are hungry. Their eyes confirm their ravenous natures. Their eyes, free from sclera and iris, are fully pupil. Cats’ pupils expand when they are on the hunt, so what can we say about these eyes?
As with any good predator, the figures are intelligent, more so than their prey. Walk around any town, you will find at least five stores where they are sold. Their appealing guises – Harry Potter figures, Marvel figures, Game of Thrones, animes, cartoons – draw in the eye of the fan. And when their black eyes make contact with yours… when they personify themselves to resemble something vaguely humanoid and cute, you fear to leave their presence.
You must buy them. Out comes the wallet and in goes the boxed figure into your bag. Safe and sound, it is now yours! Or so you think… in reality, you are a slave to the figure, it has you exactly where it needs you. You will take it home and eagerly unwrap the thing, removing it from its plastic prison. Little do you know that you have not freed a kind figure that will give you joy, but you have released an unfeeling devil into your house.
Put it on a shelf, and declare that shelf your “Pop! Vinyl shelf” because you will certainly collect more.
After all, you couldn’t leave poor little Thor all alone, could you? He needs a friend – a Loki, a Stark, perhaps another Thor from another movie. Besides… the novelty of Thor alone will wear off in ten to fifteen minutes anyway. As soon as you unwrap him, the decline begins and soon the pleasure of Thor’s presence shoots down.
You need another.
And so, the next time you come across an overflowing mound of them, franchise after franchise bunched together, you pick up one, or perhaps two. Bring them home, enjoy them for ten minutes, and set them up beside Thor.
Pop! Vinyl figures are not solitary creatures. They hunt best in packs. One set of black eyes floating quietly in your room is unlikely to affect you. But now you have two pairs, or three. Exponentially, their power grows stronger.
With their eyes of pupil, they will never stop staring at you. Forwards, sideways, it matters not where you go.
Will they attack? Or will they wait until you buy more? After all… three is a collection. You officially collect them now. Plus… well, you can’t have Thor and Loki without Odin can you? And you can’t have Tony without Bruce or Steve, and you simply must get the Iron Man version of Tony, and the other versions of Tony from all the other movies… so many Pop! Vinyls to get, so little time!
And you will keep opening that wallet, spending that money, setting up your vinyls and achieving an addict’s high for a few minutes… and your collection will grow. Just as Mr. White trawled conventions for his rare Big Bang Theory figures, you will become as obsessive.
Within the article, Mr. White reveals the proof of their hypnosis: “But I’m never going to sell them because they all hold a special place for me.” He is completely under their spell, and such a strong spell it will be. He has over 600 of these figures, that is over 1200 eyes staring at him… constantly.
The Funko Pop! Vinyl hunt began when Mr. White picked up his first figure. And the hunt has begun on me, too, with my two Thors. And, if you have any figures, you are also the prey.
The prey for their bottomless hunger. Stuck inside their inanimate plastic shells, their wait is finally over. This is the Pop! Vinyl takeover. It may already be too late. We will all be collecters. We will all submit to their gazes. We will strengthen them and weaken ourselves.
This is the Pop! Vinyl takeover.