Over the years, Funko has evolved from a bobblehead maker to a collectible company whose variety of styles is only surpassed by the number of licenses they’ve acquired. Forgive the pun, but the most popular of the bunch has to be the Pop! Vinyl line. These figures — some of which are bobbleheads — stand about four inches tall and feature large-headed representations of some of the most popular characters in fiction.
Marvel and Funko have worked together to produce some amazing Pops over the years. There’s even an entire blind-box subscription service built around the idea in Marvel Collector Corps! With all of that in mind, it seemed like a great time to take a look back at all of the Marvel Pops and list the 15 best, cutest and craziest pieces so far!
The Hulk has a long and storied history of changing colors for various reasons. Back in his first appearance, he was gray, then turned green soon after. He returned to the more pallid tone during his days as Mr. Fix-It, but different tones have developed along with other versions of the gamma-irradiated brute. Funko has made plenty of Hulks in a rainbow of colors based on comics and movies, but we’re partial to Compound Hulk because, in a way, you get two toys in one! Angle him one way and you’ve got classic green. Twist him a little the other way and you’ve got Red Hulk!
Fans of Jeff Parker and Ed McGuinness’ “Hulk” will also remember this Compound Hulk appearing in that book’s 30th issue. The figure itself came as a Toy Anxiety exclusive in 2013, so it’s a little trickier to get a hold of. Even more rare is the metallic version also released as a Toy Anxiety exclusive that same year.
Sure, Daredevil’s best known for running around in an all-red suit as the Man without Fear, but he actually started out in this yellow and brown costume when he debuted in 1964’s “Daredevil” #1 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. Readers first saw the red duds when Wally Wood drew them in the pages of “Daredevil” #7, making costume history. However, some of us are still partial to the original costume as recreated in this exclusive Pop from 2015.
As you can tell by looking at the original and red versions side by side, they’re the exact same piece down to the billy club, but with different paint jobs. There’s just something fun and innocent about the original design that looks fantastic in the Pop format. Plus, as classic as the red costume appears in comics and live action, it’s not nearly as dynamic as the original in figure form.
One of the best parts of the whole Pop idea is seeing incredibly evil characters presented in an adorable manner. Norman Osborn’s one of the worst villains in the Marvel Universe, starting out as a Spider-Man menace and eventually growing into a world-wide villain who ran the insidious organization called H.A.M.M.E.R. He also created his own villain-staffed Avengers and decided to attack Asgard when it used to float over Oklahoma, eventually causing it to crash onto the earth below it in a tangle of devastation.
However, the Pop version of Norman we like best hearkens back to those early days. There have been a few classic takes on Green Goblin, but the best one was an exclusive at San Diego Comic-Con last year. In addition to the devious smile and purple booties, this one comes perched on a Goblin Glider and glows in the dark! Last year, Funko also released a Walgreens exclusive version with a slightly different paint job and no glider, but a right hand holding a flaming pumpkin bomb!
Hank McCoy’s gone through a lot of changes since debuting in 1963’s “X-Men” #1. He started out as a large fellow with big hands and feet, and remained like that until “Amazing Adventures” #11 in 1972, when he used a serum he invented that could turn a human into a mutant for a brief time. The test permanently turned him into the furry Beast we’ve all come to know and love. Longtime readers will also remember that he took on a more tiger-like appearance during Grant Morrison’s run on “New X-Men.”
The middle and possibly most famous take on the character can be seen here in this Pop from 2013. Looking at this figure, it’s impressive how Funko captured Beast’s blue physicality, as well as a look of apprehension at having to use his powers. That sums Hank up almost perfectly as the kind of character who would rather be in his lab coming up with a cure for the Legacy Virus than punching evildoers in the face.
Over the past several years, Carol Danvers has taken her rightful place as one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. In addition to holding long-time Avengers membership, she also anchored an entire faction of fighters during “Civil War II.” Now she’s continuing her adventures in “The Mighty Captain Marvel” by Margaret Stohl and and Ramon Rosanas. There’s even an entire fanbase dubbed the “Carol Corps.” who help support everything Captain Marvel-related. We bet they were pretty jazzed about this Captain Marvel Pop that came out in 2016.
This particular piece features Cap without her mask and in the costume that has become her standard outfit as seen in “Guardians of the Galaxy,”“The Ultimates” and her own books. If you prefer the red masked version with the Mohawk sticking out of the top, then you’ll want to look for the GTS exclusive version, which offers exactly that.
Professor Charles Xavier never let being differently-abled get in the way of his mission to bring peace to humans and mutants. He used a wheelchair for years in the pages of “X-Men,” but upgraded to the hoverchair a few decades later in 1991’s iconic “X-Men” #1 by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. Xavier had asked the mutant maker Forge to whip him up something new based on Shi’Ar technology and an icon was born!
For an entire generation of kids, this became THE iconic mode of transportation for Professor X thanks to the popularity of Jim Lee’s designs and how they made the leap to the Fox animated series that ran from 1992-1997. The Pop here, released in 2014 perfectly captures the look and feel in those appearances and offers them in a compact form that fits perfectly on your desk, shelf or mantle. Now we just need a variant with Cerebro helmet!
A few years back, Spider-Gwen practically broke the internet based solely on the popularity of her costume. As fans got to know the Earth-65 version of Gwen Stacy — who got bit by the radioactive spider in her reality — starting with her first appearance in “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2, they fell even harder for this young woman trying to balance a burgeoning super hero career with band practice and high school. She went on to become a big part of the overall Spider-Verse story, which has lead to a solo series as well as appearances in “Web Warriors,” the Spider-Women crossover and “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy.”
Funko perfectly captured that renowned costume when they debuted the Spider-Gwen Pop Vinyl last year. As you can see, it’s got everything from the pink and white web-lined hood down to the blue slip-on shoes. Some of you might prefer an unmasked version, which is also a possibility thanks to the Walgreens exclusive that was also released in 2016.
Luke Cage has come a long way since his first appearance in “Luke Cage, Hero For Hire” #1 from 1972. In that issue, readers met a wrongfully incarcerated inmate who was so desperate to get out of jail that he agreed to become a test patient in an experiment that left him with incredible strength and impenetrable skin. Presumed dead, he returned home where he became a Hero for Hire in an effort to not only do some good, but make some money in the process. Since then, he’s become a founding member of Heroes For Hire, a beloved Avenger, a husband and a father.
And yet, we can’t help but love that original costume of his! There’s something perfectly ’70s about a super-powered man ready to bust heads while wearing an open button-down yellow shirt, blue pants, chain link belt and a headband that can best be described as tiara-like. So, of course we were excited when Funko announced this Previews-exclusive Luke Cage in his classic gear, which debuted this year. He makes an excellent compliment to the Netflix-based one which captures a more modern take on Cage.
Ever since Howard the Duck premiered in the Man-Thing-centric “Adventures Into Fear” #19 in 1973, thanks to creators Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, he’s been intriguing readers and building a fanbase. Gerber soon parlayed the inter-dimensional mallard’s popularity into a solo series that began in 1976. The writer used his run on that book to poke fun at everything from the popularity of kung-fu movies and supervillains to mainstream politics and fantasy tropes. Even without Gerber at the helm, subsequent Howard books have gone a long way to have fun with the whole idea of being a part of a larger superhero universe, as could be seen in the Chip Zdarksy-penned, Joe Quinones-drawn “Howard the Duck.”
As you probably know, Howard’s proven so popular that he’s made the leap to the small screen in a series of guest spots on cartoons, as well as the big screen in his underrated 1986 feature film as well as a cameo in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The more private detective-oriented take on the character influenced Funko’s Pop version that debuted last year. How can you not like a collectible representing a dapperly dressed duck in a hat and tie?
Doctor Doom has menaced the Marvel Universe ever since he stomped onto the scene in “Fantastic Four” #5 from 1962. The Stan Lee / Jack Kirby creation not only rules his own country and has an intellect that rivals that of Reed Richards’, but also goes several steps further by studying the arcane arts to make himself even more powerful. He’s been an apparently changed man since recreating the multiverse in “Secret Wars.” Now, the masked man with a penchant for creating automaton doubles is trying to play hero in the pages of “Infamous Iron Man.”
While Doom may be trying to turn over a new leaf, we’ll always love the classic look with the metallic armor, mask and green-hooded cape. The funny thing about the Pop presentation that came out in 2012 is that, thanks to the proportions and the way the mask is sculpted, it actually looks like a little kid wearing the infamous get-up!
Well, isn’t this just the cutest Spirit of Vengeance you’ve ever seen?! Funko made a big statement back in 2012 when the company released Ghost Rider as the 18th Marvel Pop Vinyl. From the translucent flames to the grinning skull and the studded jacket to the many chains, this piece showed that the Pop line could go a long way to represent some of the company’s more out-there characters in the same manner as more beloved and well-known heroes like Spider-Man and Thor.
Ghost Rider aficionados will note that this particular take on the character is otherwise known as Danny Ketch, the second modern day Rider. His predecessor, Johnny Blaze, wore a blue riding suit that looked a bit more like a super hero costume as opposed to this more biker-inspired 90s revision. Metallic and glow-in-the-dark variants of this same figure exist, but what we’re really like to see is a full fleet of Ghost Riders in the Ridez series ranging from Danny on through to Robbie Reyes.
Jason Aaron has done amazing things with Thor since taking over the character’s adventures with the 2012 “Thor: God of Thunder” series. After sending the Odinson on a variety of thrilling adventures, many of which teamed him up with his future and past selves, Aaron stripped him of Mjolnir and granted it to a mysterious woman who turned out to be none other than Jane Foster! Those adventures have been chronicled in “Thor” and “The Mighty Thor.”
Jane’s been splitting her time between battling cancer in her regular life and monsters in her supernatural one ever since, with results that continue to impress. So, it came as a huge and pleasant surprise when one of the earliest Collector Corps boxes held a surprise in the form of the latest Thor. Featuring an incredibly detailed costume, this bobblehead Pop from 2015 consists of an intricately detailed helmet, armored bodice, leather skirts, red cape and mighty hammer. In other words, it’s an excellent recreation of a wonderful character making her own way in Marvel’s hallowed halls.
What’s better than an adorable living vampire? How about a zombie-fied one? That’s what some Marvel Collector Corps subscribers got when they opened their boxes around Halloween of 2015. While some received a standard, ’70s retro Morbius complete with dark jumpsuit and high red collar, others scored the Zombie version. This particular take includes sunken eyes, huge protruding fangs and a much more skeleton-like face. In other words, it’s the kind of Pop that, while still cute, also has the potential to give you the willies.
This exclusive variant takes its cues from Michael Morbius’ appearance in “Marvel Zombies 3,” which is an alternate of the character’s original look as seen in 1971’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #101. Either way, you get a fang-tastic version of one of Marvel’s most beloved ’70s monsters in the same vein as Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Man-Thing, the Living Mummy and all the others that we’d also like to see get the Pop treatment in the very near future.
Without doing any scientific research, it seems safe to say that Deadpool has racked up the most Pop Vinyl figures. When it comes to the Merc with the Mouth, you’ve got your choice between masked and unmasked, not to mention a variety of colors ranging from X-Force black-and-gray to bright blue. Funko also offers a mix of firearms and bladed weapons to ply his messy craft. One even comes holding a rubber chicken!
However, we’re particularly partial to the Bath Time Deadpool, which came out as a Target exclusive in 2016. This Pop features Wade Wilson dressed in his usual costume, specifically the one seen on the big screen, but augmented with a shower cap and rubber ducky. Sure, it’s silly and wacky, but that’s the fun! If you don’t find bath time to be so much fun, as the song goes, check out the Cowboy, Pirate or Chef Deadpools as well.
Ororo “Storm” Munroe remains one of the biggest bosses in the superhero game. The weather-manipulating mutant has been everything from a goddess to a queen, not to mention a revered leader of many X-Men teams over the years. With a history going back to 1975’s “Giant-Size X-Men” #1, Storm has also sported a number of different costumes and looks, but a lot of fans have a soft spot for her Mohawk-and-leather ensemble that debuted in “Uncanny X-Men #173 from 1983. Though she’ll be returning to a more traditional costume in the pages of “X-Men Gold,” Storm brought back the haircut not long ago, though paired with a more costume-oriented look.
The best part about the Pop line? They have plenty of options for other Storms if you’re not down with the punk rock version that came out in 201,6 or maybe you want to build your own army of weather witches. The ’90s white costume debuted in 2014. That same year, Funko also produced a black version of that costume as a Hot Topic exclusive.
Stay tuned to CBR for plenty of other toy coverage including more lists running down some of the greatest figures of all time!
- TJ Dietsch