MANNY Pacquiao has joined the ranks of Batman, Darth Vader, the Barbarian King and Harry Potter.
The eight-division world champion has been immortalized in vinyl as a limited edition release of Funko POP!, a popular toy line that focuses on pop culture icons that include athletes, musicians and characters from television, movies and video games.
Based on initial photos of the figure, the ‘Peoples’ Champ’ likeness has been captured, particularly his hairstyle, goatee, trademark red boxing gloves and Philippine flag-inspired shorts. Adding to the details is the miniscule boxing glove tattoo on his chest.
As early as March, buyers made P800 down payments in pre-orders to online stores such as Big Boys Toy Store and Kramers Toy Warden. The figures of the ‘Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World’ will also be sold in-store from local retailers that include BBTS, Filbar’s, Best Toys and Hobbie Stock.
The number of orders vary but they are above the average number. There is also a big demand according to Arigatoys, the Philippine distributor of popular hobby brands Kotobukiya, McFarlane Toys, NECA, Revoltech Yamaguchi, Beast Kingdom and Gaming Heads.
In an interview at their Quezon City office (that would put many a toy store to shame), Arigatoys owners Kyle, Gladwin and Alwin told Spin.ph that Team Pacquiao, the umbrella company that handles anything related to the business aspect of the world famous boxer, has control of the Filipino boxing icon’s rights, which means stores from countries such as Singapore, Thailand or the US which want to sell Pacquiao Funkos have to talk to Team Pacquiao. Arigatoys actually received a lot of inquiries from abroad that they had to turn down due to the arrangement.
In past years, hobbyists wishing for a Pacquiao item in their collection either had to shell out insane amounts for premium and hard-to-find items since these were considered too ‘niche.'
Funko, a line whose license also covers the NBA, NFL, WWE and MLB, is about to change all that.
Kyle, business development manager of Arigatoys, said the Pacquiao figure is a “dream come true for them.”
Funko POP! is a popular American brand whose owners are actually fans of Pacquiao, said Alwin, Arigatoys’ finance manager.
To their collective knowledge, Pacquiao is the first figure in the series inspired by a real-life boxer (Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang are movie characters).
“It’s very rare for a Filipino celebrity or hero to get into an action figure line. It’s pretty big. There’s national pride and if you’re a fan you get an official, legitimate licensed figure of him. It just goes to show how popular Manny Pacquiao is," said Arigatoys marketing manager Gladwin, a hard core collector since his high school days.
Announced last February, the Manny Pacquiao Funko POP! Asia line will retail for P895 SRP. As a rule of thumb, regular Funko Pops usually go for around P550.00. A smaller version of the figure will be sold as a keychain for P495.
Many Filipinos are avid toy collectors (such as the partners of Arigatoys) who will scoop up anything related to the Filipino boxer. In 2009, the San Francisco Giants hosted a Filipino Heritage Night in AT&T Park (where the Pacman threw the ceremonial pitch) and released a Pacquiao bobblehead doll wearing a Giants jersey to commemorate the event. For those interested, the now hard-to-find collectible can be found on e-commerce site eBay, with the cheapest going for the equivalent of P4,000 (with overseas shipping).
In 2010, the MindStyle company released a limited edition of 300 Manny Pacquiao collectible figures at San Diego Comic Con. Even with a price tag of US$250, they quickly sold out. One of the first buyers was Will I Am of Black Eyed Peas and rapper Lupe Fiasco.
Arigatoys is also set to distribute a more expensive polystone statue of Pacquiao in 1:6 scale in the future.
Prices soar in the after-market where rare or coveted Funko POP! figures can fetch up to more than double the original amount from re-sellers. The most expensive on a local e-commerce site is a Martian Manhunter chase figure selling for P25,000, followed by several examples of the Batman in the P18,000 range.
Although no exact amount has been released, Team Pacquiao will be selling the figures of the eight-division world champion for a higher price point in its stores and to overseas buyers. Arigatoys maintains that the P895 SRP will be set for its 60-plus Philippine authorized resellers.
There are actually four versions of the Manny Pacquiao figure – the availability of the next three figures will depend on the success of the first figure, and its namesake for that matter.
“A lot will depend on what happens on May 2. Pero mananalo si Manny!" said Kyle.
Kyle cited his mother, a Funko collector, as an example of the brand’s popularity.
“When she learned we would be bringing in Manny Pacquiao, she asked me for 12 figures so she could give them away to my lolo and lola who are big fans of Manny and other members of our family.
“That’s the fun thing about Funko and Manny Pacquiao - you don’t have to be a collector to appreciate both,” noted Alwin.