Monday, January 25, 2016

Introduction to Funko's Smuggler's Bounty

I bought my first three Funko Pop! figures — Batman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman (more on that here) — very early on, when they first came out. Then I got very casual with Pops! as I saw how deluged stores of all kinds were becoming with them; I worried that my toy collection would be set off-balance by a huge number of these things, so I shied away. Only recently have I come back, and come back in earnest, even committing to Funko's Pop! subscription box, Smuggler's Bounty.

And a commitment it is, as all such subscriptions are. They're the ultimate blind pack — at least 5 times more expensive than a single Mystery Mini, for a payoff that therefore has the potential to be five times more disappointing. Here's how it's gone so far.

Smuggler's Bounty 1 - November 2015

The theme of the first Smuggler's Bounty was the First Order from The Force Awakens. I knew this going in, well ahead of the movie's release. I had mixed feelings about the then-upcoming film (and still do), but I wanted to get in on the ground floor so ordered anyway. (My feelings toward this first box, I suspect, are in no small way influenced by my ambivalent feelings toward the new movie.) Funko had promised that all SB merch would be exclusive to the boxes, and while this sounded really great, my worry was that "exclusive" would mean "repaint." That was only partially the case with November's box, which, as Funko promised, would contain items other than Pop!s.

Funko Pop! Captain Phasma (chrome) bobble-head (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Exclusive Captain Phasma (Chrome) Pop!
The first Pop! in the box was a chrome-finish Captain Phasma. I had already bought the regular Phasma, so this was some repetition for me, and the chrome finish, while impressively shiny, wasn't a big draw, either. Funko's chromed-up C-3PO is great, because there are moments in the Star Wars movies where 3PO appears this way, but with Phasma, it's a gimmick akin to Hasbro's various 3.75" "anniversary" chrome figures, which I've never cared for.

Funko Pop! TIE Fighter Pilot bobble-head (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Exclusive First Order TIE Fighter Pilot Pop!
The second Pop! was a true exclusive — the First Order TIE Fighter Pilot. It's a nice-looking Pop!, though not a character I was really looking forward to collecting. It's very similar to the original TIE Pilot in its glossy blackness, but certainly not a highlight of my collection.

Funko Pop! Snowtrooper t-shirt (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Snowtrooper t-shirt
November's t-shirt was black with a large rendering of Funko's First Order Snowtrooper on the front. I should say first that while I really like collecting Pop!s, I'm not a fan of the Pop! style on other items. So I expected that the t-shirts would probably not be the kind I would otherwise purchase. If you can accept its Pop! parameters, though, this is a nice shirt. And of course it's always more fun to wear a t-shirt that's not available on a mass scale (like at Target or Walmart, e.g.).

Funko Pop! Star Wars lanyard (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Star Wars lanyard

Star Wars First Order patch (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty First Order patch

Star Wars Kylo Ren pin (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Kylo Ren pin
The three remaining items were, for the most part, filler — a Pop! deco lanyard, a First Order patch, and an enamel Kylo Ren pin. The lanyard is pretty plain, and not the type of thing I collect. I don't collect patches, either (though I guess I do now), but this is a nice one. The pin is most relevant to my collection, though I hope future pins will feature characters I'm more interested in (it's certain that at times they will, at others, not).

November's box wasn't the most spectacular premiere it could have been, but it wasn't entirely disappointing, either. And, as is to be expected, some boxes will be better than others.

Smuggler's Bounty 2 - January 2016

The theme for this box — the Resistance — was announced soon after (or maybe even before) I had received the first one, so I knew I was in for another box full of Force Awakens products. As I suspected this would be the case for the first few boxes I had lowered my expectations. I'm sorry to say I did not lower them enough for January's box.

Funko Pop! Chewbacca (flocked) bobble-head (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty exclusive flocked Chewbacca Pop!

January contained only one Pop!, a flocked version of the previously released Force Awakens Chewbacca. What can I say about flocked figures? I don't think I can say anything more fitting than what Roger Ebert said about the movie North, so I'll adapt his review to my need:
"I hate flocked Pop!s. Hate hate hate hate hate flocked Pop!s. Hate them. Hate every simpering stupid vacant collector-insulting aspect of them. Hate the sensibility that thought anyone could like them. Hate the implied insult to the collector by its belief that anyone would be interested in them."
I didn't mean for that to sound so harsh. No, I did. Flocked toys, even when brand new, look like something you would find in your grandmother's attic, something so decrepit that you can't tell if it ever looked new or dust-free in all its life — "What was this thing? Was it always this way? Did it once have longer fur that wore off over time? Or is it covered in mold or some strange 1940's version of rubber that has since been found to cause defects in mice? Keep it away from my other toys, lest it spread its plastic virus among them!" Of all variations of repaint, flocked is my least favorite, less desirable even than "holographic" or "glow-in-the-dark." And since I had already purchased the much nicer original Force Awakens Chewie, this Pop! was completely superfluous.

Funko Pop! Home C-3PO mug (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty C-3PO mug
The second Pop! wasn't a Pop! at all, but a C-3PO mug from the "Pop! Home" line. I've stated above how I'm not a fan of the Pop! aesthetic when it's applied to other items, so you can bet this wasn't a welcome item. I mean, it's OK. If you like C-3PO, or mugs, then what's not to like? But I'm not a fan of new 3PO — I don't like his dull plastic finish or the red arm. Had this been an R2 mug, though, I'd have loved it. So chalk it up to the luck of the draw, the way of the blind-packed box.

Funko Pop! Star Wars t-shirt (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Resistance characters t-shirt
January's t-shirt was the month's highlight. Again, you've got to like the Pop! style, which (not to put too fine a point on it) is not my bag, Baby, unless applied to an actual Pop! But the group illustration, while it pushes Pop! cuteness almost too far, is more interesting to me than the single figure design that preceded it. And it's a nice shade of blue, which is not done justice by my photo.

Star Wars Resistance patch (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Resistance patch

Star Wars Resistance Pilot pin (Smuggler's Bounty exclusive)
Smuggler's Bounty Resistance pilot patch

The remaining items were a Resistance patch featuring BB-8 and an enamel pin bearing the likeness of either Poe Dameron or a nameless Resistance pilot. Both items are nice companion pieces to November's patch and pin, but after two of each shape and design, I really hope things are changed up a next time.

The next Smuggler's Bounty box is Cantina-themed! What do you think will be inside??
Posted by Funko on Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Cantina" has been announced as the theme of the next Smuggler's Bounty box, and Funko's Facebook announcement suggests that by "cantina" we're talking original Tatooine cantina, not Maz Kanata's place from The Force Awakens. I thought I would have to wait longer to get an Original Trilogy box, so this is great news. I really hope we get a character that has not yet been given the Pop! treatment, like Myo, Hem Dazon, or Hrchek Kal Fas. My fear is that Funko will include a third Modal Nodes Pop!, which would be a terrible thing for non-subscribers who have already purchased the first two. Looking forward to March nonetheless!