Everything is clicking into place for Funko, which is launching its first original toys after experiencing massive success with kids of all ages through its POP! figure ranges.
The company’s new Snapsies line features animal parts that can be mixed and matched to create new characters. A llama head, for example, can snap onto a mermaid tail. The range launched in stores and online with Target on November 29, and SKUs are available for US$9.99.
“We’re familiar with the kids space, but there’s so much more we can do there,” says Dave Beré, Funko’s director of marketing.
This expansion into original toys comes in a year when many in the kids space are struggling. Funko saw its net sales decline in Q1 (down 18%), Q2 (down 48%) and Q3 2020 (down 14%). With a number of 2020 movies delayed due to the pandemic, an original toy line that isn’t dependent on licensed content provides new opportunities for the company.
The Snapsies brand targets kids ages six to 11, and Beré says the team expects girls, in particular, to connect with it. The initial offering includes 11 characters, each available in a sphere that also features an additional head and body for mixing and matching.
Funko had planned to launch vending-style machines in stores that would play up the mystery of the spheres’ blind packaging. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns earlier this year, the team moved away from the idea.
“We had to pivot because while that level of experience and engagement is great, we know that we’re going to be living in a different retail environment for a while into the future,” Beré says. “Moving forward, it’s going to be a balancing act of how we can bring as much experience as possible to the aisle, while making sure it’s a safe experience.”
Knowing the initial retail strategy was no longer an option, Funko decided to conduct research to gather information about kids’ reactions to Snapsies to help develop a different approach. Eight focus groups were held with girls ages five to 10 in California and Georgia earlier this year.
The toymaker has found that girls are really gravitating to the sweet look of the animal characters. Knowing this was a draw for its target demo, Funko upped the number of characters in the initial launch from five to 11 in order to encourage additional purchases and increase the brand’s collectibility. The move allowed the team to offer a wider range of animals, including some that swim and fly, which created even more opportunities for outlandish combinations.
To make the fantastical nature of the new creatures feel real to kids, Beré says the team worked to make sure the visual cues for each animal were immediately clear.
“You should know it’s a mermaid tail right away,” he says. “We chose animals and characters with iconic cues that would be as recognizable as possible.”
Funko’s research also highlighted that, in addition to opening up opportunities for creativity, Snapsies’ mixing-and-matching play pattern offers kids a chance to show off their sense of humor. Upcoming marketing efforts will lean into that idea, with kids being encouraged to show off the funny names and backstories of their characters.
Looking forward, Beré says it’s possible the brand could expand into additional categories.
“We do think the mixing-and-matching aspect does lend itself well to other categories,” he says. “At Funko, we can deliver on all sorts of toy extensions. We have a game division and an apparel division, so those are things we could dial up internally pretty quickly if we decided to move in those directions.”