Vinyl vault: Plethora of plastic populates man’s ponderosa
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — In the ’70s it was Barbie. The ‘80s? “Masters of the Universe.” And the ’90s brought about Beanie Babies.
But in 2018, John Carroll is sitting on nearly 1,000 Funko Pop! vinyl figurines in his home in Tupelo.
“Right at 987, to be exact,” Carroll, 43 said.
To track his collection, he uses a website which also updates the lot with the current value of each figurine and the overall worth of the entire throng.
“Don’t judge me too harshly for having an obsession,” he said, laughing. “It’s a hobby.”
Funko’s Pop! line are figures modeled in a style similar to the Japanese super-deformed style of “chibi,” which means short.
Typically, they depict licensed characters from franchises such as “Doctor Who,” Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, “Star Wars” and other pop culture entities with small bodies and big heads, each around 3.75 inches.
As for Carroll, he’s got a little bit of everything after three years of collecting.
If you’re doing the math, that’s a little more than a figure a day.
“The people in the stores know me by name,” he said. “If I go in and don’t buy a figure, they might be surprised.”
It’s a far cry from when he used to spot them in stores years ago, and didn’t see the appeal.
“I had seen them on the shelves and never really understood why they were being sold,” he said. “They never held any interest to me.”
That changed when Carroll spotted a figurine of Superman at Walmart one day.
“When I saw that Superman, I understood,” he said. “I love the way they’re small, simple, stylized figures of pop culture. The more I looked, the more I realized that there’s a lot more in the diversity. The more that they had, the more interested I became in them, so I started collecting different ones and it sort of grew out from there. I think it’s a mark of renown. If you can make it as a Pop!, you know you’ve become immortalized as a tiny piece of vinyl and plastic.”
But what’s his favorite one?
“The next one,” he said, laughing.
As the options have grown, so has Carroll’s collection, canvasing everything from Bob Ross and Elton John to the variant Demogorgon from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and Jason from “Friday the 13th.” Some of his most prized ones include a rare She-Ra from “Masters of the Universe” and characters from “Mortal Kombat.”
“If it’s something that I remember from when I was a kid, I guess I like to keep it to remind me of that time,” he said. “I enjoy having them. It’s nice to see how they’ve evolved since I first started collecting and what they’ve added as far as the different icons. They’ve really expanded. At first they just did comic books and movies, but now there’s musicians and athletes.”
Carroll grew up collecting a lot of figures from Superman, “Masters of the Universe” and “Star Wars,” but lost a lot of his trophies when a neighbor friend moved away, taking them with him.
“I guess this is me reclaiming my childhood and it bit me in a big way,” he said. “That’s the thing about collecting - you just have to have fun. This is the more three-dimensional baseball card. It’s the shorter, but more compact comic book.”
While he has slowed down a bit, Carroll doesn’t see himself parting with his vast collection anytime soon as the figurines only go up in value.
“People change, though,” he said. “They get older and they determine what they do and don’t like and I might wake up one day, realize I don’t like these anymore and sell them all.”
But, for now, he’s content with the vinyl company he keeps.
“The only difference between men and boys is not their age, but the price of their toys,” he said.