Funko is going somewhere it's never gone before: the toy aisle. And it's using interactive touchscreen tech to grab kids' attention away from the princess dolls and race cars.
On Thursday, the maker of collectible vinyl figurines unveiled a patent-pending vending machine that dispenses character toys called Snapsies. We got a chance to try it out at this year's New York Toy Fair .
The Snapsies include a rock-star unicorn named Jett, an athletic mountain goat named Billie and a hedgehog who bakes named Boe. A touchscreen plays music videos and animations of these characters to draw in curious kids.
Insert your payment, turn the dial, and the machine dispenses a mystery Snapsies character inside a plastic capsule. Each Snapsies toy will cost $10 and come with a head, body and accessories to snap together.
The hook here is if you get more than one, you can snap together different character parts to make your own custom character. (Hence the name, Snapsies.)
Founded in 1998, Funko is best known for its 3.75-inch vinyl figurines of pop culture characters and figures. You can own anything from Colonel Sanders and Captain America to Conan O'Brien and Post Malone. The figures cost anywhere from $10 to hundreds or thousands of dollars (if the right collector is willing to pay). According to Pop Price Guide, a headless Ned Stark from Game of Thrones can fetch more than $5,000.
But Snapsies are for a different crowd: the kids of Funko's traditional customers.
The company began experimenting with this toy-dispensing machine concept last year with something similar called Paka Paka. It also has various mystery minifigures dispensed in plastic capsules. These machines first launched at ThinkGeek stores, with 74 in the market right now. Funko says the response surpassed expectations and the company is expanding to 600 Paka Paka machines, coming this year to GameStop stores nationwide.
Funko said to expect Snapsies machines in retail stores this fall, starting with Target.
Originally published Feb. 20.
Update, Feb. 22: Includes additional details on how the machines will work and details about Paka Paka machines.