The environmental and human devastation that has been faced by Australia over recent months is a wake up call to us all that we must start looking after our planet and that there are things that we can do to help prevent history repeating itself, if we use a little common sense and make sure that politics doesn’t get in the way of a good outcome. A recent initiative by Ash Howard and his team at Popcultcha in Geelong (backed by Funko) has seen the creation of an exclusive Pop! Vinyl — Bushfire Heroes with Koala Pop! Vinyl figure. This is a good example of what can happen when people put their heads together to help others and in this case, all of the profits from the sale of this item will be donated to the RSPCA to help assist the animal population effected by our recent bushfires.
Ash, how did this idea begin, was it an Aussie development from your end?
I think it was a truly collaborative effort. Our team here were flicking around some ideas and when we bounced them off the team at Funko they were immediately on the same page and in particular, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti was on the front foot to offer their help in any way they can. Our in-house design team including Natasha Kapustic and Adam Henderson played a pivotal role in the overall design of the Pop! Vinyl.
This initiative really hits the right spot; our wildlife is vulnerable and deserves some assistance. How did you arrive at the RSPCA as your charity of choice?
We had been closely watching the fund raising activities across all charities and we landed on the RSPCA as we recognized the work that was ahead of them. The RSPCA’s work will be weeks, months and years of ongoing support, recovery and rehabilitation and we have a profound respect for the work that is being done out there. We know that the money we have raised will go directly toward these efforts when and where it is most needed.
To have it supported globally is a really cool thing, have you seen strong support from your customers all over the world?
Yep we sure have. We have sold thousands upon thousands of these figures to collectors all over the world. Popcultcha is known as a Funko Pop! Vinyl destination store and global collectors seek us out anyway, so we were well placed to execute this program to hit people internationally. We have sold this Bushfire Heroes Pop! To Israel, Poland, UK, Spain, France, USA, Taiwan and everywhere in between. It has been a humbling experience to see a world of collectors and supporters jump on board such a worthwhile endeavor, we couldn’t be more thrilled.
That is fabulous that Funko were happy to back you. This sort of thing does not normally happen?
Worldwide exclusive items are certainly not something that Funko ordinarily promote. However, this was an exceptional circumstance where all of the profits are going to a charitable endeavor that is near and dear to all of us. Our Bushfire Crisis has been an ongoing news story in North America, so it was already a talking point around the water cooler. We have been working closely with Funko for over 17+ years and in fact, were one of the first retailers to ever sell a Pop! Vinyl figure, not to mention all of the products that preceded this phenomenon! We were there around the Bobble Head craze, so there is a great history and trust between us… I guess you could say we kinda grew up together in the “collectables industry”.
Do you have a feeling for how many may be taken up and what will that mean in terms of funds, which will go to the RSPCA?
We don’t at this stage, it is a moving target. We can happily report that we will be making a donation well in excess of $500,000 to the RSPCA in March 2020 which will represent the profits on all pre-orders recorded to date. It has been an amazing response and Popcultcha, Funko and the RSPCA could not be happier with how this has been received thus far. However, at the time of interview, this has been just week one of pre-sales so we expect this number to continue to climb!
Mate, these sorts of things need to be handled delicately so as not to become a commercial platform. Were you conscious of this when you made the call to proceed?
For sure, as I eluded to previously, we have worked with Funko for near on 20 years, there is a great deal of trust between us and when you have good people on both sides working together for a common goal, the result is usually going to be exceptional. This is our 27th year in the collectables industry, I feel like we are a well regarded brand and retailer and we are constantly trying to improve the way we do things. I have faith in our business to execute this really well, as we have the infrastructure and logistics knowhow to get these collectables safely into the hands of collectors all over the world and more importantly, the funds into the hands of the RSPCA when they need it most. We intend on making donations in the first week of every month to account for our ongoing pre-sales up and until the product lands in our warehouse and is sold through. At the end of the day, we just sell toys and collectables, its nothing compared to the sacrifices and work that the everyday heroes out there are doing. This is the least we can do to help!
Ash, hopefully your donations will make a huge difference to helping and supporting our wildlife. We will keep in touch and hopefully you can let us know some of the positive outcomes.
For sure, we would be happy to check in with you when the product arrives and we start shipping them out in June 2020. Funko have done a fantastic job with the design and we are pretty stoked to be part of something worthwhile like this, as it really puts what we do on a day to day basis in perspective when you can do it for a worthwhile cause.