Funko CEO Talks Soda & Paka Paka Lines at New York Toy Fair 2020

As the New York Toy Fair just passed us by, so too did over 1,000 toy companies revealing more than 150,000 different toys. If you had the chance to walk past the Funko booth in particular, you'd presume the company had at least 25 percent of that massive real estate alone. With so many brands competing for the spotlight with new products, it's important to stick out from the crowd. After so many reveals last weekend, Funko proved they know how to do just that.

Newsweek had the opportunity to chat with Funko CEO, Brian Mariotti about how he plans to keep the company innovative and fun while expanding to a younger market.

Funko Toy Fair 2020 Soda Flintstones
New Funko Soda offers all your favorite characters in a collectible retro can. Rocco Marrongelli/Newsweek

Funko's most unique Toy Fair product is a line simply entitled Soda."It's been the best vinyl figure we have come up with in a long time," says Mariotti. "It's been out about two weeks, and it's been tracking as well as Pop did when it started in 2010," Mariotti described.

The whole Funko team has been very excited about Soda, as it takes a new form factor and applies it to the company's diverse collection of licenses from Bob's Big Boy to Thundercats. They love the idea of what it means for collectors, as well as those who like the blind chase. Each figure comes packaged in a retro soda can that displays the variants on the back to indicate which toy you may get.

Funko Toy Fair 2020 Soda Display Products
The Funko Soda display shows off a variety of new ways to collect your favorite pop-culture character at the New York Toy Fair. Rocco Marrongelli/Newsweek

The idea behind Soda is buried deep in Funko's corporate history. About five years ago, Funko sold a product that featured glass soda bottles with various cartoon character heads on top, such as Huckleberry Hound and Marvin the Martian. The team wanted to bring this concept back in a different way. "We actually came up with sodas for characters that never had a soda before," says Mariotti. This idea evolved from an actual physical drink into a vinyl figure line with the packaging resembling a can. "We were looking at sodas and seltzer waters in a can and we decided we wanted to do it because the can was so cool, let's just put a figure next to the can or a figure in the can. It's just one of those things, as you talk things out and explore them, you come up with hopefully a great idea. And we love them," Mariotti says.

Funko Toy Fair 2020 Toilet Ninjas Paka
The Toilet Ninjas are just one of the many product lines you will discover in Funko's new Paka Paka machines. Rocco Marrongelli/Newsweek

Beyond consistently making new products, Mariotti's team has also come up with a new way for fans to interact with products as they purchase them. Paka Paka is a new Japanese-inspired, adult collectible that's been on the market for about five months. There are crazy variations like Soda Cats and Toilet Ninjas, but how you purchase these items is the attraction. "It's a glorified gumball machine," Mariotti states in reference to the gashapon machines standing beside him. "We talked about what gachapan has meant to Japan in the collectibles market now going for over 60 years, so how can we take that concept that has worked for so long and elevate it," Mariotti asks. Given the recent decline in blind-box toy sales, Funko has worked on this new presentation mechanic to take that experience to the next level.

Funko Toy Fair 2020 Soda Cats Paka
Soda Cats or Munchies? Funko's new Paka Paka offerings are adorable and massively collectible. Rocco Marrongelli/Newsweek

"We're excited about using this short term, short form content to promote these lines," Mariotti says. "We want to reinvent it and find a way to put experience with fine collectibles in a fun, cool way, fueled by content." Using the machines, you can find out all about the possible figures you may get in exchange for $4.99. You can touch the screen, find out about all the content, read a character's backstory, check out the variant scales and even watch short animated videos featuring the roster selection. The content is designed to be refreshed every three or four months, with new lines releasing in waves to offer collectors a constantly new experience in the same location. "We're off to a great start," claims Mariotti. "It's a way to take experience and e-commerce and merge them together."

Funko Toy Fair 2020 Paka Paka Gashapon
Take your chance with a Paka Paka machine from Funko and see which character you get. Rocco Marrongelli/Newsweek

Adults shouldn't have all the fun in collecting, so Funko wanted to apply this same concept to a more kid-friendly audience as well. Enter Snapsies, which takes the same concept as Paka Paka, with the gashapon machines and bling items, but instead sells toys specifically designed for kids. Snapsies can include adorable llamas, unicorns and even goats. But what makes them stand out is their "Snap Technology." You can interchange their hair, neckties, hats, and even their faces. "They are all in one big world that provides an infinite amount of combos in personalizing your own," Mariotti describes.

With all the new ways to experience collecting, 2020 is sure to make your toy shelves a bit more crowded. All these items are available now, with some Paka Paka machines being located at GameStop and Think Geek retail retailers. Funko's goal is to bring Paka Paka to even more traditional and non-traditional markets.

Which Soda or Paka Paka is a must-have item for you? Let us know in the comments below.