A chat with Funko CEO Brian Mariotti

Photo credit: Sarah Newgarde, Everett AquaSox

With the new partnership this offseason between the Everett School District, AquaSox, and Funko to create the newly minted Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium, Seattle Sports Union wanted to get the story from the master of Funko himself, Brian Mariotti. Abraham Deweese was able to track down the hardworking executive and pick his brain.

SSU: Funko has been around for over 20 years and has decided to stay in Everett rather than leave for the glitz and glamour elsewhere. What has kept one of the most famous toy producers here in Snohomish county?

Brian Mariotti: Everett is home and we will continue to stay authentic to our roots as we grow as a company. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have amazing community support and will remain invested in this community.


SSU: You are probably the number one toy brand in the world right now, where did you come up with the design concept?

Brian Mariotti: I knew we needed something whimsical, cute and a platform that we could build a brand on. I had seen a few hand made plush on the internet with black Beady eyes and oversized heads. We started from there and the set team came up with a great design.


SSU: I have seen your product at comic-cons for over a decade. I recently got my 1st sports Funko Pop – Nelson Cruz at the Mainers store in 2018—when did you break into cross promoting from sci-fi / fantasy to sports?

Brian Mariotti: We’ve branched into producing products from many different lines of licenses because as we say, “everyone is a fan of something.” Whether it be sports, animation, music, etc. we’re continuously looking for ways to bring fandom to everyone.


SSU: I seem to remember Todd McFarlane started off the same way with his toy line—beginning with sci-fi/ fantasy then breaking into sports themes.  Is that a natural progression?

Brian Mariotti: I think we’ve always been forward thinking in our effort to be a company that holds more licenses than any other and sports licenses are really no different.


SSU: Funko entered a sponsorship of our local Single-A affiliate the Everett AquaSox.  How did this come about?

Brian Mariotti: We’re always looking for more ways to better integrate Funko into the Everett community. When we heard about the opportunity to have Funko Field down the street from us, it was a no-brainer to rally around our local sports team.


SSU: How did Funko Friday’s with the AquaSox come about and tell us the AquaSox fans what cool designs do you have in store for us for the giveaways?

Brian Mariotti: We’ve done a lot of giveaway promotions for the Mariners and other MLB teams so certainly we wanted to make each Funko Friday at Funko Field unique and special. So far we’ve announced a
Pop! MiLB Webbly with a home jersey and Copa de la Diversión Webbly with a Conquistadores jersey! 


SSU: I know you tend to go for aesthetic over ultra-realism, are there any design challenges when it comes making a toy of a real person (and yes, to me Webbly is a real person) versus a sci-fi character?

Brian Mariotti: Human beings that are relatively normal looking to good looking are the toughest. Cartoon characters or humans that are very interesting looking or dress very interesting are much easier. We always try and create something the make each character interesting. Sometimes that’s harder than easier.


SSU: A company like Funko could sponsor any number of teams or leagues. I mean you are an international brand, how did we the AquaSox fans get so lucky to have you sponsor our hometown 9?

Brian Mariotti: We’ve always been committed to our Everett community and we truly take pride in being an Everett-based company. It made this a perfect fit!


SSU: I read that there will be a statue in right field of Funko Field, who is it going to be of? Will it be Freddy? Will it be Webbly?

Brian Mariotti: You’ll just have to come to the ballpark!


SSU: I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but the revenue that you are putting into the stadium is very generous and will go a long way to upgrade a publicly owned stadium. Used by Everett High School, Everett CC, the Everett Merchants, and the AquaSox the investment that you put into Funko Field is so very needed and appreciated.

Brian Mariotti: Thank you. We’re thrilled to have been given the opportunity to make Funko Field special for each member of this great community. This certainly won’t be the last time we do something special for our hometown!


We are grateful to Brian for taking the time to answer our questions. Come out this summer to the new Funko Field at Memorial Stadium in Everett and cheer on the AquaSox!

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Abraham DeWeese is an avid local sports fan and a “Man-About-Town” in the Seattle sports scene. He's a lifelong resident of the Seattle area, living in the beautiful Greenlake neighborhood.