Funko would not be the same without all of the wonderful Funatics that come together to help make up the Funko Family. To show our appreciation we're taking some time to introduce you to other Funatics in the community, and with that, please say hello to AJ Salazar.
When and how did you first learn about Funko? Did you start collecting right away or did it develop over time?
"It was probably around 2015 when a fellow Funatic friend of mine, Adrian- had asked me a favor to drop by Hot Topic to check if there are any Adventure Time Funko Pops! available for his collection. I'd actually never heard of Funko prior to that and had only owned 1 Funko Pop! (Blake Griffin Funko Pop!) right after he introduced me to Funko. He would eventually encourage me to start my own collection and had helped me a lot with my first Funko line, the Game of Thrones. From there my love for Funko progressed and I remember receiving the New England Patriots Funko Pop! 3-Pack as a Christmas present from my cousin, which paved the way for my NFL Funko Pops! collection. This year marks my 6th-year collecting, woooohooo!!"
Were you a collector before you encountered Funko?
"I've always been in love with sneakers and was a big sneakerhead before I encountered Funko. At the time, I was also into collecting fitted hats and up until today I still do and own a variety of it. I've also collected WWE action figures and owned few DC and Marvel figures back in college. I still have some of them now and they definitely brings back good memories!"
When would you say you switched from being a collector to becoming a Funatic? What does Funko Family mean to you?
"When I got into Funko collecting, it was just about collecting the ones I love and the fandoms I collect. A couple of years later, I finally tried to engage and connect with other fellow Funatics online through Funko Photo-A-Day challenges, Funkast segments, over the boards and Funko groups by sharing my collections, Funko FanArts, and some of the Funko photos I've taken. Surprisingly I had never gone to any of the ComicCons before as my schedule didn't align well, so it was more of me getting in touch with some of the Funatics I'd became friends with- via online and through social medias like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook groups. Being a Funatic is more than just collecting, it creates a special social connections where I get to talk to them about Life, Family, and Fun times.
Funko Family means Everything. To me, it's all about sharing/expressing the same passion and love for Funko, as well as the camaraderie it brings that bonds everyone together. It connects us all from being Family and Friends to fellow Funatics, the community, the good times and all the FUN memories the brand itself brings. It builds up great friendship between strangers and I'm very Thankful to be part of this Family!"
What Funko lines and fandom(s) do you collect?
"I love all of these Funko lines! I collect Pops!, Dorbz, Pop! Tees, Vynl, Mystery Minis, a few Wobblers & FunkoForce, Vinyl Idolz, Pint Size Heroes, and Funkoverse games.
I'm a big Aquaman and sports fan. My main Fandoms focus more on Aquaman and followed by Thor, NFL, Game of Thrones, Friends series, The Boys series, Disney's Hercules, and UFC just to name a few. I also collect a bit of MLB, NBA, NHL, Freddy Funko, DC, and Marvel. Those are some of the other Fandoms I really love."
Do you have favorite fandom(s) that hold special meaning to you?
"It's definitely AQUAMAN! Being born an Aquarius, I've always believed I share the same personality traits the character has. From being an adventurous dude to being a spirited and family oriented Bro! Here's another cool story, my birthday's on the 28th of January and his lands the day after! The Aquarius Life!"
Is there anyone you share your fandom(s) with?
"I'm very happy that I get to share it with my wife. She's not much of a collector but she definitely supports me and I am very much grateful for that. She loves all the Game of Thrones Funko line. The series means so much to us that it actually was one of the first Funko lines I've collected. And while we get to share our GOT Funko collection, she also has her own little Funko collection of Cinderella, The Royal Family, the movies “Mean Girls” and “To All The Boys I've Loved Before” as her fandoms."
What was the first Funko piece in your collection?
"Blake Griffin NBA Funko Pop! from Wave 1 was my first Funko piece! If I can recall it correctly, I was with my sister inside a mall and we happened to passed by a booth outside the cinema that sells NBA Funko Pops! We got hooked by the looks and she ended up getting the Jeremy Lin from wave 1 and of course, as a Blake Griffin fan- I gotta have his! It's the one that started it all for me!"
Is there a particular Funko art or figure style that you enjoy?
"The Black Light series is definitely one of my favorite Funko art figures. Its style, hues, and color treatment really gives you that awesome vintage Marvel psychedelic black light poster feels. Another would be the Art Series line. I really love it's doodle-esque treatment and art style. Hoping to see Aquaman in both the Black Light and Art Series treatment one day!"
How do you display your collection? In box, out of box, shelves, cases?
"I'd say all of the above? Haha. I have a couple of varieties that are outside of their boxes and are displayed on my shelves, desk, and working stations. The ones I mainly keep inside their boxes with cases are the ones that mean the most to me. I'd take them out of their boxes once in a while, but only to take photos and check their sculpt/mold details."
Is there anything not made by Funko that you collect?
"Outside Funko I collect mostly anything Aquaman. I collect and own a variety of figures, statues, memorabilia, merch, and other collectible lines. I've been a collector of fitted hats and caps for years, own a couple of New England Patriots collectibles on the side, and a few Art Toys."
What movie/show/game/album/podcast are you currently watching/playing/listening to?
"I watch a lot of football games and highlights over the season. But since it's the offseason, my wife and I enjoy watching TV series like Brooklyn NineNine, The Boys, DC Animated Films to name a few and a bit of CrimeWatch & Forensics docu-series. I sometimes tune in to some of our fellow Funatics' podcasts on Twitch whenever I have the time."
What do you love about Funko?
"I LOVE EVERYTHING- The special connection it creates! From all of its lines & fandoms, the Funatic community & my Funko Family to all the fun engagements that we all share! It's the FUN feeling of excitement that I get from it and not just from my collection, but especially the close friends I've gained along the way! And I definitely can't wait to see more new Funko lines being introduced in the future."
What's your favorite Funko memory? (Or perhaps your top 2 if there's a tie.)
"My first one would definitely be our trip to Seattle to visit Funko HQ for the first time. We had so much fun, it was part of our honeymoon trip, and I'm very blessed that I got to check out the HQ with my wife. We can't wait 'til it's super safe to travel again, so we can finally visit Funko Hollywood this time and get to meet up with some of my Funatic friends.
Second favorite Funko memory would have to be the time I got to help out with Funko Funatic Philippines' “Funatics Give Back” program: Share-A-Christmas Charity Drive from last year. With Nikko Lim's lead alongside other Funatics, we were able to hand out 2,000 Christmas food baskets to 2,000 Filipino families who were deeply affected by the current pandemic. It means so much to me not only because I was able to help and give back to the people from my hometown, but also the idea of all Funatics coming together to help out and contribute. It's definitely one of my unforgettable Funko memories!"
What motivated you to start photographing your collection and sharing the photos on social media?
"I've been a long time fan of toy photography and just love seeing toy photographs and all its creative compositions in between. Something about them eases the mind and relieves stress. When I got into Funko collecting, I didn't feel like taking photos at first until I started participating in some of the Funko Photo-A-Day Challenges and it actually sparked the excitement and creativity out of me! The themes for each day are one of a kind, and gives you more challenges to express your interpretations using your collection. Always love seeing every Funatics' photo entries, they're the best!"
Can you share a little bit about your thought process going into staging and taking photos of your collectibles?
"I'm not a pro in photography but I do get most of my inspirations from the imagination and fiction characters that can be developed from some of my collections. Once I've thought of an idea, I normally work on the background first before setting up the scene. I play around with lights and shadows to get the feel I'm aiming for. And lastly, I explore ways of taking good angles and just take my time to figure out which one works best and what not."
What advice do you have for other Funatics taking photos of their collection?
"For most of us this is definitely not just a collection and it's always good once in a while to take them out for a photoshoot haha! Again, not a pro but I really just enjoy taking photos of my collection. I'd say just enjoy the fun out of it and don't rush to get a perfect shot as there isn't actually one until you know it's the one! It's always a trial-and-error process, follow and get inspirations from other fellow Funatics who takes awesome photographs and you'll definitely develop a creative thinking moving forward. Your collection can also be one of the fastest way to get some inspirations for a story or a composition."
If licensing wasn't a limiting factor, what would be a Pop! collection you'd like to see made?
"I would love to see some AEW Funko Pops! made, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Doog, DC Titans Series, DC StarGirl Series, Brooklyn 99, BlackPink, more UFC, and definitely more Aquaman variants!"
Thank you again AJ, for taking the time to share details about your Funko experience and collection with the Funko Family.
For those who are interested in adding to their Funko DC collection and/or Funko Marvel collection as well, click through to check out Funko's current online selection. If you are interested in possibly being a featured Funatic, you can tag @OriginalFunko on Instagram or Twitter along with a picture of you with your collection with #FunaticOfTheMonth.