Pop Art

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six mini figurines

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Funko POP! figures from the collection of Sgt. John A. Stephens

November 17, 2023 - January 26, 2024

Invented in 1998 by Mike and Claudia Becker, the Funko POP! figure is a cultural phenomenon that has managed to find its way into our everyday lives. Constructed from jointed PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic and typically 4” in size, they share many stylistic similarities with the Japanese Chibi aesthetic. Large heads and a stylized, cartoony style are designed to accentuate a chosen character’s features, displaying a universally playful demeanor.

Unlike volatile and speculative fads of the past such as the Beanie Baby, Funko POP! figures have managed to thrive in an often-fickle market. Their staying power lies in their modest price point (most a mere $15USD) and their diverse array of subjects. From the iconic Batman to the beloved members of BTS, Vincent Van Gogh and the cast of Friends, these figures have found their way into offices worldwide, in the process becoming small but significant expressions of individual tastes and interests.

As of the opening of this exhibit, there have been nearly 14,000 unique POP! figure designs and derivates released. This exhibit displays a mere fraction of this prodigious output, showcasing the unique taste of one member of the Syracuse University community.

Graciously loaned by Sgt. John A. Stephens, Administrative Sergeant with the Department of Public Safety, Campus Safety, and Emergency Management Services, this collection provides a glimpse into how these figures have become emissaries for personal expression.