Brian Mariotti has been a toy collector since high school, when he started accumulating PEZ dispensers. Though unknown to Mariotti at the time, with each piece he added to his collection, he was moving one step closer to his destiny of leading Everett-based toy collectibles company Funko, which he purchased from founder Mike Becker in 2005. Stepping into Mariotti’s fifth-story corner office is something akin to a religious experience for individuals who are toy collectors, pop culture nerds, or, really, anyone under age 12. “Thousands. I have thousands,” Mariotti said, glancing around at the colossal array of pop culture collectibles enshrined in lighted glass cases that line his office. In fact, there isn’t much else in the room, save for a framed photograph of his 19-year-old daughter. We asked Mariotti to share his favorite pieces.
For the Love of Huckleberry Hound
No character is more beloved by Mariotti than Hanna-Barbera’s Huckleberry Hound. So, it’s no surprise that a portion of the CEO’s desk is littered with an array of licensed PEZ dispensers, figures, and even soda bottles depicting the blue cartoon dog. “I’ve probably made more Huckleberry Hound products than just about any company in history,” Mariotti said.
‘But Why Male Models?’
Mariotti said the Zoolander series is one of his favorite Funko collections. This is due in part because the movie is one of his favorites, but also because obtaining the license wasn’t altogether easy. “We don’t struggle very much anymore as we get bigger as a company trying to get licenses,” he said. “But this one we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get across the finish line.”
‘Na, na, na, na, Batman!’
The crown jewel of Mariotti’s collection is this circa-1960s, tin-plated Batman tank produced by Japanese toy company Yonezawa. The piece is very rare, worth close to seven figures, and is a conversation piece when Mariotti is entertaining guests in his office “Batcave.”
Like a Snowflake
The most prominent part of Mariotti’s PEZ collection is his American Indian chiefs — originally part of a Bicentennial series. What makes them so unique is their headdresses. “They took old, unsold pieces of PEZ, melted them, and created unique headdresses for each of the Native American chiefs to make it so that each one is kind of a bit of a snowflake,” Mariotti explained. These pieces are worth $300 to $1,000, depending on color and marbling.