Back in 2016, the Funko company gave away just a handful of Golden Ticket Funko Pop 2-Packs, which contained gilded figures of Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa, at its annual San Diego Comic-Con event. In July, one of them sold for a whopping $210,000, over double what the owner had purchased it for just a year earlier. For some it’s a sign that rare Funko collecting has matured. For others it’s a glitzy stunt that shows just how untethered from reality the high-stakes end of the hobby has become.
“This weekend, my beloved Golden Ticket 2-Pack sold for $210,000 to EvendHQ/Grail Game,” Frank “GrailMonster” Giaramita posted on Instagram on July 10. He claimed it as the largest Funko Pop sale ever. It was certainly more than the one he was a part of in May 2022 when he originally bought the golden figurines for $100,000. At the time, onlookers could not believe how much he was willing to pay. In hindsight, it almost seems like a bargain.
Prior to the sale, the collectible website HobbyDB had estimated the value at roughly $165,000, still a dramatic increase from the first documented resale price of $10,000 back in 2018. But instead of going directly to another collector this time, the Golden Ticket Funko 2-Pack will become part of a mystery box lottery. An outfit called Grail Game will seemingly sell random repackaged Funkos, each with a chance of containing the golden Wonka.
“It took me about three weeks to agree to selling this Pop,” GrailMonster told Kotaku in an email. “I literally had it as a centerpiece on my dinner table. I anticipated owning it for much longer than I did. A big factor in deciding to sell was I really liked the mystery box idea; it was appealing to me that a collector will eventually own the most coveted Funko item for $15.”
In one way, the rare collectible is being exploited for a gambler’s profit. In another, it’s getting a second chance to recreate part of the magic that made it so valuable in the first place. The “lore” behind it, as HobbyDB founder Christian Braun tells it, goes like this. Only 10 of the Golden Wonka 2-Packs are believed to have ever been created. Six were believed to be given away to Funko employees, while four were part of the company’s SDCC 2016 Funko Fundays event. Fans who attended received chocolate bars, but only bars with the golden tickets inside received one of the four golden Wonka 2-Packs.
“It has rarity and a decent franchise,” Braun told Kotaku in a phone interview. “And a ton of story and lore.” He believes the convergence of these qualities is what makes it one of the most valuable Funko artifacts in existence, though it’s impossible to boil that down into a specific number, especially since the market for high-end Funko collectibles is so small, intimate, and idiosyncratic.
Most fans simply buy Funko figures of their favorite characters, which are mass produced, so much so that the company which makes them decided to destroy millions’ worth rather than pay the storage fees for excess inventory. They aren’t in the market for super rare “grail” Funkos, nor could they afford them even if they were. Nonetheless, half a dozen Venom Freddy Funkos sold for a reported $150,000 earlier this year.
That’s partly why when mega transactions like this do occur, complete with briefcases full of cash, some collectors simply roll their eyes or accuse the transacting parties of ruining the hobby’s integrity. A post on the Funko subreddit documenting the latest Wonka deal with over 1K upvotes is full of comments ranging from the shocked, to the skeptical, to the outraged. “Bro brought cash to the deal as a PR stunt instead of just doing a wire transfer,” read one of them. GrailMonster told Kotaku the cash makes it easier for the sale to be verified by third parties.
“I’m about 60 percent content with the deal and 40 percent regretful,” he said. “Aside from absolutely adoring the Pop, I just truly believe it’ll sell for much more someday. It’s an artifact from a hobby that I adore…a part of [me] wishes I experienced its complete journey.”