It’s a trend that’s been growing for the last decade, but there are probably more than a few collectors who have walked right by them in the card aisle at retail stores not realizing what can be had inside packs.
They’re generally known as blind-wrapped mystery toys — a small vinyl figure inside a box or mylar pouch. They’re something that’s been popular in Japan for a long time, but have taken off in the United States for the last decade.
Think of them as one part coin vending machine, one part toy and one part sports card.
Oh, and they can be one part fun.
The brand you’ll most commonly find in retail stores is Funko‘s Mystery Minis and they can be had for more than a few properties — and probably more to come. The Walking Dead, The Avengers, DC Comics, My Little Pony, Marvel Comics, The Big Bang Theory, World Wrestling Entertainment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Minions … there are many assortments of figures to choose from.
Buzz finally tried a pack — around $6 for one at a Walmart — and was surprised with the quality of the figure found inside. My “Macho Man” Randy Savage from the WWE assortment was cleverly created and more detailed than many toys made in the past. It was enough to make me stop and consider what’s on the shelf every time I go looking for cardboard. For $6, it might get you more entertainment value than some packs.
Think about this in toy terms. We all know that there are action figures from even the behemoths like Star Wars that just don’t sell. You see them hanging on their pegs by the dozens, clearly the unpopular choice with kids and collectors. Meanwhile, other toys are way more popular — and sell for more on the secondary market — simply because there are more people that want them. Blind-wrapped boxes make that a bit more democratic. (Sure, there’s still the obvious flaw that some massive figures are clearly heavier than others but that’s a different topic.) The good part for the makers and the sellers? They are less likely to be stuck with the duds just because of the packaging.
Examine all of the series of Mystery Minis seen below. While there may be some brands that don’t interest you at all, Buzz would bet that at least one figure per lineup stands out as the cool one — the one you’d take from the bunch. That’s where the thrill of the chase comes in.
Assuming perfect collation, a sealed box of, say, WWE toys would have a full set, right? Not necessarily — that’s just like cardboard and that’s one reason they have picked up in popularity for this toy-maker as well as others.
Buzz is still a rookie at these, but if there are variants introduced you can expect the added chase and value on the secondary market — just like collectible toys we’re used to found inside their packages when we typically buy them. In some instances, these Minis have been big money-makers. In others, it looks like sets sell pretty well, too.
All flipping possibilities aside, though, if there’s a brand of Mystery Minis that appeals to you — or maybe you just stumble upon a pack or two at the store — maybe you should be like Buzz and try one. You never know if they’ll hook you.
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