Gig Harbor, Wash., resident Stephanie Patterson used to think Funko Pops were weird-looking. Now she has about 70 of the irresistible, little pop culture figures and counting. (And she’s got a great storage solution for her addiction. It involves IKEA.)
A medical transcriptionist who loves Star Wars, Harry Potter, and “Game of Thrones,” Patterson carves amazing pop culture-themed pumpkins every Halloween and is basically living out the ultimate geek romance with her partner in crime, husband Jacob (seriously, they are the cutest).
Stephanie and Jacob recently visited Funko Pop! HQ, a magical, themed retail outlet in Everett, Wash., and agreed to take us on a vicarious tour of the nerd haven, which the rest of us can now put on our bucket lists.
So … you’re kind of obsessed with Funko Pops! How many do you currently have in your collection?
Our official count is 71!
What are some of the fandoms represented in your collection?
A vast majority of our Pops are Star Wars-related (23 of them so far!). I also have a fairly big chunk of Harry Potter figures as well as Disney, “Bob’s Burgers,” “Ghostbusters,” “Stranger Things,” and other miscellaneous things, like Monty Python and “Orange is the New Black.” I have a handful of Christmas pops from “A Christmas Story” and “Christmas Vacation,” as well as Halloween Pops from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
What are some of your favorite individual Pops in your collection?
My favorite Pop! is, coincidentally, the first one I ever got (which is probably one of the reasons I love it so). That would be my Leia in her Boushh disguise. Another one I love is my Harry Potter sitting on a stool with the Sorting Hat on. I love all of them so much, though, it’s hard to choose just two.
How did you begin collecting Pops? Did you intend to amass so many or did it just sort of happen? (I know from experience they can be very addictive.)
It’s funny, I never liked Pops before I started collecting them; I thought they were strange-looking. However, once I found my first one (Leia), I started looking up more of them and realized how many that Funko made that I loved. It just snowballed from there. That Christmas — I think it was two years ago now — I received about seven or eight Pops as gifts from family since they knew I liked them, and that was really the start of my collection. I definitely didn’t intend to have this many, no!
How do you display your Pops?
I have six IKEA shelves on the wall in our bedroom devoted to my Pops, and that has since spilled over onto whatever obliging surface I can find!
Are you running out of room for them yet?
I have definitely run out of room! We’re at critical mass here. I need to make another trip to IKEA for more shelves very soon.
Are there any rare or special Pops you still covet?
There is an old Lando Calrissian Pop that I would dearly love to have, but he is extremely expensive and rare, so that probably won’t happen unless they decide to re-release him!
You and your husband Jacob recently visited Funko Pop! headquarters. I didn’t even know that existed. How did you learn about it? Where is it? Can you just show up and visit?
Yes! It was really cool, a total Pop haven for collectors! It is located in Everett, Wash., about an hour and a half from our house; it’s exciting to live that close to headquarters! It’s been open since the end of August and occupies an old Bon Marche building in town; it’s enormous! Anyone can visit; it’s basically just a huge Pop store with multiple themed areas. They really did an amazing job with the theming too!
Tell me about your experience at the headquarters. What were some of your favorite things you saw there?
When we got there [Funko], we had to wait in a line around the corner to get in, but the line moved quickly and it allowed for a better shopping experience because they only let in a small group of people at a time. I really loved all the themed areas and the detail they put into it.
The Star Wars area was so rad, with a Hoth theme (there was the snow cave with the Wampa and Luke hanging upside down as well as a Snowspeeder and Snowtroopers and Darth Vader up above looking down at everything). They had a Harry Potter area with really great details like the Hogwarts crest on the gate to get in and awesome Pop-ified gargoyles with a huge Hagrid at the entrance.
There is a Gotham/DC area with a Batcave and a Batmobile photo op! There is also an anime/miscellaneous area with a big Pop Godzilla and a little monorail train with Pop figures inside that he is attacking. They really thought of everything, and there were little Easter eggs everywhere that I really loved. There is also a Disney area in the center of the store with Maleficent’s castle and a drawbridge!
The surprising thing is that their prices for Pops are the best I’ve seen anywhere! I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t gouging their customers. They didn’t really have the biggest selection of Pops overall, however; I think I could have found a larger selection at most other stores. The experience and the atmosphere was obviously the biggest part of it.
You and Jacob are pretty hardcore geeks, if you don’t mind my saying so. Were you always into geeky things, or did that come later in life?
Haha, yeah, we’ve definitely become more hardcore over the years when it comes to Harry Potter and Star Wars especially. I wasn’t a geek as a kid, not at all! All of this has come since I married Jake 15 years ago and he really got me into Star Wars hardcore. We’ve kind of evolved together, and especially since geek culture is everywhere now and so easy to indulge your particular fandom, it’s become more of a thing for us.
I know you’re really into Harry Potter. How did that start?
The Harry Potter thing started back when we saw “Sorceror’s Stone” in the theater. After that, we started reading the books that were out and really got into them. We eventually found a Harry Potter book club meeting at the Palmdale Barnes & Noble that we started going to, where we met more HP nerds like ourselves and made some amazing friends. That got us into going to events like midnight showings and midnight release parties for the books, and eventually going to Chicago for a HP con, Terminus, with our friend Delia. That was our first con experience and super fun to geek out with thousands of other HP fans!
If I’m not mistaken, you and Jacob were once in a wizard rock band. Tell me about that.
I can’t believe you remember that! Haha! Yes, we were really into the whole Wizard Rock ‘scene’ and decided to start our own band, The Escapators. We never played a show and Jake wrote one song (“My Phoenix Song”) and recorded it, which got played on an HP podcast. That was as far as it ever went!
You guys are really into Star Wars, too. How does your love of Star Wars manifest itself in your life?
Oh my gosh, Star Wars has invaded every part of our lives imaginable! Every room in our house has at least one (and usually much more) thing that is Star-Wars related in it. We sleep on Star Wars bedding, we’ve got a Star Wars shower curtain in the bathroom, we eat on Star Wars plates and with lightsaber utensils, we’ve got Star Wars figures and toys everywhere in the living room … it’s just everywhere!
We’ve got a Death Star charger in our car and a Millennium Falcon license plate frame and a hanging R2-D2 in the car as well as a couple Star Wars windshield covers. You really can’t go anywhere in our house without seeing it; it’s just so out of hand!
I also have nine different Star Wars foam pumpkins that I’ve carved and put up from September through October and a bunch of Christmas decorations.
What are your thoughts at this point on “The Last Jedi”?
I’m hopeful! I’m looking forward to seeing what Luke’s been up to since “Return of the Jedi” (a lot of brooding on his failed tutelage of his nephew, from the looks of it) and really hoping we find out who the heck Rey’s parents are! I love the Porgs; they are so adorable! It’s looking a lot like an “Empire Strikes Back”-style movie, which fits the flow of the movies so far (“The Force Awakens” being so similar to “A New Hope”), so I’m hoping there’s all kinds of angst!
What about the Han Solo spin-off?
I wasn’t sure about the Han Solo spinoff (and I’m still not sure if it’ll be good!), but I am so excited about seeing Donald Glover play Lando; that is genius casting as far as I’m concerned! I am really wary of seeing someone try to channel Harrison Ford and attempt to capture even an ounce of what he was able to do as Han Solo, but I’m definitely going to try to be as unbiased as possible!
What other fandoms are you guys into?
We’re really into “Game of Thrones”! When we lived in California and got to go to Disneyland all the time, we collected Disneyland memorabilia.
Aside from Pops, do you collect any other merch?
Hmmm, well, we do have a ton of Star Wars stuff. We have a pretty decent Harry Potter collection going, too, which we got to add on to when we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios (Hollywood); we’d love to go to Orlando and see Diagon Alley!
What do you like about owning these souvenirs from your favorite fandoms?
It’s so much fun to represent our favorite fandoms in a way that goes beyond simply reading/watching. I feel like having those things in our house really just further entrenches them into our lives and makes them a tangible thing.
What do you and Jacob do for a living? Is there anything else we should know about you?
Jake and I both work from home now, which is an amazing blessing, as medical transcriptionists. We basically look at doctor’s notes and transfer relevant information into formatted legal reports for Workers’ Compensation and personal injury cases.
We’ve been married 15 years and we’ve been living in Gig Harbor, Wash., for the past five years after being native Californians living in the Antelope Valley for years before moving.
As for hobbies, Jake is a really talented drummer and plays at church weekly. My biggest hobby would probably be my pumpkin carving. I carve on foam pumpkins with a hot knife and currently have 47 carved designs that spend most of their time in my closet, but some are now out and on display on our living room wall!
I used to have a yearly public display at my family’s lavender farm in the fall, where I did live carving, but last year was the last time I got to do that. I adore carving pumpkins and finding the coolest designs online. My favorite pumpkins, though, are the ones that Jake has designed for me to carve; he’s so good at finding pictures and stencils and translating them into patterns! I also do cross stitching year-round.
Do you have any advice for recovering (or not so recovering) Pops addicts?
It’s hard to give advice when I’m so deep into it! Take them out of the box! We’re not strict collectors in the sense that we leave things in their packaging. I love getting to see them unencumbered by their boxes.
My best advice would be to never start in the first place; it’s a sickness! But if you must, have fun with it, and definitely look into IKEA shelves because you’re gonna need some; it’s inevitable!
Below are some more fun pictures from Stephanie and Jacob’s trip to Funko Pop! HQ.
About the Geek Goddess Interviews:
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