Last March my dad accidentally broke the head off of my Sherlock funko when he was moving my bookshelf and I realized that you could totally mix & match funko parts to make characters they don’t sell. I googled this and found the whole world of custom funkos, but nobody was making the book characters I wanted. So I spent the next several weeks brainstorming different designs and looking up SO MANY FUNKOS (seriously, I don’t want to know how much of my memory is taken up by this).

I wanted some of my designs to focus more on mixing & matching pieces that already looked a bit like the characters so they could blend in better on my shelves and look as close to factory-made funkos as possible. I’m really not a fan of that “custom funko look” with the eyes drawn on because they just don’t fit in (but if that’s your thing there are a lot of new Etsy shops that totally do those).

Some little things I’ve learned over the past half year might help anyone who wants to build an army of funko characters, but I also wanted to stick in some random advice in case you’re thinking of opening your own Etsy shop…

What Not to Do With Your Etsy Shop

I think the trickiest part is removing the heads and then carving, puttying, and gluing a different one on because most pieces don’t fit the ones they weren’t made for. However, sometimes people don’t get the work that went into that process or the prices of the supplies involved and assume that I’m overcharging when I “didn’t even do anything to it.” So here’s an example of how the price for Nikolai is calculated:

The basic parts for Nikolai are usually around $25-$27 and then I use $4.20 of shipping materials (which mostly comes out of the listed price because the cost of shipping is high enough). I have him listed for $37, which means I get about $31.50 after everyone’s 10% discount + Etsy fees. So I earn about $1.50 on Nikolai and actually lose money on international orders or 20% off sales. 

Another example: Jem takes a lot of clay work to get his head to stay on properly, but people can’t see that so I’ve had to lower the price to $28 (which means I get $24 after fees + discounts):

I initially thought it would be ok to use the expensive parts for the ones I wanted to look factory-made and just charge a bit less than the characters where I was using $5 parts and  expensive clay + paint. I figured the prices would reflect the cost of supplies and time that went into everything. Buuuut now I would recommend adding paint and/or clay because that’s what people expect to see:

And I do make a profit on some characters, but that $6 or $10 here and there gets wiped out pretty quickly when people demand full refunds because there’s a spot in the paint job. So if you’re looking to open an Etsy shop and make an actual profit, I’d suggest using cheaper funko parts & supplies so you can sell them for $25 and be paid for your time. (My paint and clay were also pretty expensive — check out my supplies page for details).

Basically, if you can use both the head and body of a $12 funko for different characters, then each part will have only cost you $6. And if you can use the cheap $1 bottles of acrylic paint on top of that (instead of the stuff that’s $20 for 2oz), then you can sell the finished product for under $25 and still make a profit! For example, taking the Sherlock body I used for Jem and painting a much cheaper head would cost you $11 to make instead of $21. Even though I probably ended up putting in just as much time on the head I chose because of the clay padding the neck required, people will respond better if they can see clear changes in some kind of “before” and “after.”

So I’m going to slow down on the ones that don’t require paint or clay and just do that kind for my own shelves now!

I’ve mostly been doing this project to share the excitement of my favorite characters with my followers and eventually do this series of blog posts. It’s also been a neat experience to share with my family, who have helped with the clay, painting, and packaging so I can get orders out faster. A ton of love went into all of the funkos you guys have bought and it’s been SO MUCH FUN to see everyone’s response. Thank you so, so much to everyone who bought one (or 60+)!!

So now… here’s the kind of basic tutorial I was hoping to find in all of my google searches when I was first figuring this out. Hopefully it can help someone!