Inquirer Super

POP! goes Ateneo and La Salle

By: Ruel S. De Vera
The Ateneo Blue Eagle POP! and De La Salle POP! out of the box

“Everyone is a fan of something.” That is the slogan of the Everett, Washing State-based Funko, Inc., makers of the ubiquitous vinyl POPs bobbleheads. And Funko has done its prodigious best to make sure every fandom is represented with a plastic collectible, be it in pop culture, movies, TV, sports and everything else.

There are Filipinos who collect Funko POPs passionately, like Nikko Lim, administrator of Funko Funatic Philippines. But Filipino Funko collectors have had only a few Pops! made with them in mind, including those of Manny Pacquiao, Jollibee, Darna and Voltes V.

Now venerable pop culture purveyor Filbar’s joins the fray as it is set to release Funko POPs representing the biggest rivalry in Philippine college sports: Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

“So, we were thinking that it would be a good idea to come up with Ateneo and De La Salle first because they’ve been the ones who had the big rivalry, or in the, especially in the basketball,” Cabochan says.

On July 12, Funk POPs representing the Ateneo Blue Eagle and the La Salle Green Archer will be available at Filbar’s branches and on Filbar’s online, becoming a unique part of Funko’s College line of POPs including American universities.

Eric Cabochan, coowner of Filbar’s says they were thinking of an exclusive POP! to offer a few years ago. “We were talking to the Philippine distributor Bankee and about doing something for UAAP fans. Since Ateneo-La Salle was a big rivalry we thought this would be a good idea.”

Lim said they originally thought of doing generic basketball figures in different uniforms, which Funko also makes, but in the end, they thought the mascots themselves would be more distinctive. The schools do have students dress up in the mascot costumes just like in the States and these became the basis for the designs.

The Ateneo Blue Eagle POP! on campus

Cabochan, who is an Ateneo graduate, acquired the Ateneo license, while Lim, a La Salle alumnus, did the same for La Salle. In 2019, they submitted their pitch to Funko, Inc. Lim actually emailed Funko CEO Brian Mariotti. “So, I explained to him the importance of these two universities and luckily he approved the concept.”

The De La Salle Green Archer POP! on campus–IMAGES FROM FILBAR’S

Lim explains, “this project should have been launched in 2020, but due to the pandemic, we decided to push the launch date to this year.”

The POPs look both adorable, familiar and ready to rumble. The Blue Eagle has a fierce look in his eyes and just the right shade of blue. The Green Archer had that perfect look of confidence and ready to fire. These two are certainly the equal of previous College POP! releases such as UCLA Jose Bruin, the Notre Dame Leprechaun, the Michigan State Sparty the Spartan, the Kentucky Wildcat, LSU’s Mike the Tiger and North Carolina’s Rameses.

The POPs are ready to go for P800 each. Lim notes that Filbar’s online teaser images have been attracting a of likes and shares.

Lim says “Many collectors, even non-collectors are excited based on the population of both schools and the number of alumni. I’m sure this will be sold out in such a short time.”

So July 12 will see Funko POPs go “Animo La Salle!” and “One Big Fight!,” but the Filbar’s brain trust will also be paying attention to how well the POPs do.

After all, a lot of Funko fans who don’t go to La Salle and Ateneo are asking: When do they get their school mascot in Funko POP! form? “We’re thinking about it,” Cabochan says. “Since there are a lot of people asking for it.  a we see a lot, asking for it. It’s one of our hopes to be able to really do more Philippine exclusives. Hopefully, then we can very good reception for the Ateneo and La Salle ones so that we will be able to get other colleges their own POPs.”

The Ateneo Blue Eagle and De La Salle Funko POPs will be available at Filbar’s branches and shop.filbars.online on July 12.