Foot Locker to Sell LeBron James Figurines

(Bloomberg) -- Foot Locker, Inc. will sell figurines of basketball stars such as LeBron James in some of its stores in a partnership with Funko, Inc., the maker of pop-culture collectibles.

The footwear chain will offer Funko’s large-headed toys at about 60 U.S. locations, the companies said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg News. The players offered include James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis. The $15 James figurine, available this week, is outfitted with a special L.A. Lakers jersey and will also be sold at 215 House of Hoops outlets owned by Foot Locker. Other players, priced at $13, will go on sale early next year.

The deal illustrates how Foot Locker is looking to move beyond sneakers after suffering a slowdown in business last year due to ebbing demand for basketball gear and lackluster results from stalwart brands Nike and Adidas. Foot Locker also becomes the latest big retailer to carve out store space for Funko’s licensed collectibles -- which include movie and TV characters, pop stars and athletes -- following moves by Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. in recent years.

Retailers have embraced pop-culture collectible items as they look to expand their toy departments in the wake of Toys “R” Us’s demise, and find use for store space previously devoted to entertainment items like CDs and DVDs. In October Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, debuted a dedicated collectibles section in 3,500 stores.

Funko has more than 1,000 licenses spanning thousands of characters. Its catalog ranges from big franchises like Star Wars and Marvel to more niche titles like 1980s sitcom “The Golden Girls” and Saturday-morning cartoon staples like He-Man. After a rocky market debut last year, Funko’s stock has more than doubled in 2018 thanks to expansion into Europe, securing a license to make toys and apparel from the Fortnite video game and a fast-response business model that can get products onto store shelves in as little as 70 days.

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