KPop fandom is showing no signs of slowing down. Their music, their imagery have pretty much set the barometer on what’s on the hyped list right now. Craving for their albums and merch is pretty much second nature to their fans- but what if we tell you that you can get your mitts on custom K-Pop Funko Pops? The ones you’d wish to own? Now that’s on a new level right?
That’s right, Alapapop Customs can turn Your favorite K-Pop Stars into collectible Funko Pops!
In between acting, live streaming and other activities, Alapapop Customs AKA Tanya Manalang still finds time to conceptualize, sculpt and customize collectibles because she loves it. Coming from a toy collector’s perspective, you bet she’s all in for art’s sake.
Ladies and gents, please welcome Alapapop Customs!
First off, how did you get into customizing Funko Pops? Were you into toy customization even before?
I’ve been a toy collector for years. It started over a decade ago with BJDs, or ball jointed dolls (Volks, Iplehouse, those sort of dolls). For a short time, I accepted commissions to do customizations of doll heads – in doll terms, it’s called a “faceup”, where you literally paint the face, add features, details, etc. After a while, it slowly started becoming less fun and more stressful. I was also juggling theatre, classes and my thesis at that time. Pretty soon, I gave up customizing dolls. It just wasn’t for me.
Fast forward several years later, Alapapop was born. It started when I was messing around with this online avatar maker where you can put together your own Funko Pop art – sort of like a dress-up doll generator. One random night, just for fun, I made Funko avatars of the four lead characters in a musical I did with my fiance, Reb, which was “Ang Huling El Bimbo”. It was actually Reb who nonchalantly said, “wouldn’t it be cool if we had our own Funko Pop figures?” At that moment, it was as if the biggest, brightest light bulb went off in my head. After doing lots of research on customization, connecting with other customizers, and actively being part of online toy communities, I gained enough courage to give it a shot. I made figures of the four main characters from AHEB for me to keep, posted them online, and there were a handful of people (mostly fans of the musical) who wanted their own. From there, I branched out to accepting commissions from clients who wanted a figure of themselves or someone they knew.
We see that you’ve got your plate full with streaming, acting and all. How do you manage to even create art? That’s amazing!
Given the current situation, pandemic and all, unfortunately, I, as well as most of my colleagues, had to put our careers in live performance on hold. Temporarily, but hopefully, not for long. On the bright side, it’s given me more time to focus on other things I’m passionate about. Yes, we still do our online performing stints. By we, I mean my fiance and I. And we still get to spend a lot of time with the small, but growing online community we built at the start of quarantine last year. It can get tiring and this whole online life we’ve created has blurred the lines between work and rest.
It’s not very easy to adhere to work hours, especially if you’ve imposed them on yourself in a WFH setup. Admittedly, I find my work-life balance very… well, unbalanced. But don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful that my hands are full from toy customizations, my online store, live streaming, and projects. Creating art when you feel absolutely uninspired or exhausted can be the worst. Fortunately, I take this whole work-from-home setup to my advantage and make it a point to take breaks often, whether from commissions or livestreams.
Among your works, can you share your most favorite ones? Backstories are welcome!
My most favorite one is definitely my Daechwita king version Agust D, which, by the way, is not for sale.
I initially wanted to put it up for auction but I ended up loving it so much, so I decided to just keep it in my personal collection. The short version of the backstory is: I’m ARMY, and Suga/Yoongi is my bias. That’s pretty much it. 🙂
What is your dream Funko project if given the opportunity?
I can’t say I have a “dream” project when it comes to this. If there’s a particular figure I want to customize, I’ll probably spend time looking at the details for hours on end and see if it’s even possible for me to do given the current tools, resources and skill level I have. If it looks doable, I’ll give it a shot.
Can you share your design process on how you approach a customizing project?
The only thing I will share here is never underestimate yourself. But at the same time, be honest and transparent with your client. If there’s a certain detail, either major or minor, that I know for sure I can’t pull off given the skills or tools I have, I let them know.
The very first step in my design process is getting these little headaches out of the way. There is absolutely no shame in pointing out what you can or cannot do because you learn from every commission or project.
And so, you will never be as limited as you were the last time. You grow with every project for as long as you are consistently practicing it. There are so many customizers here in the Philippines, TONS of them, who are WAY more advanced than I am in terms of skill. I also make it a point to learn from them.
We see you specialize in K-Pop Funko Customs, can you share with us your favorite K-Pop acts?
BTS. That’s really it. BTS all the way. Borahae.
Aside from your custom Funkos, we also see some other art items and knick knacks from your webstore. Care to share something about those?
I make stickers and prints of art I make, I have some starter crystals, and little home items. In a nutshell, my webstore is basically an avenue for me to share the things I like so that others may get to experience them, too.
Future plans for Alapapop? Shoutouts? Stuff to promote?
To put it simply, Alapapop will always be there for as long as I have the time and energy for it. I take commissions on a per-batch basis. There may be some weeks or months when I won’t be opening slots at all if only to give way to customizing figures I actually want to do. These are the moments I relish because I get to have total creative freedom.
I’d like to say hello to my fiance Reb, our TANREB community and admins, and of course, other ARMY who might be reading this. 🙂 Please follow me on the following social media platforms:
MY STORE (one-off figures and other happy things) – tanyamanalang.com
FACEBOOK (I do auctions here!) – fb.com/mstanyamanalang
YOUTUBE – tanyamanalang
Speaking of Korean culture, you should check out our review of Kingdom: Ashin of the North here.