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Time Travel Art Machine: The Customized Funko Pops That Never Were
Sometimes Things Don't Work Out
This is my version of the Steve Austin “Fang McFrost” story. (Here’s the original one, if you’re unfamiliar.)
Back in early 2020, before all of our lives dramatically changed, I had a project come up with Topps to paint over Funko Pops with my own approach. These were going to be included in a premium set they were doing and I thought it was a fun challenge to work three-dimensionally.
I worked up this Ric Flair sample and submitted it to Topps, who loved it and then submitted it over to WWE for approval. This is where things got wonky.
The sample was rejected with the note that it, and I am not making this up, “Doesn’t look like Rob Schamberger’s art.” That’s now the all-time silliest note I’ve ever received, beating out “This one’s really important, so you need to use all of the colors,” from a non-WWE client. All. Of. The. Colors.
My Topps contact and I had a video conference where we tried to figure this out. Like…I’m Rob Schamberger and I painted this with the same paint and brushes I used on my paintings. It’s, like, it’s my art. I sent over some comparable acrylic paintings done in a similar style, hoping that would clear this up.
Still rejected. This was a department that I didn’t work directly with and I didn’t know anyone there personally to try to talk this out. That’s the norm with any large company, which I’m sure you know if you’ve ever worked for a sizable office or retail job. It just happens, and it was happening to me and my art that somehow didn’t look like my art.
Because of the tight timeline, Topps had to move on to something else but we still went on to do other projects together while they had the WWE license. I obviously went on working with WWE doing art that looked like my art, I guess. It’s too bad this didn’t work out, it was a sizable payday and would’ve been a fun line to do.
I’m 100% biased but I thought the Ric Flair sample turned out looking really cool. Kind of even reminiscent of my style.
Love you more,