The AEW Unrivaled action figures are now out in stores, and the first wave introduces toy versions of AEW TNT Champion Cody, Brandi Rhodes, AEW World Tag Team Champion Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, and The Young Bucks. Toymaker and Jazwares Partner, Jeremy Padawer, was on the AEW Unrestricted podcast to talk about the figures and what's to come for the third wave of figures. He first talked about the motivation to work with AEW, saying it would be a mistake if they didn't put an effort into this business endeavor.
"So, I've been making wrestling action figures since 2002 and what I would say to you guys is just in terms of the AEW line, as soon as I heard that the Khan family was involved with launching a new organization, my mindset was, 'Okay, the first element is in place to recreate the Ted Turner - Vince McMahon type opportunity,'" Padawer said. "The first element being capital. You have to have a lot of capital to run an organization like this in the right way. The second element is, do you have the distribution of content?
"And as soon as I saw that there was some potential of a content distribution deal, I reached out to as many people as I possibly could to see if I can get in touch with Tony Khan or people within the organization, because the third element, which is also as crucial, is that the creative is great. So I knew that the capital was there. I knew that the distribution was coming into play, and then it came down to creative. And after having several conversations, I recognized it would be an enormous mistake if we didn't dive into this with our heart and soul."
Padawer noted that authenticity is important because the audience that buys wrestling action figures is looking for it. He ran off stats about the demographics of people that buy wrestling action figures, saying that around 60% of adults buy wrestling action figures, so getting the small details correct is key.
"When you make action figures, the key is authenticity, especially when you're reaching out to a collector. And what you will find - I'll give you a stat that might be surprising for you. But if you go to the action figure aisle, it's a multi-billion dollar aisle of which approximately 40% of the intended recipients are over the age of 13," Padawer explained. "So, they're not toys as much as they're collectibles depending on the brand.
"Now, if you're looking at Spider-Man, it may be 90% kid. But if you're looking at something like the wrestling figs, it could be 60% adult collector. So, for us, again, we know that authenticity has to be 100% bang on for us to be competitive. And then the objective is how far above and beyond can we take it?"
The second wave of action figures has been shown off earlier this year, and Padawer teased that more announcements on the third wave of figures will be made soon. This includes more female action figures, AEW personnel, and under-card wrestlers.
"We've announced Darby and we've announced Orange Cassidy. I will say, you can expect some additional announcements soon in terms of who's gonna be in it," Padawer teased. "I wouldn't be surprised to see Sammy [Guevara] soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the remarkable female athletes in your organization who need to be celebrated. And just in terms of what's coming up next, goodness, my philosophy has always been to celebrate the entire roster. And the challenges that you have coming right out of the gate is you tend to focus on one figural line.
"So, we're doing 'Unrivaled', but ultimately, the objective would be to have multiple figural lines happening at once. So, a single pack, a 2-pack, maybe something for grocery and drug channel where you can really go into not just the main event talent but you're doing talent that may even be doing primarily Dark matches. Because ultimately, a collector and a fan wants to play out the entire experience. So, they want Tony [Schiavone], they want Aubrey [Edwards], they want all of these things to be able to play out the entire experience."
"Yes, no question about that. Absolutely," Padawer assured. "In fact, we will see more women's figures. We will see women's figures in the single packs, we'll see exclusives, we'll see limited editions, [and] we'll see two packs."
Another fan question regarded the distribution of the action figures in the UK. Padawer assured that they will be coming to the UK later this year.
"Later this year, [they are coming]. We have distribution there," Padawer stated. "I believe it's Smith's, and it should be later this year. And I'm not sure if it's for wave two or whether they're capturing some of wave one. I believe they are capturing some of wave one."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.