Chris Jericho recently sat down with Jazwares Partner Jeremy Padawer on a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho. Padawer was with Jakks Pacific working with WWE to reinvent their action figure line. He talked about the process behind that and his conversation with Vince McMahon.
“When I got to Jakks, my mindset was, let’s not make toys. Let’s make collectables,” Padawer said. “The first thing that I did was I said, there is no exploration of the entire historical roster, the guys that I would go see when I was a kid. There was none. So I actually had the opportunity to sit down with with Vince McMahon, which was very interesting, especially for a 20 something year old kid, and try to convince him that it was okay for me to go make Ultimate Warrior and some other guys like that.
“[The conversation] was swift, and it was positive because he recognized that it was good for business. And I had a really good plan. I was able to communicate to him the following things. Number one, if we don’t do it, someone else is going to do it. Number two, we can structure deals, individual deals with talent, where if there ever is a WWE alumni program, we would lose all the rights immediately to the alumni program, and we would pay the talent 100% of all minimum guarantees owed, so they get double paid.
“That was really a game breaker. It was good that we actually had that kind of vision because we would win either way. As long as we had the talent, we can make them under that badge. We would win. I didn’t really care if we had to pay a MG (minimum guarantee) out twice. That was totally acceptable.”
Padawer talked about the success of the Classic Superstars line. He also noted that it didn’t take a dramatic shift in TV or PPVs but a strategic effort in how to use the historical roster.
“We increased our retail sales by 600% over five years, and WWE became the number one action figure over every other brand without any change in pay-per-view rates, without any increase in TV revenue [and] without any increase in in butts in seats,” Padawer pointed out. “And it was all strategy. It was all the because we were able to set up a deal that would allow us to leverage the strengths of the historical roster. It was very important. The very first [WWE Legends Deal].”
Padawer explained that the license for WWE toys and figures went from Jakks to Mattel. He felt it was a good 15-year run, and he moved on to Wicked Cool Toys to find success there.
“What happened was the license for WWE went to Mattel in 2010,” Padawer noted. “We drove it. We did an amazing job, and it was time for them to move on. I think 15 years was a good run, and that’s how long Jakks had the license. So about three years later, I had the opportunity to be a partner in a start-up and three of us started in 2012-13, and by 2016, we had convinced Pokemon to grant us the global rights to the Pokemon brand to manufacture it globally. And this was right before Pokemon Go hit.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.