On a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho sat down with Toymaker and Jazwares Partner Jeremy Padawer to discuss the process behind how the AEW action figures are made and developed. AEW unveiled their first action figures at Toy Fair 2020 in New York City, and Jericho recalled being turned away at WWE’s booth.
“Talking about about the Toy Fair, we, being AEW, had a really big display in the back of the convention center,” Jericho recalled. “I was there. Kenny [Omega] was there. Cody [Rhodes], Hangman [Page], The Bucks, I remember Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy. We had kind of our A crew was there. It was so funny. Typical WWE bulls**t, they wouldn’t let us up there to see their display, and so one of the guys let me in. And then I was filming something.
“He goes, ‘You can’t film.’ I go, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘Because I’ll get in trouble if they know you’re up here.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve made these guy f**king 200 Chris Jericho WWE action figures! And I can’t come look at your display?’ But their display was in the back of the room in a corner. They had nobody there. None of the talent was there and I thought, this is pretty lame in comparison to what AEW has, which really surprised me especially at the Toy Fair in New York City.”
Padawer then talked about how AEW was put together like a community. He explains that WWE may have been trying to prevent anytime of leak.
“Frankly speaking, the way AEW was put together, it was put together like a community,” Padawer described. “It was put together like a whole positive culture. This whole feel came from the very beginning. So I think that over time, what happens is, you come to realize that these action figures, they have some value in terms of you don’t want the leak to get out.
“You don’t want the wrong photo to get out at the wrong time, but I think it’s two things. One, culture, you guys are setting an amazing culture, and two, probably there’s some pragmatic stuff going on where there’s timing about whether they want something to be launched.”
Many AEW stars have expressed their excitement to receive their own action figures. However, many fans have noticed that the figures have sold out quickly, and Padawer admitted that everyone was caught flat-footed but noted that you always want to be under the demand curve to give off a better visual of how well your product is selling.
“I think everyone was caught flat-footed, and when you have an action figure brand, it’s not like printing cards where you can just go and turn on the machine and print them,” Padawer noted. “With action figures, you’ve got to tool it up. You’ve got to get everything approved. It’s a six-month to nine-month process from the creation to the shipping to getting it on the shelf.
“The good news is AEW is one of the most, I would say, high velocity, high rate of sale, linear productivity is what I say in retail, items on all of retail right now, and it’s very exciting to see. When you are a merchant, you always want to be just under the demand curve with your supply. You never want to over ship. If you over ship, your dead.
“If you over ship and the retailers are stuck with 20,000 albums and they’re having to deep discount them, it sends the wrong signal. So it’s always good to be a little bit under the demand curve, but we didn’t want to be this far into the demand curve that’s for sure.”
Padawer continued noting how things have changed now. He explained that there are many non-wrestling fans buying figures understanding how well they sell on the secondary market. He also explained that there are apps that can notify people once these figures become available.
“It’s a different world now. A couple things happened to make things more complicated,” Padawer pointed out. “Number one, people who are not even into AEW or wrestling at all recognize that there’s secondary market value, and so they decide they’re going to pull it off the shelf. They’re going to sell it on eBay, and they’re going to make a margin on it.
“Number two is that it’s a situation where I think that retail itself, especially early on, there were some challenges even getting product on the shelf with COVID being sort of in its earlier phase. And it affected all brands, and then number three, and I would say this may even be the most impactful, apps. Now people have apps that will tell them when their local store… the moment it gets placed, it’s gone, and especially in a world where you have these third parties that are specifically looking to make margin on eBay, there’s no way.
“You can’t make enough if there’s a perception that there’s a demand that outstrips supply. So if we were not in the year 2020, if we were in the year 2005, you’d see more product in retail for sure because information wasn’t as clean. Today with information being as clean and people knowing they can make $5 on a figure, why not? It’s an easy way to to make $30 by buying this and selling it.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.