• Jeremy Padawer, Jazwares
  • Jazwares, The Vault, Fortnite
  • Jazwares, The Vault, Halo
  • Jazwares, The Vault, Ring of Honor
  • Jazwares, The Vault, Halo
  • Jazwares, The Vault, Star Wars

Jeremy Padawer, Chief Brand Officer, Jazwares

Jeremy Padawer is chief brand officer at Jazwares. In this edition of The Friday Five, Jeremy talks about the company’s new Vault adult collectibles line and explains fandoms’ role in forging bonds between people who share a common passion.
When you call someone a kidult, you undermine not just their interests but also the fact that some of the things that they’re doing on the secondary market are pretty spectacular.

Who is the target audience for Jazwares Vault?

If you’d asked that question 20 years ago, the answer would have been vastly different. The world of collecting and toys, specifically, has taken a turn towards the adult collector.

It’s been a long journey to this point. When I started in the toy business 25 years ago, we would go to Comic Con, and that group of humans was considered alt-culture back then. That’s where I felt most comfortable — I was called a nerd many times in my life. That was the world in which we all lived. Twenty five years later, it’s very much mass culture. In fact, pop culture, fandom, mass culture, collecting — it’s all very much in the zeitgeist to a level that anyone that you’re on a Zoom call with — whether that be a college football coach or a scientist — invariably you can see their fandom behind them in the background.

The answer to the question is that Jazwares Vault is a destination for toy collectors. Generally speaking, the audience is an older toy collector who collects exclusive, cool toys, cosplay, and more with monthly drops, one-of-a-kind offerings. We focus on high quality, detail, premium packaging, and paints — we’re making sure that the nuance fits with what adult collectors are looking for.

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What products and brands can collectors look forward to seeing in the Vault?

Our portfolio is pretty broad. There’s something for every collector there, whether it’s the traditional action-oriented brands like Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron, AEW Unrivaled — a big wrestling organization — or our Ring of Honor product, Halo, Fortnite, and Call of Duty. But, in the long term, we’ll be going well beyond that and into things like Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and even our Squishmallows brand — I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that become part of our Vault program.

We’ll be going into costumes, pets, and other areas where consumers can express their entire fandom. The first season of product is Star Wars, AEW, Halo, Fortnite, and Call of Duty, but watch for us to extend well beyond that.

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What does the company look for when evaluating established brands for licensing partnerships?

We look for brands that are meaningful to adult collectors. We look for brands that people embrace from a fandom perspective, brands that have built emotional and authentic connections with our consumer base. And, look, collaboration is important, but so are trends. So, we’re going to be collaborating with big, enduring pop-culture brands that appeal to our diverse audiences and categories. For us, the brands that we curated for our inaugural launch were selected partially because we know how big and deep their audience is within the collector community.

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What factors continue to propel the adult collectibles market?

Some of this has to do with the fact that the toy and collectibles companies really understand who their audience is now, but the audience is finally feeling comfortable showing their fandom. Over the course of COVID, I watched people build worlds in their spaces. They weren’t only using their Zoom or Google Meet background to appear in the middle of the Sahara desert or on the moon. People were building real things behind them that expressed what they loved.

I think that a lot of this is permanent. I’m certainly noticing — and we’re noticing as a company — that if you look at Circana data, play and collecting isn’t just for kids. Adult toy consumers make up nearly 25-percent of all sales. That’s enormous. Nostalgia does play a role. Gen Z and Millennial consumers seek out brands that they engaged with in their youth. But, it’s also new brands that are reaching out very specifically to those consumers with content that may go a little bit older. For instance, I’m watching Fallout right now on Amazon Prime. It’s a great show.

Every year, new pieces of entertainment are dropped that really embrace the adult collector. There’s just way less stigma around adults, teens, and tweens interacting with toys now, whereas just one generation ago, we were trying to figure out how we could be relatable to people after they were in preschool. Now, we have an enormous relatability throughout the entire lives of a consumer.

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How does the Vault complement the Jazwares brand?

As a company, Jazwares is incredibly passionate about the toy industry and play in general.

If you look at the landscape of toy companies, you may hear a lot of conversation about how they’re positioning themselves as entertainment titans or franchise-building monsters of content. Even though we own big brands like Squishmallows, we know what butters the bread here, and that is being toy people through and through. No matter how many brands we own or how many new opportunities we work in that succeed and allow us to drive our portfolio with more diversity in terms of product line, we’ll always be toy people. At the heart of it, Jazwares is committed to innovating and inspiring play for everyone, kids and adults alike. We

Jazwares has been around for more than 27 years, prioritizing innovation, quality in detail, and competitive pricing. Vault really delivers to those points, and direct-to-consumer is inevitable when it comes to the marketplace because when you’re dealing with retail, the stores are the gatekeepers. There are certain items that they don’t necessarily want in their stores. Direct-to-consumer allows us to create opportunities for the adult consumer that wouldn’t otherwise fit. If we want to do a Star Wars item that’s $1,000 and limited to 3,000 pieces, it doesn’t fit the planogram anywhere, but it does fit our consumers’ appetite.

Some of the reasons why we’re doing Vault and direct-to-consumer products are about our passion and our desire to be a toy company that is willing to go the extra mile. Part of that is very pragmatic, because this would be the only way to do some of these really cool and fun things that we have on the horizon. A little bit of pragmatism, a little bit of passion, but an enormous desire to give adult collectors a great way to express their fandom through consumer products.

We take pride and joy in knowing that the market has really found a great deal of respect for adult collectors. The term “kidult” was going around for a little while. We really don’t like that term. In fact, it’s one of my least favourite terms because it tends to undermine the adult who is expressing their fandom. Unfortunately, there were barriers to expressing fandom in professional environments. There are some expectations that adults can’t express certain things. Calling someone like that a kidult takes the adult component out.

Adult collectors are adults — they have families, they express the same support and joy to their kids regardless of whether their hobbies are fan-oriented, or more traditionally “serious” hobbies. In addition, what you’ll often find in adult collecting is that some of the items do have secondary market value. When you call someone a kidult, you undermine not just their interests but also the fact that some of the things they’re doing on the secondary market are pretty spectacular. I love the fact that today’s world respects markets to develop products for the older consumer, the adult collector.

The thing that I have noticed about people who are willing to reveal things about their personality is that they’re more approachable and more relatable. It’s good to have things that others can relate to you based on. Especially in the world today, we need ways to relate to each other. Things like fandom offer communities that break through so many of the barriers that humans like to put up between each other. To the extent that we can express our fandom and have more commonality, we’re doing things, and we’re revealing parts of ourselves that allow more togetherness. Anything that the world can offer in that regard, we deeply support.

The Friday Five

Explore adult collectibles on Jazwares Vault.