By GAVIN ALEXANDER | Junior Reporter
Though some of you may not know who Jeremy Padawer is, if you like toys and collectibles, he is an important name to know.
Padawer, a Palisades resident and father of two, has been a major player in the toy industry for over 20 years. In fact, in 2019 he sold his toy company, Wicked Cool Toys, to Jazwares, a subsidiary of Alleghany Capital. This acquisition made Jazwares the 7th largest toy company in the world.
Padawer’s company makes some of the most popular toys from iconic brands such as Pokémon, Fortnite, Cabbage Patch Kids, Halo, Micro Machines, and Roblox. Jazwares also owns Squishmallows which is a super soft and collective plush toy. Jazwares does a combination of licensing and owning brands.
I was so excited to sit down with Jeremy over Zoom and learn more about him and his career in the toy industry as well as his passion for collectibles.
Alexander: When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy and why?
Padawer: When I was a kid my favorite toy was Hot Wheels. I would get down on the floor with my Hot Wheels cars and I would let my imagination take me away. I would have no preconceived notion of which vehicle would win, and by the time I got to the other end of the room, whatever car was with me was the winner.
Alexander: What’s a toy you thought was going to be valuable but did not end up being valuable?
Padawer: I would have to say a lot of the toys I thought would be valuable did not turn out to be worth much. I remember thinking M.U.S.C.L.E toys would be valuable. They were these little muscle characters molded in one color. I thought they would be worth something but they never were.
Alexander: What was it about the toy industry that made you want to join?
Padawer: I always have liked collectibles and my philosophy was it would be amazing if I could participate in the world of toys, especially toys that have a secondary market value that would be exciting to adults.
Alexander: What exactly do you do in the toy industry?
Padawer: I am a company owner and as a company owner, I help manage all aspects of the business. I’m involved with everything from design to marketing to management.
Alexander: Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
Padawer: Willy Wonka because he established this other remarkable world and implemented a collector’s strategy to give it all away to kids through a golden ticket. I am also inspired by people doing well whether it’s through stocks, real estate, or collectibles.
Alexander: What advice do you have for young people who are interested in joining the toy industry?
Padawer: My number one piece of advice is to play a lot when you are young. Try to not just play, but also try and figure out the collectibility of play. If you like Hot Wheels cars, try and figure out how many of them there are and which ones are the most valuable. If you like to draw, keep drawing and don’t let the world zap you out of your creativity. On top of everything else, go to school and study hard.
Alexander: I know you are a big collector, can you rank your collectibles?
Padawer: I own one of the 12 ever registered complete PSA 10 1999 Pokémon 1st Edition sets. I recently purchased one of 500 first-print, first-edition hardback copies of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” My purchase set the world record for the most paid for a book published in the last 50 years.
I have an uncut sheet of original Pokémon cards, which is unusual and rare. Most of what I collect is really rare and high-grade items. I have a huge Pokémon card collection. Given these items have a very high value, I keep them in a guarded, off-site vault. So I don’t get to look at them unless I look in my photos.
Alexander: Do you think the market for Pokémon cards could crash?
Padawer: It’s very interesting because the kids that originally loved Pokémon in 1999 when they were 6 to 12 are now in their 20s to 30s. They are starting to have much more influence and control over capital.
Believe it or not, Pokémon is the largest entertainment brand of all time. The Pokémon brand is even larger than Star Wars. I believe we won’t see a significant correction (the market will not crash) because the consumer base is getting older and the brand has never been bigger.
Alexander: What is the least valuable toy that has the most sentimental value to you?
Padawer: I have a little electronic handheld pinball machine I used to play with when I was 11 or 12. I have kept it all these years and occasionally I still play with it.
To learn more about Jeremy Padawer you can find him on Instagram @JeremyPadawer.
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