The Toy Book caught up with Amy Austin, director of licensing at Jada Toys, about integrating fandoms into its product offering and how securing the right license makes all the difference as a manufacturer.

How do you integrate pop culture licenses into your product strategy?
A strong focus on pop culture has been an objective for Jada Toys since our inception more than 20 years ago. We are proud to be the industry leader in the car culture segment. From Scarface, our first entertainment vehicle license, to 2021’s The Batman, our fans know and trust us to create and provide an ever-growing and compelling assortment for our proprietary Hollywood Rides line. Our portfolio features multiple Fast & Furious and Batmobile vehicles, with new additions including Back to the Future, It, Scooby-Doo, and more.

Stranger Things was a summer Netflix hit, and we were there with multiple Hollywood Rides executions. Whether our customers are looking for Marvel, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Minecraft, or even horror, Jada has it. Creating and expanding upon our large range of collectible Metal Figures is also essential to reaching into the pop culture trend. We’ve seen success and huge momentum with our 20-pack Nano Metal Figure sets.

Partnering with best-in-class entertainment colleagues and maximizing our long-term relationships allows us essential collaboration. We work together to ensure our product and the licensor’s [intellectual property] connect to become compelling, first-rate product. Retro is hot, and anniversaries of nostalgic classics are important, as is assuring support of key theatrical dates for our entertainment partners, retailers, and consumers. Distribution is critical, and as part of the Simba Dickie Group, we are able to truly leverage circulation on a global basis resulting in faster rotation so no single market has to absorb minimum order quantities. Faster rotations from greater global sales equal more new tooling, which equals more sales and more pop culture offerings for our fans.

Last year was packed with blockbuster movies, from Avengers: Endgame to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This year doesn’t have as many major releases on the calendar. What impact, if any, do you think this will have on licensed product sales?
Last year held an abundance of blockbuster movies. Fewer mega-hit movies may be a challenge for the overall market. Yet, this year features a theatrical release from the Fast & Furious franchise, one of Jada’s largest portfolios. We are excited to have product this year for Scooby-Doo, Black Widow, G.I. Joe, and Venom. Holding licenses for movie product is great, but it’s more important to own the right licenses no matter where they live. Just as consumers are absorbing content from multiple devices and platforms, licensees should also seek alternative sources for properties.

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!