Florida-based toyco Jazwares is dressing up its company with the launch of a new costume play division.
Former Hasbro and Jakks Pacific exec Stephen Stanley will lead the new team as GM and SVP of costume play. Reporting to Jazwares EVP Michael Rinzler, Stanley joined Jazwares in June.
The toyco expanded into costumes for the first time earlier this year through a licensing agreement with Marvel. Under the deal, Jazwares will produce a line of costumes and accessories based on Marvel brands, which will launch in North American stores spring 2022. Since that first deal, Jazwares has been steadily building up a costuming business, most recently teaming up with licensing agent Anjar & Becker Associates and Wham-O in May to produce pet costumes.
Amid this growth, the new division launched with a plan to sign additional licensing agreements, as well as create Halloween decorations under one umbrella.
Jazwares has a history of acquiring toycos to break into new markets, such as the purchase of Wicked Cool Toys and Kellytoy. For its costume efforts, however, the decision was made to build the unit from scratch, says Rinzler.
The costume industry took a hit during the pandemic, with some players like Rubies forced to file for bankruptcy. But amid these struggles, Rinzler saw an opportunity for growth as the market isn’t oversaturated with major competitors.
Costumes have also been on the rise as the pandemic eases and kids are parents begin buying dress-up products again. Jakks Pacific’s Disguise costume business grew 37% to US$30.8 million this Q2. Jazwares is also seeing growing demand from its retail partners, who are confident that Halloween 2022 will mark the return of trick-or-treating and a surge in costume sales, says Stanley.
Costumes also have a lot of potential as a year-long business opportunity that goes far beyond Halloween, he adds.
“There’s a big gap in the seasonal costume space and opportunities for us to create a 360-degree business,” says Stanley. “This means adding more toyetic elements to the roleplay category, doing more promotional activities and extending costumes into other kinds of content.”
In the short-term the new division is focusing on delivering its Marvel line and is looking at turning its own IPs, including Squishmallows (pictured), into costumes, he says.
Stanley is leading a team of costume industry vets, which the company has building for several months before officially launching the division. Jazwares tapped Li & Fund Limited and Diguise vet Anthea Koveos Rodgers as senior design director; Michael Esposito to work as senior director of sales for Halloween and party products; and Terry Ma, former GM of Disguise’s China business for more than a decade, joined as VP and GM of Jazwares Costumes in China.
The company has also tapped existing Jazwares staff to support the new team, including Maxwell Lux, former brand manager of collectibles and novelty, to serve as senior brand manager for the new division. Daniel Jung, an associate brand manager, will keep his same title and also handle costume sales.
Jazwares is also growing its EMEA team to support an international costume business. It recruited Samantha Bourne as EMEA licensing director. She joined Jazwares in April, and previously worked as head of brand licensing for Rubies. The company has also hired Matt Stent as European commercial director, responsible for growing its business in the region. He previously worked as Argos & Sainsbury’s buying manager for the infant toys and nursery division.
“We want to turn [costumes] into a global business,” says Rinzler. “In the long term we want to grow with new licensing deals and become a leader in this category.”