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Meet Aaron Margolin of Jazwares in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Margolin.

Aaron, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
To be honest, initially, I thought I’d have a very different career path. Throughout High School and College, I experimented with many different types of content production. I did Sketch comedy, Radio, Podcast, Broadcasting, etc., and while I really enjoyed all of that, I think everything centered around me wanting to tell stories and create art of some sort.

In 2017, I moved out to LA from Chicago and was dead set on joining the animation industry in Production. 300 applications and a year and a half later, I felt pretty stuck.

I was working as a freelance editor and sound designer when my good friend Molly Womack, a toy designer for the Pokémon brand at Jazwares (Which then was Wicked Cool Toys) reached out to me and asked if I could assist in the sound design of a feature toy they were making. Hardly containing my excitement, I accepted.

I think like a month later, I went to lunch with Molly to literally tell her, “Hey, that gig you got me literally paid my rent” when she told me that they were looking for temps to assist the Pokémon team as things got busy for the Winter. I very eagerly told her that I was interested and a week later, I was in the office.

Honestly, it was a dream job, it still is in many ways. But the first year or so there were tons of growing pains. I’ve never ever been a physical artist so the way I could assist the Design team was really limited sadly. That said, I did everything I could to prove to pretty much everyone how much I deserved to stay.

While I couldn’t assist in literal designing, what genuine assistance I could provide the team was brand knowledge. Most of my life I wasn’t just a fan of Pokémon, I lived and breathed it. I knew what berries Pokémon regularly ate in the show, the phonetic structure of a Charmander’s lexicon, whether Geodude always floats in the air or not and other really specific bits of information that actually informed the way the designers made toys. Utilizing that knowledge really made me feel validated for the hundreds of hours I spent as a child rewatching Pokémon until the tape unwound.

Over time I learned the ins-and-outs of toy design from the team and assisted where I could. I lead sound design, helped with character selections, wrote for commercial and social media content, and more.

A year into assisting the Design team, leadership at Wicked Cool decided to offer me full-time employment, but this time on the Brand team. It was a way better fit for me!

Since then, I’ve worked on Halo, Nerf, and a handful of other brands, but now I’m back to Pokémon as the Brand Manager!

Has it been a smooth road?
I think I learned that a through-line of making a living being creative in any industry is that it’s a repeated lesson of learning how to fail. As stereotypical of an answer as that is, when I was younger, I thought every idea I had was gold. In some ways, I’m sure they were! All ideas have worth, but they don’t all have external value to others.

After failing at film festivals, failing at pitches, failing at job interviews, and more, I realized that failure is 99% more common for most people than success. What a bummer, right?

I fail all the time, but the occasional wins I get let me keep believing in and loving what I do to push forward.

I want to mention that I still absolutely suck at failing and I get mega attached to what I work on in a sometimes not-so-professional way, so I’m learning how to balance being a fan/artist and a worker.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I work for Jazwares! I specifically work for the LA branch of the business, formerly its own company called Wicked Cool Toys. Jazwares makes the Pokémon, Halo, Cabbage Patch Kids, AEW, and Fortnite toys (to name a few brands.)

While I still have a firm hand in our Halo products (I could go on about how fantastic that team is,) I am currently the Brand Manager for the Pokémon team.

I may risk sounding full of myself, but I think that the Pokémon team is absolutely unmatched when it comes to the skill of our designers and our passion for making plush and figures that look like they jumped right out of the TV show.

Honestly, I feel like I need to say that making Pokémon toys is hard!

Pokémon are so specifically designed and iconic in their own right that if something is even remotely wrong, fans pick it up immediately. The responsibility every member of our team has to make accurate, fun, AND popular Pokémon toys is immense, yet the team does it with passion and flair.

Knowing that I get to work with some of the best artists in the industry to make toys that millions of children around the world are going to cherish is an immense privilege and joy.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Quite literally the million-dollar question.

It’s a hard one to answer because it’s the question literally every toy company has to answer every year.

The Collector’s market is growing at an immense speed. Figures, clothing, cards, it’s all building insane traction. If a company has a successful brand, they should look for ways to create new looks for collectors markets by collaborating with artists and outside talents.

The Board Game market is growing too (Have you been to Target lately? Look how huge their board game section has gotten.) I don’t think that growth is going to stop. More and more people are exploring non-electronic ways to play with their friends and family. Also, board games introduce some of the freshest ideas in toys as a whole.

As for all industries, toy companies should open themselves up to hiring more people of color and more LGBTQ+ and female-identifying folks as well. Look at the Comics industry, look at the Animation industry. Any industry that can’t change itself internally will run out of new ideas. Create a diverse workspace and not only will your work environment be healthier, but your ideas will be fresher.

Pricing:

  • Pokémon – Snooze Action Snorlax Plush – $29.99
  • Pokémon – My Partner Eevee – $19.99
  • Halo – Spartan Collection Figures – $19.99

Contact Info:

  • Website: AaronMargolin.com
  • Instagram: Themanwiththeredmane
  • Twitter: @Aaron_Margolin

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