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Summer Films Bringing Business To Dynamic Duo of Collectibles

Back to Main Press Page

San Fernando Valley Business Journal, July 21, 2008

By Nadra Kareem

It's been a busy summer at Entertainment Earth and will only get busier as July turns to August

The North Hollywood film and television collectibles outfit has shipped hundreds of items from big summer blockbusters "Iron Man," the fourth "Indiana Jones" movie, "The Incredible Hulk," and others.

This month, website sales of action figures and other merchandise from Batman flick "The Dark Knight" coincides with Entertainment Earth staffers attending Comic-Con International 2008, the annual pop culture convention of all things fantasy and science fiction in San Diego. "We have enough staff to handle it," said Aaron Labowitz, who along with his younger brother Jason founded the company 12 years ago. "But it does test us when you have to split up."

Feature films based on popular comic book characters have historically brought booming business to Entertainment Earth. The same is true nationally where sales of action figures and accessories ballooned to $1.35 billion in 2007, an increase of 8 percent from the year before. Among the top sellers were "Spiderman" and "Transformers" merchandise.

What the Labowitzes have found, however, is that while buyers flock to the new merchandise, there is more demand for older items. "We're selling Batman period," Aaron Labowitz said. "Not just the new stuff."

On the heels of "The Dark Knight" comes the animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars", the continuation of the mega-popular science fiction series and a collectibles product line that never goes out of style. It is after all what got the brothers started in collecting to begin with. Original "Star Wars" posters and action figures from Aaron Labowitz's personal collection decorate the conference room at the company's headquarters. In the company catalogue, Jason Labowitz proudly tells of skipping school in 1983 to see "Return of the Jedi."

With their staff of 27, the brothers take that passion for collecting and share it with likeminded people. That goes for their employees too, one of whom collects Darth Vader items (a full-size fiberglass mask is among a recent purchase) and another has a set of action figures from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Cool-ness factor

In fact, a key test to adding items to the Entertainment Earth catalogue is whether the brothers think that one of the employees will find the item cool.

The company's customers are split between small retail shops and individual collectors. Overseas purchases make up about 30 percent of wholesale sales due to the weak U.S. dollar and a preference by foreign customers for the American version of the products.

Entertainment Earth is particularly good at getting the items that collectors most want and do it in a prompt manner, said Fred Corona, owner of Halo 13 Anime & Video at the Town Center Mall in Burbank, "I may not be able to match Wal-Mart and Target prices but I can get the items in my store before them," Corona said. While the company cannot compete with larger distributors on quantity, it can with the quality of its mint condition merchandise and packaging that favors protecting the item inside over easy opening.

While movie and television action figures, bobbleheads and statues make up the bulk of the company's stock musicians, athletes, and risque anime characters get added to the mix. One series featured adult film performers. The product line was later expanded to include novelty gifts, Halloween masks, puzzles and games.

Infidelity Recordings Studio

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