The toy industry has turned to a reclusive billionaire pal of President Trump to save it from heavy tariffs scheduled to hit on Sunday, The Post has learned.
Desperate to avoid 15-percent tariffs on dolls, games, electronics and other made-in-China goods, toy executives have asked Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter to plead their case to the commander in chief, sources said.
“People have reached out to Isaac to speak on behalf of the industry,” said one top toy executive with knowledge of the discussions, who did not want to be identified. “He’s the guy from our perspective” who has the access and influence, the person said.
Perlmutter, 77, is the chairman and former CEO of comic book empire Marvel Entertainment, which he was running well before it became known for its big-budget action flicks.
Perlmutter is also a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., where the two men often dine together, according to reports. Prior to Trump becoming the commander in chief, Perlmutter was notorious for not having been photographed since the 1980s. After Trump took office, however, the two men were photographed together numerous times, including during White House transition meetings at Mar-A-Lago.
Perlmutter did not respond to requests for comment about whether he will intervene on behalf of the toy trade, which already got a tariff reprieve this fall. In August, Trump pushed back a planned 10-percent tariff on China-made toys, cellphones, laptops and other popular gift items after toy makers and retailers argued that the Sept. 1 tariffs would ruin the holidays.
“We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” Trump said in announcing the delay.
This time, with holiday items already on store shelves, toy makers can no longer argue that a pardon would save Trump from looking like the Grinch, sources said.
On Tuesday, new rumblings of a delay or a trade deal were reported, but government officials gave no assurances. “The reality is those tariffs are still on the table,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.
That has left the toy industry in search of informal back channels for a savior, sources said.
“We continue to talk to the administration directly and indirectly,” Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs for the Toy Association told The Post. “We are leveraging whatever contacts we have in the administration,” Mond said without commenting on whether Perlmutter was among those contacts.
Perlmutter — worth an estimated $5.2 billion according to Forbes — has donated along with his wife, Laurie, hundreds of thousands of dollars to the president’s re-election campaign. In 2016, he donated $1 million to the president’s fundraiser for veterans and was tapped by Trump in 2017 to help with Veterans Affairs.
Perlmutter made his fortune buying and selling companies earlier in his career, including closeout sale retailer Odd Lot Trading, which he founded, and the shaving brand, Remington. He was the co-owner of Toy Biz, which had action figures and eventually became the comics company Marvel