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Mattel

Mattel was founded in 1945 by Harold "Matt" Matson and Ruth and Elliot Handler. The first items made by Mattel were picture frames. With the scrapes, Elliot started making dollhouses, which is when Mattel started to focus on toys. Soon after, Matson decided to sell the business to Ruth & Elliot.

In 1947, the first musical toy from Mattel was made called the Uke-A-Doodle.

In 1948, Mattel was incorporated with headquarters in Hawthorne, California.


In 1955, Mattel advertised new toys on the Mickey Mouse Club television show, revolutionizing the way toys are marketed. One of the most sucessful products introduced on the show was the Burp Gun, an automatic cap gun.


Mattel's first Barbie doll was made in 1959, modeled after Ruth Handler's daughter, Barbara. This excited little girls and helped the toy industry boom.

In 1960, Mattel became a publicly owned company. In 1963, it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By 1965, sales toped over $100 million and the company joined the Fortune 500 list.


In 1961, Mattel introduced the male version of Barbie, the Ken doll, to play Barbie's boyfriend. Ken was named after Ruth's son, Ken. Handler, feeling like Barbie and Ken needed more friends added the Midge doll as Barbie's best friend in 1963. In 1965, Barbie, Ken & Midge were joined by Barbie's little sister, Skipper.

In 1965, Mattel started making toys for preschool age children. The first most popular toy was the See 'N Say talking toy.


Hot Wheels are introduced in 1968 and are a hit! Distinguished by their customized and modified designs and candy-colored paint jobs, Hot Wheels Hot Rods are #1 in the market for toy cars.

In 1968, Mattel focused on a strategy called World of the Young. Mattel purchased several companies including Monogram Models, Metaframe, Turco, Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus; Circus World, Western Publishing and Radnitz/Mattel Productions.


Christie, Mattel's first African American Barbie was introduced in 1968. More ethnic friends would soon follow, including Theresa in 1988 who is Latina and an Asian Barbie named Kira in 1990.

In 1972, Mattel restructured and became Mattel, Inc. with one division and seven subsidiaries.

In 1975, Elliot and Ruth Handler (founders of Mattel), leave the company.

In 1977 Mattel entered the electronic games market. In 1983 after a $394 million dollar loss, the company had to re-evaluate and in 1984 sold off all non-toy-related subsidiaries.

In 1978, Mattel founded the Mattel Childrens Foundation. The Foundation is funded through a percentage of Mattel's pre-tax corporate profits.

Mattel's next big hit came out in 1982 and generated $400 million in sales by 1985, passing up the Barbie Doll. What is it? The Master of the Universe action figures made for boys that featured He-Man.

In 1986, Mattel acquired Hong Kong-based ARCO Industries. That same year, Mattel also entered into a joint venture with Bandai, Japan's largest toy company.


In 1988, Mattel revived its association with the Walt Disney Company. Mattel came out with a new line of toys for infant to preschool aged children, featuring Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and the Disney Princesses.

Also in 1988, Mattel purchased Corolle S.A., manufacturer of collector-quality dolls based in France. In 1989, Mattel aquired Corgi Toys Ltd, the British maker of die-cast cars.

In 1990, Mattel moved to a new worldwide headquarters in El Segundo, CA.

In 1991, Mattel aquired Aviva Sports, Inc., a maker of sports toys. In 1992, Mattel aquired International Games, Inc.

Fisher-Price joined the Mattel family in 1993.

In 1994, Mattel aquired Kransco, a toy company, and J.W. Spear & Sons, a British game company.


Cabbage Patch kids hit the market in 1995.

Fisher-Price's Tickle Me Elmo came out in 1996 which was the biggest toy craze of the decade

In 1996, Mattel sponsored NASCAR driver Kyle Petty to race in the Winston Cup Series. This promoted a whole new line of Hot Wheels racing cars to the market.


In 1996, Mattel signed with Nickelodeon to manufacture toys based off of cartoons from the popular Nickelodeon network.

In 1997, Mattel merged with Tyco Toys (third largest toy company). This merger added power brands to the infant to pre-school aged market. Popular toys were the View-Master and Magna Doodle. Also in 1997, Mattel sold it's sports brand to Wham-O Inc.

Barbie introduced a disabled friend in a wheelchair, Share a Smile Becky in 1997.

Also in 1997, Mattel established the Global Manufacturing Principles.

In 1998, Fisher-Price took over the entire Infant and Preschool toy line. Mattel purchased Bluebird Toys PLC of the U.K., which manufactured the Polly Pocket brand. Mattel also aquired the Pleasant Company and began to phase out phthalates. Mattel annoucned a multi-year, $25 Million gift to the UCLA Children's hospital. Also in 1998, Hot Wheels turned 30.

In 1999, Barbie brand turned 40. Mattel struck a deal with Ferrari toy company for marketing deals. The View-Master celebrated it's 60th anniversary and the Little People Preschool toys celebrated their 40th birthday. Also in 1999, Hot Wheels finalized licensing agreements with the top five Formula One race teams.


In 2000, Mattel gets the license to manufacture Harry Potter toys. Mattel and Nickelodeon resign a multi-year worldwide licensing agreement, to give Mattel rights to more Nickelodeon properties. Mattel is named worldwide master toy licensee for Max Steel.

In May of 2000, new leadership is taken on at Mattel. The new Mattel unveils a new vision, with clear focus on building brands, cutting costs, and developing people. As part of the overall financial plan, Mattel sells The Learning Company.


In 2001, Mattel entered into a new licensing agreement with the interactive industry leaders: Vivendi Universal Publishing and THQ. Bringing Barbie and other toys into gaming. Also in 2001, Barbie stars in her first movie. Fisher-Price signs a license agreement with Barney to manufacture children's favorite purple dinosaur and Uno celebrates its 30th anniversary.


Hot Wheels introduced their first full scale model of the first Hot Wheels car, Twin Mill, in 2001.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mattel donated $1 Million dollars to the American Red Cross, the United Way of New York City's September 11th Fund, and the NYCPPI's Twin Tower's Fund.

In 2002, Ruth Handler, Mattel's co-founder died at the age of 85.

Also in 2002, Matchbox celebrated 50 years! The My Scene brand launched as well as the Ello Creation System, both for girls. For toddlers, Fisher-Price came out with the Chicken Dance Elmo.

In 2003, Hot Wheels celebrated 35 years. Also, Mattel received the Corporate Responsibility Award from the U.S. Fund for unicef.


In 2004, a year after the New York store opens for American Girl, Samantha Parkington, one of the American Girl dolls stars in a live-action television movie airing on the WB Network.

Also in 2004, Mattel produces its first Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

In 2005, Fisher-Price celebrated 75 years. Mattel celebrated it's relaunch of the Mattel Children's Foundation and Mattel donated to the South Asia Tsunami relief fund ($250,000 and toys) as well as the Hurrican Katrina disaster response ($4 million and toys).

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