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Mattel, Inc.
TypePublic company
Traded as
  • NASDAQ-100 Component
  • S&P 500 Component
FoundedJanuary 1945; 79 years ago (1945-01)
El Segundo, California
  • Harold Matson
  • Elliot Handler
  • Ruth Handler
HeadquartersEl Segundo, California
Key people
Christopher A. Sinclair
(Executive Chairman)
Margaret "Margo" Georgiadis
  • Dolls
  • Toys
  • Games
Production output
  • Decrease US$6.023 billion (2014)
  • US$6.484 billion (2013)[1]
Operating income
  • Decrease US$653.7 million (2014)
  • US$1.168 billion (2013)[1]
Net income
  • Decrease US$498.9 million (2014)
  • US$903.9 million (2013)[1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$6.722 billion (2014)
  • US$6.439 billion (2013)[1]
Total equity
  • Decrease US$2.949 billion (2014)
  • US$3.251 billion (2013)[1]
Number of employees
31.000 (2015)[2][3]
DivisionsMattel Creations

Mattel, Inc. (English pronunciation: ) is an American multinational toy manufacturing company founded in 1945 with headquarters in El Segundo, California. In 2014, it ranked #403 on the Fortune 500 list.[4] The products and brands it produces include Fisher-Price, Barbie dolls, Monster High dolls, Ever After High dolls, Winx Club dolls, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys, Masters of the Universe toys, American Girl dolls, board games, and WWE Toys. In the early 1980s, Mattel produced video game systems, under both its own brands and under license from Nintendo. The company has presence in 40 countries and territories and sells products in more than 150 nations.[5] The company operates through three business segments: North America, international, and American Girl.[5] It is the world's largest toy maker in terms of revenue.[6] On January 17, 2017 Mattel named Google executive Margaret "Margo" Georgiadis as its next CEO.[7]

The company's name is derived from Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler, who founded the company in 1945.


Mattel Creations was founded in 1945 by Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler. The company initially sold picture frames, then dollhouse furniture. Matson soon sold his share to Handler due to poor health, and Handler's wife Ruth took over Matson's role. In 1947, the company had its first hit toy, a ukulele called "Uke-A-Doodle". The company was incorporated the next year in California. Mattel became the first year-round sponsor of the Mickey Mouse Club TV series in 1955. The Barbie doll was introduced in 1959, becoming the company's best selling toy ever. In 1960, Mattel introduced Chatty Cathy, a talking doll that revolutionized the toy industry, and a flood of pull-string talking dolls and toys came on the market throughout the 1960s and 1970s.[8]

Acquisition year[8]
Dee & Cee Toy Co. Ltd. 1962
Standard Plastic Products, Inc. 1966
Hong Kong Industrial Co., Ltd.
Precision Moulds, Ltd.
Rosebud Dolls Ltd. 1967
Monogram Models, Inc. 1968
A&A Die Casting Company
Ratti Vallensasca, Mebetoys, Ebiex S.A. 1969
H&H Plastics Co., Inc.
Metaframe Corp.

The company went public in 1960 and was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1963. Mattel also acquired a number of companies during the 1960s (see table).[8] In 1965, the company built on its success with the Chatty Cathy doll to introduce the See 'n Say talking toy which spawned a line of products.[9] Hot Wheels was first released to the market in 1968.[8] In May 1970, Mattel formed a joint venture film production company, Radnitz/Mattel Productions, with producer Robert B. Radnitz.[10]

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was purchased by the Mattel company in 1971 for $40 million from the Feld family, who was retained as management.[11] Mattel had placed the circus corporation up for sale despite its profit contributions to Mattel by December 1973 as Mattel showed a $29.9 million loss in 1972.[12]

An investigation in 1974 concluded false and misleading financial reports had been issued, and the Handlers were forced from the company.[8]


Arthur S. Spear, a Mattel vice president was selected to run the company in 1975 and led it back to profitability in 1977. Ruth Handler sold back her stock in 1980.[8]

The Mattel Electronics line was started in 1977 with an all-electronic handheld game. The success of the handheld led to the expansion of the line with game console then the line becoming its own corporation in 1982.[13] Mattel Electronics forced Mattel to take a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost filed for bankruptcy.[8]

In 1979, through Feld Productions, Mattel purchased the Holiday on Ice and Ice Follies for $12 million.[14] Also acquired that year was Western Publishing for $120 million in cash and stock.[15] The Felds bought the circus (and related companies) back in 1982 for $22.8 million.[16]

Acquisition year(s)[8]
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
/Feld Productions
Ice Follies 1979-1982
Holiday on Ice
Western Publishing 1979
International Games 1992[17]
Corgi Toys, Ltd. 1989[18]
Fisher-Price Inc. 1993
Tyco Toys, Inc. 1997
Pleasant Company 1998
The Learning Company 1999-2000

New York venture capital firms E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co., and Drexel Burnham Lambert invested a couple hundred million in Mattel in 1984 to help the company survive. But then the Master of the Universe action figure line sales dropped off causing a loss of $115 million in 1987. Chairman John W. Amerman improved the company's financial performance in 1987 by focusing on core brands. Mattel also returned to working with the Disney company in 1988.[8]

Mattel purchased Fisher-Price Inc. in 1993, Tyco Toys, Inc. (owners of the Matchbox brand) in 1997, and Pleasant Company (maker of the American Girl brand) in 1998.[8] Mattel purchased The Learning Company in 1999 for $3.5 billion, but sold it in 2000 at a loss. The company had a $430.9 million net loss that year.[8]

Mattel was granted the first Disney Princess doll licenses in 2000.[19] In December 2000, Mattel sued the band Aqua, saying their song "Barbie Girl" violated the Barbie trademark and turned Barbie into a sex object, referring to her as a "blonde bimbo." The lawsuit was rejected in 2002.[20] In 2002, Mattel closed its last factory in the United States, originally part of the Fisher-Price division, outsourcing production to China, which began a chain of events that led to a scandal involving lead contamination.[21]

On August 14, 2007, Mattel recalled over 18 million products. The New York Times closely covered Mattel's multiple recalls.[22][23][24] Many of the products had exceeded the US limits set on surface coatings that contain lead. Surface coatings cannot exceed .06% lead by weight.[25] Additional recalls were because it was possible that some toys could pose a danger to children due to the use of strong magnets that could detach. Mattel re-wrote its policy on magnets, finally issuing a recall in August 2007.[26] The recall included 7.1 million Polly Pocket toys produced before November 2006; 600,000 Barbie and Tanner Playsets; 1 million Doggie Daycare; Shonen Jump's One Piece; and thousands of Batman Manga toys due to exposed magnets.[26] In 2009, Mattel would pay a $2.9 million fine to the Consumer Products Safety Commission for marketing, importing, and selling non-compliant toys.[27] Mattel was noted for its crisis response by several publications, including PRWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune and Business Management.[28][29][30][31]

Acquisition year(s)[8]
HiT Entertainment 2012
Mega Brands 2014
Fuhu 2016

In early 2010, HiT Entertainment licensed Thomas & Friends to Mattel for toys.[32] Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[32][33] The sale/merger was completed on February 1, 2012, and HIT Entertainment became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel,[34] managed under its Fisher-Price unit.[35] In October 2013, Mattel launched its new in-house film studio, Playground Productions.[36]

Mattel was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013, noting that only 1,292 positions were newly filled out of 164,045 job applications during the previous year, as well as the fact that more than 1,000 employees have been with the company longer than 15 years.[37]

On February 28, 2014, Mattel acquired Mega Brands.[38] On April 16, 2015, Mattel announced a partnership with invention platform Quirky to crowd-source a number of products.[39]

Mattel adding a Barbie princess-themed line in 2010, and the fair and fantasy store based Ever After High in 2013. Barbie sales started to dropped in 2012 thus moving focus away from Disney Princess line. Mattel was only putting out Princesses Cinderella, Ariel and Belle plus the two Frozen princesses during the last year or so of its license. With these competing lines and an expiration of the brand license at the end of 2015, Disney gave Hasbro a chance to gain the license given their work on Star Wars which led to a Descendants license. DCP was also attempting to evolve the brand from one of them less as damsels and more as heroines. In September 2014, Disney announced that Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1, 2016. In January 2015, CEO Bryan Stockton was replaced by board member, Chris Sinclair. This was followed with 2/3 of senior executives resigning or being laid off.[19]

In January 2016, it acquired Fuhu, makers of the Nabi tablets and other technology-driven hardwares in a Bankruptcy proceeding for a sum worth $21 million.[40] Mattel formed a new division, Mattel Creations, as an umbrella unit over its creative content units, Playground Productions, Hit Entertainment and the American Girl content creation team, in March 2016.[41]

On July 2016, NBCUniversal announced that Mattel has acquired the license to produce toys based on the Jurassic Park franchise after Hasbro's rights expire in 2017.[42]

Mattel Creations[]

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Mattel Creations
TypeDivision of a public corporation
Number of locations
3 (2016)
Key people
  • Catherine Balsam-Schwaber (CCO)
  • Christopher Keenan
  • (SVP, Content Development & Production)
  • video
  • games
Production output
  • animation
  • films
ParentMattel, Inc.
DivisionsPlayground Productions
SubsidiariesHiT Entertainment

Mattel Creations is the content production division of Mattel, Inc. The division is head by Mattel’s Chief Content Officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber and consists of Playground Productions, Hit Entertainment and the American Girl content creation team in Middleton, Wisconsin.[41]

Creations background[]

Previously In May 1970, Mattel had team up with producer Robert B. Radnitz to form a joint venture film production company, Radnitz/Mattel Productions.[10] Masters of the Universe was a cartoon series back in the 1980s followed by a live action film in 1987.[43]

Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[32][33] With Lionsgate, Mattel had Barbie brand launched into a series of successful animated direct-to-video movies, which later moved to Universal. Monster High followed Barbie in 2010.[44] many “American Girl” films were made.[36]

A few properties, Hot Wheels, Max Steel, a Masters of the Universe and a Monster High have been set up at the various studios. For example, Hot Wheels was first at Columbia Pictures with McG attached to direct, but ended up moving to Warner Bros. and Joel Silver. As of 2013, the property was licensed out to Legendary Pictures, with Joe Roth attached to produce.[36][44] In October 2013, Mattel Playground Productions was launched by Mattel as its new in-house film studio to handle multi-media productions for Mattel's brands.[36]

Creations history[]

Mattel Creations was formed in March 2013 bring all three of Mattel content production units, including the American Girl creative team in Middleton, Wisconsin, under its aegis in March 2016.[41] Mattel chief content officer Catherin Balsam-Schwaber was named to head the unit. While, Christopher Keenan was moved up out of Hit Entertainment to be Creations' Senior Vice President of content development & production. Two pacts with DHX Media and 9 Story Media Group were placed into Mattel Creations.[45] The DHX partnership with Mattel included Hit properties (Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam) and direct Mattel properties (Little People and Polly Pocket). The partnership included new multi-platform content development and production and distribution of the new and existing content.[46] 9 Story deal is directly with Hit for 2017 revivals of Barney & Friends and Angelina Ballerina.[47]

Mattel Creations and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group had agreed to a exclusive worldwide SVOD rights agreement for the Barbie movie library. This deal started in October 2016 for the next seven years and includes the next two releases, Barbie: Star Light Adventure and Barbie: Video Game Hero.[48]

Playground Productions[]

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Playground Productions
Key people
  • Rob Hudnut (executive producer and chief story strategist)
  • Julia Pistor (executive producer of feature films)
  • Margaret Dean (director of production)
  • Lloyd Goldfine (producer)

Mattel Playground Productions, or commonly Playground Productions, is a division of Mattel Creation, itself a division of Mattel, Inc.[41] The division was planned to set up three-year storytelling plans that incorporate every part of the Mattel company from toy designers to consumer products and marketing.[36]

In October 2013, Mattel Playground Productions was launched by Mattel as its new in-house film studio to handle multi-media production, films, TV shows, web series, live events and games, for Mattel's brands. The intent was to centralized Mattel's disjointed content productions. Its first animated project is “Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome”. Mattel has under development a live-action Hot Wheels movie at Legendary Entertainment and Universal, a Masters of the Universe and a Barbie movie at Columbia, a Monster High feature with Universal and a Max Steel movie with Dolphin Entertainment.[36] David Voss was appointed as Senior Vice President of Playground Productions, a unit of Mattel Brands.[36][44]

With WWE in March 2014, Playground launched an online short form series, WWE Slam City, to go along with the toy line.[49] The series was picked up by Nicktoons’ NickSports programming block starting October 22, 2014.[50]

Voss left the division in January 2016 for Loot Crate.[45] In March 2016, Playground was placed within Mattel Creations along with the other two Mattel content production units.[41]


Title Year(s) Type Prod.unit Production
Distributor Notes
Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome June 7, 2014 animated Playground Mercury Filmworks digital platforms
  • 22-minute origin story (spring)[44]
  • 11 two-minute shorts (summer)
  • 74-minute direct-to-video film (fall)
WWE Slam City stop motion Playground[49] Stoopid Buddy Stoodios[50] digital platform[49]
Nicktoons (NickSports)[50]
26-episode two-minute shorts series[49]
Ever After High[51] 2014 Legacy Day animated special Playground Netflix
True Hearts Day 22-minute webisode special Nickelodeon
Thronecoming TV special 44-minute
fairy tale web series 22 two-minute webisodes
Max Steel [52] live action film Playground Dolphin Entertainment Open Road Films[44]
WellieWishers 2D-animated series Mattel Creations Submarine Studios Amazon Prime Video (US)
Tiny Pop (UK)
2 seasons: 26 episodes x 11 minutes; American Girl doll franchise[45][53]
Dreamtopia October 11, 2016 CGI-animated movie
  • Cartoon Network (LatAm)
  • Super RTL (Germany)
  • Pop TV (UK)
  • MiniMini (Poland)
  • Karusel (Russia)
44 minutes, Barbie (film series)[45]


Monster High [54] live action film Playground Universal Pictures[44]
Dolphin Entertainment
Fake Empire Productions
Untitled Masters of the Universe Film Template:Tba live action film Playground

See also[]

  • 2007 Chinese export recalls
  • Hasbro

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  • Kettelkamp, Sean; Chatty Cathy and Her Talking Friends, Schiffer Publishing (1998)

External links[]

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