Aerial view of Mattel headquarters
|Traded as||NASDAQ: MAT
S&P 500 Component
|Industry||Toys and games|
|Founded||1945 El Segundo, California|
|Headquarters||El Segundo, California, US|
|Christopher A. Sinclair
(Chairman and CEO)
|Products||plastic dolls, toy race cars, games|
Number of employees
|28,000 (December 2011)|
Mattel, Inc. (//) is an American toy manufacturing company founded in 1945 with headquarters in El Segundo, California. In 2014, it ranked #403 on the Fortune 500. The products and brands it produces include Fisher-Price, Barbie dolls, Monster High dolls, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys, Masters of the Universe, 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. The company operates through three business segments: North America, international, and American Girl.
Mattel Creations was founded in 1945 by Harold "Matt" Matson and Ruth and Elliot Handler. The company initially sold picture frames then dollhouse furniture. Matson soon sold his share to the Handlers due to poor health. In 1947, the company had its first hit toy, "Uke-A-Doodle". The company was incorporated the next year in California. In a first for marketing, Mattel became a year-round sponsor of the Mickey Mouse Club 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. The pull string talking mechanism created for Chatty Cathy was used in several later toys such as See 'N Say (introduced in 1965).
|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.|
Mattel went public in 1960 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1963. Mattel also acquired a number of companies during the 1960s (see table) Dee & Cee Toy Company Ltd. was a large toymaker in Canada, Standard Plastic Products, Inc. produced all the Barbie doll cases etc., Rosebud Dolls Ltd. was British doll manufacturer. Hot Wheels cars and accessories debuted in 1968. In 1974, the Handlers left the company and pursued other interests.
The company first sold home video game consoles in the 1980s but made a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost filed for bankruptcy. Chairman John W. Amerman improved the company's financials in 1987 by focusing on core brands. Mattel returned to working with the Disney company in 1988.
In 1993, 1997, and 1998, Mattel purchased Fisher-Price Inc., Tyco Toys, Inc. and Pleasant Company (maker of the American Girl brand). The popular toys at that time were talking redneck "Bubba" teddy bears.
Mattel purchased The Learning Co. 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.
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.
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.
On August 14, 2007, Mattel recalled over 18 million products. The New York Times closely covered Mattel's multiple recalls. Many of the products had exceeded the US limits set on surface coatings that contain lead. Surface coatings cannot exceed .06% lead by weight. Additional recalls were because it was possible that some toys could pose a danger to children due to the use of strong magnets that may detach. Mattel re-wrote its policy on magnets, finally issuing a recall in August 2007. 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. In 2009 Mattel would pay a $2.9 million fine to the Consumer Products Safety Commission for marketing, importing, and selling non-compliant toys. Mattel was lauded as a gold standard for its crisis response by several publications, including PRWeek, the Los Angeles Times, FORTUNE Magazine and Business Management.
Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million. The sale/merger was completed on February 1, 2012, and HIT Entertainment became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, managed under its Fisher-Price unit.
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.
In October 2013, Mattel launched its new in-house film studio, Playground Productions, to handle multi-media production, films, TV shows, web series, live events and games, for Mattel's brands. 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, a Masters of the Universe movie at Columbia, a Monster High feature with Universal and a Max Steel movie with Dolphin Entertainment.
On February 28, 2014, Mattel acquired Mega Brands.
In 1971, a Mattel subsidiary Optigan Corporation released an electronic keyboard instrument based on pre-recorded optical soundtracks—Optigan. Later in the decade, Mattel Electronics entered the handheld electronic game market.
In 1978, Mattel Electronics decided to make its own video game console, the Intellivision, which was released in 1979. Although the Intellivision was in direct competition with the Atari 2600, Mattel Electronics created a new division, the M Network, to release game cartridges for the 2600. Mattel later filed a suit against Atari when the latter company began releasing cartridges for the Intellivision under its Atarisoft label. At the time of the Intellivision's release, Mattel had promised that the console could be expanded into a fully functional home computer with the Keyboard Component; however, the original component proved too costly to mass-produce. Mattel ultimately released the lower-cost Entertainment Computer System peripheral to meet Federal Trade Commission obligations, at the expense of less functionality than the originally planned component. As the North American video game market crashed, Mattel liquidated its Intellivision assets.
Mattel reentered the video game market overseas when it formed a deal with Nintendo in order to bring the Nintendo Entertainment System to the PAL regions. This was later believed to have been a mistake on Nintendo's part, as their North American success with the console (and its Japanese counterpart, the Famicom) was not replicated in the PAL regions, and they were outsold in these regions by the Sega Master System. This resulted in Nintendo being unhappy with the arrangement with Mattel, and cutting ties with the company.
In November 2014, China Labor Watch published a report on Mattel supplier factories in China which uncovered labor contract violations, excessive and illegal overtime, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, and other problems. These issues were further investigated by a congressional hearing in December 2014.
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- "CTV article on recall". Ctv.ca. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
- Story, Louise. "Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall 967,000 Toys". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
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- Kavitanz, Parija. "Mattel fined $2.3 million over lead in toys". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
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- Welcome to HiT Entertainment. HiT Entertainment. Accessed on October 28, 2013
- "Mattel - Best Companies to Work For 2013 - Fortune". Money.cnn.com. 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- Graser, Marc (November 5, 2013). "Mattel’s Bold Plan to Take Control Back From Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- "Jealous Barbie: Mattel Comes After Lego With Mega Bloks Purchase". Forbes. February 28, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- Herman, Leonard (1997). Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames. Rolenta Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-9643848-2-5.
- "Working Conditions and Factory Auditing in the Chinese Toy Industry".
- "Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Optimus Prime, Thomas the Tank Engine: Who Else Continues to Exploit Toy Workers?".
- Kettelkamp, Sean; Chatty Cathy and Her Talking Friends, Schiffer Publishing (1998)
- Vintage Mattel toys
- Mattel Toys Pictures of many toys at Figure-archive.net
- Matchbox Collectors Forum - The place to discuss anything about the Matchbox brand from inception in 1953 to today
- Matchbox Catalogue - A comprehensive catalog of all Matchbox die cast