Mattel, Inc.
Public company
Traded as
Industry Entertainment
Founded January 1945 (1945-01)
El Segundo, California, U.S.
Headquarters El Segundo, California, U.S.
Key people
Christopher A. Sinclair
(Chairman and CEO)
  • Dolls
  • Toys
  • Games
Production output
  • Decrease US$6,023.8 million (2014)
  • US$6,484.8 million (2013)[1]
  • Decrease US$653.7 million (2014)
  • US$1,168.1 million (2013)[1]
  • Decrease US$498,9 million (2014)
  • US$903.9 million (2013)[1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$6,722,0 million (2014)
  • US$6,439,6 million (2013)[1]
Total equity
  • Decrease US$2,949,1 million (2014)
  • US$3,251.5 million (2013)[1]
Number of employees
31,000 (2015)[2][3]
Divisions Mattel Creations

Mattel, Inc. (/məˈtɛl/) 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]

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.[7]

Acquisition year[7]
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).[7] 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.[8] Hot Wheels was first released to the market in 1968.[7] In May 1970, Mattel formed a joint venture film production company, Radnitz/Mattel Productions, with producer Robert B. Radnitz.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

An investigation in 1974 concluded false and misleading financial reports had been issued, and the Handlers were forced from the company.[7]


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.[7]

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.[12] Mattel Electronics forced Mattel to take a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost filed for bankruptcy.[7]

In 1979, through Feld Productions, Mattel purchased the Holiday on Ice and Ice Follies for $12 million.[13] Also acquired that year was Western Publishing for $120 million in cash and stock.[14] The Felds bought the circus (and related companies) back in 1982 for $22.8 million.[15]

Acquisition year(s)[7]
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
/Feld Productions
Ice Follies 1979-1982
Holiday on Ice
Western Publishing 1979
International Games 1992[16]
Corgi Toys, Ltd. 1989[17]
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.[7]

Mattel purchased Fisher-Price Inc. in 1993, Tyco Toys, Inc. in 1997, and Pleasant Company (maker of the American Girl brand) in 1998.[7] 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.[7]

Mattel was granted the first Disney Princess doll licenses in 2000.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

On August 14, 2007, Mattel recalled over 18 million products. The New York Times closely covered Mattel's multiple recalls.[21][22][23] Many of the products had exceeded the US limits set on surface coatings that contain lead. Surface coatings cannot exceed .06% lead by weight.[24] 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.[25] 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.[25] In 2009, Mattel would pay a $2.9 million fine to the Consumer Products Safety Commission for marketing, importing, and selling non-compliant toys.[26] Mattel was noted for its crisis response by several publications, including PRWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune and Business Management.[27][28][29][30]

Acquisition year(s)[7]
HiT Entertainment 2012
Mega Brands 2014

In early 2010, HiT Entertainment licensed Thomas & Friends to Mattel for toys.[31] Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[31][32] The sale/merger was completed on February 1, 2012, and HIT Entertainment became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel,[33] managed under its Fisher-Price unit.[34] In October 2013, Mattel launched its new in-house film studio, Playground Productions.[35]

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.[36]

On February 28, 2014, Mattel acquired Mega Brands.[37] On April 16, 2015, Mattel announced a partnership with invention platform Quirky to crowd-source a number of products.[38]

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.[18]

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.[39]

On July 2016, NBCUniversal announced that Mattel has acquired the license to produce toys based off the Jurassic Park franchise after Hasbro's rights expire in 2017.[40]

Mattel Creations

Mattel Creations
Division of a public corporation
Industry Entertainment
Founded March 2016
Number of locations
3 (2016)
Key people
  • Catherine Balsam-Schwaber (CCO)
  • Christopher Keenan
  • (SVP, Content Development & Production)
  • video
  • games
Parent Mattel, Inc.
Divisions Playground Productions
Subsidiaries HiT 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.[39]

Creations background

Previously, Mattel had team up with producer Robert B. Radnitz to form a joint venture film production company, Radnitz/Mattel Productions.[9]

Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[31][32] With Lionsgate, Mattel had Barbie brand launched into a series of successful animated direct-to-homevideo movies, which later moved to Universal. Monster High followed Barbie in 2010.[41] many “American Girl” films were made.[35]

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.[35][41] 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.[35]

Creations history

Mattel Creations was formed in March 2013 bring all three of Mattel content production units under its aegis in March 2016.[39]

Playground Productions

Playground Productions
Headquarters El Segundo, California
Key people
  • David Voss (SVP)
  • Rob Hudnut (executive producer and chief story strategist)
  • Julia Pistor (executive producer of feature films)
  • Margaret Dean (director of production)
  • Lloyd Goldfine (producer)

Playground Productions, or fuller Mattel Playground Productions, is a division of Mattel Creation, itself a division of Mattel, Inc.[39] 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.[35]

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.[35] David Voss was appointed as Senior Vice President of Playground Productions, a unit of Mattel Brands.[35][41] In March 2016, Playground was placed within Mattel Creations along with the other two Mattel content production units.[39]

Film Production

Title Year(s) Type Prod.unit Production
Distributor Notes
Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome 2014 animated Playground Mercury Filmworks digital platforms
  • 22-minute origin story (spring)[41]
  • 11 two-minute shorts (summer)
  • 74-minute direct-to-video film (fall)
Max Steel August 26, 2016[42] live action film Playground Dolphin Entertainment Open Road Films[41]
Monster High October 6, 2017[43] live action film Playground Dolphin Entertainment Universal Pictures[41]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "MATTEL INC /DE/ 2014 annual Report Form (10-K)" (pdf). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. March 20, 2015.
  4. "Fortune 500 List (2014)". Fortune. August 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Mattel, Inc. Company Profile". MarketLine. November 25, 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Mattel, Inc. History". International Directory of Company Histories. Vol.61. St. James Press (2000). Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  8. Townsend, Allie (February 16, 2011). "All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys: See 'N Say". Time. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  9. 1 2 Knapp, Dan. (May 21, 1970). "Mattel, Radnitz Join Hands". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, Califorina). Page F13.
  10. Langdon, Dolly (May 12, 1980). "Lord of the Rings' Irvin Feld Has Made a Fading Circus the Greatest Show on Earth Again". People. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  11. Brown, Lonnie; Fiero, Peter (December 19, 1973). "Mattel Selling Circus World". Lakeland Ledger (Vol. 67, No. 64). New York Times Company. pp. 1A, 7A. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  12. Barton, Matt; Loguidice, Bill (May 8, 2008). "A History of Gaming Platforms: Mattel Intellivision". Gamasutra. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  13. Dale, Steve (January 20, 1995). "Snow White And Greenbacks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  14. "Western Publishing Group, Inc. History". International Directory of Company Histories. Vol.13. St. James Press (2000). Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  15. "Feld Family Buys Ringling Bros". Associated Press in New York Times. March 19, 1982. Retrieved 2008-07-20. Mattel Inc. said that it had sold Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc. for $22.8 million to a family that had owned the circus and has been in its management for 26 years. Two members of the family, Irvin Feld and his son, Kenneth, said that the deal included the circus, Ice Follies, Holiday on Ice and the new Walt Disney's World on Ice.
  16. (January 23, 1992). INTERNATIONAL GAMES INC. TO BECOME MATTEL SUBSIDIARY. Mattel, Inc. Newswire Association LLC via Retrieved on June 6, 2016.
  17. "COMPANY NEWS; Mattel Sets Deal". New York Times. Reuters. December 19, 1989. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  18. 1 2 Suddath, Claire (December 17, 2015). "The $500 Million Battle Over Disney's Princesses". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  19. "Barbie loses battle over bimbo image". BBC News. July 25, 2002. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  20. "CTV article on recall". Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  21. Barboza, David; Story, Louise (2007-07-26). "Toymaking in China, Mattel's Way". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  22. Story, Louise. "Mattel shifts into crisis mode after quality problems - The New York Times". Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  23. Story, Louise (2007-08-02). "Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall 967,000 Toys". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  24. Story, Louise. "Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall 967,000 Toys". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  25. 1 2 "Mattel to announce toy recall". Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  26. Kavitanz, Parija. "Mattel fined $2.3 million over lead in toys". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  27. "Mattel tackles crisis with solid comms". Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  28. Goldman, Abigail; Reckard, E. Scott (August 18, 2007). "Tactics differ for 2 firms in crises". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  29. Yang, Jia Lynn (January 22, 2008). "Mattel's CEO Recals a Rough Summer". CNN Money. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  30. "Business Management – Work Hard, Play Hard". Retrieved 2015-07-04.
  31. 1 2 3 KELL, JOHN (October 25, 2011). "Mattel to Buy HIT Entertainment". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  32. 1 2 "Barbie maker Mattel to buy Thomas the Tank Engine owner". BBC News. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  33. Szalai, Georg (January 31, 2012). "Mattel's Acquisition of 'Thomas & Friends' Maker HIT Entertainment to Close on Wednesday". Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  34. Welcome to HiT Entertainment. HiT Entertainment. Accessed on October 28, 2013
  35. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Graser, Marc (November 5, 2013). "Mattel's Bold Plan to Take Control Back From Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  36. "Mattel - Best Companies to Work For 2013 - Fortune". 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  37. "Jealous Barbie: Mattel Comes After Lego With Mega Bloks Purchase". Forbes. February 28, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  38. "Quirky and Mattel join forces to crowdsource the next hit toy". Fortune. April 16, 2015.
  39. 1 2 3 4 5 Tartaglione, Nancy (March 31, 2016). "Mattel Creations Formed To Centralize Toy Giant's Theatrical, TV & Digital Content". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  40. "Mattel Nabs Universal's 'Jurassic Park' Toy License From Hasbro". Bloomberg. July 19, 2016.
  41. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Graser, Marc (October 15, 2013). "Mattel to Create Original Entertainment Through Playground Productions Banner". Variety. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  42. "Robert De Niro Boxing Movie 'Hands of Stone' Set for August Release". Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  43. "New Live Action Monster High Movies". Retrieved October 3, 2016.


External links

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