Mattel toys

"You can tell it's Mattel, it's swell"

Mattel was founded in 1945 by Elliot and Ruth Handler. The youngest of ten children of Polish immigrants, Ruth was a secretary for Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles when she married Elliot Handler, an industrial engineer. Handler started out designing light fixtures but soon began making furniture to sell out of his garage. The business attracted four partners and quickly rose to become a $2 million enterprise making giftware and costume jewelry. By 1945 Elliot Handler grew restless and wanted a new business approach to remain competitive in the fast-changing postwar world. Handler's plans led to a dispute with his partners and he sold his interest in the company at a loss. Meanwhile, also in 1945, Ruth hooked up with an old friend, Harold "Matt" Matson, and they started Mattel Creations, with Elliot designing products. The name Mattel was formed by combining Matson's last name with Handler's first name. Ill health soon forced Matson to sell out.

The Mattel company originally produced picture frames and dollhouse accessories from picture frame scraps. With the success of its dollhouse accessories, the company turned its attention to toys. In 1955, Mattel changed toy marketing forever, by acquiring the rights to produce the popular "Mickey Mouse Club" products. The cross-marketing promotion became common practise for future toy companies. In the same year Mattel released its successful patented toy cap gun called the burp gun. Mattel became publicly traded in 1960 and was the original sponsor of Matty's Funday Funnies from 1959 to 1962.

Throughout the 1960s, the company diversified its lineup by purchasing smaller toy companies that produced unrelated toy product lines. In 1966, Mattel purchased a small manufacturer of low-quality plastic lunchboxes. It began exploring ideas for using this company's processes to make new products out of formed plastic. An employee noted that Matchbox was producing a line of die-cast cars but that the cars' wheels didn't roll well. Mattel created a competing line of small toy cars using superior bearings that enabled the new cars to roll further. They paired this advantage with formed plastic technology from the acquired company that allowed Mattel to develop innovative chassis that excited their target market, boys. This resulted in the very successful Hot Wheels line.An independent audit of Mattel -released on November 3, 1975- revealed that company officials had fabricated press releases and financial information to "maintain the appearance of continued corporate growth." In 1987, Mattel distributed the NES in Europe, as Nintendo at that time did not have a European office. The early European versions of the NES were called the Mattel Version, while later versions distributed by Nintendo were called the NES Version.

The only difference between the two was "Mattel" or "NES" branding under Nintendo Entertainment System plaque on the face of the console.Between 1986 and 1990, Mattel was also responsible for marketing NES products in Canada, producing bilingual packages, and co-branding them. However, many gray-market American packages were also sold in Canada, which caused Mattel to sue Nintendo. Nintendo eventually took over sole distribution of for North America. In 1993, Mattel merged with the Fisher-Price toy company. In 1996, Mattel purchased Tyco Toys, which was the third largest toy manufacturer at the time.In 1999, the ill-advised purchase of a major software publisher, TLC, for $3.6 billion led to the ouster of CEO Jill Barad. In 2006, Mattel purchased Radica USA, an electronic toy manufacturer. Mattel serves as the parent company for American Girl (formerly Pleasant Company), Radica USA, and Fisher-Price. Currently, it is headquartered in El Segundo, California.

Timeline Mattel

1945: Ruth and Elliot Handler and Harold "Matt" Matson form a partnership called Mattel Creations, making and selling first picture frames and later dollhouse furniture; Matson is soon forced to sell out because of ill health.
1947: The "Uke-A-Doodle" becomes the first of many hit Mattel toys.
1948: The company is incorporated in California.
1955: In a revolutionary move, Mattel becomes a year-round sponsor of the Walt Disney television program Mickey Mouse Club.
1959: Mattel introduces the Barbie doll, which will eventually become the best-selling toy ever.
1960: Mattel goes public.
1963: The company gains a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
1968: Hot Wheels miniature model cars, another spectacular hit, are introduced.
1974: The Handlers are ousted from the company after investigators find that the company issued false and misleading financial reports.
1983: The company verges on bankruptcy with a $394 million loss after an ill-advised venture into video games.
1987: John W. Amerman, who has been named chairman, revitalizes the company through an emphasis on core brands.
1988: Mattel revives its collaboration with Disney.
1993: Fisher-Price Inc., the world leader in infant and preschool toys, is acquired.
1997: Mattel buys out Tyco Toys, Inc., the third largest U.S. toy maker.
1998: Pleasant Company, maker of the American Girl brand, is acquired.
1999: The Learning Co., a major player in computer games and educational software, is acquired for $3.5 billion.
2000: Mattel sells off Learning Co. at a huge loss; the company reports a net loss for the year of $430.9 million.

More on Mattel on Wikipedia.

Questions, comments, or sweet memories?
Share on this Mattel forum!

(will not be displayed)
yes, mail me the link to this page

April - May 28, 2014

I have acquired a 1978 Mattel #3632. It is still in the box

Larry - February 12, 2014

I have a penny bank that is a house with a chimney and a bird on the chimney. The coin goes in the birds beak and drops down the chimney. i am told my grandmother helped assemble these in a garage in Los Angeles in 1945 and it was the first mattel product. can you provide anymore info?
Wow, your grandmother is part of Mattels history in that case! They started from a garage in southern California (El Segundo) in 1945, you can see a picture of that garage here (click on '1945') so there's a big chance she worked there. Great story! Unfortunately I can't find anything on your bank. Maybe write Mattel directly? I would love to put a picture of your bank on my page!

Kathy - August 20, 2013

Hi, Can you please tell me how much was the 1968 Dancerina doll going for when it first was introduced? Did the price go down on this item in 1969 or 1970?

Linda Jones - March 24, 2012

could you tell me what this is, i have a toy[?] made by mattel 1964 no.4401 mattel power shop. its electric and i was surprised it was considered a toy, or is it a toy?
Yes, it's a toy. Find here more info about this toy: Mattel Power Shop or find the toy here.

Mary - November 30, 2011

I am looking to speak to someone to find out some informantion about the 1964 Baby Drowsy. Could you help me with that? Mary

For sale on eBay USA. To change country, click on flag:
Change selection: <---
worldwide only USA
Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll
Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll$14.99
details  ►
Disney Frozen Sparkle Anna of Arendelle Doll
Disney Frozen Sparkle Anna of Arendelle Doll$12.59
details  ►
Hot Wheels 9 Car Gift Pack Styles May Vary
Hot Wheels 9 Car Gift Pack Styles May Vary$9.47
details  ►
Mattel Barbie Collector The Twilight Saga
Mattel Barbie Collector The Twilight Saga$8.55
details  ►
ebay New to eBay? Join here, it's free!
Old Vintage 1961 1960 s Mattel Talking CECIL
old vintage 1961 1960 s mattel2 bid(s)$52.00
details  ►
1950 s Mattel Shootin Shell Frontier Double
1950 s mattel shootin shell$399.99
details  ►
Vintage 1962 Original MATTEL VAC U FORM Good
vintage 1962 original mattel1 bid(s)ends in 1h$9.90
details  ►
mattel o phone barbie record2 bid(s)ends in 8h$3.00
details  ►
Vintage 1960 s Mattel Power Shop 4 in 1
vintage 1960 s mattel powerends in 8h$9.99
details  ►
Antique Mattel Musical Man on the Flying
antique mattel musical man on1 bid(s)ends in 9h$14.00
details  ►
mattel greenie stick em caps$54.99
details  ►
2 1964 mattel scooba doo dolls in really
2 1964 mattel scooba doo dolls1 bid(s)ends in 11h$5.00
details  ►
Vintage 1964 Mattel Thingmaker Creepy Crawler
vintage 1964 mattel thingmaker5 bid(s)ends in 11h$40.00
details  ►
vintage mattel fanner 50 toy19 bid(s)ends in 12h$27.00
details  ►
Mattel s Injector Western World thing maker
mattel s injector westernends in 13h$19.99
details  ►
Vintage 1960 s Rare Mattel Official
vintage 1960 s rare mattel$34.95
details  ►
Mattel 1960s Thingmaker Fright Factory red
mattel 1960s thingmaker frightends in 13h$3.95
details  ►
mattel music maker book london1 bid(s)ends in 13h$9.99
details  ►
Rare Vintage Creepy Crawlers Collectors Case
rare vintage creepy crawlersends in 14h$29.99
details  ►
Mattel 1966 NFL Football vinyl wallet SPP
mattel 1966 nfl football vinylends in 15h$60.00
details  ►
mattel agent zero w cap gun$425.00
details  ►
RARE Vintage Mattel Barbie Record Player 1976
rare vintage mattel barbieends in 15h$50.00
details  ►
Vintage 1964 Mattel Agent ZERO M Rifle Radio
vintage 1964 mattel agent zeroends in 17h$49.99
details  ►
MATTEL TOMMY BURST Agent Zero M Thompson
mattel tommy burst agent zeroends in 18h$49.99
details  ►
Vintage Mattel Thingmaker Fighting Men Molds
vintage mattel thingmaker1 bid(s)ends in 18h$0.99
details  ►
Vintage V RROOM Bicycle Motor Toy Mattel
vintage v rroom bicycle motor$20.00
details  ►
mattel tommy burst black2 bid(s)ends in 18h$26.00
details  ►
Vintage Mattel Thingmaker Creepy Crawlers Set
vintage mattel thingmaker2 bid(s)ends in 18h$7.46
details  ►
Vintage Mattel Thingmaker Batman Mold 4491
vintage mattel thingmaker11 bid(s)ends in 18h$6.04
details  ►
1964 Original Mattel Power Shop
1964 original mattel powerends in 18h$39.95
details  ►
pr vintage mattel fanner 50$145.00
details  ►
1964 Mattel AGENT ZERO Spy Gear 5 Pieces
1964 mattel agent zero spyends in 20h$100.00
details  ►
vintage 1960 s mattel zero mends in 20h$29.99
details  ►
Vintage Mattel Shootin Shell Winchester Toy
vintage mattel shootin shell1 bid(s)ends in 20h$79.99
details  ►
mib 1958 mattel detective10 bid(s)ends in 20h$82.99
details  ►
1967 mattel man in space astro$12.99
details  ►