Mattel, Inc. (/məˈtɛl/) is an American multinational toy manufacturing company founded in 1945 with headquarters in El Segundo, California. The products and brands it produces include Fisher-Price, Barbie, Monster High, Ever After High, Polly Pocket, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Masters of the Universe, American Girl, Thomas & Friends, and WWE. In the early 1980s, Mattel produced video game systems, under its own brands and under license from Nintendo. The company has presence in 40 countries and territories and sells products in more than 150 countries.[4] The company operates through three business segments: North America, international, and American Girl.[4] It is the world's second largest toy maker in terms of revenue, after The Lego Group.[5][6] In 2019, it ranked #575 on the Fortune 500 list.[7] On January 17, 2017, Mattel named former Google executive Margo Georgiadis as CEO.[8] Georgiadis stepped down as CEO of Mattel on April 19, 2018. Her last day was on April 26, 2018. Ynon Kreiz is now the new CEO of Mattel.[9]

Mattel, Inc.
Traded as
FoundedJanuary 1945 (1945-01)
Hawthorne, California, U.S.
Headquarters333 Continental Blvd,[1], ,
Key people
  • Ynon Kreiz
  • (Chairman and CEO)
  • Richard Dickson
  • (President and COO)
  • Dolls
  • Toys
  • Games
Production output
Revenue US$ 1.40 billion (September 2019)[2]
US$168.54 million (September 2019)[2]
US$70.60 million (September 2019)[2]
Number of employees
25,800[3] (2018)
DivisionsMattel Films
Mattel Television

The name Mattel is a portmanteau of Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler, two of the company's founders.


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.
Meta frame Corp.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
/Feld Productions
Ice Follies 1979–1982
Holiday on Ice
Western Publishing1979
International Games1992[11]
Corgi Toys, Ltd.1989[12]
Fisher-Price, Inc.1993
Tyco Toys, Inc.1997
Pleasant Company1998[10]
The Learning Company1999–2001[10]
HiT Entertainment2012[13]
Mega Brands2014[14]

Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler founded Mattel in 1945. The company sold picture frames, and later dollhouse furniture. Matson sold his share to Handler due to poor health, and Handler's wife Ruth took Matson's role. In 1947, the company had its first hit toy, a ukulele called "Uke-A-Doodle".

The company 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 debuted in 1959, becoming the company's best-selling toy in history. In 1960, Mattel introduced Chatty Cathy, a talking doll revolutionizing the toy industry, which led to pull-string talking dolls and toys flooding the market throughout the 1960s and 1970s.[10]

The company went public in 1960, and the New York Stock Exchange listed them in 1963. Mattel also acquired a number of companies during the 1960s (see table).[10] In 1965, the company built on its success with the Chatty Cathy doll to introduce the See 'n Say talking toy, spawning a line of products.[15] They released Hot Wheels to the market on May 18, 1968.[10] In May 1970, Mattel formed a joint venture film production company Radnitz/Mattel Productions with producer Robert B. Radnitz, and later entered a multimillion-dollar partnership with Mehra Entertainment, whose CEO, Dr. Nishpeksh Padmamohan Mehra, is one of Mattel's Inc.'s main directors for Barbie (film series).[16]

Mattel purchased The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1971 for $40 million from the Feld family, whom Mattel kept as management.[17] Mattel sold the circus corporation by December 1973, despite its profit contributions, as Mattel showed a $29.9 million loss in 1972.[18]

In 1974, an investigation found Mattel guilty of issuing false and misleading financial reports, which lead to the banishing of Elliot and Ruth Handler from their own company.[10]

Post Handlers

Arthur S. Spear, a Mattel vice president, took control of the company in 1975, who returned the company to profitability in 1977. Ruth Handler sold her stock in 1980.[10]

The Mattel Electronics line debuted 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.[19] Mattel Electronics forced Mattel to take a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost filed for bankruptcy.[10]

In 1979, through Feld Productions, Mattel purchased the Holiday on Ice and Ice Follies for $12 million.[20] Also acquired that year was Western Publishing for $120 million in cash and stock.[21] The Felds bought the circus (and related companies) in 1982 for $22.8 million.[22]

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. However, the Master of the Universe action figure line sales dropped, causing a $115 million loss in 1987. Chairman John W. Amerman improved the company's financial performance in 1987 by focusing on core brands. Mattel returned to working with the Disney company in 1988.[10] In 1991, Mattel moved its headquarters from Hawthorne, California to El Segundo, California.[23]

Mattel entered the game business in 1992 with the purchase of International Games, maker of Uno and Skip-Bo.[11] Mattel purchased Fisher-Price, Inc. in 1993, Tyco Toys, Inc. (owners of the Matchbox and Dinky Toys brands) in 1997, and Pleasant Company (maker of the American Girl brand) in 1998.[10] 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.[10]

Mattel earned the first grant for Disney Princess doll licenses in 2000.[24] 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.[25]

In 2000, Mattel signed a deal with Warner Bros to become the master licensee for Harry Potter-branded toys.[26] In 2002, the companies extended their partnership, with Mattel becoming master licensee for Batman, Superman, Justice League and the Looney Tunes toys for all markets except Asia.[27]

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 lead contamination scandal.[28] On August 14, 2007, Mattel recalled over 18 million products. The New York Times closely covered Mattel's multiple recalls.[29][30][31] Many of the products had exceeded the US limits set on surface coatings that contain lead. Surface coatings cannot exceed .06% lead by weight.[31] 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.[32] 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.[32] In 2009, Mattel would pay a $2.9 million fine to the Consumer Products Safety Commission for marketing, importing, and selling non-compliant toys.[33] Mattel was noted for its crisis response by several publications, including PRWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune and Business Management.[34][35][36][37]

In early 2010, HIT Entertainment licensed Thomas & Friends to Mattel for toys.[38] Mattel agreed to purchase HiT Entertainment sans share of PBS Kids Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[38][13] The sale/merger was completed on February 1, 2012, and HIT Entertainment became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel,[39] managed under its Fisher-Price unit.[40] In October 2013, Mattel launched its new in-house film studio, Playground Productions.[41]

Fortune Magazine named Mattel one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013, noting only 1,292 positions were full, out of 164,045 job applications during the previous year, as well as more than 1,000 employees had been with the company longer than 15 years.[42]

On February 28, 2014, Mattel acquired Mega Brands.[14] On April 16, 2015, Mattel announced a partnership with invention platform Quirky to crowd-source a number of products.[43]

Mattel added a princess-themed Barbie line in 2010, and the fair and fantasy store-based Ever After High line in 2013. Barbie sales began plummeting in 2012, thus removing focus from the Disney Princess line. Mattel had only sold Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, and 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. Disney Consumer Products also made an attempt to evolve the brand from "damsels" to "heroines." In September 2014, Disney announced Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1, 2016.[24]

In January 2015, board member Christopher Sinclair replaced CEO Bryan Stockton, following with 2/3 of senior executives resigning or receiving lay off.[24] In January 2016, Mattel acquired Fuhu, makers of Nabi tablets and other technology-driven hardware, in a bankruptcy proceeding for a sum worth $21 million.[44] Mattel formed a new division formed from HIT, Playground Productions called Mattel Creations as unit over the American Girl content creation team, in March 2016.[45] On July 2016, NBCUniversal announced Mattel acquired the license to produce toys based on the Jurassic Park franchise after Hasbro's rights expire in 2017.[46]

On November 10, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hasbro, Inc. had made a takeover offer for Mattel, Inc.[47][48] At the time, Mattel worth was $5 billion, while Hasbro was about $11 billion.[48] On November 15, 2017, Reuters reported that Mattel rejected the offer.[49]

Mattel formed with Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase in January 2018 a joint venture, Mattel163, a mobile publishing and development studio.[50] The company announced on December 24, 2018 that they lost the DC Comics boy toy license to Spin Master starting in the spring of 2020. With the news, company share reached an 18-year low at $9.25 a share.[51]

Ynon Kreiz was named company Chairman and CEO in April 2018. In June 2018, the company laid off 2,200 partial due to Toys R Us' liquidation.[3] Kreiz started reorganizing which included new board directors added that have entertainment backgrounds and a global franchise management group charged with finding new opportunities in existing markets.[52]

On September 6, 2018, Mattel announced the launch of a film division, Mattel Films, that will make movies based on the company's toy brands. Mattel's prior incarnation of its film division, Playground Productions, was absorbed into Mattel Creations after its Max Steel movie flopped.[53]

On August 31, 2018, Mattel indicated the formation of its global franchise management division head by Janet Hsu as chief franchise management officer. The division's mandate seek out new commercial opportunities plus to bring to together consumer products, content development and distribution, digital gaming, live events and partnerships. Hsu was previously Saban Brands CEO,[54] where Frederic Soulie last worked before being appointed as senior vice president of content distribution and business development in the franchise division in late September 2018.[55] Mattel reorganized Mattel Television in early February 2019.[56]

In 2019 Mattel announced that the Japanese-Korean girl group TWICE would have lookalike Barbie Made to Move doll body dolls released in 2020. Similar BTS dolls were released in 2019. Also in 2019 Mattel launched the world's first line of gender-neutral dolls, which they marketed as Creatable World.[57]

Mattel Television

Mattel Television
Mattel Creations (2016-2019)
FoundedMarch 2016 (2016-03)
FounderHarold Matson, Elliot Handler 
Number of locations
3 (2016)
Area served
Key people
  • Adam Bonnett (executive producer)
  • Christopher Keenan
  • (SVP & executive producer at Mattel TV)
ProductsTV series
ParentMattel, Inc.
DivisionsAmerican Girl content team
SubsidiariesHIT Entertainment

Mattel Television, is the television production division of Mattel, Inc. The division is head by executive producer Adam Bonnett and consists of HIT Entertainment and the American Girl content creation team in Middleton, Wisconsin.[45] Distribution is to be handled by Mattel franchise management division.[58]


In May 1970, Mattel had teamed up with producer Robert B. Radnitz to form a joint venture film production company, Radnitz/Mattel Productions.[16] Masters of the Universe had a cartoon series back in the 1980s followed by a live action film in 1987.[59]

Mattel agreed to purchase HIT Entertainment sans Sprout from Apax Partners group in October 2011 for $680 million.[38][13] 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.[60] Many “American Girl” films were made.[41]

A few properties, Hot Wheels, Max Steel, Masters of the Universe and 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.[41][60] 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.[41]

Mattel TV history

Mattel Creations

Mattel Creations was formed in March 2016 to bring all three of Mattel's content production units, including the American Girl creative team in Middleton, Wisconsin, under its aegis.[45] Mattel chief content officer Catherine 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.[61] 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.[62] 9 Story deal was directly with HiT for 2017 revivals of Barney & Friends and Angelina Ballerina, but as no new information on either revival has been provided since the initial announcement, its unknown when or even if they will ever air.[63]

Mattel Creations and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group had agreed to an 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.[64]

With Balsam-Schwaber taking the general manager position at Craftsy, Mattel president and chief operating officer Richard Dickson has taken over responsibility for Mattel Creation and was not planning to fill the chief creative officer post.[65] However, between the failure of the Max Steel movie and the announcement of Mattel Films in September 2018, Playground Productions was absorbed into Mattel Creations.[53]


Mattel hired former Disney Channel Worldwide programming executive Adam Bonnett as executive producer and head of a reorganized Mattel Television in early February 2019.[56] On February 15, 2019, Mattel TV announced a slate of 22 animated and live-action TV programs.[66] This division works with the franchise management division's senior vice president of content distribution and business development Frederic Soulie.[58]


Title Year(s) Type Production Unit Production
Distributor Notes
Thomas & Friends: The Great Race
  • May 21, 2016 UK theatrical
  • September 2016 (DVD)
  • early 2017 (TV)
Animated Hit Entertainment
Mattel Creations
ARC Productions National Amusements (UK theatrical)
multiple (TV)
Max Steel August 26, 2016[67] Live action film Playground Productions Dolphin Entertainment
Ingenious Media
Open Road Films[60]
WellieWishers September 8, 2016 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[61][68]
Dreamtopia June 26, 2016 2D CGI-animated film
44 minutes[61]
Monster High: Great Scarrier Reef February 12, 2017 CGI-animated film Playground Productions
DHX Media Vancouver
  • Cartoon Network (LatAm)
61 minutes, Monster High (film series)
The Toy Box April 7, 2017November 19, 2017 Reality series Mattel Creations Hudsun Media
ABC (US network)
Electus International[69]
2 seasons[70]
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power November 13, 2018 – present 2D-animated series DreamWorks Animation Television
Mattel Creations
NE4U (animation) Netflix

Mattel Films

Mattel Films
Playground Productions (2013–2016)
FoundedSeptember 2018 (2018-09)
FounderHarold Matson, Elliot Handler 
United States
Area served
Key people
Robbie Brenner (executive producer)
Productsdoll, board game, software 
OwnerMattel, Inc.
Number of employees
5 (2019)[71]

Mattel Films (formerly Mattel Playground Productions (PGP), or commonly Playground Productions) is a division of Mattel. As Playground Productions, it was first part of Mattel Global Brands.[72] It was later transferred to Mattel Creations, itself a division of Mattel, Inc.[45] on September 6, 2018, the division was reformed as Mattel Films.[53]

Films history

Playground Productions

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 centralize 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 Studios, a Masters of the Universe and a Barbie film at Columbia Pictures, a Monster High feature with Universal and a Max Steel film with Dolphin Entertainment. Playground Productions 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.[41] David Voss was appointed as Senior Vice President of Playground Productions.[41][60]

With WWE in March 2014, Playground launched an online short form series, WWE Slam City, to go along with the toy line.[73] The series was picked up by Nicktoons’ NickSports programming block starting October 22, 2014.[74]

Voss left the division in January 2016 for subscription service, Loot Crate.[61] In March 2016, PGP was placed within Mattel Creations along with the other two Mattel content production units.[45] After failure of the Max Steel movie in 2016, Playground Productions was absorbed into Mattel Creations.[75]

Current formation

On September 6, 2018, Mattel announced the launch of a film division, Mattel Films, that will make movies based on the company’s toy brands. Robbie Brenner was appointed to head the division as executive producer and will report directly to the CEO.[53][76] The revived division's first two projects are expect to be Barbie and Masters of the Universe films.[52] In early January 2019, Mattel closed the deal with Margot Robbie to star in the Barbie film and Warner and Robbie's production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, to co-produce the film.[77] Mattel Films and Sony revive Master of the Universe film development in January 2019 with many of the prior attempt's director and producers while bringing on board different writers, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.[78]


Title Year(s) Type Production Unit Production
Distributor Notes
Team Hot Wheels June 7, 2014 Animated Playground Productions Mercury Filmworks
Titmouse, Inc.
digital platforms
  • 22-minute origin story (spring)[60]
  • 11 two-minute shorts (summer)
  • 74-minute direct-to-video film (fall)
WWE Slam City March 17, 2014 Stop motion Playground Productions[73] Stoopid Buddy Stoodios[74] digital platform[73]
Nicktoons (NickSports)[74]
26-episode two-minute shorts series[73]
Ever After High[79] 2014 Legacy Day animated special Playground Productions Netflix
True Hearts Day 22-minute webisode special Nickelodeon
Thronecoming TV special 44-minute
Fairy tale web series 22 two-minute webisodes
Max Steel August 26, 2016[67] Live action film Playground Productions Dolphin Entertainment
Ingenious Media
Open Road Films[60]
Monster High: Great Scarrier Reef February 12, 2017 CGI-animated film Playground Productions
DHX Media Vancouver
  • Cartoon Network (LatAm)
61 minutes, Monster High (film series)


Barbie May 8, 2020 (2020-05-08) Live-action film Mattel Films
  • LuckyChap Entertainment
Warner Bros. Pictures
Masters of the Universe March 5, 2021 (2021-03-05) Sony Pictures Releasing
Hot Wheels TBD Warner Bros. Pictures [80]
American Girl [81]
Untitled View-Master film Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [82]
Magic 8-Ball Blumhouse Productions [83]
Barney Mattel Films
HiT Movies
  • 59%
  • Valparaiso Pictures

See also


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Further reading

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