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Mattel: What's the Story Behind the Toys?

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Mattel is an American toy manufacturer, best known for the brands Barbie (since 1959), Hot Wheels (since 1968) and Fisher-Price (since 1993).

The first doll they made was a kitty, and the company's name comes from the first two letters of the founders' names.

It is one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world and they produce, among other things, the Barbie doll, which has been one of their best brands for over 60 years. Let's take a look at the history of Mattel and their range.

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The history and range of toy manufacturer Mattel

Mattel is an American toy manufacturer founded in April 1945 by husband and wife team Ruth and Elliot Handler, along with Harold Matson. Mattel's headquarters are located in El Segundo, California, United States. The company initially started with the production of dolls and later on with the production of game consoles. Key figures in Mattel's development are Ruth and Elliot Handler, also known as the inventors of the Barbie doll.

Assortment and brands

Mattel has a wide range of toys and focuses mainly on dolls and vehicles. The company has several well-known brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price. In addition to these brands, Mattel also has other brands in its range, such as Monster High, Thomas & Friends and Polly Pocket. Mattel's range is very wide and includes different types of toys for every age category.

Development and success

Mattel has been very successful over the years and has developed into one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world. The company employs more than 32.000 people and has annual sales of more than $4 billion. Mattel has acquired several media stocks over the years, including the hit television series Thomas & Friends. Mattel's success is due to the constant development of new products and brands that meet consumer needs.

Expiration and loss

While Mattel has been very successful overall, the company has also experienced churn and loss. For example, Mattel has faced a declining toy market in the past and suffered a major loss a few years ago due to the recall of millions of Chinese toy products. However, Mattel acted quickly and improved its manufacturing process to avoid such problems in the future.

Future and new products

Mattel continues to evolve and focus more and more on new products and technologies. For example, the company recently launched a new line of interactive dolls called Hello Barbie. These dolls are equipped with speech recognition technology and can communicate with children. Mattel continues to look for new ways to improve and renew its range to meet consumer needs.

How Mattel conquered the world with their toys

Mattel started as a small production company in 1945, founded by the duo Ruth and Elliot Handler and their friend Harold Matson. In the beginning, Mattel mainly makes plastic parts for photo frames and toy guns. But soon the company starts to focus on the toy industry.

Mattel's first products

In 1947 Mattel introduced their first real toy product: a warm ball that stays warm for a long time. The product does not immediately catch on, but it does provide an important balance in the company. Mattel continues to experiment and in 1949 the company comes up with another product that is more popular: the “Uke-A-Doodle”, a small plastic ukulele.

The Rise of Barbie

In 1959, Mattel introduced their most famous product ever: Barbie. The idea for the doll comes from Ruth Handler, who notices that her daughter likes to play with paper dolls. She decides to design a real doll that looks like an adult woman. Barbie turns out to be a great success and soon becomes available in different shapes and sizes.

The role of handlers and designers

An important factor in Mattel's success are its handlers and designers. They ensure that the products meet the wishes of the target group and that they look attractive. In addition, they ensure that the products are safe and meet the highest quality requirements.

How is Mattel doing right now?

Mattel has been through a period of ups and downs on the stock markets in recent years. While the company normally performs well, it has been less fortunate in the past four years. In 2017, Mattel had problems with worldwide sales of Barbie dolls, causing a crisis for the toy manufacturer. The share price fell to its lowest point in years. Fortunately, the price has since risen again, although it is still less than the all-time high.

Discover Mattel's brands

Mattel has a huge range of toys, from cute dolls to cool cars. It therefore comes as no surprise that Mattel even has several well-known brands under its banner. Below is an overview of Mattel's most loved brands:

  • Barbie: Who doesn't know her? Barbie has been one of the most famous dolls in the world for decades. In addition to the classic Barbie doll, there are also countless other types of Barbies available, such as the Fashionista Barbies and the Dreamtopia Barbies.
  • Hot Wheels: This brand focuses mainly on boys and has a large collection of cool cars and race tracks. The cars are available in different shapes and sizes, from small toy cars to large race tracks.
  • Fisher-Price: This brand focuses primarily on babies and toddlers. It has a wide range of educational toys, from blocks to interactive playsets.
  • Mega Bloks: This brand offers building sets for children of all ages. In addition to the classic blocks, sets are also available from well-known franchises, such as Pokémon and Halo.
  • Jurassic World: For the dinosaur fans among us, Mattel has the Jurassic World brand. Allows kids to create their own dinosaur adventures with playsets and action figures.


Mattel is an American toy manufacturer that has been making toys for over 70 years. It has become one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world thanks to popular brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Thomas & Friends.

If you have read this article you now know exactly how they work and what they do. So if you're looking for a new toy manufacturer, you might want to try Mattel!

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.