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Mattel, Inc. is an American toy manufacturing company founded in 1945 with headquarters in El Segundo, California. In 2008, it ranked #413 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, WWE Toys, and early-1980s video game systems.
Mattel Creations was founded in 1945 by Harold "Matt" Matson, Ruth and Elliot Handler. The company initially sold picture frames then dollhouse furniture. Matson soon sold his share to the Handers due to poor health. In 1947, the company has its first hit toy, "Uke-A-Doodle". The company is 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 is introduced in 1959 by Mattel becoming the company's best selling toy ever. In 1960 Mattel introduced Chatty Cathy, a talking doll that revolutionized the toy industry. The talking mechanism was used in later toys such as See 'N Say that came out in 1965.
Mattel in 1960 goes public and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1963. Mattel also acquired a number of companies during the 1960s. Hot Wheels was first released to the market to 1968. In 1974, the Handlers are left the company and pursued other interests.
The company entered the home video game console market in the 1980s but racks up a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost files 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.
Mattel re-entered the computer game market with the purchase of The Learning Co. in 1999 for $3.5 billion, but soon sold the Learning Co. in 2000 at a size-able loss. The company reported 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 had under development at the time: a live-action Hot Wheels movie at Legendary Entertainment, a He-Man flick is in the works at Columbia and a Monster High feature with Universal and a in-production Max Steel movie with Dolphin Entertainment.
On February 28, 2014, Mattel acquired Mega Brands.