Harold Matson and Elliot Handler founded Mattel in the USA in 1945. Initially producing picture frames and doll's house furniture the company soon moved into toys. Sustained growth in sales followed sustained advertising on the Mickey Mouse Club television show in 1955. In 1959 the company launched the Barbie fashion doll, inspired by Ruth Handler's daughter's interest in cut‐out adult paper dolls. For decades Barbie proved a global best‐seller and was owned by young girls across the generations. In the 1960s the company created a number of successful products, including Hot Wheels miniature vehicles (1968) which proved to be an enduring success amongst boys—by 1998 the Hot Wheels had sold its two‐billionth car. During the 1970s the company moved into electronics, including hand‐held games, but by the late 1980s the company decided to concentrate on its core brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels. In 1988 the company entered into an agreement with the Walt Disney Company to produce toys based on characters drawn from its movies and television programmes, a position which was built on with the acquisition of Fischer‐Price (established 1930), makers of imaginative early learning toys. Many other marques were acquired during the 1990s, including Matchbox cars and View‐Master following Mattel's 1997 merger with Tyco Toys. In 1999 Ferrari gave Mattel the rights to produce toys and accessories, followed in 2000 with the granting to Mattel of the worldwide licence for the production of toys based on the characters of Harry Potter (created by J. K. Rowling).
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.