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"I once dated a girl named Barbie. Coincidentally she was mostly plastic too."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

BARBIE

She's a successful businesswoman, a member of a rock band and a Women's World Cup Soccer player. Who is this superstar? It's none other than the Barbie doll.

In the early 1950s, Handler saw that her young daughter, Barbara, and her girlfriends enjoyed playing with adult female dolls as much or more than with baby dolls. Handler sensed that it was just as important for girls to imagine what they themselves might grow up to become as it was for them to focus on what caring for children might be like.

Because all the adult dolls then available were made of paper or cardboard, Handler decided to create a three-dimensional adult female doll, one lifelike enough to serve as an inspiration for her daughter's dreams of her future. Handler took her idea to the ad executives at Mattel Corp., the company that she and her husband, Elliot, had founded in their garage some years before: the (all-male) committee rejected the idea as too expensive, and with little potential for wide market appeal.

Soon thereafter, Handler returned from a trip to Europe with a "Lilli" doll, modeled after a character in a German comic strip. Handler spent some time designing a doll similar to Lilli, and even hired a designer to make realistic doll clothes. The result was the Barbie doll (named in honor of the Handlers' daughter), a pint-sized model of the "girl next door."

Mattel finally agreed to back Handler's efforts; and the Barbie doll debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. Girls clamored for the doll, and Barbie set a new sales record for Mattel its first year on the market (351,000 dolls, at $3 each). Since then, Barbie's popularity has rarely flagged; and today, with over one billion dolls sold, the Barbie product line is the most successful in the history of the toy industry.

The first Barbie doll sported a ponytail hairstyle, black and white zebra-striped bathing suit, open-toed shoes, sunglasses and earrings. A line of fashions and accessories was also available. Buyers at the industry’s annual Toy Fair in New York were not impressed, but little girls certainly were and the Barbie doll took retailers by storm. Mattel was so swamped with orders that it took several years for supply to catch up with demand.

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A Classic Commercial for Barbie's Dream House from the 1960s

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The Barbie doll was introduced as a teenage fashion model, but in the years that followed she has taken on many aspirational roles. She has tackled almost every conceivable profession, including dentist, doctor, firefighter, astronaut, paleontologist, even Presidential candidate.

The Barbie doll has been joined by friends and family over the years, including the Ken doll, named for the Handlers’ son, in 1961, Midge in 1963, Skipper in 1965 and Christie, an African-American doll and the first of many ethnic friends, in 1968. More recently, in 1995, the Barbie doll gained a little sister, Baby Sister Kelly, and, in 1997, a disabled friend in a wheelchair, Share a Smile Becky. Barbie doll is further expanding her versatile and limitless roles to inspire girls' dreams for years to come.

The world of the Barbie® doll today is a great deal more than a doll and accessories. Barbie doll is keeping in step by allowing girls to use their computers to program and personalize their Barbie doll and design, create, play and dream using Barbie™ software. The Barbie line has also developed into a broad array of exciting licensed products for girls, including books, apparel, food, home furnishings and home electronics.

From the beginning, Barbie has also had her critics: the major accusation, from feminists and others, has been that she reinforces sexism, representing a young woman with questionable intelligence and a near-impossible physique. The late 60s even saw the creation of the "Barbie Liberation Organization," after Mattel introduced "Ken", as Barbie's "handsome steady."

Despite such criticisms, playing with Barbie dolls seems as a rule to enhance girls' self-image and expand their sense of their potential rather than the opposite. This has become more true over the years, as Barbie herself has expanded her horizons: she has now appeared as a doctor, astronaut, business woman, police officer, UNICEF volunteer, and athlete. Over the years, Barbie has achieved the title of the most popular fashion doll ever created.

MY FIRST BARBIE WAS NAMED LILLI

Created in Germany, the inspiration for America’s most famous doll was not originally intended for children. Her name was Lilli, a sexually assertive, modern young woman created in 1952 by cartoonist Reinhard Beuthien to fill an empty slot in the tabloid Bild-Zeitung. Beuthien first drew a cute little baby, but his editor rejected the idea. Beuthien then decided to keep the face and add just a ponytail and a curvy feminine body. Beuthien made Lilli a sex-kitten, uninhibited, witty, and independent. She supported herself as a secretary, but often dated older men for their money, so obviously some would label her a prostitute.

The Bild Lilli cartoon character became so popular that in 1953, the newspaper decided to market a three-dimensional version which was sold as an adult novelty toy, available to buy from bars, tobacco kiosks and adult toy stores. They were often given out as bachelor party gag gifts and dangled from a car’s rearview mirror.

Parents considered the doll inappropriate for children. A German brochure from the 1950s described Lilli as "always discreet," and with her impressive wardrobe, she was 'the star of every bar". While toy factories tried to cash in on her popularity with children, Lilli still remained mostly an adult novelty, especially outside of Germany. A journalist for The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy, even referred to Lilli as a "sex doll".

The original Bild Lilli was available in two sizes: 30 cm (12 in) and 19 cm (7.5 in) and was manufactured by the toy company O&M Hausser in Neustadt bei Coburg. Lilli held three patents absolutely new in doll-making: The head and neck were not one form connected with a seam at the shoulders, but rather the seam was mid-neck, behind the chin; the hair was not rooted, but a cut-out scalp that was attached by a hidden metal screw; the legs did not sprawl open when she was sitting. The doll was made of plastic and had molded eyelashes, pale skin and a painted face with side glancing eyes, high narrow eyebrows and red lips. Her fingernails were painted red, too. She wore her hair in a ponytail with one curl kissing the forehead. Her shoes and earrings were molded on. Her limbs were attached inside by coated rubber bands. The cartoon Lilli was blonde, but a few of the dolls had other hair colours. Each Lilli doll carried a miniature copy of Bild and was sold in a clear plastic tube, with the doll's feet fitted into the base of a stand labelled "Bild-Lilli" that formed the bottom of the tube; the packaging was designed by E. Martha Maar, the mother-in-law of the Hausser company owner. A total of 130,000 were made.

Despite her racy background, German girls fell in love with shapely Lilli and soon a high quality wardrobe was being produced featuring the fashion trends of the 50's; tight sweaters, capri pants, sexy pencil skirts, outfits for parties, the beach and tennis as well as cotton swing skirts, nighties and traditional German Dirndl dresses. Some of Lilli’s wardrobe were low-cut, very short and revealing, which didn't help with her reputation. Dollhouses, room settings, furniture, and other toy accessories to scale with the small Lilli were also produced by German toy factories to cash in on her popularity amongst children and parents.

The smaller version of Lilli was just shy of a foot tall, with bulging breasts and a platinum-blonde ponytail, made up for a night on the town with red puckered lips and blue eye shadow. Although Barbie’s curvy proportions are modeled after Lilli’s, the German doll’s heavy makeup and suggestively arched eyebrows didn’t carry over to the American version. The dolls also have different feet. Unlike Barbie, Lilli doesn’t have an arched foot with itty-bitty toes. She doesn’t even have a foot, the end of her leg is cast in the shape of a stiletto-heeled pump and painted a glossy black.

By 1958 Lilli had become so popular in Germany that a feature film was produced called Lilli - A Girl From the Big City. Portraying Lilli was a coveted role, so much so that a contest was held by BILD, who instructed it's female readers to send in their photos to compete for the role! Women from all over Germany entered the contest and BILD's offices were flooded with thousands of entries. In the end Danish actress Ann Smyrner was chosen as the winner. Which makes us wonder, if Max Schreck can play Dracula for the first time (but be called Count Orlok) can Ann Smyrner be the first person to play Barbie on screen (but be named Lilli)?

Ann Smyrner (1934 - 2016) was active in the 1960s in Italy, the United States, Austria and West Germany. She played in adventure, comedy, science fiction, crime, and horror movies, among which are the Sidney Pink science fiction movies Reptilicus and Journey to the Seventh Planet (both 1962). She trained at the Aarhus Theatre Schoolwas and was the daughter of Danish stage actor Poul Smyrner. Smyrner spent most of her screen career in Germany. She retired from acting in 1971 due to illness and moved to Spain. She also wrote philosophy articles about life, death, family and faith for various newspapers as well as publishing a book of devotions. She also allegedly practiced witchcraft for 17 years until renouncing it in 1970.

In the comics, Lilli was witty, irreverent and sexually uninhibited. One comic shows Lilli covering her naked body with a newspaper and explaining to a friend, "We had a fight and he took back all the presents he gave me." Another shows Lilli in a bikini; when a policeman tells her that two-piece swimsuits are illegal, she says, 'Oh, and in your opinion, which part should I take off?"

Lilli dolls (above left) were soon coveted by children as well as adults. They caught the eye of 15-year-old Barbara Handler on a 1956 vacation in Switzerland with her mother, Ruth, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. Ruth Handler brought three of the dolls home with her to California and introduced her own version at the 1959 American International Toy Fair in New York. The new doll was named Barbie (above right), after Handler’s daughter. Mattel acquired the rights to Bild Lilli in 1964, and production of the German doll ceased.

Changes to the original Lilli included the removing of her asterisk-shaped flower earrings from the mould as well as the removal of the moulded-on shoes, and the painting of the lips. The original head, made in two pieces in order to insert from the back the mohair ponytail and spit curl, would be transformed into a single piece head in heavy vinyl material as the hair on Barbie Doll was rooted and without a spit curl but with a full set of curly bangs. Everything else was kept the same since Lilli dolls’ construction was ultimately the best way to form the doll. Barbie, however, was injection-moulded high-quality vinyl which did not require stringing as Lilli did.

The success of Lilli and later Barbie inspired a number of knock offs. The self-proclaimed "Queen of Fashion", Babs showed up made from old Lilli moulds minus the earrings. Babs had a boyfriend and a sister Randy which was a copy of the Tammy doll by Ideal Toys. The Randy shown in the catalogue was actually a real Tammy doll with an ink spot on her cheek in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit from Ideal. It didn't work. All of these dolls’ wardrobes were identical copies of German Lilli’s, Barbie’s, Ken’s, Ideal’s Tammy doll clothing but very poorly made.

Several toy companies (mainly in Hong Kong) produced dolls resembling Bild Lilli, some from purchased original molds. A company in Spain also copied the molds and made a very similar doll, but with darker skin, white earrings and articulated waist. At the time Spanish society was extremely conservative and was not ready for such an "offensive" dolls. Mothers were not buying them for their daughters and the manufacturer had to retire them from the market.

In 1961 Hausser sold Louis Marx and Company the rights to make Lilli in Hong Kong for the American and Asian markets. This resulted in an official Hong Kong-made (no longer Bild) Lilli doll by Marx Toys. The Marx version of the dolls were available in and sold as a 12" Bonnie and a 15" Miss Seventeen(above left and middle). Marx, thinking they had the "Official" license to the Lilli doll, unsuccessfully attempted to sue Mattel for patent infringement. Mattel had been selling Barbie already for three years and had an agreement with Hausser as well. Also by this time the market was already flooded with all the other Hong Kong Lilli copies. Marx eventually dropped the suit and the dolls. Though, she was reincarnated a year later as a Miss Marlene (above right).

Barbie was originally marketed as a "Teenage Fashion Model" and around 350,000 dolls were sold during the first year.
Barbie was available as either a blonde or a brunette from the start, but the blonde dolls have always sold more.

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MATTEL

Mattel, Inc. 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, Enchantimals, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Masters of the Universe, American Girl, and Thomas & Friends. 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. It is the world's second largest toy maker in terms of revenue, after The Lego Group.

Elliot and Ruth Handler met as teens in 1932 at a dance in their mutual home town of Denver, Colorado, and later moved to California, where they married in June 1938.

Elliot, then a student at Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles (now ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena) and a born tinkerer, began working with a new plastic substance, lucite. He crafted light fixtures, mirrors, candelabras and figurines from it in the garage of the couple’s Hollywood apartment.

Ruth became convinced she could sell her husband’s designs, and her success at doing so led to the formation in 1939 of Elliot Handler Plastics at 3030 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles.

In 1941, the same year their daughter, Barbara, was born, the pair formed Elzac Jewelry, a jewelry-making venture with businessman Zachary Zemby. Elliot created the pieces, and his friend, Howard "Matt" Matson, was put in charge of manufacturing. The company’s distinctive lucite designs were popular, and it became a million-dollar enterprise in the early 1940s.

The Handlers and Matson became disenchanted with Zemby when he brought in new business partners they didn’t approve of, and they began thinking about forming their own firm in 1944.

The name "Mattel" comes from combining two names, the "Matt" of Harold "Matt" Matson and the "El" of Eliiot Handler. Mattel’s empire actually began in 1945 with picture frames. Elliot crafted them out of flocked wood, and they had no trouble selling them.

Soon, the new company branched out into dollhouse furniture made from lucite and the wood scraps left over from picture-frame production at their plant at 6058 Western Ave. in South Los Angeles. They sold briskly, and toys became Mattel’s focus. Other toy products followed, including a line of musical toys beginning with the Uke-a-Doodle in 1947, and the company moved again to larger quarters at 5432 W. 102nd St. in Los Angeles, in the industrial area just east of Los Angeles International Airport. Mattel is incorporated in 1948.

Poor health forced Matson to step aside, selling his shares in the private company to the Handlers who became its sole owners.

1947
The Company’s first big hit is the Uke-A-Doodle, a child-sized instrument designed to make music more interactive and accessible.

1955
Mattel begins television advertising through the Mickey Mouse Club, revolutionizing the way toys are marketed.

1959 The Barbie Doll.

The Barbie doll debuted in 1959, the creation of Ruth Handler, who named the doll after her daughter, Barbara. Handler had observed that Barbara and her friends preferred to play with paper dolls rather than real ones, because they enjoyed being able to change the dolls’ outfits. Handler got the idea to make a more realistic doll, with real clothes and different, changeable outfits, that could assume a variety of roles. Inspired by the racy German-made Bild Lilli doll she saw on while on vacation in Switzerland in 1956, she pushed the idea for a cleaned-up version that would become the Barbie doll. She presented the idea to the (all-male) Mattel executive committee, who rejected the idea as too expensive, and with little potential for wide market appeal. She persisted and eventually the board gave the go ahead. Barbie was introduced at the annual New York toy fair in March 1959. Sales were slow at first, but television advertising helped build Barbie into a best-seller. Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken, named for the Handlers’ son, was added in 1961. Barbie’s friend Midge arrived in 1963, and her younger sister, Skipper, became available in 1965. In 1998 Barbie is inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

In 2019 Barbie celebrates her 60th anniversary by honoring global role models and lighting up major landmarks in pink.

1960 Mattel becomes a publicly traded company and creates Chatty Cathy.

Mattel also acquired a number of companies during the 1960s. In 1965, the company built on its success with the Chatty Cathy doll to introduce the See 'n Say talking toy, spawning a new line of products. They released Hot Wheels to the market on May 18th, 1968. 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).

1960
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.

The company went public in 1960, and the New York Stock Exchange listed them in 1963.

1962
Mattel launches the first Barbie Dreamhouse. Barbie represents women in new ways, becoming a symbol of independence and empowerment. With its mid-century modern decor, girls can imagine entertaining friends or relaxing in their stylish living room.

1965
Barbie Astronaut goes to the moon.
She gets there four years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first people to land on the moon.

1967
Major Matt Mason is introduced. His spacesuit is inspired by NASA prototypes released in the 1960s.

1968
Mattel introduces Christie, the first Black doll, to the Barbie world.

1970 Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels is invented by a team of Mattel creators, which included a rocket scientist and a car designer. Sparked by Elliot’s idea for miniature die-cast vehicles that paired cool designs with speed, power and performance, Hot Wheels launches with a focus on igniting the challenger spirit in every child. In 1970 Hot Wheels brings drag racing back into pop culture with Snake & Mongoose. The re-creations of the rivalry between racecar drivers Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen encouraged kids to act out their own side-by-side racing battles.

In 1997 Hot Wheels partners with NASCAR to bring racing legends Kyle Petty and Jack Baldwin to the brand and putting NASCAR-themed vehicles into kids’ hands for the first time. The Hot Wheels-NASCAR partnership endured for the next decade.

In 2001 the first life-sized Hot Wheels car, the Twin Mill, is unveiled at the SEMA custom auto show in Las Vegas. Over 20 life-sized Hot Wheels are now in the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends.

In 2011, Hot Wheels smashes the world record for longest ramp-to-ramp distance jump at the 100th Anniversary of at the Indy 500, at a length of 332 feet.

In 2018 Hot Wheels turns 50 and celebrates its continued status as the #1 selling toy in the world with the Hot Wheels Legends Tour. 2020 would see Hot Wheels mark two major milestones, producing its 8 billionth die-cast vehicle and topping $1 billion in annual revenue.

Ruth Handler was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970. She had a modified radical mastectomy, which was often used at the time to combat the disease, and because of difficulties in finding a good breast prosthesis, she decided to make her own. With Peyton Massey, Ruth founded, Ruthton Corp., which manufactured a more realistic version of a woman's breast, called "Nearly Me" (above). She personally fitted one for the then first lady, Betty Ford.

1971 Mattel buys a Circus

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

1972 Big Jim

Big Jim was a line of action figure toys produced from 1972 through 1986 by Mattel for the North American and European markets. He was renamed Kid Acero in Latin America and, for a short period of time, Mark Strong in Europe. Originally inspired by G.I. Joe, the Big Jim line was smaller in size (closer to 10 inches in height compared to Joe's 12) and each figure included a push button in the back that made the character execute a karate chop action. The action figure's arms were made of a soft plastic/vinyl material and contained a mechanism that simulated the bulge of a biceps when the elbow was bent. Big Jim was less military-oriented than the G.I. Joe line, having more of a secret agent motif, but also had a large variety of outfits and situations available including sports, space exploration, martial arts, hunting, western, camping, fishing, and photography.

1974 Scandal

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. Handler was charged with fraud and false reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission. She pleaded no contest, was fined $57,000 and sentenced to 2,500 hours of community service. Ruth blamed her illness for making her being "unfocused" on her business. Ruth Handler sold her stock in 1980.

Though the Handlers took a more hands-off approach to their company's business practice after resigning, they continued to create new ideas. One project Ruth Handler took in the 1980s was Barbie and the Rockers. She was credited as a writer of the 1987 film Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World. Handler was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1997. Barbie is still alive and prominent in today's youth as children around the US adore the set of dolls. Advertisements are still played by channels with a younger audience and the impact Barbie has had is immeasurable. Both Ruth and Elliot Handler were the first living people inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame 1989.

Ruth Handler died in California from complications of surgery for colon cancer on April 27th, 2002, aged 85. In April 2008, Mattel honored Elliot Handler with a 90th birthday party at its headquarters in El Segundo, California. Guests included his daughter Barbara Segal, the namesake of the Barbie doll. Elliot Handler died of heart failure at home in Century City, a district of Los Angeles, California, at age 95 on July 21st, 2011.

1975
Mattel releases it's Space 1999 action figures. Arthur S. Spear, a Mattel vice president, takes control of the company in 1975, who returned the company to profitability in 1977.

1977
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. Mattel Electronics forced Mattel to take a $394 million loss in 1983 and almost filed for bankruptcy.

1978
Mattel Children's Foundation is created, with a vision of making a difference in the lives of children in need around the world. Since then, the Foundation has supported thousands of organizations and millions of children.

1979
Through Feld Productions, Mattel purchased the Holiday on Ice and Ice Follies for $12 million.

1980
Mattel introduces the first diverse line of dolls carrying the Barbie name.

1982 He-Man and Masters of the Universe

The first He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line of action figures is released. The Masters of the Universe franchise would become a $2 billion cultural phenomenon throughout the 1980s across toys and licensed products.

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. In 1991, Mattel moved its headquarters from Hawthorne, California to El Segundo, California.

1984
Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr joins Thomas & Friends series as narrator, the first of many famous storytellers that included George Carlin and Alec Baldwin.

1985
"We Girls Can Do Anything" campaign is launched. Girls everywhere hear "We can dream dreams and make them come true because nothing’s worth doing that we girls can’t do, your moms know it too. We girls can do anything, right Barbie?"
Also in 1985, Day-to-Night Barbie breaks the glass ceiling as a CEO.

1986
Barbie joins an esteemed list of American icons painted by Andy Warhol. The first Barbie portrait was reportedly inspired by Warhol’s muse, Billy Boy, a jewelry designer and member of New York’s downtown scene in the 1980s, who owned a vast collection of Barbie dolls.

1989
The world meets Polly Pocket. At 1-inch tall she lives in a miniature world all her own. Inside each small case an entire world waits to be discovered – a world that can fit right in your pocket!

Polly was first designed by Chris Wiggs in 1983 for his daughter Kate. Using a powder compact, he created a small house for the very small doll. Bluebird Toys of Swindon, England licensed the idea. The first Polly Pocket were sold in stores in 1989. Mattel held a distribution agreement with Bluebird Toys for Polly Pocket items and would later buy the company outright in 1998.

1992 If you can beat 'em... buy them!

Mattel entered the game business in 1992 with the purchase of International Games, maker of Uno and Skip-Bo.

In 1993 Fisher-Price is acquired by Mattel, adding the brand’s incredible catalog of pre-school toys to Mattel’s portfolio.

Tyco Toys, Inc. (owners of the Matchbox and Dinky Toys brands) was purchased in 1997, and after delighting parents and kids alike for almost 60 years, Mattel welcomed View-Master into the fold in same year.

Pleasant Company (maker of the American Girl brand) was bought in 1998.

Mattel purchased The Learning Company (formerly SoftKey) 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.

In 2011 HIT Entertainment is acquired by Mattel, adding Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Bob the Builder, Wishbone and many more to Mattel’s catalog of brands.

In 2014, Mattel acquires MEGA Brands. It's the number 2 player in the overall construction building sets category and the number one player within the pre-school construction category.

2000 Princesses, Wizards and Superheros

In 2000 Mattel earned the first grant for Disney Princess doll licenses and signed a deal with Warner Bros to become the master licensee for Harry Potter-branded toys. 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.

Also in December 2000, Mattel sued the band Aqua, saying their song "Barbie Girl" violated the Barbie trademark and turned Barbie into a sex object (does no one remember Lilli?), referring to her as a "blonde bimbo." The lawsuit was rejected in 2002.

Mattel would add 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 and Disney wasn't very happy with Mattel's Ever After Line either. 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." Their shared vision will have each Princess seem more like an individual character, with slightly different heights and waist sizes and features modelled on their animated versions, rather than identical Barbie-ish figurine with painted-on faces and different color dresses. In September 2014, Disney announced Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1st, 2016.

2002 The Last Factory

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. On August 14th, 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 could 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 noted for its crisis response by several publications.

2013
The Mattel Children’s Foundation partners with Barbie to create Ella, Friend of Barbie dolls to donate to organizations working with children experiencing hair loss from cancer, alopecia or any other medical condition.

2013
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.

2015
Barbie Introduces New Body Types to better reflect the world girls see today, Barbie introduces three new body types: curvy, petite, and tall. The launch of the new body types lands Barbie on the cover of Time magazine.

2016
Mattel acquires Fuhu, makers of Nabi tablets and other technology-driven hardware, in a bankruptcy proceeding for a sum worth $21 million. Mattel formed a new division formed over HIT, Playground Productions and the American Girl called Mattel Creations in March 2016. In July 2016, NBCUniversal announced Mattel acquired the license to produce toys based on the Jurassic Park franchise after Hasbro's rights expire in 2017.

2017
The Wall Street Journal reported that Hasbro had made a takeover offer for Mattel. At the time, Mattel worth was $5 billion, while Hasbro was about $11 billion. On November 15th, 2017, Reuters reported that Mattel rejected the offer.

2018
Ynon Kreiz was named company Chairman and CEO in April 2018. In June 2018, the company laid off 2,200 employees partially due to Toys R Us' liquidation. 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. On September 6th, 2018, Mattel announced the launch of a film division, Mattel Films, that will make movies based on the company's toy brands.

2020
Arts Music arranged to become the distributor of Mattel's music catalog in May 2020. Art Music planned to make available hundreds of never-before-released songs and new songs for existing properties with first up the digital launch on May 8th of Thomas & Friends’ birthday album.

2020
Play it Forward is launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its first campaign "Thank you Heroes" pays homage to the front line and medical workers that carried on bravely for the duration of the crisis.

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