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Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel



Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

Jerry Oppenheimer

ISBN: 978-0-470-48024-3 February 2009 256 Pages

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An eye-popping, unauthorized expos? of the House of Barbie

From Boise to Beijing, Mattel's toys dominate the universe. Its no-fun-and-games marketing muscle reaches some 140 countries, and its iconic products have been a part of our culture for generations. Now, in this intriguing and entertaining expos?, New York Times bestselling author Jerry Oppenheimer places the world's largest toy company under a journalistic microscope, uncovering the dark side of toy land, and exploring Mattel's oddball corporate culture and eccentric, often bizarre, cast of characters.

Based on exclusive interviews and an exhaustive review of public and private records, Toy Monster exposes Mattel's take-no-prisoners, shark-infested corporate style. Throughout this scrupulously reported, unauthorized portrait, you'll discover how dangerous toys are actually nothing new to Mattel, and why its fearsomely litigious approach within the brutal toy business has helped their products dominate potential rivals such as Bratz.

  • Introduces you to the larger-than-life personalities that have shaped Mattel's eccentric world
  • Offers an inside look- from an experienced author-at the scandals that have been a part of this iconic company
  • Jerry Oppenheimer is also the author of Madoff with the Money, an in-depth look at Bernie Madoff the man and his billion dollar scam

Engaging and accessible, Toy Monster shows you why today's toy business isn't always fun and games.

Part One: The Barbie War and the Handler-Ryan Era 1

Chapter 1: Barbie’s Untold Heritage 3

Chapter 2: A Shocking Cover-Up 13

Chapter 3: From Weapons of Mass Destruction to Barbie, and the Knocking Off of a German Doll 19

Chapter 4: Putting the “Matt” in Mattel, and How the Toymaker Became a Hotbed of Aggressive Hotheads 37

Chapter 5: Real-Life Barbie Dolls 51

Chapter 6: Horrific Scandal, Controversy, and Indictments 65

Chapter 7: A Civil War and a Hollywood Romance 81

Chapter 8: A Bloody Tragic Ending 89

Part Two: A Drama Princess and the Barad Era 103

Chapter 9: “Miss Italian America” 105

Chapter 10: From “He-Man” to Home Depot 121

Chapter 11: A Fearsome and Firing Diva and the Great Whistleblower Debacle 135

Chapter 12: The Princess Diana Fiasco, Praying for Success, and Demi Plays Barad 147

Chapter 13: Another Whistleblower in the Ranks, Toyland’s Worst Acquisition, and the End of a Reign 161

Part Three: Toy Terror, the Bratz Attack, and the Eckert Era 181

Chapter 14: The Processed Cheese Savior 183

Chapter 15: Barbie’s Aging, Eckert’s Making Excuses, and the Bratz Pack is Booming 193

Chapter 16: Toy Terror 2007 201

Chapter 17: An Outrageous Apology 213

Chapter 18: “Like Something Out of The Exorcist” 227

Chapter 19: Keep It Out of the News! 235

Chapter 20: Don’t Diss Barbie, and the Toy Trial of the Century: Bratz vs. Barbie 247

Author’s Note on Sources 265

Selected Bibliography 267

Acknowledgments 269

Index 273

"Jerry Oppenheimer, best known for mordant biographies like "Just Desserts" (about Martha Stewart) or "State of a Union" (on Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage), has now trained his sights on the world's biggest toy company -- its egos, scandals and flawed products. In his toyland, nothing is cute." (The Wall Street Journal)

Oppenheimer (Just Desserts) takes a tour of Mattel’s seamier side, highlighting its dubious corporate practices and kooky cast in this scathing portrait to be published to coincide with Barbie’s 50th anniversary. Drawing on personal interviews and public sources, Oppenheimer paints a bleak picture of the peculiar practices of the adults running the toy company—including the “playboy” Jack Ryan, known as the “Father of Barbie” and rumored to be sexually obsessed with his creation, and Mattel cofounder and white-collar criminal Ruth Handler, who took credit for Barbie’s invention. The author chronicles the “Doll Wars”—the fierce competition and eventual litigation between Mattel and the creators of the rival Bratz line, as well as 2007’s “Black Friday the 13th,” when potentially deadly magnets and lead paint in the company’s most popular toys led to two massive recalls. Executive scapegoats and backpedaling resulted in public lashing from the media and intense public mistrust. Fast-paced and engaging, this exposé will absorb readers until the last page and will forever change the way they think about the company. (Mar.) (Publishers Weekly, January 26, 2009)