Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

( 9 )

Overview

Praise for Toy Monster

"Jerry Oppenheimer, one of America's great biographers, has expanded his vision in this book by probing and exposing the dark side of the multibillion-dollar, international toy industry. Thoroughly researched, beautifully written, Oppenheimer's opus contains all the intrigue and drama of an epic novel. Barbie will never be the same! I can hardly wait for the film version."
C. David Heymann, author of A Woman Named ...

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Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

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Overview

Praise for Toy Monster

"Jerry Oppenheimer, one of America's great biographers, has expanded his vision in this book by probing and exposing the dark side of the multibillion-dollar, international toy industry. Thoroughly researched, beautifully written, Oppenheimer's opus contains all the intrigue and drama of an epic novel. Barbie will never be the same! I can hardly wait for the film version."
C. David Heymann, author of A Woman Named Jackie

"'Behind every great fortune is a great crime.' So wrote Balzac, which gave The Godfather its opening epigram. But a great crime behind the sweet House of Barbie? Yikes! Terrors in toy land! The scandal. The skullduggery! This book is enough to scare Santa Claus."
Kitty Kelley, author of The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty

"Mattel was a place you had to watch your back. It has always been a place where people are pitted against each other. . . a shark pond. As one former top executive declares, 'You throw people in and see if they can swim fast enough to stay alive.' Another says, 'There was a tremendous amount of self-merchandising. People were constantly making it known how great they were in order to get noticed.'"
—From Toy Monster

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Journalist and pop biographer Oppenheimer (e.g., Front Row; Anna Wintour) here covers the more sensational side of the toy industry with this unauthorized company history of Mattel. He begins by focusing on Jack Ryan, who was hired by Mattel for research and development and who claimed to be the "Father of Barbie." Much is made of Ryan's sexual peccadilloes, including requiring his wives and girlfriends to hew as closely to Barbie's physical characteristics as possible, going so far as encouraging them to have plastic surgery and take diet pills. The book continues through the history of Mattel, including the rise and fall of Jill Barad (CEO from 1996 to 2000) and her replacement by Robert Eckert, former Kraft CEO. It also outlines the changing marketplace, including the creation of the He-Man action figure, the uproar caused by the emergence of the competing Bratz dolls, and the recent liability suits brought by parents of children tragically injured or killed through lead paint and tiny magnets in Mattel products. Marking the dark side behind the decline of yet another iconic American company, this is a tabloid-style book covering tabloid topics. Purchase only where there is interest.
—Susan Hurst

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470371268
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,116,860
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The Barbie War and the Handler-Ryan Era 1

Ch. 1 Barbie's Untold Heritage 3

Ch. 2 A Shocking Cover-Up 13

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

Ch. 4 Putting the "Matt" in Mattel, and How the Toymaker Became a Hotbed of Aggressive Hotheads 37

Ch. 5 Real-Life Barbie Dolls 51

Ch. 6 Horrific Scandal, Controversy, and Indictments 65

Ch. 7 A Civil War and a Hollywood Romance 81

Ch. 8 A Bloody Tragic Ending 89

Pt. 2 A Drama Princess and the Barad Era 103

Ch. 9 "Miss Italian America" 105

Ch. 10 From "He-Man" to Home Depot 121

Ch. 11 A Fearsome and Firing Diva and the Great Whistleblower Debacle 135

Ch. 12 The Princess Diana Fiasco, Praying for Success, and Demi Plays Barad 147

Ch. 13 Another Whistleblower in the Ranks, Toyland's Worst Acquisition, and the End of a Reign 161

Pt. 3 Toy Terror, the Bratz Attack, and the Eckert Era 181

Ch. 14 The Processed Cheese Savior 183

Ch. 15 Barbie's Aging, Eckert's Making Excuses, and the Bratz Pack Is Booming 193

Ch. 16 Toy Terror 2007 201

Ch. 17 An Outrageous Apology 213

Ch. 18 "Like Something Out of The Exorcist" 227

Ch. 19 Keep It Out of the News! 235

Ch. 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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    A FASCINATING AND SCARY LOOK INTO THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL TOY COMPANY

    as a parent who was dumbfounded in 2007 when my child's favorite mattel toys were being recalled because of lead in the paint and dangerous magnets, i decided to blame china for all of the problems and give mattel the benefit of the doubt. after all i grew up on mattel's barbie and chatty cathy. when i heard about this book, i thought it would continue to assuage my concerns about mattel. boy, was i in for the shock of my life. jerry oppenheimer has written a dark and scary expose of the world inside mattel and the bizarre characters who have run the place since day one and the off the wall corporate culture that exists there. who would think of sex and drugs in the same sentence as barbie and hot wheels. this is a true page turner from the first to the last! i learned that toy recalls are really a public relations gimmick. i learned how mattel pushed to settle cases of 2 kids who almost died swallowing magnets in order to stifle media reports. i learned that the woman cofounder of mattel was a white collar criminal who also lied about who really brought barbie to life. this is not a business book, but rather a horror story. someone should make it into a movie!!!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    The REAL story of Barbie (and Ken)

    Good book, telling the behind-the-scenes facts about the Mattel Corporation and the beginning of the Barbie Doll at Mattel. Very interesting, especially if you live in Southern California and are aware of the people involved and the Mattel Corporation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2009

    A highly enjoyable book!

    A very interesting account of Mattel and Barbie history. It definitely gives an intriguing look into world most people know nothing about. If you have interest in business in general, it is a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Not worth buying

    The writing style is too jumpy and hard to follow, and the co-inventor of Barbie was such a repulsive human being that it's hard to read about his life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 24, 2009

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