Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

4.3 9
by Jerry Oppenheimer
     
 

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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

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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

From the Publisher
"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)

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:
02/24/2009
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

JERRY OPPENHEIMER has written eight biographies of major American icons, from Martha Stewart and Barbara Walters to the Clintons and Kennedys, and has worked in all facets of journalism, from national investigative reporting in Washington, D.C., to producing TV news and documentaries. He's quoted in magazines such as Vanity Fair, and is a frequent guest on national TV interview and syndicated magazine shows, including Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Anderson Cooper 360, Nancy Grace, BBC News, Fox News, and more.

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Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
concernedmon More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Lulu-NY More than 1 year ago
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!
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gaylene21 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago