Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel

( 9 )

Overview

An eye-popping, unauthorized exposéof 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 exposé, 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 ...

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Overview

An eye-popping, unauthorized exposéof 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 exposé, 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.

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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

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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470548585
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 784,317
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (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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Table of Contents

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

Chapter 1: Barbie's Untold Heritage.

Chapter 2: A Shocking Cover-up.

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

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

Chapter 5: Real-Life Barbie Dolls.

Chapter 6: Horrific Scandal, Controversy and Indictments.

Chapter 7: A Civil War and a Hollywood Romance.

Chapter 8: A Bloody Tragic Ending.

Part Two: A Drama Princess and the Barad Era.

Chapter 9: “Miss Italian America”.

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 14: The Processed Cheese Savior.

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

Chapter 16: Toy Terror 2007.

Chapter 17: An Outrageous Apology.

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

Chapter 19: Keep It Out of the News!

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

Author's Notes on Sources.

Selected Bibliography.

Acknowledgments.

Index.

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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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    Posted October 22, 2010

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    Posted November 22, 2012

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    Posted January 12, 2011

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    Posted November 7, 2013

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