At 15 inches tall and 12 inches wide and sporting a bright blue, vibrant yellow, and lively red cover, Mattel: 70 Years of Innovation and Play is just as beautiful on the outside as it is interesting on the inside. Compiled by Assouline Publishing House in 2015 for the 70-year anniversary of Mattel, the book features a foreword by Richard Dickson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mattel at the time of publication, as well as an insightful introduction before the main event: large, vibrant photos of Mattel’s toys and games over the years.
The introduction tells the story of Mattel’s beginning in a California garage in 1945. The Handlers, Ruth, a stenographer, and Elliot, an art school dropout, partnered with Harold “Matt” Matson, who they eventually bought out in 1948, to found Mattel. With Elliot’s passion for design and engineering and Ruth’s entrepreneurial spirit, Mattel was destined for fame.
Mattel is known for many famous brands of toys and games that have been household staples for children all around the world, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, American Girl, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, and Uno. The photos feature close-ups of these toys and games, beginning with original manufacturers all the way to the toys we recognize today. Thanks to the large size of the book, the details featured in the close-ups are impeccable and captivating.
In addition to photos, the coffee-table book features quotes from famous figures and Mattel employees alike, including founders Ruth and Elliot Handler, former Mattel CEOS Tim Kilpin and John Amerman, designers Karl Lagerfeld and Patricia Field, as well as other notable public figures, including Elizabeth Taylor.
The final pages of the book present a comprehensive timeline of all the notable toys and games that Mattel has produced. Both informational and interesting, 70 Years of Innovation and Play celebrates the legacy of toy-making that Mattel has created and continues to develop.
Julia DeKorte is a book reviewer focused on the noteworthy people and manufacturers from the toy and game industry. In addition to Toy Tales, she is a regular contributor at People of Play.