Corporations: All's Swell at Mattel

  • Share
  • Read Later

(2 of 2)

Barbie and her wardrobe reflect a favorite Mattel device that Elliot Handler calls "the razor and razor blade" technique. Explains Handler: "You get hooked on one and you have to buy the other. Buy the doll and then you buy the clothes. I know a lot of parents hate us for this, but it's going to be around a long time." Parents, in fact, get scant sympathy from the Handlers, whose advertising is admittedly designed to evoke the razor-razor blade urge in children. Says Elliot Handler unapologetically: "We feel it's up to the parents to handle the child."

On the Frontier. As chairman and president of Mattel, Elliot Handler, 46, likes to think up new toys. Chic, aggressive Executive Vice President Ruth Handler, 45, oversees manufacture and administration. (By family agreement, they never talk business at home.) Husband and wife aspire to make Mattel the world's biggest toymaker; this year, if their sales hit $80 million as expected, they will achieve their goal and surpass longtime industry leader Louis Marx (TIME cover, Dec. 12, 1955).

In their drive for the top, the Handlers this year alone have doubled their plant space and payroll (to 4,400). At Mattel's Los Angeles factory, a staff of 200 toy developers, including chemists, sculptors and engineers, tinker behind locked doors on an annual research budget of $1,500,000. Currently, the company has 17 new toy "principles" ready to employ in a variety of toys. Exults Jack Ryan, a onetime missile engineer who heads Mattel's R. & D. department: "We're right out on the frontier of technology."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next Page