Mattel Electronics

A Brief History of Mattel Electronics

I have a soft spot for defunct toy companies: Ideal, LJN, Worlds of Wonder, Coleco, Kenner, and my personal favorite, Mattel Electronics. Whether its specific products, the logos or the retro technology, Mattel Electronics is one of those extinct brands that instantly ignites nostalgia in me.

Simply put, Mattel Electronics was just what the name implies. It was a subsidiary of Mattel, founded in 1977, that focused on the creation of electronic games. They quickly became an innovator in handheld electronic games, most notably Football. Then they evolved into one of the pioneers of the home video game boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s with the introduction of the Intellivision and corresponding games and accessories.

Enjoy this classic Commercial

As the video game industry grew, so did the company. They grew rapidly. From 100 employees to 1,000 in 1982 as a response to demand for creating their own game titles. Since many of us have strong memories of the Intellivision it is easy to forget that this storied company was not in business for very long. Due to heavy competition from Atari and new consoles, like the Colecovision, and market saturation, Mattel Electronics suffered from the Great Video Game Crash recording $394 million in losses by 1983.

Those losses were too much for Mattel so it had no choice but to sell or close all of its non-toy-related subsidiaries. On January 20th of 1984, Mattel Electronics ceased to exist. Even though the company lasted less than 10 years, it wasn’t without its impact on pop culture.

In 2013, I began to collect anything with the Mattel Electronics name on it. Through a series of articles I will be highlighting different aspects of the company. Whether its specific products or product lines, there is a lot to reminiscence about Mattel Electronics.

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6 thoughts on “A Brief History of Mattel Electronics

  1. vinvectrex says:

    Although I’m an Intellivision afficianado, I didn’t realize the entire division was gone by 1984. Looking forward to more coverage of this.

  2. TheSixMillionDollarJedi says:

    I thought the same thing when I was researching. I figured it was a much stronger company than that.

  3. I hope you pardon this next shameless plug, but I wanted to let you know that some of us still program for our 35 year-old favorite console.

    (Here it comes…)

    Being Christmas Time and all, you may want to check out my game, “Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost Of Christmas Presents.” It’s an original title, full of whimsical seasonal charm. Plus its lots of fun.

    You can find out more information on the official web site.

    What’s more, the ROM is available for free! How’s that for a Merry Christmas? :)

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Looking forward to more from you on Mattel Electronics, SMDJ!

    Those handhelds were positively futuristic, at the time (and they still kinda are, when you look at them in action).

    Still have my Battlestar Galactica: Space Alert. It followed me everywhere.

    Used to play my cousin’s Mattel Football every time I went to his house.
    I’d walk into the living room, sit down and, while waiting for him to show up, the Football game would be there, on the little lamp table.
    I’d hold it in my hand, turn it on, hear the boop, and the day just got better.

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