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Barbie and Elon: It’s a thing. Mattel and SpaceX are planning a toy line

A Barbie doll in an astronaut suit.
Barbie has traveled to space several times over the years, including Astronaut Barbie, first introduced in the 1960s. Now Mattel and SpaceX are teaming up on a toy line.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Mattel Inc. has agreed to make SpaceX-themed toys in partnership with Elon Musk’s rocket company.

In 2023, Mattel, the company that brought the world Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, will begin launching SpaceX-inspired toys under its Matchbox brand, best known to generations of children for its toy cars.

The toymaker also plans to launch SpaceX-related items on Mattel Creations, its online platform for collectors seeking limited-edition products.

Items bought by what the industry terms “kidults” helped U.S. toy sales surge 37% over two years, to $28.6 billion in 2021, according to data tracker NPD Group. A survey last year by the Toy Assn. trade group found that 58% of adult respondents bought toys and games for themselves.

The two companies didn’t reveal what the toys might be. But it raises the question of what’s next: A Musk action figure that tweets?

SpaceX — Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — makes the Starship rocket ship that Musk intends to one day fly to Mars, and the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule that ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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“We take pride in our ability to create products and experiences that honor cultural moments and inspire humankind,” Nick Karamanos, senior vice president for entertainment partnerships at Mattel, said in a statement.

“At SpaceX, we believe that a future in which humanity is out among the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one in which we are not,” Brian Bjelde, a vice president at SpaceX, said.

Mattel and SpaceX are almost neighbors. The toy giant’s El Segundo headquarters sits less than five miles from the spacecraft maker in Hawthorne.

Although the venture marks SpaceX’s first launch into the toy business, Mattel made NASA-inspired toys as early as the 1960s.

Its partnership with SpaceX comes just months after the toy giant released an updated Astronaut Barbie on its Mattel Creations site and shipped two dolls to the International Space Station in April.

After reaching the space station, the dolls “received an out-of-this-world tour of the ISS,” Mattel said at the time. After their return from space, the Barbies will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in an effort to “further engage young females on the excitement of space.”

Mattel on Thursday posted second-quarter net income of $66.4 million, after reporting a loss in the same period last year. Revenue rose to $1.24 billion. But the stock slipped in after-hours trading over concerns about falling sales of the American Girl line and a profit margin decline, attributed to higher costs of materials, transportation and royalties.


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