SpaceX rockets and spacecraft will soon come with a new tag: Made by Mattel.
The global toy company has entered into a multi-year agreement with Elon Musk’s commercial space company to create and market toys inspired by SpaceX’s launch vehicles (opens in new tab). The first products under the partnership will be released in 2023 as part of Mattel’s Matchbox series of molded cars, as well as through Mattel’s collaborative and direct-to-consumer platform, Mattel Creations.
The collaboration is SpaceX’s first agreement with a worldwide toy company. “At SpaceX, we believe that a future where humanity is out among the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one we are not in,” said Brian Bjelde, vice president of SpaceX, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Mattel to help inspire the next generation of astronauts and enthusiasts.”
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The announcement was made on International Moon Day, the 53rd anniversary of the first lunar landing of Apollo 11. Among the vehicles that SpaceX is currently developing is a version of the Starship spacecraft for landing use. (opens in new tab) under NASA’s Artemis program and the next missions to the moon’s surface.
The news also came at the end of the San Diego Comic Con, where Mattel is among the exhibitors.
“We are proud of our ability to create products and experiences that honor cultural moments and inspire humanity,” said Nick Karamanos, SVP Entertainment Partnerships at Mattel. “As space exploration goes faster than ever before, we are excited to work with SpaceX and help create unlimited play patterns for the astronaut of all children.”
No details were released on which specific SpaceX sets would come next year, except that Mattel Creations’ line would include “elevated collectibles.”
Although it was a first for SpaceX – the company has previously only licensed one model store (opens in new tab) to make desktop versions of some of their vehicles – this is not Mattel’s first entry into the world of space travel and exploration, or even SpaceX missions.
Earlier this year, the toy company partnered with the International Space Station National Lab to send two Barbie dolls to the orbiting outpost (opens in new tab) to encourage girls to pursue careers in space and engineering. Mattel has also created Barbie dolls style after real astronauts and cosmonauts Sally Ride (opens in new tab)Samantha Cristoforetti (opens in new tab) and Anna Kikina (opens in new tab)and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (opens in new tab).
Under its Hot Wheels brand, Mattel has worked with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to produce miniatures of NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers. (opens in new tab). The company also celebrated the launch of a Tesla Roadster on the first flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket by releasing Hot Wheels toy versions (opens in new tab) of Musk’s remote electric sports car.
Matchbox has also sold space-related vehicles, which can be dated several decades back. In recent years, the brand’s toy cars have included NASA’s Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) (opens in new tab) and, as part of the Sky Busters flight series, a molded version of the Sierra Spaces Dream Chaser (opens in new tab) small spacecraft.
At the San Diego Comic-Con, which begins Thursday (July 21), Mattel reintroduces Major Matt Mason, an astronaut action figure from the late 1960s. The refreshed astronaut is part of Mattel Creations’ “Back in Action” collection.
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