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What put the Hot in Hot Wheels?
In January 1945, while World War II still raged, Elliot and Ruth Handler joined a partner, Harold “Matt” Matson, to start a company in the Handlers’ garage in Los Angeles. Matson and Elliot combined their nicknames to come up with Mattel Creations. The young company produced picture frames, later adding dollhouse furniture made from the resulting picture-frame scrap. Health problems forced Matson to sell his shares to the Handlers, who kept the name and focused on toys. In 1947, the company's first hit was the Uke-A-Doodle, a child-size ukulele. Later, we'll see how a musical instrument would ultimately contribute to the success of car enthusiasts' favorite Mattel toys: Hot Wheels diecast model cars.
How successful? More than 4 billion sold to date, which makes it the best-selling toy car in history. It wasn't Mattel's first big hit, though.