Mattel Creations Reimagines Four Toy Icons in ‘The Art of Engineering’ Series

After 75 years in the game, toymaking has become intertwined into Mattel’s DNA. So what better way to start a new legacy than to honor the icons that helped shape the imaginations of millions of kids? One of the first projects dropping under the experimental Mattel Creations platform is The Art of Engineering series. The collection takes a peek under the hood at the creative genius behind some of Mattel’s most iconic properties — Barbie, Hot Wheels, Magic 8-Ball, and Masters of the Universe — showcasing the design and engineering required to turn ordinary materials into beloved play things. They’ve gone a step further and enlisted the talents of four emerging artists — Cristina Martinez, Distortedd, Gianni Lee, and Travis Ragsdale — to create their own interpretation of these legendary franchises, giving them carte blanche to tell their stories using Mattel toys as their canvas for expression.


After watching her daughter play with paper dolls, Ruth Handler created Barbie in 1959, a three-dimensional doll that went on to inspire generations of girls the world over. Barbie transformed how children played with dolls by introducing articulation and made dressing them up and posing a hallmark of the play experience.

How Barbie became a legend.


Using the mold for the very first Barbie, the doll that started it all is clearly in her element and reproduced in a stunning transparent form factor.

Barbie model profileBarbie model front onBarbie model face close up

Cristina Martinez Reimagines the OG Barbie as Women of Color

Cristina Martinez

Cristina Martinez is a Seattle-based artist who uses painting as a form of self-expression. Her art focuses on telling the often untold stories of Black and brown people. This particular piece reimagines the very first Barbie to reflect the many cultural contributions of Black people.
"I created a piece where a wider range of people could look at it and feel like, "Wow, that's me," or "I can see myself in that piece.”
Cristina Martinez with her artworkCristina Martinez's hand paintingSketches and painting ideasCristina Martinez with her two children
Cristina Martinez

Meet Cristina Martinez

How would you describe your artistic style to someone who's never seen your work?

I'm always growing and learning [and] my artistic style is still developing. I always tell people that I'm finding it, but I'm never looking for it. One thing that's really solid in my work and my creative process is the art of storytelling and my mission. I like to incorporate my own experiences, and the experiences of the people around me that I feel have to work a little bit harder to be seen and heard. So, a lot of my work revolves around shedding light on these experiences and stories that have impacted me in my own personal journey.

Could you explain your connection with Barbie?

This piece really means a lot to me. I definitely grew up playing [with] Barbies. A lot of Barbies that I had were hand-me-downs that had their hair cut off, and tattoos drawn on them, or the ones that weren't played with as much — ones that my cousin experimented on. That developed this love for a Barbie that was a little more edgy and different. I have a six-year-old daughter now that loves Barbie, and seeing the difference from when I was younger and what’s available now, and all the diversity, is just super inspiring. It really aligns with my work, shedding light on a wide range of people, and I was excited about doing this piece.

Can you talk about the piece you’ve created for this project? Why did you choose to interpret the piece this way?

I was inspired by the documentary Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie because it was a very real, raw side of Barbie. One thing that stuck out to me was when they showed the first Barbie ever created. She had fair skin, and was wearing this black and white striped outfit, and it was her shining moment where she became an icon. I took that moment and created that experience for a more diverse group of women, and for Barbie. I'm always for telling the stories of women, and putting the spotlight on women, especially Black and brown women. I thought it was cool to give that moment to more people, and I reflected that in my work.

What has your experience been like working with Mattel on this entire project?

It's honestly been a dream. It's so nice to see people that are still passionate about what they're doing, and allowing me the space to put a spotlight on Black and brown Barbies, because it's very important right now. The world is really listening to that story right now and understanding why Black and brown stories are so important. They knew I would speak to diversity, and I wanted to make sure I really used this opportunity to do that. They made it very easy for me, which I appreciate.
Words by Daniel So
Branded Content Editor

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