Mattel Creations Launches the ‘Collaboratory’ With Aleali May, Evan Mock & More
Mattel has always believed toys are canvases for creativity and that they should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age.
That philosophy is the guiding principle behind Mattel Creations, the brand’s collaborations platform responsible for some of the most innovative releases in recent memory. We explore why they love working with fresh talent in the next episode of Creator Stories, a series documenting our favorite Mattel Creations moments. After inviting the likes of groundbreaking artists MADSAKI and Shepard Fairey to design exclusive projects of their own, the playmaker is launching the ‘Collaboratory’ — a project that allows collaborators from all walks of life to meaningfully express their ideas through Mattel canvases. “Mattel Creations is all about allowing collaborators and partners to work with our IP to create something unique and beautiful,” says Ethan Wood, Mattel Creations’ design director. “It’s about toys as art and art as toys.”
The Collaboratory paired four creators hailing from diverse personal and professional backgrounds — Aleali May, Evan Mock, Kristopher Kites, and Blue the Great — with four iconic Mattel brands, resulting in a toy capsule destined to be collector’s items. They also got a chance to create one-of-a-kind pieces that’ll be displayed alongside other fine works at our HIGHart pop-up in Miami. We got an inside look at the design process between all four collaborators and what each property means to them.
For Kites, an avant-garde designer best known for his oversized custom jewelry, it was a chance to revisit a childhood favorite and fashion one of his signature chains from it. “Masters of the Universe is one of the forefathers of my dad’s childhood and mine too!” he says. “I’ve always loved toys and cartoons from all generations, and He-Man so arrogantly saying ‘I HAVE THE POWERRRRR’ was crazy.”
While He-Man is likely the crowd favorite for many, Kites picked a far less recognizable character to work on. “Orko is underrated and I felt there was so much exploration to be done with him,” Kites says. He also used it as an opportunity to push Mattel Creations into branching out with other characters instead of sticking to tried-and-true heroes and villains. Kites’ limited-edition Orko pendant features an iridescent chain that can be worn as a necklace or hung on a special light-up display base to bring the character to life.
Orko is underrated and I felt there was so much exploration to be done with him
Model, stylist and fashion designer Aleali May is no stranger to flexing her design chops with multiple Air Jordan collabs under her belt. But it’s her unique sense of style that caught the eye of Mattel Creations, and she used her impeccable styling know-how to create her first fashion collection for Barbie. It’s a full-circle moment for May, who started styling with her first childhood Barbie doll. “I wanted to create a mini version of myself as a Barbie, and create all the staple pieces I usually wear during Fashion Week,” she says. For May’s one-of-a-kind Barbie made in her likeness, she wanted to recreate one of her favorite looks from Paris Fashion Week. “They executed so flawlessly. Down to my A-chain, bag collaboration with jewelry designer Martine Ali, and even my first Jordan collab.”
I wanted to create a mini version of myself as a Barbie, and create all the staple pieces I usually wear during Fashion Week
Surfer and actor Evan Mock translated his hometown’s North Shore vibes into a Hot Wheels 1987 Toyota Pickup North Shore Edition — the same one he grew up driving in Oahu, Hawaii. “It was the first truck I ever owned and I really wanted to recreate it,” he tells us. “When I look at it now, I’m reminded of home and Hawaii. It was also the truck I sold to move to California to pursue my dreams, so it means a lot to me.”
It was the first truck I ever owned and I really wanted to recreate it, When I look at it now, I’m reminded of home and Hawaii.
Blue the Great
If you asked muralist, photographer Blue the Great why he chose to work on Thomas the Tank Engine, you’d probably think it was the connection to the character’s vibrant hue — but you’d be wrong. The Kendrick Lamar collaborator grew up watching the animated classic and fondly recalls playing with the toy train sets as a child. “Thomas was always leading the pack and we had everything from the mini toy to the large-scale Thomas toys back in the day,” he says.
Graffiti is one of Blue’s artistic disciplines and he was stoked to have a shot at reimagining this iconic character and making it his own. “When graffiti artists go tagging, trains are always one of the best canvases because it puts your art on the move, so I imagined ‘What if I got to tag Thomas the Train in the wild?”
When graffiti artists go tagging, trains are always one of the best canvases
Get a detailed look at each of their collabs above and visit Mattel Creations for more info on how to cop.