'Toy Monster' details Barbie-maker Mattel's dark side

•Bratz and MGA. Since 2004, lawsuits have been fired back and forth between MGA, the maker of the popular Bratz dolls, and Mattel. Oppenheimer covers a May 2008 settlement between Mattel and Carter Bryant, a former Mattel employee who designed the Bratz dolls for rival company MGA, as well as the $100 million copyright-infringement lawsuit Mattel won against MGA last summer.

Oppenheimer devotes considerable space to "flamboyant and ambitious" Jill Barad, who climbed the ranks at Mattel, promoted to Barbie marketing director in 1982, co-president of Mattel USA in 1990 and CEO in 1997. In 2000, Barad was ousted but received a $50 million golden parachute, Oppenheimer writes.

Current CEO Robert Eckert receives scrutiny as well, taken to task by Oppenheimer for the handling of recalled products and the Chinese lead-paint scandal.

Despite all the positive hoopla surrounding Barbie's 50th birthday coming up in March, Toy Monster may make it hard for anyone to look her in the eye, let alone buy her.

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