Mattel #5046 Man in Space, Major MATT MASON Ringbinder

#5046 Man in Space, Major MATT MASON Ringbinder Front

Mattel's Major Matt Mason Man in Space Ringbinder was the typical vinyl binder we all remember carrying when we were in grade school. No slender hard plastic thing here, but rather screen printed, oily-vinyl covering thin, stiff cardboard. The three-ring mechanism was riveted to the spine of the binder and small metal tabs on the ends were used to ease opening the rings for insertion of loose-leaf notebook paper. The vinyl is printed on one side with the same Major Matt Mason graphic used in the Man in Space wallet, showing Matt doing a space walk outside the hull of a spaceship, while other astronauts look on or follow. The side and spine are printed with "Mattel's Man in Space - Major Matt Mason."

#5046 Man in Space, Major MATT MASON Ringbinder Spine
#5046 Man in Space, Major MATT MASON Ringbinder Back
This is perhaps the rarest of official Mattel Major Matt Mason products that is not part of the play-toy line. The occasional wallet shows up on eBay, but as of 2022.11.25 the ringbinder has appeared only four times. The pics included above are from the example sold in that auction (now in the collection of Rick Porter).


The blue ringbinder is screen-printed with green, black and white and is 11 9/16" x 10 1/4" x 2 1/2" Copyright is 1966. This binder may have included some type of insert or registration card, as Mattel often tried to upsell other products and get names and addresses of their consumers. It may also have been shrink-wrapped and/or wrapped in some type of partial cardboard band.

Mattel Catalog Specifications:

(First appearance: Mattel Toys 1967 "Toy Fair" Catalog Page 35)

Valiant astronaut ready for extra-vehicular activity!
Size: 10 ˝" x 11 ΕΎ"
Each in Std. Pack: 1 Doz
Wt: 13 Lbs.
This appears to be the only catalog where the Ringbinders were offered.


  • I own examples that have the ring-release at the top or at the bottom
  • The conceptual art is slightly different from the actual production art. See Mattel #5041 Ringbinder Assortment.

John's Notes:

As mentioned above, this is an extremely rare item and was part of Mattel's attempt to incorporate a vinyl lunchbox company that was an early 60's acquisition. The story goes that Mattel expanded to include a small lunchbox company (Superior Products) whose product lines were all vinyl-covered cardboard. Casting about for uses other than lunchboxes, Mattel went into business manufacturing notebooks, doll cases, purses, medical bags, and ultimately the Wallet, Lunchbox, Talking Command Console, Rocket Ship Case and Satellite Locker for Major Matt Mason.

Looking for more ideas, the design team noted that there was a need for some type of car case, to house the small Matchbox cars that Lisney was producing (they were extremely popular). While looking at some Matchbox cars to get a fit for the case-dividers, one of the engineers remarked that the cars were well done but would hardly roll when pushed. A newcomer who had been experimenting in his previous job with a small vinyl bearing came up with the idea of making each wheel/axle combination independent...and this is supposedly how the Hot Wheels concept was born!

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2024 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton.

No comments: