Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli and Baravelli (Italy)

It all started with a rumor among Major Matt Mason collectors in the late 90's in the US, that there had existed somewhere in Europe a Space Station for the alien. Simone (an Italian student living in the United States) wrote the following to John: "The Alien Base in the Major Matt Mason line truly existed; it was part of the MMM Italian releases by Mattel Italy for 1971. It was a variation of the Mexican Space Station, as far as I can tell; it came in an Italian box (artwork, no photos, everything written in Italian), and it read "Base Aliena" and something else under that, explaining that it was the home of Callisto. A Callistian base was featured on the very popular MMM comic strip that appeared in the Italian comic book "Corriere dei Piccoli" in 1969." Cool, huh?!

Paul then started off on a chase to find these comics which lasted more than half a year. Here's what he found (with some additions provided by John):

Baravelli Distribution 

The MMM toy line was launched in Italy in fall 1968, imported by a joint-venture effort by Baravelli and EG (Editrice Giochi). EG was the Italian importer for Barbie, board games (Lie Detector / Barbie reginetta del ballo), Switch'n'Go, Agent Zero M, Little Kiddles, etc. The first ad appeared on Topolino in October 1968.

MMM Baravelli Introduction Ad 1968 from Topolino

This very attractive 2-page ad appeared in 3 consecutive issues of Topolino, the Italian Mickey Mouse magazine.

Italian Baravelli Fold-out ad 1968 in Topolino 678

Baravelli ad catalog plus the 2-page ad below.


TV Sorrisi e Canzoni (15 December 1968)

Baravelli ad featuring MMM.

Baravelli Natale 1969 Catalog from Topolino

Small advert for the "Matt Mason" Flipper in a Baravelli insert accordion catalog.

Baravelli Art. 69058 "Matt Mason" Flipper

The Baravelli "Matt Mason" Flipper (AKA bagatelle).

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli

Mattel Italy opened in late 1969. Christmas 1969 saw the launch of Bruciapista (HW) and official Italian MMM products. According to contributor Simone Bregni, early Italian-market MMM boxed sets were printed in black/blue like the sides of US boxes but lacked the large photo-label. There were also sets specialized for the Italian Market like a Base Aliena (Alien Base). It's my thought that this may have occurred during the Baravelli era but thus far one of these boxed items haven't come up. Most MMM boxed sets that have surfaced in Italy appear to have been packaged in the US and shipped to Europe.

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli Logo

Post toy distribution by Baravelli, Mattel used this logo in their Italian-specific marketing campaigns.

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli 1969 Catalog

Utilizing the cover of the US 1968 Catalog, Mattel continues in the Italian marketplaces, offering their usual fare, and of course, Major Matt Mason!

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli LINEA MATTEL "69" Catalog

Two pages of Major Matt Mason with this product line catalog for 1969, co-marketed with Ronini Giocattoli, a toy store in Torino.

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli 1970 Catalog

Mostly the same line-up as the 1969 Giocattoli Catalog with new chip-boxed accessories.

Mattel S.p.A. Giocattoli MMM Poster Giveaway

To spice things up in Italy a free poster was given away free with any MMM purchase!

Major Matt Mason Appearances in Italian Comic Books (Ads and Comic Story)

Here's a list of Major Matt Mason Italian comic book appearances for TOPOLINO and CORRIERE DEI PICCOLI. See below for the story "Gli Esploratori Dello Spazio" to read sequentially and the ads previewed separately.

Italian Comic Story "Gli Esploratori Dello Spazio" from Corriere dei Piccoli (1969)

Paul Vreede provides scans from the Italian comic story "Space Explorers" published in the Topolino feature "Corriere dei Piccoli." Check out the translations by Paul Vreede and his annotations/commentary.

Major Matt Mason ads from Corriere dei Piccoli (1969)

Once again Paul Vreede provides new images from the Italian comic book Topolino corresponding to Corriere dei Piccoli. Check out the vintage shots of Matt, Storm, Jeff and Doug!

Corriere dei Piccoli Space-Surprise Insert (1969)

Readers of Corriere dei Piccoli could collect tokens to become a member of the MAC Italy club via this special insert in Issue N. 43.

Mattel Astrospace Club - Italy

MAC Italy had its own unique items for club members.

Italian Talking Major Matt Mason

This neat item was discovered by MMM collector Bill Ystrom. Italian Mattel Catalogue images from Paul Vreede.

SAAR Italian "Scorpio" Record

I picked up this unusual item late in 2000. While the song really has nothing to do with Scorpio, it's interesting that the sleeve features a photo of a complete Scorpio figure.

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 or Paul Vreede.

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