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Mattel-made M16 magazines during Vietnam?


Capt.Confederacy
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I have a set of nice A1 hand guards and I thought I would try to see if they were marked at all behind the heat shields, that are still firmly attached to the hand guards. I was unsuccessful because there just isn't any easy way to shine a light in behind the heat shields and see any amount of the hand guard surface inside. Someone with a fiber optic viewer would have a much better shot at seeing what if anything is marked there.

 

In case there are Mattel marked hand guards out in the world, this might explain why they haven't been reported yet. After all, no one wants to damage their perfectly good hand guards trying to get a peek behind the heat shields.

 

Bob

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There has to be proof somewhere out there. ………….. You can tell me anything, but you cannot tell me what I have seen or experienced.

Incidentally, never seen Bigfoot or a UFO, but I did enjoy The Jetsons. Out.

 

Well Sarge, why don't you take the initiative and do the research since you believe that the actual myth is that they don't exist, due to your recollection and alleged first-hand experience with the Mattel marked hand guard. I have not encountered anyone in many years with your motivation in regard to this issue. Think of the satisfaction you would get by proving that Mattel did make the hand guards.

Early issue M16 hand guards are now collector's items and are increasingly difficult to find so there would be significant upside to putting out the word to those with them to look and see who made them and cataloguing the information. There are many, many thousands of hand guards in the possession of private collectors now that were not there forty years ago. Researching the hand guards would add valuable historic information to the recorded history of the M16s which is already extremely well documented. I say this in all seriousness, as I have done exactly that with several other enduring examples of misinformed folklore in the history of vintage MG.

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US Victory Museum

Some day someone will do the proper research and find it, because it's there.

Here's a hint. It was done in the past few decades. Never found. Never happened.
However, don't let this stop YOU from being that SOMEONE whom you are speaking of.
Like "Bubba" suggested, you do the proper research and prove us wrong.

"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence"
--- David Hume (1748)

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
--- Carl Sagan

 

 

 

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It's going to take some of the smaller sized ones. Took a look at some hand guards I have and IMHO, it will take a diameter of less than 1/10 inch to get under most of it. I know they make them, but I don't have anything that small.

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has anybody considered the current political climate of anti gun sentiment may prohibit mattel from admitting involvement in a weapons project? toy guns are one thing but a real weapon!!!!,fyi i was told by an "expert" the only contractor for m-16,m-16a1's was colt,this was after i told him my issued weapon in basic was an H&R,and i had the only one in the whole company

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  • 3 weeks later...
RustyCanteen

For what it's worth, after reading this thread I began to wonder what possible marking could have been seen/read that spelled out the company. Obviously there is no evidence offered by either side in this; some say absolutely 'No!' and others say 'Yes!' to the Mattel question. I don't really have any position on it since it isn't exactly my cup of tea, but the idea of a toy company manufacturing some odd component for the military doesn't seem far-fetched given that Lionel (the toy manufacturer best known for toy trains) made many items from communications to navigation instruments and related equipment during WWII and later. A.C. Gilbert made various items under contract in WWII. etc. So the toy connection interests me.

 

While doing a google search I found references (posted to various forums and yahoo answers) which claimed that someone had seen the synthetic M1903 drill stocks made by them. I've never heard of any such marking on those stocks, but I admit I don't really follow things like that.

 

Anyway, the results of the search were inconclusive as to just what was seen; a logo or just the words 'Mattel'. I ran across the various posts stating that the grips were made by them; but no one said where the marking allegedly was located on them.

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  • 4 years later...
Redlionchief
On 2/1/2016 at 6:38 AM, Old Sarge said:

The M16A1 issued to me at Basic Training, Ft Jackson SC, in 1987 had a handguard with "Mattel, Inc" on it.

In 1979 I had an M16A1 with Mattel handguards. I didn’t know it was a dispute until a couple of days ago. Snopes says they stoped printing Mattel on the grip because of complaints but still manufactured them for  awhile.

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Certainly no expert and I’m unsure either way but just a thought. If the Mattel logo is located in an area that you can’t even see it when your trying and need a specialty camera to see then why would they put it there to begin with? From what Iv read here people who have seen it said they only saw it when their handguard broke. Seems like an awful strange place to put a logo. Also if that is the case what are the odds that enough people happened by chance to see it by accident then complained on top of that to make them stop adding it? Especially when people who are trying to find it can’t. I’m not at all trying to insult anyone and acknowledge fully that I could easily be wrong. 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Surplus store in 70s had a box of hand guards for 2 bucks a set I think. Nobody has parts back then so even a well worn set was worth having. You can see mold numbers through the larger hole but there may be more inside. It's hard to get a pic. After discussion I was tempted to take them apart but still might need them. At least this is non destructive so anyone interested can take a look at what they have. 

 

Right side has RB

 

Left has 32 L

20200714_194057.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't have a dog in this hunt, and I don't have any evidence that Mattel made M16 handguards.  However, it makes sense that Mattel could have made plastic M16 hand guards.  They made plastic toys.  Government contracts can be lucrative, and if a company can get one to easily run in parallel to their normal product, all the better.

 

If you think the government would never let a toy company make hand guards, let's dispel that myth with a WWII example.  Strombeck-Becker was a toy manufacturer that contracted to make Thompson Submachine Gun horizontal foregrips during WWII.  The wartime product was easily adapted to their core competency of manufacturing wooden toys.  They were given the marking code "M," which they applied to the rear of the grip.  Here is a picture of one.

 

IMG_6958.jpg.3ebefc2914a6c22ce3fdad49126c80a9.jpg

 

Here is a Strombecker (same company) toy catalog from 1981 that I have in my collection.  As can be seen, they later adapted to make plastic toys, like Mattel.

 

IMG_6960.jpg.714da9550a54d97eb9b8de53fa142148.jpgIMG_6957.jpg.35d995e1404ab20421c3640ba895df65.jpg

 

For the alleged Mattel hand guard to be marked in a non-visible area is really inconsequential.  Handguards were assembled during production, and a component marking would have been obvious prior to assembly.  If a quality issue existed with a component like a hand guard piece, it more than likely would have been caught prior to assembly into the completed hand guard, and the marking would have served to provide appropriate quality feedback to the subcontracted part manufacturer.  There was really no immediate reason for a soldier to be able to identify all the component manufacturers of their rifle parts at a glance.  If something failed later in the field, it could be disassembled, and any component issue reported based on the failure.  With things like plastic parts, they were likely tested in batches, and inspected for things like correct color mix, etc.  I know of batches of stocks for current military contract rifles being rejected because of incorrect plastic color.  Anyway, marking a component in an obvious spot was not necessary, and an example from the Thompson world can again serve as an example of such.  Savage vertical foregrips were marked inside the grip hanger channel, which is where the grip attached with a long screw to the grip hanger under the barrel.  The marking was not visible unless you took the grip completely off the Thompson.

 

I've heard the Mattel story since the early 1980's.  I lean towards the Mattel hand guard being real, but again, I don't present any evidence specific to it. But if you're on the fence because you don't think a toy company would make a product that easily dovetails with their manufacturing processes, or you doubt that manufacturer marks might be hidden, then I hope my examples provide food for thought.

 

Thanks!

 

David Albert

 

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  • 5 months later...

I was referring more to the fact that it’s strange to consider that Mattel would put a logo that is either the full name or something easily recognizable to someone as Mattel in such a place. With your example it’s simply an M for a company that doesn’t even begin with or is easily recognizable with the letter M. Clearly it would make sense to mark your production items with an identifiable mark for QC purposes but it just seems too good to be true that they just write Mattel on them instead of using a code of some sort. Especially given that the M16 was initially met with fairly heavy criticism for its reliability and lightweight construction when compared with the m14 it replaced. Just seems like a bit too much of a coincidence that the rifle was criticized for being cheap and unreliable and people also happen to be breaking parts to find the word Mattel printed on them.  

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On 1/31/2016 at 9:52 PM, themick said:

Has anyone actually bothered to write to Mattel Corp for the answer?

 

Steve

Like this?

 

hyrax222

Screenshot_20200514-143355.jpg

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US Victory Museum

That is a very old photoshop altered picture produced by a friend of mine, K. Means, over 15+ years ago

just to rile up the rubes that have sworn over the years that they've seen, or knew someone who claims

to have seen the proverbial "black cat in a dark room that isn't there."

 

It is an urban legend that Mattel produced M16, or M16 components.   Never happened.

 

861980906_Beatingthesameoldeadhorse.gif.3e2b235dc95405534e7056cffeb809f6.gif

 

 

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The initial claims were that Mattel made the plastic furniture as I guess subcontractors for colt to fill their government contract obligations which while untrue in my estimation at least has a certain logical plausibility to it. To suggest Mattel made complete lower receiver assemblies or let alone whole rifles is pretty ridiculous. I think it’s also probably reasonable to point out that you companies and the like making weapon parts for the military during WW2 is a completely different situation from a genuine weapons manufacturer going to a toy company during a time of relative peace in order to help create weapons. During WW2 lots of companies that were not otherwise weapon related manufacturers were utilized to fulfill the massive demand for weapons during a global conflict that mobilized essential the whole economy. I don’t see how this would be a prudent business decision by either party in any normal circumstances. 

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  • 6 months later...
BumpytheBoomer

I was in basic training at Fort Polk in 1971. I, and about a half-dozen members of my platoon, were cleaning our M-16 rifles after returning from the range. All the handguards in our group had the name Mattel stamped inside. We had a good laugh but didn't think much about it. We just figured Mattel had the contract to make handguards. Considering the number of troops run through Polk in those days, I'm surprised at the lack of witnesses to this item. Apparently, it was a very short run but the Mattel handguard was real!

 

Bad grammar in my original post. I should have caught that. Anyway, the word Mattel was inside the handguard, in letters that were not hidden and were easy to see once the guard was removed from the weapon. I don't recall looking for the name at my next assignment which was Infantry AIT, also at Fort Polk. It was pretty much a non-issue, something to be expected. I'm sure more witnesses will come forward - one of these days - maybe. For you non-believers, I'm at peace with the issue. I know what I saw. As for asking Mattel about the issue, it can't possibly matter what Mattel says. If they didn't do it, then aliens did it because the name was there in 1971.

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EmperorWangDong

All I know is the first guy to produce in hand an actual Mattel marked handguard is going to be a rich man.

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Yeah, this rumor has been going for decades yet no one has provided a shred of evidence--not an invoice, a purchase order, an Ordnance drawing, a picture of a Mattel marked handguard...nothing.  Call me skeptical, to say the least.

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Rhscott
On 8/6/2021 at 7:03 PM, kwill said:

Yeah, this rumor has been going for decades yet no one has provided a shred of evidence--not an invoice, a purchase order, an Ordnance drawing, a picture of a Mattel marked handguard...nothing.  Call me skeptical, to say the least.

I just flat out call “BS” on the whole thing.  Nothing but years of sea stories and overactive imaginations.

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cannon jockey

 

Quote

In 1979 I had an M16A1 with Mattel handguards. I didn’t know it was a dispute until a couple of days ago. Snopes says they stoped printing Mattel on the grip because of complaints but still manufactured them for  awhile.

Snopes ranks this BS rumor as totally false.

 

This all came about simply because the M16s felt like toys to most soldiers who were used to more traditional wood and steel weapons.    I was in Vietnam in 1969 and using the toy company's  slogan  of "You can tell it's Mattel, it's swell" as a joke was heard routinely.    

 

Anyway, one can read the comments on Snopes here

 

Snopes rates the rumor that Mattel made M16's or any parts of them as FALSE

Cheers

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The Rooster

No offense to anyone, and I hope I do not offend.

Personally I will take the word of "Old Sarge" and the other Veterans who have come on

here and stated that they saw it.  Snopes ???   Nope !

No, I will take the word of our Members, Veterans who honestly stated here what they saw with their own eyes.

It makes sense that it was rarely seen because its under the heat shield.

The only way you would ever see under it is if it broke off.

Never say never.

Who checks the fact checkers ?

I believe what the Men on here that have worked with the actual weapons as members of the Armed Forces of the United States

have stated that they saw with their own eyes..

And its not a stretch at all to believe that Mattel made components

for the M-16. Even if it was a relatively small batch.

I never saw it during my time but I was not looking for it, never had the chance to look at a broken hand guard under the heat shield.......

and there are a lot of things even at my age that I have never seen.

Does not mean it does not exist.

Of all the people in this country a relatively small number were in the service during the time these weapons were issued.

An even smaller number would notice things like this and even smaller number would have the chance to look under the heat shield.

 

 

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This debate reminds of the Mandela Effect;  The Mandela effect is a phenomenon in which a person or a group of people have false or distorted memories. Some believe that the Mandela effect is proof of alternate realities, while others blame it on the fallibility of human memory.

 

It is quite extraordinary and one can take quizzes online to test your memory. It is funny because in some cases I could swear something is one way but in reality it is not. As example, many people believe or pronounce the peanut butter brand Jiffy, but it is actually Jiff. Those that use Jiffy would had bet money on it. The list goes on and on. Google it and have some fun with it! I am willing to wager there is going to be at least one thing that you'd swear was something else as per your perception. 

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Charlie Flick

Gentlemen:

 

An organization that has an interest in answering this long-running question is going to have a speaker address it.  The National Rifle Association will conduct its Annual Meeting in September 2021 in Houston.  One of the many featured events is an address to be given on September 5 by military historian and author Martin K. A. Morgan entitled "The Mattel M16A1: A Frontier Between Truth & Mythology" . 

 

The following description of the talk is found on the NRA site:  A lingering piece of firearms mythology imagines that the Mattel Toy Company produced examples of the M16A1 rifle during the war in Vietnam. While there is no truth to the idea and Mattel had nothing to do with the production of the M16, the subject brings up questions about empiricism, Cartesian skepticism, and the creation of false memories that should be applied as much to the corpus of firearms history as any other discipline. But the "Mattel M16" myth has an origin in popular film and the U.S. Army itself, so its story offers greater authenticity than the Tooth Fairy, Big Foot, or the Loch Ness Monster. Still, the subject opens an opportunity to consider not just a persistent and culturally significant example of folklore, but also the neuropsychological theories that attempt to explain the confabulation of memories and the birth of a legend.

 

Morgan has an impressive resume on the subjects of military history and firearms.  You can see his resume here on the National Geographic site:  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/expeditions/experts/martin-morgan/

 

I am reminded that it is always more difficult to prove a negative than a positive.  That seems to be the case here.  Perhaps the upcoming presentation by Mr. Morgan will provide the final word on the persistent question of Mattel involvement or the lack thereof. 

 

Regards,

Charlie

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