Inventor of Matchbox cars and a self-trained engineer. He designed his first toy car for his daughter, Anne in 1952. Hard to swallow, battery and violence-free, quiet, and cheap to make, they were the perfect childrenâs toy. By 1962 he was producing a million toys a week. Matchbox Toys has made at least three billion toy vehicles in 12,000 models. Since 1982 Matchbox cars have been owned by several different companies. Since 1997 Matchbox has been owned by Mattel. Odell suffered from Parkinsonâs disease, and was survived by his wife, two daughters, three stepdaughters and a brother.