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Action Figure Insider » New Hero + Action Figure Joins Masters of The Universe Franchise


There’s a new hero in Eternia and his name is Sun-Man! Originally created by a mother who realized her son needed a hero that looked like him, Sun-Man has given people of color much-needed representation and Masters of the Universe fans reason to celebrate.  Now Sun-Man has been licensed by Mattel and is officially part of the Masters of the Universe line!

 

  • When/Where: This history making announcement took place at Power-Con in Anaheim, CA this morning during a live panel among Masters of the Universe fans.

  • What: Mattel is uniting the worlds of Masters of the Universe and Rulers of the Sun and reintroducing Sun-Man, the first mass-market Black superhero, to the world for the first time in decades. Sun-Man and Rulers of the Sun adds a new chapter in the Masters of the Universe adventures and will give He-Man a new, powerful partner in the battle against evil. Mattel designers created this premium deco, highly articulated figure to include swappable heads and hands, removable wings and shield, and a sword with a flame effect.

The packaging includes a comic that tells Sun-Man’s origin story and features deluxe artwork. This toy is appropriate for ages 6+, will be priced at $35.00 and available for fans to pre-order at Mattel Creations on Monday, September 13.

The History and Creation of Sun-Man

 

Sun-Man was created by Yla Eason, a mother driven to provide a positive image for her son.   “I was taken aback when my son came to me and said he couldn’t be a superhero because he wasn’t White.  My heart broke and I was enraged at the same time.”, said Eason[1].

So, in 1985, she created Sun Man, a Black American Superhero character for her son and other children like him.  Eason saw the need for more relevant Black toys for the underserved Black children at play market.

 

Soon after, she launched Olmec Toys. [2]

As the first mass market Black superhero toy, Eason made sure that Sun-Man’s super-heroism was grounded in sound character, Black representation, real inclusion, and physical and emotional strength that not only fulfilled a deficit of Black toys for play, but also a toy that reflects the possibilities of greatness for Black children.

 

In short, Eason’s story is an essential part of the emotional narrative and nostalgic appeal to consumers.  Moreover, Sun-Man is not just a Black version of a White toy. It was sculpted to reflect hair with an Afro style, skin tone, facial features, design, accessories, and comic book storyline representing a character of Royal African ancestry (before the Black Panther movie). It has a legacy of empowerment and makes a statement of historical significance, especially to the Black community and to society in general. (The Olmec Toy company that created Sun-Man continued its diversity initiative by also creating positive

Hispanic, Asian, and Native American superhero action figures as a part of the Sun-Man, Rulers of the Sun, toy line. The company grew to $5 million in sales).[3]

 

While researching the influence toys have on children’s perception of themselves and the meaning of toys in early childhood development, Eason had the honor of securing a meeting with Dr. Kenneth Clark, who with his wife, Mamie, was famous for conducting the Black doll study that led to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools.  In that study, dolls were used to reveal that segregation caused African American children to have “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community.[4]” Dr. Clark helped the visiting mother understand the psychological importance of positive representation in toys and their ability to convey significance in societal roles. He supported her belief that Black boys needed Black superhero toys to see themselves as powerful. He added that his doll study showed that a feeling of inferiority “affects the motivation of a child to learn.”

After this meeting, Eason understood the inherent indoctrination toys can have especially when they diminish Black children’s social status, significance, and worth. Eason analyzed the growing demographic trend represented by African American children, examined the spending power this target audience represented, and decided a viable market existed.

 

[1] https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/osxpm198610280270020169story.html

[2] https://blackdollcollecting.blogspot.com/2010/02/momentsinblackdollhistory

easons.html#:~:text=Olmec%20Toys%20was%20founded%20in,the%20underserved%20African%20American%20demographics.&text=As%20an%20inclu sive%20toy%20manufacturer,from%201985%20through%20approximately%20199

 

[3] https://store.hbr.org/product/ylaeasona/996054?sku=996054PDFENG I The company’s product line expanded to include Black and Latino  fashion dolls – Imani,

Black, Latino, and Asian baby dolls and toddler dolls including the Hip Hop Kids, pre-school dolls, and pre-school activity toys- Kids of Color – introduced through Hasbro’s Playskool line,  a Black military ‘GI Joe-like’ action figure line – the Bronze Bombers,  licensed historic toys –Our Powerful Past including  the Martin Luther King and Malcolm X collectible figures, and games – Black By Design.

[4] U.S. Reports: Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)”. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-04-29

Daniel Pickett

AFi founder and Editor-In-Chief Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since.

In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features.

He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced.

In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com.

Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s
“Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on Bloomberg News, MSNBC.com, Time.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, CNN.com, AssociatedPress.com
Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official
Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many
others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows.

But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.





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