Meet Yla Eason, a Black Rutgers professor who created Sun-Man, now taken over by Mattel

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Mattel is bringing back the popular superhero He-Man, but this time he’ll have a black sidekick.

It has been almost four decades since the world was introduced to He-Man. And now the muscular superhero will not only be on store shelves, but in an effort to bring diversity, Toy maker Mattel has partnered with Netflix to create two new animated series that will accompany two lines of toys already available in stores.

Mattel Expands Masters of the Universe Line of Muscular Heroes with Introduction of Sun-Man. Sun-Man is a black character who was created in 1985 by a mother from New Jersey who wanted to create a role model for her son.

“My son said he couldn’t be a superhero because he was black. He was 3 years old, ”said Yla Reason, assistant professor of professional practice at Rutgers University.

Eason created a solution and started his own business, Olmec Toys, to make Sun-Man and other toys for black, Hispanic, and Native American children. “The intention was to give a positive presentation of black people in imagination and creativity,” she said.

The Sun Man (Twitter)

But now, decades later, Mattel has taken notice and thinks the concept is powerful. Ed Dunan, who is senior vice president at Mattel and oversees the official introduction of Sun-Man into programming.

“Reintroducing a black hero to kids today is not only enjoyable, but also important,” he said in an email. “Sun-Man is such an ambitious character, from his aesthetic design to his character traits and powers.”

Sun Man Yla Eason (Mattel Creations)
Sun Man Yla Eason (Mattel Creations)

In addition, the two Netflix series – “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” and “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”, some characters have been reimagined and are black.

“Children need to be represented in the world around them,” said Rob David, vice president of creative content for Mattel Television and executive producer of both animated series. “The television screen is a window and also a mirror,” he said.

As one of the first black action figures, Sun-Man was a revolutionary character for black children and comic book fans, who finally got to see a hero who looked like them and exploited his identity as his. greatest superpower.

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