Reader seeks black action figures by Olmec
Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources to help them determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.
Today’s question is about finding black action figures made by a company called Olmec Toys.
How can I obtain some of the action doll figures? I think the dolls are needed, especially in the black community. I think they’re great.
The reader was referring to dolls and action figures that I had mentioned in a blog post three years ago. He apparently had just stumbled on my post about seeing a doll fashioned after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., still in its original box.
It was a delight for me to come across the doll because it had been made by a company called Olmec Toys that was founded by an African American woman named Yla Eason. She formed the company in 1985 after she was unable to find black action figures and heroes for her 3-year-old son. He told her that he couldn’t be an action hero because he was black. So she made toys for kids like him to help build self-esteem.
The company’s first doll was an action hero named Sun-Man, with a companion called Pig-Head, both part of the “Rulers of the Sun” series, followed by other action figures. Olmec’s dolls included the fashion dolls Imani and Consuelo, Asian baby dolls, toddler dolls, and GI Joe-style dolls called the Bronze Bombers. According to newspaper reports, the company was able to offer mail-order catalog sales through a business relationship with the major toy company Hasbro.
The dolls were available for sale in several major stores. The company seems to have closed in the late 1990s amid lawsuits and other difficulties.
The King doll was first sold in 1992 as the first in the “Our Powerful Past Black Leader Series,” and was joined by a Malcolm X doll two years later.
As for the reader’s inquiry, I suggest eBay, where you can find just about anything. In a quick check, most of the dolls and action figures I found for sale were on eBay. Some were still in their original packaging, and most had reasonable asking prices. The most expensive sold were 1980s Bolt Man (without packaging) for $450, Pig-Head (original packaging) for $306 and Sun-Man (original packaging) for $110.