Sometimes the heroes that kids look up to are imaginary or fictional. The toy and action figure industries have picked up on this fact, as have the media and the entertainment industry. That’s why children have to have this doll, this figure and see this movie or get this comic book or game. From the marketing point of view it’s big business. From the child’s point of view, it’s a way to frame their world, their values and gain a sense of there being someone who can vanquish their enemies and put their troubles to rest. This is true, at least in the non-literal world in which children often spend lots of time.
Figures like Captain America's Falcon give children a tangible hero. Someone strong and capable. Someone who can right some wrongs. Marvel Comics brought this dark-skinned force for good to the comic book market in 1969 and the action figure and other components soon followed. He was the first African American superhero to make it to mainstream America. His special feature was his unique way with the fowls of the air, including the Falcon that he owned. This obsession with birds began with the falcon named Redwing who he became close to during his early days growing up in Harlem.
The Green Lantern, was the first black superhero to appear in DC Comics. He made his debut in 1971 and had special powers through a ring that he wore. From 2004-2005 John Stewart played this fictional superhero role as a member of the squad referred to as The Justice League. He had training as an architect and did a stint in the Navy. He was often featured alongside Hal Jordan. DC Comics resurrected The Green Lantern in numerous ways since he first came on the scene.
The Black Panther came on the comic scene through Marvel Comics in 1966 as a member of the Fantastic Four. His claim to fame has been his devotion to protect a fictional African nation. As recently as 2016, Black Panther has appeared on the scene in a movie Captain America: Civil War. Newly famed African American actor, Chadwick Boseman, portrayed him.
Red Super-Obama is a modern action figure that encompasses the two-term president, Barack Obama, who was America’s first African-American president. In addition to having chocolate skin, he wears a black suit with a white shirtwaist button-down shirt with a t-shirt underneath. There is an O on his shirt in the middle of his chest. Neat and tidy, but ready to set things right, this figure is sold on sights like Amazon.com, but is rumored to be hard to get.
The Real Hero Police Action Figure depicted as an African American has also become a bit of a sensation, especially in light of the recent dive in the public’s perception of police due to their clashes with citizens. He is packaged with a nightstick, a gun, handcuffs, a police vest and more.