It may sound wrong on many different levels, but at that time in the 1970’s there was nothing much cooler if you were a child, than having an action figure toy that was essentially a man with big muscles wearing only his briefs and his blonde hair. However, the way Stretch Armstrong looked wasn’t the reason for it being such a big hit with kids. It was the fact you could, as his name suggests, stretch the toy to unbelievable lengths.
Stretch Armstrong was a gel filled action figure styled toy that first came out in 1976. Although its original height was only 15 inches, children and adults could stretch his arms and legs to have a fully stretched length of between 4 to 5 feet. As tears would often occur, there was an instructions booklet in his box on how to use an adhesive bandage to fix him. Nowadays the original 1970 Stretch is highly collectible and can take prices in the second hand market of up to hundreds, even thousands. It is hard to find one in mind condition though because of how hard it actually was to store and keep Stretch. Many of the Stretch dolls that have survived the test of time and remain in good condition is down to sheer good fortune rather than deliberate action. If a doll is kept at room temperature it can last far into the future.
Stretch Armstrong still amazes kids today and over the years there has been many different variations on the theme of dolls that can stretch. There has been Batman, Superman and other superhero variations.
Most interestingly of all is the fact that there have been plans for the last 4 or 5 years to make a live action film. Due for release in 2014, there is uncertainty over what the film will be about. One thing for sure, many of the fans old and new of Stretch Armstrong will come out in force to the cinema!
Here’s 3 vintage Stretch Armstrong TV Ads:
Photo credit: Alex Beattie used under CC BY 2.0