In 1976, Kenner unleashed the awesome Stretch Armstrong on the world. You can pull him, tug him, distort him and manhandle him and he returns to his original form! What an idea! Stretch captured the eyes of kids everywhere and quickly became popular and sold out nationwide during the 1976 Christmas season.
Stretch was basically a nude bodybuilder except for his tiny blue shorts. Getting your hands on a good condition Stretch Armstrong is quite a feat, basically because the compound used to make ol' Stretch has a nasty habit of hardening upon exposure to oxygen (see below in Did You Know?). Couple this with the fact that the rubber used to make Stretch's skin was very thing and can split at some weak points. Add a little heat or store your Stretch in the attic and you will get one super rigid stretch! I found my wife's Stretch Armstrong in her parents attic, it was boxed and I jumped for joy. That is, until I opened the box and everything was glued in place. Stretch had leaked and sealed his box to another box and all that was salvageable was his little trunks!
Shortly after Stretch Armstrong was released came Stretch Monster - a great enemy for him to grapple with. I loved this guy and have been lucky for a nice boxed one for years. Then after came Stretch X-Ray, another alien enemy. Really an awesome set of toys. The only flaw with this line is the recorded fact that Kenner released Stretch Ollie and Olivia - the Octopus duo. The did not sell very well and were scrapped soon after their launch.
Stretch Armstrong Stretch Monster Stretch X-Ray Stretch Ollie Did You Know?
The mat below was used to test your strength against Stretch!
Did You Know?
The skin of the Stretch Armstrong figure is composed of rubber latex. The body is filled with a material made from a boiled corn syrup with some moisture removed so that it forms a gel with some flow characteristics and with some memory properties. Thus, when stretched and released, the figure returns to its original shape by elastomeric recovery of the rubber skin.
Other variations of Stretch Armstrong are Vac-Man, marketed by Cap Toys, and Electronic Stretch Screamers! marketed by Manley Toy Quest. Vac-Man is a stretchable figure with a tgough rubber body filled with ground up corn cobs. Vac-Man comes with a hand operated vacuum pump and has a valve in one ear where the pump connects. While stretching Vac-Man, one can pump the air out of the inside of its body effectively "freezing" it in its stretched position. A release valve allows air to reenter Vac-Mans body. An Electronic Stretch Screamers! is similar to Stretch Armstrong and Vac-Man, but only the upper torso of the body stretches.
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