Now THIS is a fun toy. All it asks of you is to use your imagination (remember doing that?), stretch out its muscular arms and legs as far as you can pull them, and then chuckle and laugh as they slowly return to normal. Such was silly ol’ “Stretch Armstrong;” so simple a concept, and yet so popular with kids (and adults!) of all ages. We’re about a year late announcing it, but we felt that ol’ Stretch’s return to retail in 2016 deserved at least a quick mention here on The Joe Report, and for those of you who were born too late to enjoy the hilarious pleasures of owning a Stretch Armstrong for yourself—well—Wikipedia is only too happy to provide the following helpful intel:
“Stretch Armstrong is a large, gel-filled action figure first introduced in 1976 by Kenner. In 2016, at the New York Toy Fair, Hasbro announced the return of the Stretch Armstrong toy in its original 1976 design. Stretch is an action figure shaped as a short, muscular, man with blond hair wearing black trunks. The doll’s most notable feature was that it could be stretched from its original size of about 15 in (0.38 m) to 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m). If a tear did develop, it could be fixed with an adhesive bandage. Information on how to repair Stretch was provided in the toy’s instruction booklet that was originally inside his box.”
“The Stretch Armstrong toy concept was created by Jesse D. Horowitz, the industrial designer for Kenner’s R&D group. The idea was approved for development by the head of R&D, Jeep (James) Kuhn, vice president of Kenner. The ‘stretch man’ idea as it was called was pursued with two different bodies in mind. One was a sumo wrestler and the other was an All-American blond hunk. Horowitz sculpted the models himself instead of hiring a freelancer. The sumo man was too bulky and large, so the All-American body was cast by Kenner’s model maker Richard Dobek, and the resultant resin model was taken to a latex doll manufacturer in New Jersey, where the first bodies were dipped.”
“Originally, springs were thought of as the way to stretch the man. However, they were thought to be too awkward and stiff, too difficult to insert and would likely pierce the skin. Kuhn, a chemical engineer, pursued a liquid sugar idea which eventually proved successful. Tremendous quantities of Karo corn syrup were purchased from an A&P supermarket. The syrup was boiled down to get the proper viscosity. Kuhn and Horowitz flew to Kenner’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and presented the concept to Bernie Loomis, Kenner’s president. He loved it and so a toy icon was born.”
“The original Stretch Armstrong figure was conceived and developed by Bill Armasmith, and was in production from 1976 until 1980. The original 1970s toy commands high prices on the secondary collectors’ market, selling for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of US dollars. Through storage and play, the figure could become damaged and rendered useless. There are still original Stretch Armstrongs that have survived the passing of time and are remarkably preserved through sheer luck or being stored at the correct temperature. The figure keeps best at room temperature.
Stretch Armstrong was reissued in the 1990s by Cap Toys, with a canine sidekick, ‘Fetch Armstrong,’ The reissue stretch Armstrong had a more comical exaggerated face (a huge genial smile) and had on a vanity T-shirt and shorts. This new reissue figure was introduced in 1993 and 1994 version exist with slightly different art work. He also has an evil brother named Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong who has a skull face, sports a mohawk, and also stretches. Wretch Armstrong seems to be a redesigned, smaller remake of Stretch X-Ray but in reality looks nothing like the 1970s version. Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong is only 7 inches tall whereas Stretch X-ray was over 12 inches tall.” —Wikipedia
Bottom Line: Owning a Stretch Armstrong is considered to be a “must” among most vintage toy and/or action figure collectors. He still looks cool, “plays” cool, and IS cool. We recommend that you get yourself a Stretch for Christmas (and maybe his evil foe, “Vac Man,” too) over at the whimsical website called “Things You Never Knew Existed” found HERE. Walmart had him on sale for a while. Search around for the best deals and maybe you’ll STRETCH your budget as far as it can possibly go. HA. (Stretch would approve!)