Never has a toy pal exhibited such pliability as Stretch Armstrong. Pull him, bend him, abuse him – it mattered little. Stretch would (eventually) return to his former shape. And during the 70s, Stretch and his arch enemies, Stretch Monster and Stretch Serpent would top many a kid’s Christmas wish list.
Released by Kenner in 1976, Stretch Armstrong was a rubber action figure, sporting a blond hairstyle and skimpy blue underwear. His bronze skin was made from latex rubber, filled with a corn-syrup-based gel. This allowed you to stretch any of his appendages to great lengths, as far as 4-5 feet on a good day. Let go and Stretch would gradually return to his original shape, no worse for the wear. And, should you exceed the doll’s limitations and cause a small tear in his skin, an adhesive bandage could be used to repair the injury.
Due to the popularity of Mr. Armstrong, Kenner decided he needed a nemesis or two. The reptilian Stretch Monster was released in 1978, and the equally green Stretch Serpent, a snake-shaped critter with bulging yellow eyes, the following year. Then, thinking that these all might be a little scary for the younger demographic, Kenner followed up with the cute and cuddly Stretch Octopus. Available in blue or pink, they were respectively named Ollie and Olivia.
Stretch was re-introduced in the 90s, along with a canine companion named Fetch (insert groan) and a new nemesis, Evil X-Ray Wretch Armstrong. They enjoyed a moderate comeback but never achieved the popularity of the earlier toys. Today, any of the original dolls in good condition can fetch a steep price on the collector’s market. And they still conjure up memories from former 70s kids who either had a Stretch Armstrong to call their own, or just desperately wanted one.
Did you have your own Stretch Armstrong doll, er, action figure? We hope you’ll share your memories with us in our comments section below.