““Grab hold and pull! You can stretch 13” Stretch Armstrong up to four feet. Squish him, scrunch him, stretch him out. He always returns to his original shape, ready for any wild position kids can think of!””
He looked like just another pretty blonde head on a Mr Universe body. A Ken doll with better pecs and a sporty bathing suit . . .
But Stretch Armstrong (launched in 1976) was much more than muscles – he was malleable. Bend him, pull him, twist him, tie him in a knot, it didn’t even faze him. He laughed at your puny attempts to harm him (lawyers note: toy did not actually laugh).
Stretch’s limbs could be pulled to four times their natural span and still manage to squeeze back to normal size, without unsightly stretch marks.
But every Superman has his kryptonite, and Stretch’s was puncture wounds. One hole in his tough rubbery hide and Stretch would leak the jelly-like goo that gave him his Mr Fantastic capabilities.
In 1977, Kenner gave the musclebound hero a green-skinned nemesis, Stretch Monster. The fanged foe was every bit as limber as Stretch and twice as mean. Scaly and yellow-eyed, Stretch Monster was the evil antithesis of all Stretch Armstrong stood for.
1978 found the Stretch line expanding even further. Geared toward young girls who may have had a crush on Stretch but thought the Monster was a bit too icky, Olivia the Stretch Octopus was a pink, heavily made-up octopus whose eight limbs made her the reigning stretchiness champ.
That same year, Olivia’s pink cuteness was balanced out by a terror from beneath the water’s surface. Stretch Serpent, “The Loch Ness Creature” had a long green body and bloodshot yellow eyes.
The final entry in the Stretch range was 1979’s Stretch X-Ray, “The See-Thru Invader”. This evil alien’s clear skin allowed a full view of his dark green guts and oversized mutant brain.
After years of obscurity, Stretch Armstrong mounted a brief comeback in the early 1990’s. The new version gave the toy a more cartoonish look, with longer (and even blonder) hair and a big, white, toothy smile. The more modest Stretch also covered his manly chest with a black “Stretch Armstrong” muscle t-shirt and exchanged briefs for boxers.
Soon, a whole new Stretch line was on the shelves, complete with villains (Wretch Armstrong and the pump-action Vac-Man) and an animal sidekick (Fetch Armstrong – we kid you not!).
Stretch himself took on several guises, from Commando to Ninja (Fetch even got his own ninja outfit) to superheroic Dark Avenger to futuristic Cyber Space Stretch. The big guy also appeared in the uniforms of several pro sports teams, and to top off the line, Stretch got to ride around in his very own Stretch Limo (bum-tish!).
The new-fangled Stretch didn’t last as long as his 70’s counterpart but the legend of Stretch lives on. The original figures are highly prized collectors’ gems today, stretching to much, much more than four times their original worth.