The doll we know as Stretch Armstrong is a man who could stretch his limbs and torso to ridiculous lengths. He’s made of soft vinyl stuffed with corn syrup. This stretching ability made him the most sought after toy for boys from his debut in 1976 until around 1980. But as his popularity waxes and wanes, he’s brought back every 10-15 years or so to impress a new generation of children. They just love to see how far they can stretch Stretch until he breaks.
Forty-five years later, Stretch Armstrong has fans that range from little kids to men in their late middle age. And he has an interesting story. I once thought that he was some comic book superhero that was made into a toy. No, the doll came first. Jesse D. Horowitz, who invented the toy, explains how the idea came about and was developed into a Christmas juggernaut. Various media producers tell how Stretch tried to make it in TV and movies, but it was an uphill struggle. Now Stretch is a star on YouTube, thanks to the generations of kids who fondly recall how much fun they had destroying their toy.
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It’s all part of an oral history of Stretch Armstrong at Mel magazine. The article is NSFW due to an image of a rare Stretch Armstrong doll that some might call “anatomically correct,” although most would call that a stretch. Pun intended.