Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

THE COMPLETE STRETCH MONSTER WEEK FEB 2007

1-22-07 STRETCH MONSTER WEEK POSTPONED

Today was supposed to be the beginning of Stretch Monster Week, but I'm afraid I've fallen behind on what pays the bills thanks to all the power outages from our ice storm. So sit tight SM fans, Stretch Monster Week will show up sometime after Valentine's Day and hopefully will be even better than if I rushed it for this week!

POOR SAD STRETCH MONSTER


POOR COLD SQUIRREL


2-18-07 STRETCH MONSTER WEEK STARTS TOMORROW








2-19-07 STRETCH MONSTER OR STRETCH GIRAFFE

First there was Stretch Armstrong, the blonde haired, black Speedo wearing wrestler guy. He was the first to exhibit true stretching powers similar to those classic comic book heroes like Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic. He showed up in the toy aisles sometime during our nations bicentennial year of 1976 and was an instant hit.



Patent#4,169,336 lists the toy genius, James O. Kuhn (father of the Easy-Bake-Oven) as the inventor of this new and unusual toy introduced by Kenner Toys. (Mr. Kuhn passed away in 2005 and you can click here for a nice write up about the toy maker.)

James (Jeep) O. Kuhn

Every hero needs a villain and Armstrong got one in the form of a green scaly monster with protruding fangs and a brooding brow. Stretch Monster showed up in 1977 and would end up on most kid’s Christmas wish lists.



A crazy thing, is that Stretch Monster was almost a cute Stretch Giraffe instead. The patent shows a design for a stretching giraffe and here’s a photo of the head sculpt prototype from Stretch Armstrong World of the proposed Stretch Giraffe. Luckily the giraffe was scrapped, which is a good thing since Stretch Giraffe Week would probably not be all that great.

Now it’s a mystery on who designed Stretch Monster, but I’m guessing this person might’ve been influenced by another stretching super villain and that’s the Super Skrull. Take away Stretch Monster’s fangs and give him pointy ears and wha-la, you almost have twins.

The party for Stretch Monster only lasted two short years as he was replaced by Stretch X-Ray, the see-through alien invader. Monsters kind of fell out of favor with toy companies as pop culture became space-crazy thanks to movies like Star Wars and Alien.


Of course, us kid’s had stars and lazer beams in our eyes and we quickly forgot about our fun stretch pals and started playing with little 3 3/4" Star Wars figures. Looking back, I’m amazed that Kenner didn’t turn some of the Star Wars cantina creatures into stretch figures. I think that would’ve been an obvious choice for the toy company. Go figure! (No pun intended.)


STRETCH GREEDO


2-20-07 CATCHING UP WITH STRETCH MONSTER 20 YEARS LATER
If you haven’t read the first post on Stretch Monster that I did back in December you might want to check that one out before reading this one. In that post, I blab about my original Stretch Monster from when I was kid back in 1977. That post inspired this whole crazy Stretch Monster week.

ONLY THING LEFT OF MY ORIGINAL STRETCH MONSTER

I guess it was in the early 90's while reminiscing with my buddies in college that I thought about collecting back some of my childhood toys. I made a list of all the toys that I had that didn’t survive and Stretch Monster was on top of the list. Of course I’ve always been a collector since I was about five years old, when I started with comic books and buttons. (Don’t ask about the buttons and no, I don’t collect ‘em anymore. I gave that one up when I was eight.)

I searched flea markets, antique stores and thrift shops with no luck and I even scoured old issues of Toy Shop magazine, but Stretch Monster was no where to be found. I started going to toy shows in hopes of finding one and still he eluded me. Since this was the days of pre-internet and pre-ebay I wondered if any survived and at that point I assumed that all of them must’ve disintegrated.

Finally in 1997 when I was set up at a toy show one of my friends came running up to me saying that he found a Stretch Monster in the original box across the room at a dealer’s table. Whoa, Nelly! I ran over there as fast as I could trying not to knock anyone over. Sure enough there he was in the original box. I hadn’t seen the box since I was seven and the only thing I remembered about the box was that it was purple. I asked the dealer how much and before he said a price he told me that there was a problem. The problem was that the box and Stretch were damaged by the seeping of Stretch’s very own syrupy blood. The box felt like a brick and the outside bottom was covered in a thick layer of syrup blood brittle. The good thing, was that he only wanted $40 for it and so I snapped it up in hopes that I could at least repair the box.

Here’s some Polaroids of when I first opened the box. It took me hours with a hair dryer and warm water to finally open it. Unfortunately the inside Styrofoam box crumbled if you barely touched it.



I felt like I was opening a mummy’s tomb and when I finally opened the styrofoam sarcophagus, I found a drained Stretch Monster with large tears on his back and holes in his hands and feet.


At least I was able to restore the box and this Stretch Monster might be drained of his blood but he still displays well enough in my collection. I inserted a few balloons in him so he can stand up for display, even though he looks kind of frumpy.


Maybe someday I’ll pick one up that is mint, but since they usually bring $400 to $800, I’ll just be satisfied with this one.

STRETCH MONSTER'S PAL FRED HEMBECK

Not to worry true believers, this is not an imaginary story or a what if... I’m proud to present the Clown Prince of Comics, the Destroyer of Universes and the Drawer of Squiggly Knees as part of Stretch Monster Week, the one and only Fred Hembeck! (APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE)

Fred was nice enough to render this snazzy drawing of the one we honor all this week and he did a bang up job. It’s nice to see Stretch smile for a change since he’s always frowning. I love how Fred made him look like he’s going to jump off the page.


CLICK FOR A CLOSER LOOK


For fun I decided to mess the drawing up and add a little color to reinforce that jumping off the page look!


Did you know you can get your very one Hembeck original to hang on your wall? That’s right, Fred will do pretty much any character for a really low price. Heck, there so cheap you can buy one for Grandma Gertrude and your Uncle Sal. You can check ‘em out over at Fred’s site Hembeck.com and while you’re there check out his cover reinterpretations, they’re really something else! I’m going to eventually get my own, but first I need to figure out what cover I want reinterpreted.


2-21-07 STRETCH MONSTER KID SNAPSHOT #1

Here’s a vintage snapshot of a girl named Heather with her favorite toy. Even girls love Stretch Monster!


Here’s a link to Heather's myspace page.

STRETCH MONSTER WEEBLES WOBBLE BUT THEY DON’T FALL DOWN (OR STRETCH)

My pal and curator of the Secret Fun Spot and Secret Fun Blog has made one of his famous Would-be Weebles just for this special week. It’s nice to know that this Stretch Monster will last forever and he’ll never bleed all over the shag carpet.

Great work Kirk and thanks for the Weeble.



STRETCH MONSTER ANATOMY 101

Good morning class and welcome to Stretch Monster Anatomy 101 and I hope you brought your Big Chief tablets because afterwards there will be a test. (No, keep on reading, I’m just messing with you). These photos taken inside Stretch Monster Labs will hopefully help you fully understand the anatomy of the monster.

Ok, let’s first start off with the head. The head is made of good durable hard plastic that will probably last forever, unlike the body




Next is the bottom of the neck where we see a square gaping hole and this is where the neck joint fits in.


The neck joint is made of clear hard plastic with a triangular notch on each side. These notches keep the head attached to the body with a tight fit. Also, you’ll notice a black rubber O-ring that fits tightly around the neck, keeping the skin in place and from slipping away from the neck joint.



Green latex is the monster’s skin, which is the perfect material for stretching and then returning back to it’s natural state.


Here's a vintage photo from the original Stretch Monster Labs at Kenner.


To create the scaly texture and give shape to the monster these aluminum mandrels or dip molds were used. One of the many companies that produced Kenner's stretch figures was Precision Dippings Marketing Limited from the United Kingdom.



There were classic toys like Chatty Cathy who talked, the Great Garloo that could bend over and pick things up, Betsy Wetsy – well we all know what she did, Growing Sally grew, and you could even see Pulsar’s guts. But none of these toys could do what Stretch Monster could do and that was bleed. That’s right, Stretch Monster was a bleeder.

Most people who owned a Stretch Monster as a kid share the same memory of when they first discovered that their Stretch Monster could bleed.

Luckily the blood was just colored corn syrup and many kids actually ate it.


Of course back then there was a big debate between parents and kids on what it was and if it was toxic. Even in the patent it is mentioned, “that the filling material should be non-toxic although this is not essential”. Not essential? Good thing they went with corn syrup because we might’ve had a Stretch Monster epidemic with a bunch of kids dying from Stretch Monster poisoning.

I was told by a Kenner employee that one of the workers sustained third degree burns from the hot syrup when it bubbled out of the vat and landed on part of the worker's face and neck.

Here we see Stretch Monster’s famous blood, bottled up as an artifact from toy and pop culture history.


Ok, that’s it! Class is dismissed and someone wake up the kid in the back. He’s drooling all over his desk.


The Kenner and mandrel photos came from Stretch Armstrong World and the mint Stretch Monster that I added an x-ray machine came from the Stretch Monster Archive

2-22-07 STRETCH MONSTER KID SNAPSHOT #2
This little boy looks super excited to find a Stretch Monster under the Christmas tree. Right away you can see he starts to give the green monster a stretch.


This photo comes from Stretch Armstrong World.

STRETCH MONSTER CAKE

I've been searching the internet for anything and everything relating to Stretch Monster preparing for this week and I came across this set on Flickr simply called Stretch Monster Cake!


How cool is that? Well, I must say that’s crazy cool my Stretch Monster friends!

The baking of the cake and the photo set were done by Mark Fiorenza of giantmonster.

Also you can check out all 29 photos of the whole creation in Mark's Flickr set and after you look at 'em you'll be tempted to cook up your own Stretch Monster cake. I wonder if he used any corn syrup?

STRETCH MONSTER POP ART


STRETCH MONSTER CEREAL?
As a collector of old cereal stuff I just had to squeeze in something this week related to cereal.

Unfortunately there was never any Stretch Monster Crunch cereal or for that matter not even a mini-Stretch Monster free in every box type of premium. The closest thing I could tie a connection between Stretch Monster and cereal is this old Cheerios box.

I refer to this 1978 box as the 2-Sided Star Wars Poster & Kenner Refund Box.


Naturally, General Mills offered many Star Wars premiums in their many brands of cereal since Kenner Toys, then owned by the Big G, was producing all the Star Wars toys.

Inside the box attached to one of the Star Wars posters was a refund sheet that listed and pictured some of Kenner’s toys.


Unfortunately only the Stretch Octopus Ollie and Olivia are shown, but at least Stretch Armstrong and our hero Stretch Monster are mentioned. Thus the very small cereal + SM connection!




All you had to do was cut the proof of purchase from the toy package and mail it in for a refund.


I loved the 2 Sided Star Wars posters and this one used to hang in my bedroom when I was a kid.


As you can see I only colored Vader’s lightsaber. I’m sure I was too anxious to hang it on the wall and decided to forget about coloring. Hey, I had plenty of coloring books to color and I didn’t have any works of art with a Star Destroyer hanging on my wall.


Ok, I think I’ll get my box of crayons out and finish it 29 years later.

2-23-07 STRETCH MONSTER KID SNAPSHOT #3

This is such a peaceful Christmas photo with a nicely decorated tree surrounded by dollies, a toy doctor’s kit, a Mickey Mouse Club playset, and a STRETCH MONSTER! RARR ARRGHH!!


Oops, sorry about that. I kind of got carried away. The Stretch Monster in this vintage photo from 1978 has a name and his name is Spencer and he belonged to a girl named Heather. (Not to be confused with the Heather from Stretch Monster Kid Snapshot #1.)

You can read all about Spencer on Heather’s blog, The Valedictorian of Bottom Feeders

G.I. JOE VS. THE STRETCH MONSTER

Check out this 1970's Super8 stop-motion film starring Stretch Monster and some G.I. Joes.



This was uploaded by davsav1.

KENNER VS. MEGO

In 1981, Kenner sued Mego over Mego's own line of stretching figures, called the Elastic Heroes. You can read all about it here.

1977 TIME MAGAZINE - MONSTER TOYS: ARE THEY HEALTHY FOR OUR CHILDREN?


Since Stretch Monster never made the cover of any main stream magazines, I decided to make one up. At first I was going to put him on Famous Monsters, but I passed since that’s kind of an obvious choice and plus he never was part of Filmland. So I wondered what would've landed him on a cover of a magazine that normally didn't feature toys or monsters? Oh yes, a news magazine that would have made some type of social comment about children's toys. I decided Time magazine was the perfect choice.

Sorry I wasn’t ambitious enough to right up a faux article.

THE MURDER OF STRETCH MONSTER: A TRUE STORY

DUE TO THE GRAPHIC CONTENT, THIS POST MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS OR TOY COLLECTORS WHO MIGHT BE A LITTLE SQUEAMISH.

YEAR: 1978
PLACE: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - 2ND GRADE CLASSROOM
VICTIM: STRETCH MONSTER
SURVIVED BY: KENNETH (OWNER OF STRETCH MONSTER)
MURDER WEAPON: PENCIL
MURDERER: ?



It was a hot and steamy afternoon close to the end of the school year and Mrs. Knewlman’s 2nd grade class just finished with Show and Tell. The class of about thirty students was in a jovial mood as they enjoyed seeing all the interesting items brought in by fellow classmates.

The time was thirty minutes after one o’clock and the third recess bell sounded. All of Mrs. Knewlman’s 2nd grade class filed outside for the last recess of the day. It was a typical normal recess.

At precisely forty-five minutes after one o’clock the children finished third recess and entered into Mrs. Knewlman’s 2nd grade class. A gasp, a shout and loud crying were heard through the classroom as Kenneth was the first on the scene to notice that his Stretch Monster was stabbed in the chest with a #2 pencil. Syrup blood oozed from the monster’s chest cavity and pooled onto Kenneth’s desk while all the children looked on in utter shock.


Reports from some of the classmates said that Kenneth was the last for Show and Tell and he gave a proud presentation to the class about Stretch Monster. He left Stretch Monster on his desk and was outside during the full duration of third recess. Mrs. Knewlman interviewed every student to find out who might have committed this gruesome crime.

Mrs. Knewlman removed the murder weapon and proceeded to bandage Stretch Monster with two large band-aids.


All the students were instructed to take their seats and sit quietly until the murderer confessed. She also handed Kenneth a box of tissue as he was distraught.

For the next hour until forty-five minutes after two o’clock, not one student had come forward to confess the crime. Mrs. Knewlman announced that no one would be able to leave their desk to catch the school bus until someone confessed.

Finally, at fifty minutes after two o’clock the murderer raised their hand and confessed to this horrific murder. The little murderer was actually a little murderess. A girl by the name of Misty had stabbed Stretch Monster. Her reason; was that she was jealous of Kenneth’s Stretch Monster as she wanted a Stretch Monster for herself. She had asked Kenneth earlier if she could have it. Kenneth said no.

During third recess she asked to go inside and use the restroom. She didn't use the restroom and and instead she purchased a five cent #2 official NFL football pencil out of the pencil machine. She sharpened the #2 pencil to a fine point and then carried out this act of murder.

She was apprehended and was served a swift punishment with a paddle to the rear.

The Stretch Monster murder case was closed.

Kenneth moved onto other toys and continued to bring items for show and tell. He became very popular after bringing a small plastic trash can filled with green ooze called Slime.

Misty spent the next day missing all recesses because she was writing sentences on the blackboard.

This is a true story and I was there to witness it.

All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Well, Stretch Monster’s name wasn’t changed, but everyone else involved, was.

2-24-07 STRETCH MONSTER KID SNAPSHOT #4

Life is good when you’re kicking back relaxing in the sun with your trusty Stretch Monster by your side.



This photo comes from Stretch Armstrong World.

STRETCH MONSTER ENLISTS IN THE ARMY

Looks like Stretch Monster has inspired new technology that will help protect our soldiers.

You can check it out here.

Corn syrup might just save the world!

A STRETCH MONSTER DRAWING BY YOURS TRULY

This is my take on the great green beast of rubber. (My apologies to the King of Comics!)



SUPER SUGAR CRISP FANTASY BOX W/ STRETCH MONSTER PREMIUM

I had mentioned in a previous post that Stretch Monster never appeared on a cereal box or had any cereal premiums made in his likeness.

Thanks to Brandon of the wonderful Waffle Whiffer Zone SM has now appeared on a cereal box!


The great thing, is the Universal Monster heads are one of my favorite cereal premiums from childhood and I love the fact that SM is now linked with these very premiums!

Great work, Brandon!

THE STRETCH ARMSTRONG AND STRETCH MONSTER COLORING BOOK

Ok, boys and girls get your 64 Crayola Crayons box with the built-in sharpener because we got Stretch Monster pages to color. Yippee!

For your enjoyment, here is the seldom seen coloring book based on Stretch Armstrong and Stretch Monster. Sorry SA fans, but this is SM’s week, so we’ll only be looking at those pages.

Feel free to print the pages out to color! The funniest ones are when Stretch Monster goes to the circus!














2-25-07 (THE LAST DAY) STRETCH MONSTER KID SNAPSHOT #5

This little kid knows what to do with a Stretch Monster!



This image comes from that groovy site called retroCRUSH.

STRETCH MONSTERS DOW CORNING MAGAZINE COVER

Stretch Monster really did make the cover of Material News from Dow Corning on the July/Aug 1977 issue.


I like how the cover looks like a typical late 1970's rock album cover.

Again, this comes from Stretch Armstrong World.

MEET STRETCH MONSTER’S JAPANESE COUSIN

The Japanese version of Stretch Monster made by Tsukuda Toys has the same body, but sports a different head sculpt and goes by the name Andro.





This one sold on ebay back in January for $889.

STRETCH MONSTER & RICK SPRINGFIELD DYNAMITE COVER

This is another fake magazine cover and this time it was created by Jason, the man behind the new and popular flickr site called Vintage Stickers N Stuff.

I like the fact he picked Rick Springfield to share the cover with Stretch Monster!

Great work Jason and thanks for sending it in.

Also, be sure to check out the WishbookWeb.com a wonderful Christmas catalog site that Jason helps maintain.



STRETCH MONSTER-AID DRINK-MIX PACKET

Another wonderful what if... item and this one comes from the creator of Mr Toast and the blog a sampler of things, my good friend Dan Goodsell.


Boy, this makes me thirsty for some Stretch Monster-Aid Imitation Lemonade. I wonder if it's made from corn syrup?

Thanks for the good work on this one Dan!

FAUX STRETCH MONSTER HALLOWEEN COSTUME






Here’s another thing that would’ve been very cool for all of us Stretch Monster kids to have worn on Halloween.

I found a Polaroid photo of some costumed kid’s that was actually taken in 1978 and used a vintage 1978 Collegeville box for the fake Stretch Monster mask and body suit. The kid wearing the Stretch Monster mask was originally wearing a Frankenstein mask. I’ll post the unaltered photo this October.

STRETCH MONSTER’S BOX

Let’s take a look at Stretch Monster’s box. I believe the American Stretch Monster had only two box variations, the 1977 and 1978 box. The major difference is the ‘78 box had a die-cut front.


1977 Box



I WONDER WHO THIS LUCKY KID WAS?


THESE PHOTOS ARE OF THE 1978 BOX


PROOF OF PURCHASE FROM THE 1978 BOX





INSTRUCTIONS

ADDED NOTE FOUND IN THE 1978 BOX


MISTER MOSTRO ITALIAN VERSION



The photos of the 1977 box and Italian box both come from Stretch Armstrong World

STRETCH MONSTER WEEK IS OVER


Since Stretch Monster week will be ending in just a few minutes and as we get ready for just a plain old boring week. I just want to thank everyone for stopping by and checking out all of these crazy posts about my favorite toy, Stretch Monster.

Also, I want to thank Fred, Heather, Kirk, David, Heather, Mark, Tony, Tim, Brandon, Dan, Jason and Mike for helping me with information, photos, artwork, faux items and promotion.

Stay stretchy Stretch Monster fans!!!!!