Would you like an oversized action figure that kind of squeezes like putty? Would you like him to be wearing only his underwear and nothing else? Would you like to be able to pull, twist, or deform him and have him slowly spring back? Well, I’ve got the toy for you! Stretch Armstrong is all of that.
Stretch Armstrong dolls have been around since the 70s and have always seemed a bit strange to me. They are made with rubber and filled with a gelled substance that allows them to retain their shape for a short time before shrinking back to their original shape. They can be stretched to about 4 feet and they are super strong and resistant to tears.
What is he good for?
Yes, this is a weird toy. But why did we buy him? We needed a new and different fidget toy to replace a maladaptive (fancy therapist word for “bad”) fidget response in a child with braces. We decided to let this child try stretching and pulling on Stretch Armstrong instead of messing with their braces.
Sensory kids need to move and get feedback, and Stretch Armstrong does that. I could see Stretch being a great toy for a child with lots of anger, who needs a toy that can take a beating. I think Stretch could also be helpful if you were just sick of the patriarchy and needed a handy, man doll to abuse when the system continues to let you down.
Stretch’s limbs really do feel like putty in a totally disquieting way. However, he doesn’t self-level or make a mess the way therapy putties can. This means he can lay on the couch or fall asleep in your child’s bed without ruining the sheets. So, if you have a child that needs a toy to fidget with at night or while resting, this guy could work.
And There’s More!
We purchased the 12″ Stretch Armstrong, but there are lots of styles to choose from. There is a mini version and an X-ray version (he’s kind of transparent so you can see his internal organs). And there are monsters and other characters made in the same style. For kids who tend to break their action figures, these toys are a great choice. Getting your child a toy that can take some abuse is a great way to increase hand and arm strength!
So far, I really like this weird little doll.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.