Stretch Armstrong, the Speedo-clad, blonde, stretchy body-builder action figure from the 1970s, will soon appear in his own Netflix series thanks to a partnership with Hasbro Studios. The animated show is part of an effort by Netflix to expand its programming for young children.
There might not be many young kids who know about the rubber toy — the original came out in 1976 and was available until 1997. So, just as a refresher, Stretch Armstrong is a short, muscle-bound action-figure that can be stretched and, until it gets too old, can return to its regular shape.
The original toy did not come with its own fleshed out back story, so Netflix is creating one. According to Yahoo! News, the series will center on Jake Armstrong, an over-scheduled teenager, and his two friends. One day, the trio come into contact with some chemicals and gain the superpower of stretchiness.
Afterward, they start fighting crime as Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters. Not much more is known about the story, but it seems to fit with the toy’s past advertisements.
The new show will be part of a set of new kid-friendly programming, which, according to IGN, will also include Lalaloopsy (a musical series for young children) and The Greenhouse (a sci-fi show for tweens).
Andy Yeatman, Netflix’s director of global kids’ content, released a statement about the new shows.
“With roughly half of our 75 million members regularly watching kids content, we’re happy to expand our original slate with these three great series. We know kids love Netflix and that’s in part because they never really outgrow us. We program and recommend new TV shows and movies from preschool through their teen years and into adulthood.”
Stretch Armstrong has been a hot commodity for some time now. In 2008, Universal signed a deal with Hasbro to bring the iconic toy into a 3D blockbuster film. Taylor Lautner from the Twilight movie series was set to play Armstrong.
According to Slash Film, academy award-winning producer Brian Grazer said at the time, “Stretch Armstrong is a character I have wanted to see on screen for a long time.”
“He’s an unconventional kind of super hero with a power that no one would want. It’s a story about a guy stretching – if you will – the limits of what is possible to become all that he can be.”
Universal dropped the project, which was quickly picked up by Relatively Media, according to Variety. The original script was trashed, Lautner was dropped, and Dean Georgaris wrote the screenplay to be “more of a plausible, action-oriented family pic” than the original cartoony idea Universal had in mind.
That big screen aspiration also died out, leaving the rights open for Netflix to swoop in, and the company has already ordered 26 episodes of Stretch Armstrong.
The Stretch Armstrong animated series might seem a bit far-fetched, perhaps even a risky gamble, but the idea sits on rock-solid precedents. Plastic Man paved the way for stretchy superheroes along with his more famous Marvel counterpart, Mr. Fantastic and DC’s Elongated Man (yes, that is a real superhero).
Likewise, receiving superpowers from dangerous chemicals, or radiation, is a well-known trope. Even building stories around seemingly random Hasbro products has been done — namely the 2012 action/thriller movie Battleship.
Still, if Stretch Armstrong does not work out, Netflix has bought the rights to a number of other old children’s programs, including the Magic School Bus, Inspector Gadget, and Danger Mouse.
The Netflix Stretch Armstrong series is set to premiere in 2017.
[Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images]