The "Stretch" series of action figures from Kenner includes what is now one of the rarest toys around. It is the Stretch Serpent. Not too many were made and far far less have survived over the years, making them extremely rare and difficult for collectors to find. The Stretch Serpent goes by more than one name and is regarded as one of the most collectable of the Stretch action toys from Kenner.
It is not "stretching" the truth to claim that the Stretch Serpent is the rarest of Kenner's stretch toys. Nicknamed "Cecil The Stretch Sea Serpent" or sometimes "The Loch Ness Creature", as seen on the box, the toy is so rare that collectors claim there are only three or four of known complete examples of it in the world.As you can see, the Serpent is a great looking toy. Its green snake like body and monstrous, hypnotic yellow eyes with red blood vessels give it a fantastic creepy look.
There is some debate over why the Serpent is so rare. Some believe that he had a short production run and was just unpopular so not many made it to the store shelves. Others think that it may have been pulled from shelves quickly due to a threatened lawsuit because of its similarity to Sid and Marty Krofft's Sleestak figure from Land of The Lost TV series. That figure was made in 1975 and as you can see the head is very similar to the Serpents.
Either way Kenner really only had one production run of serpents and that was probably just for a test market. Low sales might cause the department stores to pull the toy off the shelves and send them back to Kenner for a credit though it seems some stores would have moved them to clearance. In that case more examples might exist today. A lawsuit threat might cause the stores to either destroy the remaining serpents or send them back to Kenner for a credit at which time Kenner would destroy them. That scenario would result in far less serpents existing today. You can probably imagine what happened with most of the Stretch Serpents that were actually sold. They were abused. Children were no doubt attempting to stretch the Serpent way beyond its intended abilities. Since it was filled with corn syrup, probably all that was left of many of them in the end was the head.
Given that there are only three or four of the Stretch Serpents in existence auction prices are inevitably going to be high. One of the first sales, which occurred in 2008, was of a very nice Serpent that had been refilled with cotton, as a precaution, and had a small repair done to the latex body. The box and coffin were very nice. That serpent sold for $12,500. Another Stretch Serpent sold in October of 2012 for $9,000. It too was in great shape and included the box and coffin. But, the box had been shot with a BB gun so it had some holes in it. The Serpent itself was unharmed and in great condition. Here is that auctions description:
THIS TOY IS CONSIDERED THE ULTIMATE HOLY GRAIL OF ALL KENNER TOYS EVER MADE. THE ELUSIVE SERPENT . ONLY 3 EXAMPLES ARE KNOWN TO EXIST AND THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST PERFECT EXAMPLE.IT IS MINT UNUSED WITH THE ORIGINAL CELLO ON THE HEAD AND IS STILL SOFT AND 100% ORIGINAL WITH NO SPLITS OR TEARS ANYWHERE . WE JUST AQUIRED IT FROM AN EX SEARS EXECUTIVE THAT WAS IN CHARGE OF SEARS EXCLUSIVES BACK IN THE 1970s , SEARS WANTED SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND THEY DECIDED ON THIS. HE TOOK THIS EXAMPLE HOME AS A MOMENTO FROM KENNER AS HE HAD A HAND IN ACTUALLY COMING UP WITH THE IDEA OF THE SERPENT. HE SAID THAT THE LIQUID INSIDE IS ACTUALLY KARO SYRUP . IT INCLUDES THE ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS AND NECK TAG. YOU CAN SEE THAT THE NECK TAG HAS A PIECE MISSING BUT NONE THE LESS AMAZING THAT IT IS EVEN HERE. THE BOX LOOKS NICE BUT IF YOU LOOK CLOSER AT THE PICTURES YOU WILL SEE SOME SCATTERED PUNCTURE MARKS . RECENTLY WHEN HE UNPACKED IT AFTER HAVING IT STORED ALL THESE YEARS. HIS SON CONFESSED TO USING THE BOX AS TARGET PRACTICE FOR HIS BB GUN DECADES AGO . AMAZINGLY THE SON TOOK THE SERPHANT OUT OF THE BOX AND WHEN HE WAS DONE WITH TARGET PRACTICE . HE PUT THE SERPENT BACK INSIDE THE INSERT AND PUT EVERYTHING BACK IN THE BOX . THE PUNTURES EASILY PUSHED BACK OUT AND AS YOU CAN SEE DO NOT DETRACT FROM THE DISPLAY OF THE BOX. WE DO ALSO SEE A LIGHT MOISTURE LINE AROUND THE TOP PORTION OF THE BOX THAT IS GENERALLY ALSO HARD TO SEE BUT GIVEN THE RARITY OF THIS WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE COVER THE DESCRIPTION CAREFULLY , THE TOP LID HAS THE ORIGINAL SEARS CATALOG NUMBER.
Kenner was apparently the number one buyer of corn syrup during those years of stretch toy production. Corn syrup was the liquid that filled the Stretch Serpent and the other members of the Stretch series such as Stretch X-Ray and Stretch Armstrong.
Here are some of the rare inserts that were included in the Stretch Serpent's packaging. These are mildly damaged but you can get an idea of what they looked like.
Stretch Serpents are extremely rare and are probably one of the more difficult if not impossible collectible toys to find. As I mentioned above they have sold for over $10,000 in the past and one is currently listed as a buy-it-now on eBay for a mere $20,000. For Stretch collectors this figure makes it very hard to build a complete collection.
Update: A Stretch Serpent recently sold as a "Best Offer" on eBay for around $7,395 in July of 2013. I'm not sure if that is the final price as eBay does not show the actual accepted offer price. Here is the description from that auction:
Well what are the chances of this?!? 2 of 3 known boxed stretch serpents up on the market for the serious collector!IF YOU MISSED THE AUCTION THAT JUST ENDED TODAY - YOU....ARE.....IN....SERIOUS.....LUCK! Unbelievable once in a lifetime luck!!!!!!AS A BONUS: NO B-B GUN SHOTS WERE TAKEN INTO THIS BOX AND HAVE NOT DAMAGED THE BOX OR STYROFOAM COFFIN!! : ) (You would have to have seen the sale of the last serpent to understand that comment) :)WHAT YOU ARE BUYING: 1 original stretch serpent with original box, and all items shown in pics.History: This particular stretch serpent was the very first stretch serpent ever for sale on eBay. Back in May of 2008, this serpent sold for an incredible $12,500 with use of ebay's BUY IT NOW!!!! You definitely should know by now that you will most likely not see another stretch serpent on the market after this one sells, as this will be hoarded away into a private collection - as it was with me for several years now. I have hit a rough patch with work and I am forced to give up the Holy Grail of my toy collection (of ANY toy collection).Tony from stretcharmstrongworld had repaired this serpent, and filled it with beads. Please see pics, I tried to take pics of everything, if you need more pics just ask. Since every collector rates condition differently I will steer away from telling you my opinion of the toy - please use pics for your own reference. What you see in the pics of the toy are what is included in the auction. I will say that because of Tony filling with beads, it fits into the styrofoam tray as shown, but you cannot put the top lid over him because the beads have stuffed him JUST big enough that it fits too tightly to sandwich inside the box - but when displaying him he never has the cover over him anyways. The top styrofoam piece has an area that is thinned and can see through, it is not a human flaw, it was definitely a production thing Just wanted to point that out.Hey we're talking about the frickin' rarest toy on the planet, basically & 30+ years old! ALL BOX FLAPS ARE THERE AND CONNECTED PERFECTLY.Toys of this rarity are impossible to find.
A Stretch Serpent head was recently featured on the TV series Pawn Stars. The Pawn Stars guys eventually paid $500 for the head which is definitely worth far more then that. Here is the head:
It looks to be in great shape. I'm not too sure how realistic or scripted the Pawn Stars series is so the $500 value may or may not be very accurate. Nonetheless it has raised the public awareness over the rarity of this and other stretch toys of the era.
|stretch serpent stretch armstrong 1978|
Time Remaining: 11d 8h 21m
Buy It Now for only: $7,500.00
|MINT PROTOTYPE 1978 STRETCH SERPENT Documented Toy Head Armstrong Cecil Hunter|
Time Remaining: 9d 2h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $6,400.00
|Kenner Stretch Armstrong Serpent Head Cecil The Stretch Sea Serpent RARE|
Time Remaining: 9d 12h 14m
Buy It Now for only: $2,500.00