Monday 24 July 2017

Stretch Armstrong is back - Vac Man Review (age 5+) for Character

Character have brought back one of the best-known toy characters from my youth - Stretch Armstrong - and he's not alone. Not only do we have Stretch Armstrong, Fetch Armstrong and Octopus, but also arch-enemy and all-round bad guy Vac Man.

Vac Man's box is a bit battered and I think you'll find that's a common theme because he's really heavy! Because of the nature of Vac Man it is a bit like carrying a box part full of sand - it caught me out and I nearly dropped it. He's 14" (35cm) tall and a big guy.

The instructions are on the side of the box and very clear. It's an incredibly simple toy to get started with. There are also many warnings though - don't over-stretch or over-twist him or pull his head, don't pierce, over-heat or over-cool Vac Man. Play nice.

Despite the warnings, he's not that delicate a flower, he has a solid and strong skin construction and will withstand the usual rough and tumble play from youngsters. He's a bit of a weird shape, but then he's clearly a bit of a Neanderthal.

Inside he's full of hard small beads. When he's soft and floppy the beads just feel very tactile and he's not so different to some of my children's soft toys. As you pump the air out, the rubber skin tightens around the beads and they become more constricted and obvious.

Pumping the air out of Vac Man takes 6-10 pumps with the special vacuum pump. This just slots into the side of Vac Man's head, twist and it's locked. One of the other rules with Vac Man is never to put the pump on your skin...

To release the vacuum and let air back into his body, he has a handy switch on the other side of his head. You should store him in this 'resting' state so that you don't over-stretch and warp his skin.

When he's been pumped you can 'crack' and move Vac Man and he'll stay in position. He's fully poseable and obviously you can pull him around too.

You can also stretch him up to 3 feet long - 4 times his original size.

I honestly didn't expect this to be the surprising hit that it has been. It turns out Vac Man is a very popular companion. Maybe it's the feel of skin, with the soft rubber and beads, or maybe they just enjoy the pumping, or the posing, but whatever, he's been my boys' almost constant companion for 3 whole days...

As a bonus, even though one of our children has already attempted to give him a black eye patch using felt tip, it's rubbed off nicely.

Vac Man is not something I'd have really thought to buy, but he's been the most popular toy all weekend and even all the fidget spinners have been left in the drawer. He's incredibly tactile and for my boys that's made him a great addition to the house.

Vac Man is suitable for children aged 5+ and available from this week rrp £29.99 at all good toy shops instore and online, including from Character Online, where you get free postage on orders over £25.

We were sent Vac Man to review. Sorry if the red/blue looks super-imposed on your screen. It does on mine, but I distinctly remember taking the photos myself and I can see Vac Man right now, so he is really here. 

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