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Popular Toys made from Rubber

In the modern era of gaming consoles, VR headsets and mobile devices, it may be hard to imagine a time when some of the most popular childhood toys were also the simplest. We're talking toys made out of rubber - from basic bouncy balls and rubber ducks, to more sophisticated bendy figures.

Take a trip back in time and wallow in nostalgia, as we remember some of the most popular toys manufactured from rubber...


Stretch Armstrong

The rubber action figure Stretch Armstrong was released in 1976 by American toy company Kenner Products. The muscular blond figure was unique in that kids could stretch it from its usual size of 15 inches tall to around 5ft long, without it breaking.

The gel-filled toy was created by Jesse Horowitz, Kenner's industrial designer, and developed by Bill Armasmith. Originally two different figures were proposed - a Sumo wrestler and an all-American body builder. However, the Sumo didn't work, as the body was too bulky, so all efforts were concentrated on the body builder.

The original toys, released from 1976 to 1980, are now quite valuable as collectors' items. In 2016, Hasbro announced it was redeveloping Stretch Armstrong and the new range was released in 2017. Its ability to stretch to four times its normal size made it a resounding success with a new generation of kids.


Rubber ball

The original bouncy rubber ball was invented by California chemist Norman Stingley in 1965 and patented in 1966. Also known as a power ball or super ball, it was made of polybutadiene rubber - a synthetic rubber with a high durability. Stingley compressed various small pieces of rubber together under pressure of around 3,500 lbs per square inch.

The resulting compressed rubber ball could bounce extremely high - some were said to be able to bounce three storeys high when thrown hard at the ground. It became known as the Super Ball and by Christmas 1965, six months after its launch, seven million balls had been sold. It was to become America's most popular toy in the summer and autumn of 1965.

The ball had 92% resiliency and would continue to bounce for about one minute after being dropped, even from a short distance.


Rubber duck

The rubber duck is a popular bath-time toy, particularly for young children. The emergence of rubber manufacturing in the late 19th century led to the creation of the rubber duck, although the early models were solid and didn't float.

Sculptor Peter Ganine made a duck sculpture in the 1940s and then recreated it as a floating toy made of rubber. He patented the idea and more than 50 million were sold, creating a new phenomenon. The most popular rubber duck toy is the original yellow one, although there have been plenty of different designs.

There are glow-in-the-dark ducks, quacking ducks, swimming ducks powered by a wind-up engine and even chameleon-style ducks that change colour as if by magic. The world's largest rubber duck collection, according to the Guinness Book of Records in 2011, numbered 5,631 ducks and was owned by Charlotte Lee of the USA. She has a dedicated duck room at her home, where her collection is displayed in glass cases.


Bendy Toys

A range of rubber toys, trademarked Bendy Toys, was released in the 1960s by manufacturer Newfeld Ltd, of Ashford, Middlesex. They were made from soft, pliable rubber, moulded round a metal skeleton. The toys came in all kinds of different designs, such as Daleks from the Dr Who series, the Pink Panther, Rupert the Bear, Mickey Mouse, Tweety Pie and many more.

The original selling price was around 10 shillings each. In 2008, a rubber Dalek toy, bought in 1965, sold at auction for £1,500. Older surviving toys have become collectors' items, since many ended up in the bin when the rubber began to deteriorate.

The toys were created by Charles Neufeld, who was a refugee from Austria who came to England during World War II and lived in Berkshire. His first models included Bendy Bunny and Geraldine Giraffe. He dreamed up the idea when he began working for Dunlop as a research chemist, researching rubber latex.


Green Rubber Toys

A modern take on rubber toys are the Green Rubber Toys produced by Muchroom & Co. The toys are fun, educational, and 100% environmentally friendly. Made from natural, biodegradable rubber, the range includes dinosaurs, farm animals, dolphins, elephants, sharks, tigers, zebras and more.

They are made for bath-time, or for general play. Each toy is 100% safe for children, so they can chew, stretch and play without any worries.

Some toys will never wane in popularity, despite the high-tech toys of the 21st century. Here at Coruba, you won't find any rubber toy on our website... but you will find a huge range of top-quality rubber matting products. Coruba is a leading UK provider of high-quality rubber products and rubber matting. For further information, give us a call on 01702 560194.

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