Vactory and the case of the missing parts
At the tail end of Stretch Armstrong’s career in the 90s, Cap Toys had a last bash at revamping the line by releasing the Vac-Pac and the Vactory.
Anyway. I found this complete vintage boxed Vactory sometime ago and decided to build it up and see what it’s about. Turns out it’s pretty awesome although not quite as awesome as the packaging or commercial suggests. Take a watch and I’ll explain more…
Watch the unboxing video
At the end of the video (you’ve watched it yeah?) I remark on how the Vactory would have been better if it put the head on for you. It turns out that this was the plan all along at the Cap Toys factory.
You can clearly see from the artwork on the box below that there are some bits missing from the actual production version. There should be a ‘Head Stabilisation Station’ (Number 4) and a ‘Shoulder Harness Station’ (Number 1). These two steps are not featured on the actual production version that I unboxed in the video.
The two steps missing would have first connected the shoulders to the body at the ‘Shoulder Harness Station’, a step that was unnecessary on my version as they were supplied attached. Then, once the body was filled up, a head would have dropped on to the body from the ‘Head Stabilisation Station’ before being pressed on in the ‘Head Compression Station’ which does exist on my version.
The artwork appears to have been produced before the actual toy hence the extra (or correct) parts. Further to this though, a proper prototype must have been produced as it appears in the commercial below.
Even further to this, the sticker sheet actually includes the stickers for the missing parts. This confused the hell out of me while making the video. I ended up skipping them because I couldn’t work it out. Now I know why!
So what happened at Cap Toys? Some decisions were obviously made very late on in production. The internet is very low on information or evidence that the toy actually existed. Judging by the 1996/1997 Argos Catalogue the Vactory wasn’t sold in the UK and by 1997/1998 only Stretch Armstrong was left in the line up. No more vacuuming for us.
There were a few Stretch and Vac-man toys in the 1995 catalogue (Borrowed from the amazing Parry Game Preserve) that never made it to production. Those Micro Power Stretch sets look amazing and check out Vac Overlord!
Cap Toys also trademarked a number of other Vac toys including Vaclings, Vac Heroes, Insta-Vac and Vactopus. As well as some Stretch Armstrong varients that never made the cut.
The trademark for Vactory was made in November 1994 and an extention was granted on 7th September of 1996. Weirdly however, an abandonment was registered stating ‘no use statement filed’ on 29th November 1996, less than 3 months later. A statement of use is defined as; a sworn statement signed by the applicant or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the applicant attesting to use of the mark in commerce.
So Cap Toys just let abandoned the trademark in the same year that the Vactory was released. Not a success then I guess.
It seems that Vactory and the Vac pac were licensed out to the Italian company Giochi Preziosi under the name ‘Bumbastik’. Weird name right? From what I can tell this name is pretty meaningless too but damn the Italian commercial is awesome!
Incredible right? The commercial uses the same full version of the toy but I can find no evidence of anything other than the stripped down version being released to the public by Giochi Preziosi or Cap Toys.
I really hoped to get to the bottom of why I (and everyone else) ended up with the stripped down version of the Vactory. I vow to keep searching and try to uncover what happened. I’ve already fallen down the rabbit hole!
I hope you found this interesting. If I’m the only one who did then it was still worth it. Even just to find the Bumbastik commercial!