With roughly a hundred different figures in Kenner’s vintage Star Wars collection, it was only natural that they’d release a few action figure carrying cases.
The most functional of them looked like little briefcases, containing simple plastic trays to hold all of your Lukes and Leias. A step beyond those were cases shaped like the busts of Darth Vader and C-3PO, which flipped open to reveal storage space for up to 40 Star Wars figures.
…and then we had this one. The Chewbacca Bandolier Strap. Wwwah rroooaaah wha?
It didn’t hold nearly as many figures as the traditional cases, nor was it very good at “protecting” anything. In truth, those aspects were immaterial. Kids didn’t want this thing because it kept their collections tidy. They wanted it because it made them look like Chewbacca.
Released in 1983, the costume strap looked negotiably like the one Chewbacca wears in every Star Wars movie. While I presume that Chewbacca’s held ammunition, the toy version was constructed to hold action figures.
With only ten “slots,” kids had to be really careful about their selections. Many fans had dozens of Star Wars figures, so filling up the bandolier was one way to determine which were truly their favorites. (Boba Fett was a shoo-in, but I doubt that guys like Nikto or the Cloud Car Pilot too often made the cut!)
In a neat touch, the toy also came with two blue boxes which snapped open to hold all of your figures’ weapons and accessories. (Assuming you hadn’t already lost them. Those guns were tiny!)
As cool as the Chewbacca Bandolier Strap was, I can’t call it a must-have for collectors. The dark foam that kept the action figures in place ages notoriously poorly. Even if you pull the toy from a factory sealed box, it’ll quite likely still disintegrate to the touch. (For that reason, it can be difficult to find a loose specimen that doesn’t look like it’s been run through the world’s harshest washing machine ten times.)
But man, in its day, this thing was just boss. Remember all of those depressingly boring trips you had to take with your parents? The Chewbacca Bandolier Strap was a lifesaver! It didn’t matter if Grandma had no television, because now you were armed with 10 of your favorite Star Wars figures. In an era long before iPhones and Nintendo 3DSes, that meant so much.
The fact that you got to look like a cross between Chewbacca and Aisle 6 at Toys “R” Us was just a bonus, baby.
If you’re in the market for a Chewbacca Bandolier Strap, loose examples can be found for as low as $10. If you want it with the box, it’ll be closer to $20. Only factory sealed specimens in well-kept boxes go for much more, though I’ll remind you that even those don’t come with any “good foam” guarantees.
PS: Don’t try to fit a Gamorrean Guard on this thing.
I guess it takes a Star Wars fan to find this fashionable, but yes, we totally did!