Figure Friday: Curiosities From the Cap Cave – 1977 Kenner Chewbacca

It’s the first Figure Friday of 2023 and in order to freshen things up a bit, I’m going to introduce a new feature by highlighting some of the more unique offerings from my personal collection, The Cap Cave. You’ll still get figure news and reviews, but occasionally (i.e. when I don’t have anything new or fun to review) I’ll bust out something a little less modern or mainstream. Think: The Island of Misfit Toys and I’m your tour guide. This week, we go back to where it all began. Join me as we hop in the Way-Back Machine™ and revisit my original 1977 Kenner Chewbacca.

I was born in 1978 to a blue-collar family. My father worked as a pipe fitter for a major automotive manufacturer while my mother raised my brother and sister and I. We were spoiled kids who wanted everything and usually got it. Many days on his way home from work, my father would stop at K-Mart and grab my brother and I a Star Wars figure. By the time we were ready to move on to the next ’80s franchise, we had amassed a galaxy full of heroes, villains and scoundrels. I loved playing Star Wars. I had adventures in the bathtub, the snow, the sandbox, at Grandma’s house and everywhere in between. Where today’s kids get tossed a tablet and watch other kids open toys, I had Star Wars toys to keep me out of my parents’ hair.

In my kindergarten days, I was a good looking blond-haired blue-eyed kid with all the swagger of Han Solo. A couple years later, I would discover Mountain Dew and go from hero to zero by adding soda to my dietary pyramid. That being said, no Star Wars figure was loved more than Chewbacca. Han Solo needed his copilot and dammit, so did I. Chewie originally came to me in mint condition on a beautiful card which I’m sure I destroyed in order to get my hands on the Wookie inside. He also came with his trademark bow caster which was likely lost in the abyss that was my toybox within the first few days.

Chewbacca served his early years fighting my own personal rebellion against the Empire in the copilot seat of my Millennium Falcon. He recorded successful mission after successful mission until one tragic day he was stranded on a deserted planet and assumed lost. The Rebels searched for days in an effort to locate their fallen friend. No couch cushion was left unturned in their efforts. Then one fateful day, they received a distress call from my mother alerting them that the family dog had found their brother-in-arms. Unfortunately, arms were now somewhat of a problem. By the time the search party reached Chewie, the family dog took the Wookie’s nickname a bit too seriously by gnawing most of his right arm off.

Now, my parents may have spoiled us, but they also taught us to respect our belongings and this was my first lesson. There wasn’t a Bacta tank available, and at this point in Star Wars continuity, we didn’t have the details of Cloning technology. According to my parents, Chewie wasn’t getting replaced any time soon, so I did what I could. I amputated his arm at the elbow and he became my favorite prisoner of war from there on out. Chewie would find himself captured in every adventure and suffer brutal torture at the hands of the Empire until his Rebel friends would fly in to his rescue.

I learned to adapt and play in a new way. Months later, I would get another Chewbacca (see the previous note on spoiled kids), but I never got rid of my One-Armed Wookie. As I grew older, he became something more than a toy. He was a reminder for me to take care of my things. If you don’t want something bad to happen to your stuff, don’t leave it laying around for any man, woman or canine to make it their own. As I grew older, Chewie turned into a symbol of not giving up on something just because it wasn’t perfect. Something that became important to an overweight kid who struggled with self-confidence. Today, he serves as my reminder to have fun with your toys. My basement is set up like a museum with all kinds of figures on display. When the grandkids come over, I let them play with damn near anything they want. At the end of the day, they’re toys. They were meant to be in the hands of children, being played with. You can’t get that engagement behind glass or with them mint on card. The lessons Chewbacca taught me, I’ll eventually pass down to my grandkids. That is, if I can get them off their Nintendo Switch.

When people see my collection, many of them ask me what my favorite figure is and they’re always surprised when I point to my 1977 Kenner Chewbacca and tell them: If my house were on fire and I could only save one toy, it’s Chewie. I could have tossed him in the bin years ago, but I could never bring myself to let go. He’s taught me more life lessons than most of the people in my life without ever saying a word. There’s just something about having the galaxy’s best copilot by your side to give you peace of mind. Even if he looks like he’s been chewed up and spit out. Who hasn’t felt like that a time or two?

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