Box Sides (click to enlarge)
STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
It's the HOTH Snow Creature! A lifelike replica of the weird creature that HAN rides during his dangerous mission across the HOTH ice-scape. Put on the rein and saddle, then place the HAN SOLO Action Figure inside...there's a trap door in the TAUNTAUN'S back to fit HAN'S body. The specially designed saddle slots make it look like he's straddling TAUNTAUN. Remove HAN and the trap door closes. TAUNTAUN stands on his hind legs which are moveable. So are his paws. Most other STAR WARS action Figures can fit in the saddle for extra fun STAR WARS Action Figures each sold separately. Ages 4 and up.
Source: 1980 Kenner Toy Fair Catalog
If you're an experienced collect of loose Star Wars toys, one thing probably comes to mind when you think of the TaunTaun-- the stinkin' reins were always breaking. See, the thing came with a saddle and reins that were made of very flimsy brown rubber. After about 5 minutes of play, the reins split (often at more than one place). But broken reins or not, the TaunTaun was indispensible to kids wanting to stage Hoth-based adventures. It played an integral part in The Empire Strikes Back...and, if you ignore the Horshack figure from Mattel's Welcome Back Kotter line, it's the only combination lizard-camel-llama to every be made into a toy.
TaunTauns aren't terribly difficult to find in either boxed or loose condition. But it was released in two disintinctly different incarnations: this original version, which had a solid plastic belly, and an updated version, which threw a flexible rubber belly wall into the equation, in order to allow unfortunate figures to be stuffed into the TaunTaun's innards. During the second half of the '90s, Hasbro issued a few different TaunTaun toys as parts of their Power of the Force line. These toys are entirely unique vis-a-vis their vintage counterparts.
First Issued: 1980 (ESB packaging, solid belly)