20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'

With the 20th anniversary of Pixar's first film coming up, we take a look behind the scenes.

Disney Pixar

After the success of the short film Tin Toy in 1988, Disney approached a small computer animation company called Pixar about creating a feature-length film starring toys as main characters. The movie would be driven by the idea that "toys deeply want children to play with them, and that this desire drives their hopes, fears, and actions." The project would become Toy Story and it would change the face of animated filmmaking upon its release in November, 1995.

Toy Story was a first all around. It was the first Pixar film, first feature-length, computer-animated film of any kind, and the first public hint that the future of animation could be computer-based. It's not overstating the fact to say Toy Story is one of the most influential films of the past 20 years. 

Twenty years. To celebrate that legacy, let's dive deep into the joint Disney/Pixar production and learn how it happened. Here are 20 things you never knew about Toy Story:

1. Most of the characters in Toy Story blink their eyes one at a time. This is called "offset blinking" and is usually used in animation to signal an out of place or stupid character. In Toy Story, it's likely used to remind the audience the toys are still toys. Pixar has continued using the offset blink in other films. 

2. Director John Lasseter was the brain behind Toy Story. A former Disney employee, Lasseter was fired, hired by Pixar, and then recruited to come back to Disney after executives saw his Oscar-winning animated short film, Tin Toy. But Lasseter was loyal to Pixar CEO Steve Jobs and remained with the company. Disney recognized defeat and worked on a deal with Pixar to create a feature-length film instead. Seven years later, Toy Story debuted. 

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar

3. Lasseter directed Toy Story and co-wrote the script with a team of screenwriters, most of whom would go on to direct major films: They included Joss Whedon (Marvel's The Avengers), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), and Joe Ranft (Cars). All the writers were nominated for the 1995 Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. Toy Story would lose to The Usual Suspects, but it was the first animated film ever nominated in the category.

4. In the original treatment, Woody is a villain who abuses the other toys until they revolt against him. Disney studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg was the one who asked Lasseter to reshape the story into more of an odd couple tale. He pointed to films like The Defiant Ones and 48 Hrs. as inspiration.

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar

5. Tinny, the hero of Tin Toy, was originally the hero of Toy Story but was deemed "too antiquated" by Disney. He was turned into a military hero, and then a space hero named "Lunar Larry." That name didn't stick. "Tempus from Morph" was another name floated before the writers settled on Buzz Lightyear as an homage to astronaut Buzz Aldrin

6. Woody was originally a wooden ventriloquist's dummy (hence the name), but was changed when the writers made him a good guy. He was turned into a cowboy to clash genres with the sci-fi hero, Buzz. The writers kept the name "Woody" as a tribute to actor Woody Strode.

7. Lasseter recruited Tom Hanks to voice Woody by showing him test footage of the character with Hanks' dialogue from Turner and Hooch dubbed in. This is a common Disney technique. 

8. Billy Crystal was originally offered the role of Buzz Lightyear, but turned it down, something he has stated he regrets. Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Jim Carrey were also considered, but the role went to Tim Allen, who was already a part of the Disney family thanks to his sitcom, Home Improvement. Crystal would later find solace when he was offered a Monsters, Inc. character (Mike Wazowski), which he immediately agreed to without knowing anything about the film. 

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar

9. Andy's toy-abusing neighbor, Sid Phillips, is supposedly based on a former Pixar employee named "Phillips" who was known to disassemble toys to create new ones.

10. Sid's evil ways are also illustrated by the carpet in his house, which has the same hexagonal pattern as the the Overlook Hotel's carpet in The Shining, one of editor Lee Unkrich's favorite movies. It's not the only Shining reference.

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar

11. Hasbro denied Pixar the use of the name "G.I. Joe" when they discovered one of their dolls would be blown up by Sid.

12. Similarly, Mattel wouldn't allow Pixar to use a "Barbie" character in the script because they didn't want an onscreen portrayal of the famous doll's personality. She was replaced by Bo Peep in the script. Mattel also thought the movie would flop. Minds were changed when Toy Story was a huge success and the toy company allowed Barbie to appear in the sequel.

13. Hanks recorded his Woody dialogue during breaks in the filming of Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and A League of Their Own (1992). But he refused to work as Woody while making Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994) because he didn't want to switch from drama to comedy and back again. 

14. Five Easter Eggs: 1. The toolbox on top of Woody's crate is a Binford, the fake tool company seen on Home Improvement. 2. When Woody is sitting on the bed talking with Slinky, the drawing behind them is an actual early sketch of the Woody character. 3. When the Pizza Planet delivery boy enters the Dinoco gas station, he asks for directions to West Cutting Boulevard, Pixar's real address at the time in Richmond, CA. 4. All of the cars in Toy Story have license plate stickers that are dated November '95, the same date the movie was released. 5. When the soldiers are watching the pile of presents disappear during the birthday party, two silhouette pictures can be seen on the wall. They're available at Walt Disney parks worldwide and are cut freehand using nothing but paper and scissors by the park's employees.

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar

15. A Wilhelm Scream can be heard when Buzz is knocked out of the window.

16. The idea of toys coming to life when no one is looking can be traced back to works like The Shepherdess and The Chimney Sweep (1845), Babes in Toyland (1903) and The Velveteen Rabbit (1922). It was this concept that attracted Hanks to the project. It has been done many many times.

17. Buzz Lightyear's facial features are loosely based on Lasseter, especially his eyebrows, cheeks, and chin. Lasseter proved it by sketching a self-portrait of himself wearing a space helmet on the U.K. breakfast show The Big Breakfast in 1992.

18. Some 3D effects, like explosions, water droplets, and complicated hair were too complex for the animators at the time of production so subtle tricks are used to avoid them. We never see Combat Carl's demise and the human characters all have short hair. Andy's mom is the exception — she wears a ponytail. 

19. Mr. Potato Head's line "What are you looking at, ya hockey puck?" is one of comedian Don Rickles' catchphrases.

20. The character of Andy is named for Andries "Andy" Van Dam, a Brown University professor and computer science and animation pioneer who taught many of the filmmakers.

20 Things You Never Knew About 'Toy Story'
Disney Pixar
Senior Editor at Zimbio. I'll take Johnny Clay, the Rev. Harry Powell, and Annie Savoy. You can have the rest.
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