Pixar at 30 – 20 Things You Might Not Know About Toy Story

Get ready to feel old, people: yesterday (February 3) marked 30 years since Pixar was founded. To aid and abet your recovery from the revelation that, yes, you really are that old now, here are 20 facts that you may not know about their (and the world’s) first ever feature-length film to be completely computer-animated. Toy Story. There’s one fact for free, right there.


1) Toy Story was the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award writing category (Best Original Screenplay). And yet somehow, Keyser Söze caper The Usual Suspects ended up scooping the Oscar – the judging panel must have had a snake in their boots.


2) The characters – sorry, toys – never blink both eyes at the same time, instead blinking one eye at a time (an animation trope called ‘Offset Blink’). You won’t be able to ignore it next time you watch the film.

3) Woody’s owner Andy was named after Andries “Andy” Van Dam, a Brown University Professor (and animation whizz) who taught many of Toy Story’s makers.


4) Utter bastard Sid Phillips – the kid next door who tries to bring an end to Andy’s toy paradise – was reputedly inspired by an old Pixar employee who would dismember toys and turn them into strange, new creations.

5) The Pixar team perfected the Green Army Men’s awkward style of movement by gluing their shoes (or that of the work experience) to a plank of wood and trying to walk – no doubt an experiment that’d been cooked up during the weekly Pixar team trip to the pub.

6) Toy company giants Hasbro got prickly with Pixar when the studio asked to use the name GI Joe in the film. It turned out that a GI Joe toy was going to be blown up by one of Sid’s rockets, and so Hasbro denied them permission to use the name.


7) Think you love Toy Story? You don’t love it as much as Jonason Pauley and Jesse Perrotta do – the Arizona pair decided in 2013 that the huge amount of time that they clearly had on their hands should be used to create a live-action shot-for-shot remake of Toy Story, because… well, you’d have to ask them about their precise motivation for such a project. Unfortunately, after over two years and nearly 15 million views, Disney recently asked YouTube to take the video down and ended the fun.

8) Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who revels in the fact that he was the second man on the moon, was the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear’s name – but you probably could have guessed that much yourself.

9) The Pizza Planet truck that Woody and Buzz mistake for Andy’s car has featured in every Pixar film (bar The Incredibles) since – consistency is key.

10) Real-life Woody dolls aren’t voiced by Tom Hanks, who brought the cowboy to life in the film, but by Tom’s brother, Jim, who has also filled in for the Hollywood star on Toy Story video games and various other merchandise outlets. What a swizz.

11) Early drafts of the script allegedly portrayed Woody as a bully and a “sarcastic jerk”, according to director John Lasseter. But the cuddly good-timers over at Disney weren’t too pleased with this characterisation, which resulted in the scriptwriters going back to the drawing board in order to make a far more likable protagonist.

12) Some of the original sketches of the Toy Story characters appear as Easter eggs in the film, with one prominent example being some early sketches of Woody, which can be spotted up on the walls of Andy’s bedroom.

13) In what is probably one of the most foolish rejections to have ever occurred in cinema history, Billy Crystal declined to voice Buzz Lightyear (“I turned it down because I looked at the script and said, ‘What? Talking toys? What is this all about?’”). The role was then offered to Home Improvement’s Tim Allen, and, well, the rest is history.

“It was the biggest mistake of my career,” cried Crystal to anyone who would listen, and so, when he was given a second chance by Pixar to voice Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc., he snapped their hand off.

14) The film utilises the much-used ‘Wilhelm Scream’ sound effect (no, not that James Blake song) when Buzz is knocked out of Andy’s window – dating back to the Florida-Western film Distant Drums, its became something of a running joke in the Pixar office, having since used the overdramatic scream in Up, Cars and Toy Story 3.

15) During production, Apple guru and the film’s executive producer Steve Jobs called producer Ralph Guggenheim in an attempt to convince him to get Bob Dylan to write original music for the film. ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ would sound very, er, different if it had been sung by Dylan, that’s for sure.

16) The carpet in Sid’s house was intentionally designed to pay homage to the colour scheme of the ill-fated Overlook Hotel in classic horror film The Shining – it was editor Lee Unkrich’s favourite flick.

17) Director John Lasseter revealed that his own childhood toys (and his childish desire to upgrade) inspired the characters of Woody and Buzz Lightyear: Woody was based on a pull-string Casper doll he owned, while the Space Ranger took inspiration from the superior GI Joe action figure that he moved on to when he grew bored of Casper.

18) The film had the working title of ‘You Are A Toy’ – it doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?

19) Unsurprisingly for a film that is very obviously about toys, we see very few human characters. But rather than making a point of excluding people from the story, this story element was actually a result of Pixar’s relatively small budget, which couldn’t cover the animation of a substantial set of human characters.

20) In their most productive week during production, Pixar completed just over three and a half minutes’ worth of animation. Workshy or what?