Small Soldiers is a 1998 action/comedy film directed by Joe Dante, best known for his work on the Gremlins franchise. The plot begins at the Heartland Toy Company, a conglomerate that gets swallowed up by GloboTech Industries, an organization that deals primarily in high-tech military hardware. The members of the board of Heartland deduce that implanting military AI chips into their newest set of action figures would grant kids a more interactive experience; however in doing so, manage to grant the two lines (the Commando Elite and their enemies, the Gorgonites) literal intelligence. The Gorgonites have a pacifist mindset while the Commandos are basically of the warmongering variety, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Gorgonite scum, and anyone who allies with them. Their battle takes place in suburbia, where young Alan Abernathy (Gregory Smith) befriends the Gorgonites due to his being left in charge of his father's toy shop, and he vows to help them achieve their goal before the Commando Elite can find and take them apart. He gets help from his neighbor and love interest Christy Fimple (Kirsten Dunst).
Small Soldiers provides examples of:
- Accidental Hero: Alan manages to take down Brick Bazooka while biking home. He was completely unaware that Brick was even on the bike let alone after Archer.
- Actor Allusion:
- Tommy Lee Jones voices Major Chip Hazard, who at the end of the second act gets horrific burns down one side of his face. The Commandos all bear some resemblance to their voice actors.
- A scientist played by Robert Picardo who creates AI-based technology that succeeds beyond one's wildest dreams? Yeah, THAT'S never happened before...
- Director allusion - Alan is shown with a Gremlin skull on his desk. Joe Dante directed Gremlins and its sequel. There's also a piranha toy next to the fish tank. Joe Dante had also directed Piranha.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Gil Mars is legitimately amused by Flatchoo, a toy that produces fart and belch sounds which was previously designed by Irwin and Larry.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Subverted. The chips enhance programming that is already present, so the militant Commando Elites become bloodthirsty, monstrous warriors and the weaker Gorgonites become cowards who only hide from battle. (They're obeying their programming to the letter; the fault actually lies in the guy who programmed them and had no idea the chips would do that.) The Gorgonites eventually grow beyond it because they're programmed to learn, but the Commandos only think up new ways to fight.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Nick Nitro, who gets a very painful death which his fellow commandos are deeply saddened by.
- Amusing Injuries: Most injuries are played seriously, even those that happen to the toys. However, Brick Bazooka getting torn in two is made rather funny by the fact that he has to crawl over to his bottom half to reply to his built-in radio. If he didn't get fully repaired in the next scene, maybe not so much.
- Arc Words: "There will be no mercy."
- Armies Are Evil: Invoked, as the Commando Elite are programmed to be bloodthirsty maniacs.
- Arrowgram: The Commando Elite send Alan and the Gorgonites an arrow with a video tape of Christy telling Alan to surrender the Gorgonites or else the Commando Elite will kill her.
- Artistic License Physics: In-Universe. When the chip's designer explains that they're vulnerable to EMP attacks, he sarcastically adds that even the toy industry isn't competitive enough to worry about the effects of nuclear explosions. Irwin and Larry take this literally and think that's the only way to produce one until Fimple explains how elecro-magnetism works (making it very clear that he thinks they're idiots).
- Awesome McCoolname: The Commando Elite, both as a group name and as individuals. Special acknowledgments go to Nick Nitro and Butch Meathook.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Ralph (Robert Picardo), the X-1000 chip's creator, mentions that there was a problem with the chips, Irwin and Larry immediately assume it's that said chips caused the weapons they were inserted into to rebel. In actuality, the problem was that the chips were vulnerable to Electro-Magnetic Pulses, and the government didn't want to fork out the extra cash for the necessary shielding.
- Battle Baton: Christy beats the living crap out of a bunch of animated dolls with a cheerleader's baton. The dolls themselves put it nicely."Run, she's got a baton! It's a baton death march!"
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Christy seems to get a little overly excited about the prospect of tearing apart the baddies with whatever household objects she happens to have on hand.
- The Gorgonites, when they decide to fight back, easily overwhelm the Commandos' superior numbers.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Alan and Christy have theirs at the end, which even gets a smile from Gil Mars as he takes off in his helicopter."Too bad, this would've made a hell of a commercial."
- Bland-Name Product: "Gwendy" dolls.
- Body Horror: Since the Gwendy dolls initially lack the same internal mechanisms that the Commandos do, they undergo some "plastic surgery".
- Bound and Gagged:
- Happens to both Christy and her little brother, separately, in order for hostage taking.
- Happens again to Joe the truck driver near the end. Major Chip Hazard ties him up and makes him deliver all of the recalled Commando Elites to the Abernathy and Fimple homes.
- But Now I Must Go: Archer and all the Gorgonites leave at the end of the film, hoping to find Gorgon.
- Buy Them Off: At the end, once the forces of Chip Hazard have been defeated, Gil Mars, C.E.O. of GloboTech arrives to survey the damage that's been done, he orders the truck driver that Chip forced to deliver the toys to the Abernathy and Fimple households, to load up the truck and drive it away before the press arrives. When he mentions that the injuries sustained (having his hands taped to the steering wheel, and his mouth taped shut) may not be covered by his job's health insurance, Mars' secretary gives him a check, and the driver happily gets to work. When Mr. Fimple demands to know that Mars will do about the damages to his house, Mars' secretary hands him a check. When Mr. Abernathy asks if he has enough money to cover the emotional trauma that his family suffered, the secretary hands him a check and he responds: "okay, maybe you do."
- Casting Gag: The Commandos are voiced by numerous stars from The Dirty Dozen.
- Similarly, the Gorgonites, save for Occula, are Spinal Tap, but in toy form.
- Celebrity Paradox: More like "Merchandise Paradox". During the scene of Larry Benson giving a press release to the investors, the T-shirts and swag behind him, which are in-universe supposed to be of the Commando Elite and Gorgonites, instead display the tag "Small Soldiers". Likewise, the Gorgonites display includes Freakenstein rather than Troglokhan.
- Chainsaw Good: "Dibs on the chainsaw!"
- Chekhov's Gun: A couple.
- The power pole. In the climax, it's used to cause the short-circuit that takes out the Commandoes)
- Phil's satellite. It saves the Gorgonites from being killed off alongside the Commandoes.
- Christmas Rushed: The in-universe explanation for what happened with the toys; the company's new owner gave them what they insist is an insanely short development window to produce a revolutionary new product. The designers used what they thought were off-the-shelf parts without looking into the source (the Department of Defense) and quickly slapped together a product by combining two toy lines developed independently with incompatible backstories. The problems went unnoticed because they had no time for product testing.
- Cliché Storm: Invoked with Chip Hazard's mode of speech. A perfect example occurs when Hazard activates the other Commandos; he gives a speech that is literally composed entirely of cliched famous quotes from war movies.
- Communications Officer: Link Static serves this role in the Commando Elite.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: In the finale, an entire store line of Commandos are defeated by half a dozen Gorgonites with no casualties; the only part with any suspense is the showdown with (one) Chip Hazard.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Invoked with Gil Mars, CEO of GloboTech, who pushes for the Gorgonites to be used as little more than the 'ugly evil mutant freak' foes of the Commando Elite and is stated to generally be pretty heartless; however, he doesn't specifically tell the designers to use military-grade hardware in toys, he merely states that he's sick and tired of products that don't deliver on their advertising and whilst he plainly doesn't give a crap about the devastation caused by Chip Hazard and the Commandos, he does make amends with a big cheque payoff.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: It's implied in the ending that the CEO of GloboTech plans to resell the hundreds of thousands of recalled Commando Elites to the military for use as mercenaries against The Cartels.
- Damsel in Distress: Christy gets captured and tied up to convince Alan to give up the Gorgonites. Alan and Archer rescue her, and she becomes an out and out Action Girl.
- Designated Hero: In-Universe, the Commandos. They're supposed to be bold hero figures fighting the monstrous Gorgonites but they are ruthless.
- Designated Villain: At the same time, Gorgonites are clearly peaceful despite their appearance. Due to Executive Meddling below, it did not bode well with the original creator.
- The Determinator: A villainous example: no matter what you throw at Chip Hazard, he's going to come back.
- Disney Death: After Alan sets off an EMP to take out the Commando Elite, he finds Archer lying in the yard, inanimate.Alan: Archer? Archer, speak to me. Halt, who goes there?
Archer: Greetings, I am Archer, emissary of the Gorgonites. Greetings, I am Archer, emissary of the Gorgonites. Greetings, I am Archer, emissary of the Gorgonites.
Alan: Oh, man, your chip got fried, just like the Commandos.
Archer: The Commandos...are dead? Gorgonites...We won!
- Distressed Dude:
- Timmy gets tied up and locked in the closet as the Commandos infiltrate the Fimples' house.
- Alan himself gets surrounded by Commandos and Gwendy Dolls in the final battle until Christy pulls Big Damn Heroes with a lawn mower.
- Double Entendre: All the lines spouted by the Commandoes when they discover the Gwendy dolls such as: "Fully poseable!"
- Dull Surprise: Alan accepts the fact that Archer is a Living Toy pretty quickly without any initial freak out. Later even Christy looks more confused and annoyed in response to the corrupted Gwendy Dolls coming to get her, instead of screaming in horror.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Chip Hazard may be programmed to destroy the Gorgonites, but he was given an honorable and loyal personality as a heroic soldier. The trouble comes when his programming allows for no mercy to the Gorgonites or their allies.
- In fact all of the Commandos have heroic personalities as brave, dedicated soldiers - which is half the problem since they just don't give up.
- The rest of the Commandos are visibly horror-struck when Chip Hazard pulls off Nick Nitro's head and removes his processor - his brain. One of them admits to being ready to vomit.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Insaniac rapidly spins in a Taz-esque style, which turns lethal when he uses his Epic Flail.
- Evil Plan: The Commando Elite are programmed with one goal in mind: Destroy the Gorgonites. Though the start of the conflict is Mars' plan to program them as such for greater profits.
- Exact Words: When Larry is searching for processors in the beginning what he wants is a large supply. What he actually writes in the search is "surplus". Keep in mind his parent company is a weapons manufacturer...
- Executive Meddling: In-universe example. Originally, the Commando Elite and the Gorgonites were going to be completely separate, with the Gorgonites going for a more "educational" view, as they only want to explore the world, learn more about it, and socialize. The Commando Elite, meanwhile, were somewhat generic, G.I. Joe-esque characters. The director decided that the concepts on their own weren't interesting, and decided to put the toylines together.
- Expelled from Every Other School: Christy believes that Alan moved to town because of being kicked out of ten different schools. Alan asserts that it only happened twice.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Irwin and Larry are discussing Alan's call about the rampaging toys:Irwin: What if this kid's telling the truth? We can't have toys out on the market that may be dangerous.
Larry: [lackadaisical] How can they be dangerous? Everything on them is standard. The design is standard, the materials are standard... the mechanicals are standard. Even the... [sudden Oh, Crap! face] Oh.
Irwin: What's "Oh"?
Irwin: You just said "Oh".
Larry: No, I said "Oh!"
Irwin: You mean "Oh" like, "That's interesting" or "Oh" like, "We're screwed"?
Larry: No. I mean, "Hey! Whoa! Oh!". Look, forget the "Oh". I'll go to legal to start on the countersuit.
Irwin: The chips! That's the "Oh"!
- Faceless Eye: Ocula.
- Failed a Spot Check: Christy opens her front closet to put her coat away, and completely misses her little brother Bound and Gagged inside.
- Fantastic Racism: The Commando Elite's entire goal is to strictly destroy the Gorgonites, nothing practical.
- Fastball Special: Punch-It launches Scratch-It from his horns like a slingshot.
- Brick Bazooka is similarly hurled onto the back of Alan's bike. And blink and you'll miss it, but two of the Gwendy dolls cheerleader-throw a third one to better attack Brad.
- Fell Off the Back of a Truck: How Alan "buys" the toys off the delivery guy.Alan: What, you're telling me that, in all the time you've run deliveries, nothing has ever just... fallen off the back of the truck?
Joe: Hey, I don't like your tone.
Joe: [leans closer] It's too loud.
- When Alan tries to save Archer from the garbage disposal, Nick cuts his hand.
- At the end of the film, Chip plunges his dagger into Alan's fingers while he's attempting to create an electromagnetic pulse.
- Gay Moment:
- General Ripper: Chip Hazard. He's obsessed with exterminating the Gorgonites, since that's what he was programmed to do: wipe out the enemy.
- Goggles Do Nothing: The Commando Elite wear Liefeldian amounts of pouches, holsters and straps. Link Static even has a huge pair of welder's goggles, for even less apparent reason than usual.
- Gone Horribly Right: Putting AI into toys, programming them as soldiers and giving them a specific enemy? They become more dangerous than full sized human soldiers. It's worth noting that numerous times Larry and Irwin both admit that there's nothing wrong with the intelligence chips.
- Subverted by the end of the movie. Instead of selling them to children, Mars decides to sell them to the Department of Defense.
- Gonk: MAJOR points for many of the Commando Elite and Gorgonites. Best examples are Nick Nitro and Brick Bazooka with their giant, ever showing mouths of teeth and Scratch-It with her own chompers and strange looks.
- Grow Beyond Their Programming: The Gorgonites. They were programed to lose but at the climax Archer declares "No more hiding." Then they go out to win.
- The munitions chips can eventually do this as they go along.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Archer's initial interaction with Alan is asking his name is similar to what video games normally do, and as typical of the trope, the unfortunate part of the response got included in the name.Archer: What's your name?Alan: Alan. Now shut up!Archer: Greetings, Alan Now-shut-up.
- Heroic Build: Somewhat inverted, The Commando Elite are made out to have muscular, almost G.I. Joe-esque designs, and they're the villains of the film.
- Humans Are Bastards: The Commandos are all human soldiers (for a dash of Armies Are Evil as well), while the good ones are nonhumans. The fact that the peaceful Gorgonites were designed as aliens from the start seems to indicate that Irwin at least holds this opinion. Then again, the two lines (Commando and Gorgonite) were not originally intended to be used together, adding an in-universe case of Executive Meddling to the mix.
- Hypocritical Humor: Chip doesn't take kindly to officers and gentlemen hitting women, but has no trouble shooting at them if they are helping the Gorgonites. Also consider their use of the ladies in question, the Gwendies.Major Chip Hazard: "Yo, Maggot! An Officer and a Gentleman does not strike a lady!"Nostalgia Critic: "Yes, you just open up their breasts, strip them naked, and force them to be your mindless sex minions!"
- Improvised Weapon:
- The Commando Elite are experts at this. Among the household implements they convert into weaponry are a toaster that fires flaming CDs, a tennis-ball launcher firing kerosene-soaked balls, and a catapult made from a mousetrap and a spoon.
- The CEO, seeing the havoc the toys created (And giving everyone truckloads of cash not to press charges or talk about it), decides the best thing to do with the obviously-dangerous toy line is to add some zeroes on the end of the price and sell them as automated weapons instead.
- Also, Christy destroys the troop of Gwendy dolls using a riding lawn mower.
- Insistent Terminology: "We're not dolls... We're action figures!"
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: the X-1000 microchips make any machine they're installed into sapient. It enhances any programming to it's limit, and then begins learning how to do its job better. Its creator is actually offended when Irwin asks him if that means that he (the scientist) cracked AI, snapping "No. *Actual* intelligence." When added to the animatronic soldiers and monster toys, they become nearly human. The fact that the Gorgonites don't blow a fuse when they win (they'd been programmed to lose) proves that it's extremely adaptable.
- It's a Small World, After All: Chip Hazard says this when he happens upon Alan's home.
- Karma Houdini: The CEO of GloboTech manages to get away with authorizing the mass-production of untested, highly destructive military toys without any punishment by cutting checks for everyone involved. He even goes on to authorize the toys to be remade (except this time they'll be repurposed to bring down South American drug lords). Though his underling was to blame for using the military chips.
- Lady Drunk: Marion Fimple spends the final battle still tripping from having sleeping pills launched into her gin and tonic. She even Squees when the Commandos play the Spice Girls.
- Language Equals Thought: Mixed with a truly subtle bit of foreshadowing: Initially, they plan to market the Commando Elite with the slogan "Anything else is just a toy", but more of that In-Universe Executive Meddling changes that to "Everything else is just a toy". As a result, when the Commando Elite become sentient, they can freely attack human beings, as their worldview is that everything else around them is part of their programmed conflict.
- Large Ham: Most of the toys, especially Chip Hazard, who gets most of the best one-liners.
- Laughing Mad: Insaniac, but he's one of the good guys.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Alan has been trying to avoid this trope after getting kicked out of two schools for his near dangerous pranks. However, when the Commando Elite kidnapped Christy and sent him a ransom/torture video, the gloves come off.Alan: Major Chip Hazard wants a war, we'll give him a war.
- The climax of the movie has the Gorgonites override their progamming and take the fight to the Commandos instead of running and hiding. They Commandos are easily taken down.
- Literal Genie: The Commando Elite. They follow their orders to kill the Gorgonites to the extreme.
- Living Toys: About as alive as the finest military AI chips can make them, anyway.
- Loud of War: The Commando Elite blast "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls to demoralize the Abernathys and the Gorgonites. The tipsy wife of the electronics geek exclaims "I love this song!" Christy even alludes to the fact that the US Military used the same tactic to force the surrender of Manuel Noriega (dictator of Panama in the '80s; except they used hard rock/heavy metal IRL).
- Low Count Gag: Alan's mother asks him to empty the cash register. There is a snarky joke about not enough cash in it.Mrs. Abernathy: Did you empty the cash register?Alan: Both quarters and all six pennies.
- Major Chip Hazard is About to Shoot You: An in-universe promotional image for the Commando Elite line uses this very heavily.
- Majorly Awesome: Chip Hazard is a baddie version.
- Manly Tears: With the exception of Chip Hazard, who simply wipes away a Single Tear, the Commando Elite blub unrestrainedly as Nick Nitro ceases to function.
- McNinja: Kip Killigan has two outsized shuriken prominently displayed on his chest. Almost certainly intended as an in-universe bit of silliness on the part of his designers.
- Meaningful Name:
- Chip Hazard, Major Chip Hazard.
- The CEO of Globotech, a weapons manufacturer that has begun producing kids' toys, is named Gil Mars.
- My Little Panzer: Toys with military-grade computer hardware built in. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- Nail 'Em: The Commando Elite bring along a rapid-firing nailgun along for fire support on their second try. The trope name is the exact command used to order it to be fired.
- No Flow in CGI: The Gwendy Dolls notably have long hair before the Commandos bring them to life, but are all bald afterwards. This is obviously because animating long hair with late 90s CGI would have been a nightmare. One Gwendy Doll with hair is obviously a puppet.
- The Operators Must Be Crazy: Alan tries to call Globotech to complain about the Commando Elites coming to life and wrecking his dad's toy store, but the operator is actively unhelpful to the point that he ultimately asks to be transferred to a machine - right before the operator gets his gender wrong.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": When Larry and Irwin are handed their Globotech database passwords, Irwin's turns out to be "gizmo", which is both too short and a dictionary word. Worse yet, we learn this because he immediately blurts it out, which later allows Larry to use it to log in with the authorization to choose the military-grade AI chip that starts the plot.
- Pet the Dog:
- The Commando Elite mourn after one of their troops dies, although subverted later, as they raise an army of evil Gwendy dolls using what is technically the brain of their fallen comrade. Outside of Chip Hazard, the rest of the Commando Elite seem deeply uncomfortable when Chip takes the "skin" off and crack open the head.
- Gil Mars gives a sincere smile when he sees Alan and Christie kissing at the end.
- Police Are Useless: Taken to ridiculous extremes. Not only do they dismiss Christy's statements about the Commando Elites when she calls 911 and consider it a nuisance call, but when she tries to make them come by admitting she made a nuisance call (a rather serious crime in itself), they simply hang up.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "An Officer and a Gentleman does not strike a lady."
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
- Stuart says "Now, stick this in your pipe and smoke it!" as he uses the broom to destroy the Commando Elite's flamethrower.
- Alan says "Have I got a shock for you! You stupid toy!" just before he short-circuits Chip on the power pole.
- Rage Breaking Point: "Don't tell me to calm down; calm was killing me."
- Robotic Assembly Lines:
- Begins with a production line of the titular toys being manufactured (including Terminator-style skeletons and Uncanny Valley-ish rubber "skins").
- Then a second time during the 'recruitment' of the Gwendy Dolls.
- Rooting for the Empire: Enforced. The Commando Elite were the guys who mesmerised the marketing executives, and came to the opinion that the kids would be as well - after all, "it's not violence, it's action, and kids love action". So, they got all the focus and the poor Gorgonites, who were a rejected concept with nothing to do with the Commandos, got awkwardly shoehorned in as their "enemies".
- Scotty Time: Larry and Irwin are both taken aback when the CEO orders that the new toy line be ready for shipment within three months, when it takes at least six months to go through product testing and focus groups.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The CEO spends his second scene handing out cheques to every disgruntled party, all of whom immediately stop complaining when they see the numbers. Alan's dad puts his foot down and refuses to be paid off after what they witnessed. Then he sees how much money the check is for.I don't think even you have enough money to pay for... (cue the Mars' assistant handing out a cheque) Okay... maybe you do...
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Christy's boyfriend Bradley tries to save Christy from the Gwendy dolls, gets attacked by the Commando Elite, sheds his burning pants, runs out of the house, and escapes.
- Selective Obliviousness: Chip Hazard clearly knows how he works, but loudly proclaims that "Everything else is just a toy" and completely rejects Archer's "Not So Different" Remark in the final act.
- Many, many parodies/homages of scenes from famous war movies. For example, Chip Hazard's Patton-like speech in front of a jigsaw of the US flag, or "Ride of the Valkryies" kicking in as he appears riding a remote-controlled helicopter.
- "All Quiet on the Western Front... yard!"
- And the requisite Shout-Out to Apocalypse Now: "I love the smell of polyurethane in the morning."
- Not to mention countless homages to The Terminator and the obligatory 2001: A Space Odyssey/Also sprach Zarathustra riff.
- The final line: "I hope we don't hit an iceberg!"
- Chip Hazard retrieves Nick's chip by saying "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This is the slogan for the United Negro College Fund.
- When the first Gwendy soldiers begin to move, Brick Bazooka shrieks, "It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!", complete with maniacal laughter.
- Possible ones to G.I. Joe:
- Globotech's CEO is Gil Mars. MARS was also the arms manufacturing company led by Destro, as well as the Roman God of War.
- The Abernathy family share their name with General Clayton Abernathy, better known as Hawk.
- Irwin is a shout-out to a real life toy company of the same name that distributes toys for well known companies such as Bandai and Milton Bradley.
- Several to Joe Dante's previous works, including the Piranha and Gremlin skull on Alan's desk, Irwin's password being "Gizmo," and a toy of Gizmo himself in the dumpster.
- The creation of the Zom-Gwendies is inspired by, and features music from Bride of Frankenstein.
- Similarly, Chip Hazard's Rousing Speech infront of an American flag is a pastiche of the opening scene of Patton, and Jerry Goldsmith even quotes his score from that film to drive the point home.
- Hazard's dialogue about how Nick Nitro's "battery has run out, but his memory will keep going, and going, and going" is a reference to Energizer batteries' slogan.
- Another mention to Energizer (or rather, their parent company at the time, Eveready) is heard during the beginning of the film. Doubles as a Take That!.
- When Phil Fimple is being told about the situation with the Commando Elite and the Gorgonites, he asks "What's next, the Blue Fairy drops by with a talking cricket?"
- When the Gorgonites finally decide to fight back, Slamfist (an obvious Quasimodo pastiche) proclaims "Sanctuary!"
- The Singularity: The Commando Elite learn how to reverse-engineer their chips and create an army of Franken-Barbies.
- Slasher Smile:
- Nick Nitro and Brick Bazooka sport these, but the winning candidate is undeniably Kip Killigan. Cheerful though he may be, that cigar-chomping grin is scary smile number one, hands down.
- Insaniac is a rare non-villainous example; he's always sporting a big grin.
- Slipping a Mickey: The Commandos put Marianne out of commission by launching sleeping pills into her drink.
- Smooch of Victory: After Alan helps Christy fight off the Gwendy dolls the Commandos "recruited":Christy: You rescued me! *smooch!*Alan: *is very surprised* Anytime!Christy: *smooch!*
- Spiritual Successor: To Dante's Gremlins films which also focused on a man's son unwittingly unleashing small creatures who wreak havoc on an unsuspecting neighborhood. Small Soldiers shares the Gremlins films' commentary about American culture's dependency on technology, but in a much more overt way.
- The Stinger: A dedication to Phil Hartman, accompanied by an outtake of the "A nuclear bomb?" line, with everyone laughing.
- Stock Scream: Brick Bazooka utters a Wilhelm scream as he falls from Alan's bicycle, and another Wilhelm is heard as Alan's father kicks off the one trying to kill him at the end.
- Testosterone Poisoning: The Commando Elite all have ridiculously manly names. And builds. And attitudes.
- Toilet Humor: The reason GloboTech aquired Irwin's toy business is their successful line of monster dolls who burp and fart when you push their bellies, called "The Belch Brigade."
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Christy says Led Zeppelin are her favourite band, knows how to ride a moped and is quite ruthless when taking out the toys. She also collects Gwendy Dolls, and seems to be ashamed of it.
- Toyless Toyline Character:
- Two major villains, Butch Meathook and Link Static, were never released in real life except in the Burger King tie-in line.
- In addition, Troglokhan had no figures released in his original likeness.
- Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Archer and Chip.
- Verbal Tic: Link Static, Commando Elite communications specialist, bookends his sentences with white noise.
- Warning Mistaken for Threat: One of the first lines Archer the Gorgonite speaks to Alan is the Arc Words "There will be no mercy." Alan actually inquires if this was meant to be a threat, but Archer can only repeat the line, as he hasn't learned enough English to be conversant. Alan soon learns the "no mercy" part applies to the Commando Elite, whose only purpose is to attack, fight, destroy the Gorgonites and their perceived allies.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Troglokhan is reconstructed as Freakenstein.Punch-It: We fixed him!
Slamfist: We tried to fix him...
*watching Frankenstein*: I feel your pain.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Needless to say, we never do see the reactions of the neighbors when the EMP happens, nor when GloboTech and Mars survey the damage to the neighborhood.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Subverted with the Gorgonites. But the toy company enforces them to be the bad guys because of their alien appearance, so there's a degree of this in-universe.
- Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: In the trailer for the film it's explicitly pointed out that Globotech decided to expand into the toy business due to the decrease in military hardware demand after the end of the Cold War.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Parodied. Chip Hazard scolds Brad for throwing one of the Gwendy Dolls against the wall ("an officer and a gentleman does not strike a lady"), never mind they were attacking him first.
- Writer Revolt: In-Universe example. Larry kept most of Irwin's ideas for the Gorgonites' personalities in place even though they'd been made the villains of the toyline.