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Headscratchers / The Brave Little Toaster

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  • When is the film really set? When the Radio plays a Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast, for example, the implication is that the film is set no later than 1957, when the team relocated to Los Angeles. Later in the film, however, we meet the “Cutting Edge” appliances, which are clearly from the 80’s and, as the Radio lamentingly notes, “couldn’t be more modern.”
    • I think he just likes replaying old broadcasts he remembers.
  • What's with all the mangled/hodge podge appliances at St. Peter's? I understand taking old appliances apart to sell the components. But would he put together random parts? Like that shaver/lamp/can opener. Nobody is going to buy that.
    • Maybe it's something he just did for fun, or perhaps it's a sculpture he made for an art exhibit with whatever he found lying around.
  • That Peter Lorre lamp didn't get to escape with the others, during the jailbreak at Elmo St. Peter's. While the fridge, fan, and tape player waddled down the street, the hanging lamp was nowhere to be seen. True, he was attached to the ceiling and there was probably nothing they could do for him. But they could at least have said goodbye, and thanked him for donating his bulb to Lampy.
    • Well, this troper always thought of that lamp as being a sadistic observer, one whom St. Peters would probably leave be since he uses the lamp to light up his workspace. So he probably wanted to stay. But it's clear that the other appliances all wanted to leave deep down.
      • So then, maybe the real reason he gave Lampy his bulb was so he could see Lampy lose it again? That makes Lampshade even creepier.(Unless he just has a soft spot for fellow lamps.)
      • Well, there is the fact that he says "Use it in good health... while you still can." But if you want him to seem as mean as possible, you could say he only gave it to him so he'd have a false sense of security.
      • Even with that line, it's hard to tell if he's being sincere or sarcastic. In fact, that can be said for most of what he tells the newcomers. His first line, "Oh yes, Mr. St. Peters is very entertaining!" can be read as a sarcastic way of warning them, or if taken literally, show that he is (as an above Troper said) a sadistic observer. When he acts like he shows further concern for Lampy ("Sit down for a spell/you don't look too well"), he might be trying to look out for a fellow lamp who was recently injured in a storm, or he might mean it in a mocking way because Lampy's the sick looking one and likely Peter's next victim. Long story short, Hanging Lamp is either a sympathetic creepy-on-the-outside, heart-of-gold-on-the-inside character, or the most sadistic person in the movie. And it seems impossible to tell which it is.
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    • Nothing bad will happen to him. It isn't like St. Peter is going to destroy the most reliable source of light in his work place.
  • Why couldn't the appliances at Elmo St. Peter's escape before? When Lampy asks how to escape, they laugh like they think it's impossible. But once Mr. St. Peters is unconscious, the refrigerator breaks down the wall with no trouble. Why couldn't they just do that while Peters was out running errands or something?
  • On this subject, poor poor Elmo St. Peters. He seems like a very friendly guy, just making his living as a mechanic. He even cared enough about his dog Quadruped to teach him to buckle his seatbelt. And he has no idea that his appliances are actually alive, and that whenever he removes the motor from a blender, they are essentially watching their friend get his heart ripped out. It's probably best that Elmo thinks there was a ghost in his shop and attribute his now missing appliances to that, than to know the truth.
    • Toy Story does this as well. There should probably be a trope for it.
    • On the other hand, Elmo wasn't entirely innocent — it's pretty clear that he's ripping off his customers by charging them the price of new parts for old ones he's ripping out of old appliances.
  • It slightly bugs me that their cords disappear and reappear all the time, as well as change length throughout. The places where their cords come from in some shots will just be a flat surface of their outside in others. Also, in the beginning, they didn't have enough cord to make it outside of the house while Kirby was plugged in, but when Blanky was rescued from the tree, Kirby suddenly had at least 75 feet of cord since he was able to throw it up to that high-ass branch, and it comes all the way back to the ground on the other side!
  • Do the appliances actually need to be plugged in/supplied with electricity to move or do they just run on Phlebotinum? I mean, near the beginning, they notice they were running out of fuses, as Toaster says "See? It's a good thing we're getting out of here." It makes this troper wonder what he actually meant. Also, it seems clear that Kirby needs to be plugged in to move on his own, but if you really pay attention, you'll notice that it's not always the case. For example, during the waterfall scene. The chair with the battery was gone, down the waterfall. But Kirby backed up and dove over the cliff fine without it.
    • Perhaps electricity is like food to them; they don't have to be taking it in all the time in order to function, but they need to take in a certain amount every once in a while, or else just run out of energy.
    • I prefer to think that they need electricity/batteries to preform their function (toasting, vacuuming, warming), but not to move around and speak.
  • All the appliances can walk or at least hop around on their own free will. Kirby, however, needs to be plugged in to get around for some reason. This sort of makes sense if you assume the appliances' normal functions all need power, and that motorized wheels unfortunately count as that (note that the cars at the junkyard can't move either). However, not only do vacuums not have motorized wheels; any model that did would be useless because of the way they're operated (with back-and-forth motions).
    • Actually Truth in Television, sort of. Some high-end vacuum cleaners are self propelled, with a pair of power-assisted wheels driven by a clutch connected to the motor and switched between forward and reverse by a spring-loaded switch built into the handle. One of the manufacturers that offers this feature now (but not when the film was made) is Kirby.
      • Kirby is also specifically based on a model from 1969.
  • In a very literal example of Fridge Logic, this Troper just noticed that during most scenes which feature a refrigerator, it isn't alive. Are fridges just... not "social?" I mean, if industrial electromagnetic cranes and vehicles talk and move a lot, why not fridges? If you don't know what I'm talking about, pay attention to the fridge in the Master's old cottage and in Elmo St. Peters' shop. The former doesn't move at all; the latter only moves to escape.
    • The average fridge may not have much time for a social life. Toasters, lamps, and TVs only need to work when the masters feel like using them. But Mr. Fridge works 24/7.
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    • What even determines which objects are even alive? I mean, all electronic appliances, machines, vehicles, etc are. As are plants, which are actual organisms and not man-made appliances. The animals seem to have personalities, too, such as the worm getting caught by the bird. So....if all those things are alive, where is the line drawn as to what isn't? I mean, what about furniture, houses, rugs, etc? Is the rule "anything that runs on electricity or is an actual living organism"? What about the cars, they weren't organic or electric. Anything electrical or mechanic?
    • Simple, they chit chat with the food that's in them. Or the door is their mouth and if they open their mouths to talk, then the cold air leaves and the food spoils, which is not what the Masters want.
    • This Troper decided this movie's definition of life to be 'anything that requires an energy/power source to function' i.e. a motorcycle would be alive, but a bicycle wouldn't.
  • Why were Rob's computer, stereo, etc. jealous and threatened by Toaster and the gang? It's not like they were being faced with rival computers, stereos, etc. It was a toaster, a radio, a lamp, a vaccume and a blanket. Their jobs were totally different. There was no competition between them. (Yes, one of the evil new appliances was a lamp—but he was a living room table lamp. Lampy was a desk lamp. So no job competition there.) What made them think that these new appliances were a threat to them?
    • Perhaps they were simply dicks. But, there were a few other lamps, and a vacuum, at least. The sewing machine was just a bitch (or two bitches?) who hated Blankey for no real reason other than that he was kind of dirty (Truth in Television...) Maybe the computer was actually aware that computers don't remain "cutting edge" for very long, and wanted to make sure he got at least one chance to rub his temporary superiority in someone's nose before it went away.
      • They were jealous that Rob wanted to take Toaster and the gang with him to college rather than them. From what we hear in the beginning of the story and the conversations b/t Rob, his mom and his girlfriend, the old cottage was just a summer home that Rob and his family visited when he was a little boy while they resided in the city so Rob probably spent what was most a few months in total with Toaster and the gang and almost two decades with the city appliances. Think about it. the city appliances have probably been serving him faithfully for all of his life, he's going off to college, he probably wont be coming back and he decides that the objects that he's going to take with him aren't the modern advanced appliances he's grown up amongst but a couple of old objects that he hasn't seen or used in years. Now if I were one of those appliances I'd probably been upset that my master would prefer to take a couple of relics that I'd never seen before over myself who'd been with him longer. Take a look at the table lamp's face when he thinks he's going to be accompanying his beloved master to college only to be dejected when Rob says he's not going to be taking any of his mom's stuff while they were useless.
  • WHO THE HELL OPERATES THE CRANE?? Does it just come to life on its own and do its own job (which seems odd since everything else generally has to keep up The Masquerade) or is there an operator? You know, one who witnesses the cars singing and is demented to the point of near-homicide when he dropped Rob onto the conveyor belt?
    • He may be machinery operated to work "on its own." Remember, Air Conditioner is programed by humans to work without them operating him, yet he seems to do his job consciously. So, the same is probably true for the Giant Magnet/Crane. The humans programed him to do the job without them around, but he can consciously decide what he wants to pick up and dump on the conveyor belt. Why he tried to kill Rob is another question entirely...
      • That's another problem: did no one notice Rob running around in the scrapyard, and moreso, that he then ended up trapped on the convey belt ready to be crushed to death? If the Toaster hadn't jammed the crusher's gears, the scrap dealer would have had a lot of explaining to do.
      • The scrap yard has No OSHA Compliance.
      • The Toaster and the others were going against the "rules" by running from the Magnet, who got even more pissed off when the appliances who had managed to skillfully evade him were going to actually escape!
  • In the part where the Cutting Edge appliances throw the main characters out the window to the dumpster, you can see that the apartment's pretty high up (about seven stories from what I can tell). So, how did they make it to that room with just Kirby pulling the carriage, and without anyone seeing them? Plus, and I know this is pure Rule of Cool / Shout-Out, but it seems like only rooms on the first floor would have numbers like "A113."
    • There's probably an elevator...
      • Ooh, yeah. I feel dumb.
  • So, Rob wanted to save his old appliances only because they carried a sentimental value. He didn't even know that they were sentient and that they cared about him. Did he really think it was worth trying to yank them away from a giant crane and letting it throw him into the compactor just because they held some nostalgic value to him? I mean, let's face it, that's really the only reason he cared about them, seeing as he still just sees them as lifeless objects.
    • Trying to take the vacuum off the crane might have been dumb, but after that, he was being lifted up too high/fast for him to let go. Also, he WAS in a state of excitement and confusion from wondering why a picture of him and his old appliances just happened to be there at the same time he was.
  • Anyone else even slightly bothered by the fact that in that world, people would have absolutely no privacy? I mean, there's likely to be several fully aware objects in every room, and they would be able to see everything that goes on.
    • This is made worse by the fact that Toaster and friends seem to have the maturity of children, and were not present when Master was, he-em, growing up. They haven't been learning about these things along with him. So when they move back with the now grown master, and he brings home his new wife, the appliances will be in for a rude shock...
    • Oh, man. Poor Blanket.
      • All of their flashbacks if the Master are prepubescent, implying that the last time he was ever at that cabin was when he was no older than ten. Close call...
    • Actually, doing the calculations, 2000 days is 5 years, 5 months, and 24 days. If we do actually go by that, Rob was in his early adolescence and barely starting puberty at the time.
  • Seriously, why does everyone treat Elmo St. Peters as a villain? He's a nice guy! He's only a villain from the appliances' point of view. Sure, he does kind of rip off that one customer (that was not a new blender), but he's just doing his job. He's not sadistic like Sid and clearly has no idea that the junk he's ripping apart is alive.
    • Well, in the book he is much more considered the "villian". His description comes off as much more coarse; he doesn't even get a name for heaven's sake. He's basically just called a "pirate" and it's for the one reason that he took appliances that did not belong to him! They were lying out in the middle of nowhere next to the river and he just picked them and took them! Talk about a warped point of view.
    • Sid was sadistic? Sure he picked on his sister, but plenty of kids do that. As for the toys he was destroying, he had no clue whatsoever that they were alive.
    • Yes, St. Peters isn't really that evil. But come on, look at him. He freaking ripped the electrical cord off that blender. He only needed the blender's motor. Why would he even do that. And then to get Radio's tube, he started to twist off his antennae. That's just unnecessary.
      • I like to think that St. Peters inherited the shop from his dad and had no damn idea what he was doing. He just removed stuff until he got the part he wanted.
      • Well, he was going to scrap the appliances for parts anyways. Perhaps in the process of getting the needed parts for Zeke (the customer's name as mentioned in the end credits), Elmo figured that he'd tear down whatever appliance he was working on so he'd have all the sellable parts he needed for later.
    • Basic safety: Remove the cord from whatever appliance you're tearing down so some joker doesn't plug it in while you're working on it and electrocute you/mince your fingers.
  • I could see how Blanket, Lamp, Radio, and Toaster could see Rob as their Master (Toaster would be a borderline case), but why the hell would Kirby see him as that? You'd think Kirby would spend most of his quality time with the parents and/or maid, so he would see them as his master.
    • Maybe...if Rob was small enough, he could have rode on Kirby when the parents were cleaning. Or when his parents weren't cleaning, just to play.
    • Some kids do play with vacuum cleaners. I remember playing with one as a kid, pretending it was a monster or a big cat. It's possible Rob did that, or, like the above said, rode on it (maybe pretending it was a car?).
    • I know whenever Rob is seen depicted as a kid, he is really short (too short to operate Kirby) but maybe vacuuming was his chore around the house.
    • Maybe it's like in Mork & Mindy, and whoever is youngest is the Master.
  • WTF was Elmo doing out in the middle of the forest looking for old appliances? That part just screamed "plot convenience!!!".
    • In the book it states that he was fishing and found them near his boat. Maybe this has happened more than once to him?
    • Maybe the spot is known as a target for illegal dumping. People toss old TVs and mattresses in creeks all the time.
  • Okay, this has been bothering me for the past week. The appliances in Rob's apartment are supposed to be brandy-new special cutting edge technology... WHY IS THERE A HOME PHONE? Most of the other stuff in there isn't exactly new, either: The sewing machine, differently styled lamp, speakers, two-part vacuum, blender... This is the late 80's we're talking about. The home phone bothers me the most. Again, just... why?
    • In the late 80's home phones was all there was. Cell phones weren't around yet - or if they were, the general public didn't have them.
    • Those big bulky "car phones" came out sometime in the 90's I think. But in 1987? Home phones were as cutting edge as it got.
  • During the song "Worthless" near the end of the film, there actually appears to be a second conveyor belt after the car crusher on which the crushed remains of the cars all land on after being "killed" by said crusher. Where the heck does that conveyor belt lead to?
  • Is this film still considered a Disney film? The main page lists it as an example of All Animation Is Disney to emphasize it was only distributed by said company yet I still find it listed under Disney on many sites.
    • The movie was made by Hyperion, which is owned by Disney. So in some way, yes, it is a Disney movie.
    • Here's what happened: Disney was originally on board to do the movie at first, but they decided it probably wasn't going to be much of a hit, so they abandoned the project. After that, it was taken to Hyperion and was practically an indie movie (I think it was even screened at a few Sundance festivals); when Disney saw it was a hit after all, they bought the distributing rights to it to put it on home video... and slapped their name on it too. So, technically, it's not a Disney movie, but I guess legally it is?
  • This has bugged me ever since I watched this film as a kid; what the hell is that appliance of Rob's with the red and white square "eyes" and the black mouth? Is it some kind of lamp or something?
    • Indeed, it is a lamp, as can be seen later in the song when she shines light onto lampy. It is simply a very modernistic standing lamp.
  • At the movie's climax, Rob is trapped under a pile of junk as the conveyor belt moves him closer to the trash compactor, until the toaster bravely jumps into the compactor's gears and stops it. Then Chris tells him to get down, and Rob slips out slightly from under the wreckage. It seems to imply that he escapes on his own, which makes no sense. Also, how did he even find the toaster?
    • My guess is that Ernie noticed the toaster jammed in the gears of the crusher, then he notices Rob on the conveyor belt. Rob sees that the toaster is his, and asks Ernie to give it to him. Ernie does, then asks Rob and Chris to leave.
  • Why did Rob's girlfriend admonish him for forgetting to lock the door to the cottage? He was like 5 the last time he was there, it's not like it was his responsibility. And no, she didn't say it sarcastically.
    • I don't think she meant "him" specifically should have locked the door. I think she was referring to him and his family as a whole should have done so.
  • Does anyone know what exactly that huge speaker/projector thing in Rob's apartment was? Or better yet, what appliance was it based off (if an appliance like that even existed)?
    • It's a CRT projector.
  • How come Lampy gets a somewhat better treatment from the Cutting Edge appliances compared to the rest of the gang? While his friends are victims to the tricks present during the musical number, the only "bad" things to happen to Lampy are being dragged around, "jizzed" on by the computer and blinded by the other lamps. He even gets carried around at one point by a mixer.
    • It could be that because he's a lamp, he's not exactly as obsolete in comparison to his friends; light bulbs are upgraded, but a lamp's function doesn't change over the years.
  • We're led to believe that nobody has been to the cabin since Rob was a small child (at least ten years). Nobody. Therefore we have to assume that Rob's family owns the cabin and hasn't been there in at least ten years. They paid for the electrical bill for an empty cabin for ten years. Really? Maybe the "cutting-edge'' appliances are supposed to indicate Rob's family is upper-middle class, but I saw no evidence of wealth sufficient to maintain a second residence that is never used.
  • Lets say you take apart an old microwave and repurpose it as an arc smelter a'la King of Random. Is it overcome with horror at its own existance, like Mish-Mash or does it find joy in its new function?
    • It could be based on how much it's used and the original appliance's personality; it doesn't seem like Mish-Mash was used too much.
  • OK, so the appliances sans Toaster are on the conveyor belt to the crusher along with Rob. Rob is pinned down by rubble and can't move, and they're getting close to the crusher. Let's take Toaster out of the equation here for a moment (or interpret this as being during the time the Toaster is staring at the situation in shock). I get that appliances don't want to be realized that they're living creatures, but are they seriously going to allow their precious Master, the person they went on this entire trip to reunite with in the first place, to be crushed? Rob's hand was pinned down by what looks like a lead pipe; Kirby was able to handle the weight of all the other appliances in the waterfall scene, couldn't he have easily just moved the pipe or nudged it so it'd fall off of Rob's hand? It doesn't seem that Rob would have enough movement to be able to look back at Kirby and see him doing this.
    • Maybe they realized Toaster wasn't along with them and knew in their metaphorical hearts that she would do something to save Rob.
  • Is the car crusher alive? It does kinda have a face with big "teeth" and "eyes," but never changes expression.
  • How are the main characters so clueless about the devices in the apartment? Surely during the meantime, Radio would have kept in touch with current events by tuning in to news stations and would've learned about them, even if they don't know what they look like (and at least be aware of what "the cutting edge" means). Or does he only like music stations and has accidentally kept the entire group out of the loop for over a decade?

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