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Trivia / The Brave Little Toaster

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  • Acting for Two:
    • Timothy E. Day plays both Blankey and the young Master, if only because the latter's only speaking role is in Blankey's fantasy.
    • Tim Stack voices both Lampy and the customer at Elmo St. Peter's shop.
    • Phil Hartman as both the Air Conditioner & Hanging Lamp in St. Peters' shop.
    • Mindy Sterling (credited as "Mindy Stern") voices both Rob's offscreen mom and one head of the two-headed sewing machine.
    • The late Judy Toll voices the Mish-Mash and the other head of the sewing machine.
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  • Actor-Inspired Element: As the script was still being written while the dialogue was being recorded, Jerry Rees would retrofit lines yet to be recorded to the actors' and animators' individual skillsets.
  • Creator's Favorite: According to the movie's trivia section on the IMDb, this movie was composer David Newman's favorite of all the ones he's scored.
  • Creator In-Joke: There are two nods to the character animation department of the California Institute of the Arts, where much of the staff graduated. The Master's address is 2470 McBean Parkway, which is the address of the school in Valencia, California. The Master's apartment is A113, the room where character animation classes were held.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: If Toaster really is a male, then this trope would apply. While Deanne Oliver voiced the Toaster in the original English version, it's averted in the Latin American Spanish dub of the first film, where he's played by Arturo Mercado Jr..
  • Descended Creator
    • Director/co-writer Jerry Rees provides the singing voice for the Radio.
    • Co-writer and storyboard artist Joe Ranft plays Elmo St. Peters, beginning what would turn out to be a long career of voice roles in the films he'd work on.
  • Doing It for the Art: Despite essentially having the film dumped in their laps with virtually no time and money, requiring them to regularly do a week's worth of work in a single day, Jerry Rees and co. had carte blanche to do the film however he wanted, and saw it as a golden opportunity to turn a simple children's film into something mature, sophisticated and unique. They insisted that all of the sound effects be made from scratch rather than be taken from a stock library and hired David Newman to give it a larger-than-life music score. When it was decided that the film's animation would be outsourced, Rees and most of the staff traveled to the Taiwanese studio to ensure that they still had a hand in the final product.
  • Dueling Dubs:
    • The film was dubbed in Czech twice. The first was made in 1992 for VHS. In this dub, Lampy is made a female, the non-human characters all had electronic-sounding voices and all the songs were blandly spoken, rather than sung. The 2004 DVD dub improves significantly over the original.
    • It was dubbed into Brazilian Portuguese three times; the first was done in 1988 by VTI in Rio de Janeiro. Both re-dubs were commissioned in São Paulo, with the second dub from 1996 by Gota Mágica, and the third dub from 2009 by Studio Gábia. In the 1996 dub, Lampy is a female, along with the Hanging Lamp, the Stereo, and the Hearse. Fátima Noya, who voiced Lampy in the 1996 dub, returned as Chris in the 2009 dub.
    • The movie was also re-dubbed into Japanese in 2000.
    • There were also two Icelandic dubs; once for TV and again for home media.
    • It also had two Dutch dubs; once in 1995 for VHS and again in 2005 for DVD.
    • The film also received three Russian dubs. The first was a Voiceover Translation and made exclusively for VHS in the Soviet Union, while the second two (from the Russian dubbing companies EA and ORT) are fully dubbed. The 1st was done exclusively for TV in the late 90s, while the 2nd dub was done in 2000. Interestingly, both versions have the Toaster voiced by a male actor, instead of a female actress, while the 1st dub made Lampy a female. The 2nd dub is the most common out of the three and is the only version to be preserved on home media. However, this is considered to be a slightly poor dub: while most of the movie's dubbing job is okay, the songs (with the exception of "City of Light", which remained entirely in English) vary between a mix of dubbing a few lines, using a Voiceover Translation, and leaving some parts in English. However, in the 1st dub (the rarest and hardest to find), the songs are fully dubbed and given accurate translations.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Blanky crying when he holds a photograph of the Master. Jerry Rees told Timothy E. Day, his voice actor, to cry "so loud, they can hear you on the street"
  • Executive Meddling: The film was supposed to have a proper theatrical release, and was the first animated film ever at Sundance, where it received rave reviews. It was destined to be a box office film for the Summer of 1987 when Disney bought the film, and intended to use it for their newly created Disney Channel. It was buried by the channel, and made it ineligible for Oscar nominations such as Best Original Score or Best Song. It then hobbled around the festival circuit, unable to find a distributor (thanks, Disney!), but it never found an audience until it was released on VHS, uncut and un-Bowdlerised. Lasseter remembers being thoroughly angry at the film's lack of a theatrical release.
    • In a version made for Polish television, the entire forest scene, a crucial one in terms of character development, is edited out of the film; it just cuts straight to the waterfall scene. Apparently, the scene was thought to be too scary by Polish executives, and so that left a huge gaping hole in the storyline, and that version's Lampy with no explanation as to how she burned her bulb out. Other scenes edited out from this version of the dub include the Air Conditioner's exploding rage and the appliances catching the "On Sale" sign. For some reason, they also omitted the scene where Lampy tries to think of ways they could try and get out of the house to find the Master.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Whereas the German dub of the first movie swapped the genders of Toaster and Lampy, the sequels avert and ignore this (with Toaster even being voiced by Dorette Hugo, who voiced Ariel from The Little Mermaid).
  • International Coproduction: Between Hyperion in America, Wang Film Productions in Taiwan and Global Communications in Japan.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Strangely, while the sequels are on Disney+ and other streaming services, the original film is only available on VHS and DVD. This may be due to distribution rights issues.
  • No Budget: This film was made on a budget of $2.3 million, which was modest even for animated films at the time.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Despite being an accomplished singer, Jon Lovitz did not provide the Radio's singing voice, as he had already left Los Angeles for New York Saturday Night Live when it came time to record the songs. Director Jerry Rees sang the Radio's parts instead, doing a spot-on Lovitz impression.
  • Playing Against Type: Character actor Thurl "Tony The Tiger" Ravenscroft, who usually did very jokey performances, plays Kirby, the most pessimistic of the main five characters.
  • Production Posse: Several of the main actors (Deanna Oliver, Tim Stack, Jon Lovitz, Mindy Sterling, Judy Toll, and Phil Hartman) were all members of The Groundlings improv theater when they were cast.
    • Lovitz and Hartman were real life best friends and worked together several more times. They were both cast members on Saturday Night Live by the time the movie aired.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Director Jerry Rees was a huge fan of Thurl Ravenscroft work in Disney Theme Parks as a kid and said that getting to work with him was a major career highlight, especially since Thurl not only loved his role as Kirby but was extremely chummy with the crew, sharing career stories with them during their downtime.
  • Reality Subtext: Director Jerry Rees had just done some animation for Brad Bird's pitch reel for his infamously failed Animated Adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit when he was offered the director's job, so the aspiration of a more emotionally sophisticated animated film was fresh in his mind.
  • Revival by Commercialization: A lot of kids learned "Tutti Fruity" from this movie.
  • Screwed by the Network: The reported reason as to why the film never had a proper theatrical release in the United States was because The Disney Channel had bought the cable rights and sought to make it available to their subscribers immediately, which made theaters nervous about booking the film and its intended theatrical distributor subsequently sacked their plans. The film also didn't see a widespread DVD or VHS release in most places and the North American release is of rather low quality.
  • Technology Marches On: Obviously, most of the cutting-edge appliances in Rob's apartment wouldn't remain cutting-edge forever, especially the Tandy-style computer, home theater system and boom box, all of which dwindled in popularity by the mid-90s. The only ones which remain popular today are the canister vacuum cleaner and the food processor. It still works from a narrative standpoint, however, as the older, more practical appliances being antagonized by flashy, vain style-over-substance ones wouldn't have been as effective had the generational differences been more subtle (and even still, the heroes would, at best, be considered antiques by The New '10s and The New '20s). This was also in the waning years of both CRT TVs and landline phones and paper phone directory books being commonplace, as they would be phased out in favor of digital flatscreens and cell phones and smartphones, respectively, over the next decade or so.
  • Throw It In: Again, according to the trivia section at the IMDb, Tim Stack improved the last line "I'm aching with joy."
  • What Could Have Been
    • Disney first offered this project to a young John Lasseter as a testing ground for his idea to have a traditionally animated film with computer-generated backgrounds. However, it later turned out that the company was merely keeping him busy until his contract ran out. After he pitched his storyboard, the heads told him point blank that they had no interest in computer animation unless it could be done faster or cheaper (and not-so-secretly resented his upsetting the old guard with his ambitions) and fired him on the spot. Luckily for him, Lucasfilms immediately took him on for their new computer graphics division and the rest is history.
    • Blanky's walk originally had him using the front corners of himself to crawl like a baby on it's hands and knees. The animators decided it was too weird-looking and gave him the shuffle he's now known for.
    • Deana Oliver originally auditioned for the Air Conditioner when the character was female and would have been a Bette Davis impression.
    • The Ernie of Ernie's Disposal was going to appear in one scene. Originally, when Rob and Chris arrived at his junkyard, they went right to his office and asked if he was the "Crazy" Ernie from the TV commercial and if they could look around. Ernie, a big, hulking brute, has no idea what they're talking about does not appreciate being called crazy. His scene was cut for time, though there's proof of his existence on a pencil test reel Jerry Rees shared.
    • At one point, Waterman Entertainment was developing a live-action/CGI remake in the same style as their Stuart Little and Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Only a handful of concept art was produced before it was shelved due to lack of funding.
  • Writer Conflicts with Canon: Toaster is male in the film, but has been referred to as female after the fact by people involved in its production.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The film began production with an incomplete script and only two years to complete. Jerry Rees was writing the script as it was being recorded, and the animation staff had to regularly create a week's worth of footage in a day. Jon Lovitz had to record all of his dialogue in one 12 hour marathon session after he was cast on Saturday Night Live during production, forcing director Jerry Rees to fill in for the Radio in all of the musical numbers.