A little tin wind-up one-man-band toy named Tinny is on the floor of a house when a diaper-clad baby named Billy toddles in. Tinny is delighted to see Billy, until he watches the baby start gnawing on a Rock-A-Stack ring. Fearing a similar fate, Tinny runs for cover—but not for long.
Tin Toy was the third animated film created by Pixar. At the time it was uncertain whether Pixar would actually be an animation studio or a computer company that sold animation computers. The first two Pixar shorts had cost the company a lot of money and some people at Pixar wanted to leave animation behind and concentrate on the software. Lasseter's short won an Oscar, and the idea of toys coming to life later led to the first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story. Tinny ultimately made a cameo appearance in the fourth film.
Tin Toy provides examples of:
- All There in the Script: Tinny and Billy are identified in the credits, with Tinny being known as "the Tin Toy" and Billy As Himself.
- Chekhov's Gun: The box Tinny came in is seen in the opening shot. At the end, Billy picks up the box to play with and forgets about Tinny.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back: Tinny makes it to safety under the couch, but Billy falls down and starts to cry. The conscience-stricken toy then emerges from under the couch so Billy can play with him.
- Credits Gag:
- The credits roll includes "Babies John Looked At A Lot".
- "Any resemblance to actual toys or children is unintentional. To open, press down while turning cap. (...) Seatbelts save lives. No portion of this movie, including its soundtrack, may be reproduced in any manner or we won't be your friends anymore. This bag is not a toy. Keep out of reach of children."
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Billy is this to all the toys, who are all hiding under the couch, cringing with fright.
- Kids Prefer Boxes: The joke at the end, when Billy sets Tinny aside and starts playing with Tinny's box.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Standard for Pixar shorts.
- Oh, Crap!: Tinny has one when Billy bites down hard on a toy ring, and then another when he tries to make an exit but realizes his instruments make noise as he moves.
- One-Man Band: What Tinny is: a wind-up one man band.
- Shout-Out: The Price Is Right can be heard in the background in another room.
- Swapped Roles: At first, Tinny is running away from Billy, who wants to play with him, but when Billy gets distracted by a box and starts playing with that instead, Tinny starts running around after him, trying to get his attention.
- The Stinger: After the credits finish, the other toys start coming out from under the couch, looking for Billy.