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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Some fans believe Buzz Lightyear is in denial that he is a toy. This would explain why he claims to not be a toy, yet knows to freeze when humans are around.
    • Many fans don't think that Sid is necessarily evil. He's just a kid who is wildly creative and inventive. Though he may have a destructive streak, he isn't just out to blow up toys. He wants to see what makes them tick, and how to make them cool and different; some have gone on to say that the Mutant Toys are, in fact, art pieces with very deep meanings. If you really think about it, Sid had no idea the toys were alive, and his parents don't seem to pay much attention to him and Hannah. He is probably acting out for attention.
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    • When Etch A Sketch drew a hangman's noose which Woody saw before Andy took him to Pizza Planet, did Etch did it because he believed like most toys that Woody had intentionally knocked Buzz off the window or because Mr. Potato Head forced him to do it? The fact that he is one of the toys who doesn't speak precludes the viewers from visualizing his feelings.
    • When Woody reveals to him the true nature of toys, Sid is traumatized because of what he's been doing. He's rambunctious but not sadistic, as evidenced by his love for his dog, so when he realizes that everything he's done was happening to living things he understands his actions and completely freaks out (assuming he wasn't freaking out over the realisation that he was about to get his comeuppance).
    • Sid also has multiple locks on his door and the one scene where a parent is shown, his dad could be seen as being drunk or hungover. Victims of abuse often lash out at others, and Sid's disturbed "play activities" with his toys could be his way of taking out his feelings of vulnerability and helplessness, especially since he is always the one "in control" of his imagined scenario.
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    • The creators were fully aware of this and like to joke that Sid is "the kind of kid who would grow up to be an animator." They give an adult Sid a brief cameo in Toy Story 3, where we see him working as a garbageman. Though he comes off as something of a metalhead, there's no indication that he grew up to be anything other than a normal, well-balanced adult.
    • Why is Mr. Potato Head at his surliest in the first movie? It could be chalked up to him not having a significant other until the very end or him getting sick of being mishandled by Molly. However, eight years before the movie was made Hasbro removed the pipe from the real toy's play set. Perhaps his giving the other toys and especially Woody an attitude was an effect of going cold turkey.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: One of the biggest defiers. In fact, one of the creators said that he knew that they had "made it" when he heard a group of adults at a party howling with laughter as they quoted this film. The all-star cast that only parents would be familiar with may have helped.
  • Award Snub:
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    • "Snub" might be too strong a word to describe Toy Story's Oscar success considering it did win a Special Achievement award and was nominated for three more including Original Screenplay. Nevertheless, it didn't receive a Best Picture nomination despite it being—if not the most—then one of the most acclaimed films of 1995. It is now considered one of the greatest animated films ever.
    • A retro-example. Randy Newman won a Best Song Oscar for Toy Story 3's "We Belong Together" instead of winning for the arguably more iconic "You've Got a Friend in Me" for this film.
    • The film was nominated for Favorite Movie in the 1996 Kids' Choice Awards, but it lost to Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
    • The film lost the Golden Globe for Best Picture: Comedy/Musical to Babe and while the latter film is certainly beloved, it hasn’t garnered the iconic status Toy Story has.
  • Awesome Music: Every. Single. Note of Randy Newman's score and songs. Needless to say, he gained a legion of young fans thanks to this movie.
  • Broken Base: Did the film reinvent feature animation, or did it kill traditional animation films and open the floodgates to all the bad CGI ones?
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Woody using Buzz's dismembered arm to convince the other toys that they've become friends. Also, he uses the arm to hit Buzz in the head to make him come to his senses. It's disturbing the more you think about it, but not any less hilarious.
  • Designated Villain: Although Sid is presented as a budding sociopath, he can't be faulted for how he treats his toys since he doesn't know they are alive. Another thing he knowingly does is bully his sister Hannah. Ironically, many Pixar employees said that they too used to mess with their toys and call Andy a "freak" for treating his toys so nicely.
  • Franchise Original Sin: While the film is still beloved for the impressive techniques it brought to the field of animation, some people slightly resent that this film (and the Pixar company in particular) brought the decline of traditional animation in the West, to the point that even Disney themselves in later years abandoned the technique that brought them to prominence in the first place.
  • Genius Bonus: When Woody asks Sid's toys for help saving Buzz, Babyface (the erector set spider with the baby doll head) taps a morse code on the leg of Sid's bed, which translates out to "RR COME OUT."
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • After the other toys think Woody murdered Buzz when the former accidentally exposes the latter's severed arm to them through the window at an attempt to prove Buzz is with him, Mr. Potato Head tells Woody he hopes he gets his voice box pulled out. Guess what happens to Woody in Toy Story 4?
      • This could be Harsher in Hindsight in another way, as by the time the fourth movie was in production, Mr. Potato Head lost his own voice, and the producers had to utilize archived recordings to keep him as part of the cast.
    • Mr. Potato Head and Hamm comment on Buzz's quality voicebox. In the fourth film, the wear and tear has set in and he sounds "like a car ran over him".
    • During the scene in which Woody and Buzz watch as Andy and his mom drive away from the gas station, Woody complains that he's a "lost toy", which definitely sounds more gut-wrenching now after his decision in the end of the fourth film.
    • Hearing Mr. Potato Head say to Woody, "That's Mr. Potato Head to you, you backstabbing murderer!" becomes this (or Hilarious in Hindsight, depending on how you view it) since they recently dropped the "Mr." in "Mr. Potato Head".
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Woody twice misnames Buzz as "Lightbeer" and "Lightsnack." In Toy Story 2, when Stinky Pete calls him "Buzz Lightweight," Woody is quick to angrily correct him.
    • During Woody's bout of jealousy, Bo Peep tells him that, even though Andy's playing with Buzz more, he'll always have a special place for Woody. Come Toy Story 3, we see that Andy has the hardest time letting go of Woody.
    • Woody and Bo Peep having hints of romantic moments especially towards the end of the film becomes a lot more heartwarming when in Toy Story 4, they eventually do unite together for good after Bo's absence in Toy Story 3.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "You're a Buzz Lightyear! Any other toy would give up its moving parts just to be you!" The most commonly available Buzz Lightyear toys sold in stores are stripped down to only having one or two of the features the movie version had and often have limited articulation.
    • In the Norwegian dub, the brief cameo of the song "Hakuna Matata" during the car chase sequence became this when the Norwegian actor for Woody also played Timon. The song was even changed into the Norwegian version.
    • During the ending scene, Rex anticipates that Andy will get another dinosaur for Christmas. Preferably, a leaf eater. In the third movie, Trixie the triceratops becomes his best friend.
    • Buzz lets out the Famous Star Wars Scream when he is knocked off the window by a lamp in Andy's Room; in Toy Story 2, Emperor Zurg is an obvious Darth Vader Parody, and in Toy Story 3, Big Baby tosses Lotso into the dumpster in a manner similar to Darth Vader tossing the emperor into the Death Star's reactor shaft in Return Of The Jedi. In 2012, Disney buys the rights for Star Wars and the rest is all history!
    • The Little Green Martians all believe that their being chosen from the claw machine by a human represents their ascension into heaven, and the LGM who gets picked by Sid constantly chatters about "reaching Nirvana"... only for harsh reality to set in as he becomes violently tortured and picked apart. This thread would eventually become the entire plot of the first R-rated CGI animated feature film.
  • Memetic Mutation: See here.
  • Misaimed Fandom: A harmless example: It's pretty obvious to an adult that Buzz is supposed to come across as a very cheesy, superficial space hero character who's completely deluded about himself and rather buffoonish and obnoxious in his behavior. This hasn't stopped numerous little boys from completely eating up the character at face value and finding him exactly as cool as the kids in-universe, almost ignoring the fact that his space adventure prowess isn't real in-universe. It's probably this kind of fandom that allowed Buzz's actual space adventure cartoon to be made.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The first film, among other popular toys promoted, dramatically boosted interest in generic old sets of plastic army men, a group of characters who only have one really notable scene early on (but it's a damn cool one).
    • Plus the shark who briefly steals Woody's hat. "Howdy, howdy, howdy!"
  • Paranoia Fuel: The first movie made kids suspicious of their toys for years to come.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: To the point where this film's relationship with the medium it pioneered is almost exactly the same as that of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' and the medium it pioneered 58 years earlier:
    • For 1995, the CGI in the film was groundbreaking and jaws dropped when the film was unleashed in cinemas. But for some people today, for example, new fans who watched Toy Story 3 first and worked backwards, the differences in animation can be hugely jarring. The outside scenes with a lack of....air (especially, if you look far enough into the corner of the screen, at certain angles, you can see where the environment cuts off into digital blue limbo), the plastic looking "humans", the rubbery texture (Scud the dog looks very dodgy compared to Buster in the sequels) and the somewhat 'basic' looking settings (the bit where Andy and his Mom pull into Dinoco service station looks incredibly dated). Though the Pizza Planet scenery still looks impressive.
    • The fact that traditional animated features began to drop in popularity before disappearing completely because of such a crudely yet still well-liked animated film has hurt the film's reputation even more. This likely has roots at least partly in the contrasting performance of Pocahontas, which was released in the same year as Toy Story and, while doing well enough financially, was a critical failure to the point where it's considered the weakest film of the then-ongoing Disney Renaissance, and thus is sometimes pointed to along with this film's success as the start of the aforementioned popularity drop in traditional animation.
  • Signature Scene: The scene of Buzz and Woody soaring through the air in the climax is the most triumphant moment of the film, and the most likely scene from the original film to show up in animation-related montages.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • There is one shot in the film where they forgot to turn on the motion blur in the animation (the shot where Sid goes off to get pop tarts and Woody screams due to his forehead getting burned by a magnifying glass) and the animation is noticeably more jerky in the scene as a result. And in the same shot, if you watch carefully (or still frame it), Woody's leg actually clips through the camera as he runs offscreen! However, the original print did have the motion blur, so this may be the case of digital file transfer error.
    • The blu-ray and 4K releases of the film bumps up the resolution so much higher than previous releases note that it reveals many of the shortcuts Pixar made just to get the film finished, such as very low resolution textures on certain objects, Mr. Potato Head's foot being detached from his body in his introduction and his hand clipping through his mouth as he grabs it in the "butt-kissing" gag, the backgrounds in certain outdoor scenes showing nothing but a blue void beyond the boundaries of the buildings, etc.
  • Strawman Has a Point: From Mr. Potato Head's viewpoint, he's completely correct. So far as he knows, Woody has become dangerous. He may not be giving Woody much of a chance to explain himself, but the fact still stands.
  • Ugly Cute: Sid's mutant toys. Once you get used to their freakish appearances, they are kind of adorable.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The humans in the film look almost as plastic as the toys do due to the CGI limitations of the time, this is most noticeable during outside scenes where humans are featured (the scene where Sid blows up Combat Carl is a notable example). This is the specific reason why a story about toys, with very limited human interaction, was used—their shiny, "plastic" appearance was easy to render on the computer.
    • Even more noticeable when you find out that Woody had the most complex model in the movie, according to the producers. There's something clearly wrong when the toys look more realistic than the humans!
    • The scene where Sid speaks through a magnifying glass... hasn't aged well, to say the least.
    • Due to the limitations of CGI character animation at the time, none of the characters' eyes blink in unison, making it looks as though they've all had a stroke.
    • Sid's dog Scud looks almost nothing like a dog. He has large almond-shaped eyes right on the front of his face and his "fur" is just skin that looks like it has fingerprints all over it. Even Andy's dog Buster looked a lot better and more accurate even four years later.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Sid really isn't as evil from a human perspective as he is from a toy perspective. He's definitely a brat, especially to his sister, and he does take sadistic pleasure in destroying his toys, but he has no idea that these toys are alive. The "operations" he does on his toys are actually fairly creative. With that in mind, it's easy to feel bad for him at the end, when the toys speak to him and threaten him, which is implied to be deeply traumatizing.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: It's easy to take it for granted now, but Toy Story's CGI animation was absolutely groundbreaking for its time, to the point where it became an overnight game changer for the entire medium of animation—CGI up till then was still a technique in its infancy that had only shown glimmers of potential, and there just weren't CGI films as well animated, lit, or designed at the time, much less any that kept it up at feature length. The CGI was so advanced that it pushed the limits of what Pixar's then state of the art computers could do at the time—it took the whole array of Pixar's desktops and an insane amount of time to render even one of over 100,000 frames of the film's animation. The sheen may have worn off due to just how far CG tech has come since, but its a technical milestone regardless. And from an entertainment standpoint, the appealing cartoon art has helped take the burden off the aging CGI. And even today, video game fans are still using the film as a template for what real time video game graphics should strive to achieve (although its safe to say that the Toy Story level in Kingdom Hearts III has caught up with and even surpassed the film in technical quality).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Buzz and Woody are trying to find Andy when they see that their only chance is to use a Pizza Planet delivery vehicle, a small pickup truck. Woody wants the two of them to ride in the bed, notifying that "no one will see them there." However, Buzz warns him that "There are no restraining harnesses in the cargo area." As it turns out, despite Woody's warnings, there apparently happens to be a stack of pizza packages between the driver's seat and the passenger's, which is enough to obscure Buzz from the driver's view.
      You'd expect: Woody would realize that Buzz has a point and to sit somewhere in the front where the humans won't see him.
      Instead: He still chooses his idea of hiding from the humans, which is to sit in the bed; with disastrous consequences.
    • When Buzz gets separated from Woody on the moving truck, Woody plans on using RC to drive him back.
      You'd expect: Woody to tell the rest of Andy's toys that Buzz is out there and to prove it by using Lenny (a pair of toy binoculars). That way the rest of the toys can help him bring Buzz back to the truck.
      Instead: He doesn't say a thing and the moment he pushes RC off the truck, the rest of the toys, still upset that he knocked Buzz out the window, turn on him. Their antics almost cause Buzz to get knocked off RC and they eventually throw Woody off the truck. When they look through the binoculars and realize he's telling the truth, all their subsequent efforts fail.
  • The Woobie:
    • It's hard not to feel sorry for Buzz when learns the truth about the nature of his existence.
    • The downright miserable life Sid's toys live. Broken, mutilated and turned into Frankenstein's Monster-like abominations.
    • Sid's sister when he's messing with her.
    • Woody. Despite how selfish and somewhat rude he can be, Woody is still a much more likable and sympathetic character than he was in the infamous black friday reel. Woody is now motivated not by malice, but by the misguided belief that Buzz is gonna replace him, and that Andy won't love him anymore.

The video game of the original movie

  • Disappointing Last Level: Once you get out of Sid's house, the game takes a pretty major difficulty drop. First there's Day-Toy-Na, which has a nice aesthetic but wears its welcome really quick when it essentially feels like a lame Pole Position clone, and almost no fear of death because recharges are so frequent. Then comes Light My Fire, which brings back the widely-hated top-down RC segment except it's even easier this time and even more straightforward because the recharges are, again, extremely frequent which makes death a rarity. Then finally comes the last level, which is an Auto-Scrolling Level where all you really have to do is dodge traffic that isn't particularly hard to maneuver around. You may blow a life on it, but generally most people are able to easily make it through on their first try as long as they're careful not to go anywhere near the trees or cars.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • The fact that a Game Boy port exists often catches people by surprise...and not for good reason. Obviously the graphics take a pretty huge hit, but the game itself is also agonizingly slow and the control is awful. That's not even getting into the fact that the game had to be so ridiculously stripped-down that it's pretty much a shell of its old self, with all the non-platforming levels and the bosses all completely axed from the game. Oh, and the sound design will make your ears bleed.
    • While orders of magnitude better than the above, the PC port still pales in comparison to the console counterparts. It lost two levels, "Day-Toy-Na" and "Really Inside the Claw Machine", the bonus levels are removed which means getting all stars now only gives you a health refill and an extra life (which is insane considering this version has a save system, putting Meaningless Lives into full effect), many graphical effects are missing from this port (in particular, all the 3D effects with the shelves and desks are lost), Woody's jumping has no acceleration at all which makes the platforming puzzles a lot more annoying, the pullstring has an incredibly strict hitbox that makes hitting enemies a nightmare, and the RC levels that were already universally hated are even worse thanks to the control being so unbelievably sensitive. This version does include a Red book soundtrack that most people consider the best out of the main three versions and a new save system, but those two perks aren't enough to salvage this version. Apparently, the blame for this case falls on Executive Meddling — Disney ordered Travellers' Tales to complete this version on an extremely tight schedule to coincide with the VHS release of the movie, and also refused to pay royalties for the source code which meant the team had to rewrite the game from the ground up. On top of that, they also required the game to run on underpowered hardware for the time (a 486 processor, instead of the then-ubiquitous Pentium that had already taken a large part of the market share), which further strained the faithfulness it could have held to the console versions. The final nail in the coffin was that they also asked for it to be fully compatible with Windows 3.1 and 95; these are two operating systems that differ a heavy amount from each other that further made developing the game a huge headache. So, in one sense, it's actually an impressive feat given all these constraints, though without knowing the context it can be a disappointment.
    • A bootlegged NES port exists, and it is even messier than the Game Boy version:
      • There's a hilariously Off-Model Woody on the title screen.
      • The in-game graphics are grungier than the official Game Boy version.
      • The music and sound effects are annoying (especially the ear-explodingly terrible title screen track) when they aren't being stolen from other places (several sound effects are from Adventure Island and the level complete music is the unmistakable Contra level complete theme).
      • There's Engrish everywhere (the gas pumps at the gas station have "Toy Sotry" written on them) and several of the level descriptions don't match the levels they are attached to.
      • There's only 5 levels, (the final level being the fight with Buzz at the gas station) and the game ends in a really goofy (albeit unsatisfying) A Winner Is You way:
        Off Model Woody: (holding a microphone) "Congratulations! You are complete Woody's mission!"
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The RC is an absolute nightmare to control, with his levels being near universally-hated.
  • Surprise Difficulty: Hooo boy. It's a Toy Story game...how hard can it be? The answer: Enough to give a lot of Nintendo Hard games a run for their money. Despite the target demographic, the game manages to put up a pretty good fight all the way through. The biggest issue is Woody's giant hit box, made worse by the fact that it's hard to see what is coming up. Health refills and lives are very scarce too, so there is very little room allowed for messing up.
  • That One Level: Sid's Workbench is brutal, with annoying flaming projectiles coming up every which-way and almost no room to mess up. Oh, and there's an extra life at one checkpoint that requires you to take a big leap of faith to get...but you'll probably want to get it because you're going to die at that section a lot. A lot.
  • The Woobie: Hannah, who is bullied relentlessly by her older brother (who destroys her dolls). That is until she gets revenge on him by scaring him with her own doll, after he's traumatized by the toys in the yard!
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: This game boasts some pretty impressive graphical effects for a Genesis/SNES-era game. The digitized sprites already look quite nice, but there's also the 3D effects of all the scenery that gives everything a depth of field look to it. Plus we have a Doom-esque level and Day-Toy-Na which has also has a 3D look of its own.

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