Toy Story at 20: It’s Time to Celebrate!


This year marks the 20th anniversary of Toy Story, the first feature-length animated film.  Throughout all of 2015 to date, mentions of the milestone have popped up here and there, the most notable being the events at the D23 Expo in August.  Now, with the film’s actual anniversary date approaching on November 22, I’m finding more and more.

The majority of what I’ve seen so far for Toy Story‘s 20th has been merchandise.  At first, everything that came up in searches was available only in Japan, which frustrated me to no end.  All the adorable, exclusive – and unattainable – treasures were too much to bear.  Thankfully, I discovered Rakuten Global Market, and was able to track down a few of the smaller items for my collection.  Eventually, America got a Disney Legacy Collection CD of the film’s complete soundtrack, new releases of “Buddy Packs” containing a variety of character figures, and a small commemorative collection at the Disney Store, some of which was launched at D23 (and is now on eBay for exorbitant prices).  A new series of Funko Pop Toy Story figures will be released in January, and I can’t help but hope that there might be a few other surprises waiting for us in the months to come.

TS20 Collection
My own Toy Story 20th anniversary purchases.

This week, however, the anniversary offerings promised more than just shopping, with the announcement of a television special to celebrate Toy Story‘s milestone, set to air on ABC in December along with a showing of the film:

The special will take a look at how Pixar’s early beginnings making short, digitally-animated films lead them to take the bold step of making the first feature length computer animated film, “Toy Story.”  Producers, animators, technical artists, designers and some of the film’s voice talent will discuss making the film and the impact it has had over the years, spawning two sequels, with a new installment, “Toy Story 4,” on the way.

And last week, Toy Story was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at “Toy Story: 20 Years of Being an Animation Game-Changer.”  The event featured a panel discussion with filmmakers John Lasseter (director/co-writer), Ed Catmull (executive producer), Galyn Susman (technical director), and Ralph Eggleston (art director/production designer), moderated by Jon Favreau.  Several videos from the evening were posted on the Oscars You Tube channel, but I’ll share a few of them here, including Joe Ranft’s storyboard pitch for the Green Army Men scene:

John Lasseter talked about Toy Story‘s origins:

And Lasseter, Ed Catmull, Galyn Susman and Ralph Eggleston shared the filmmaking and animation elements that gave Toy Story its distinctive look.

But there’s one crucial thing that wasn’t shared publicly, and that’s the test footage from Toy Story 4 that the audience was treated to, as mentioned in a review posted by PC Mag:

More recently, Toy Story 3 won the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2011, and the team will try its luck again in summer 2017 with Toy Story 4. The audience at last week’s event were treated to a sneak peek at character tests for Bo Peep, the “love interest” in the forthcoming film, but it was satisfying to see a fitting tribute to the technology behind Pixar’s success.

More anniversary celebrations are planned throughout the remainder of 2015, including another special event in San Francisco at the end of October and an exhibition at Japan’s D23 Expo in November.  As for me, I’ll be partying on Toy Story‘s birthday at Walt Disney World, visiting my favorite characters and the attractions they inspired.  Maybe I’ll even catch a glimpse of the Toy Story Land construction in progress, if any is visible yet.  It’ll be a fitting tribute to a classic film that’s made such a lasting impact in the past 20 years!

Toy Story 20th anniversary image © Disney/Pixar, with artwork by Jeff Pidgeon and Tia Kratter.