Since San Diego Comic Con is going on right now – and since Pixar doesn’t seem to have any official presence there this year, at least none that I noticed on the event schedule – I thought it might be fun to revisit my throwback posts and take a look back at their panel featuring the television special, Toy Story That Time Forgot, in July 2014.
Ever since I’ve been involved in the Toy Story fandom, I’ve enjoyed following announcements from SDCC and D23 Expo panels relating to the franchise. I can remember reading along as newly-revealed details about the “Small Fry” short came out of the D23 Expo in August 2011, as well as scouring the internet for specifics on the Toy Story of Terror sneak-peek that was shown at the 2013 Expo. And last summer – as I blogged about before – I was a nervous wreck with anticipation as both Toy Story 4 and Toy Story Land were mentioned in panels at D23 2015.
Back to Toy Story That Time Forgot, though, and its panel at SDCC 2014. I knew in advance that this would be occurring, so of course I was glued to social media that day, waiting for real-time reports. Director Steve Purcell, Producer Galyn Susman, Head of Story Derek Thompson, and the voice of Trixie, Kristen Schaal, made up the panel, which was moderated by Michael Giacchino, who composed the special’s score.
I was happy to find basic facts on Twitter and in online articles right away, such as new characters, plot points, and an image or two; but I was thrilled to discover the complete Toy Story That Time Forgot panel on You Tube only a few days later. Getting to experience it as close to in person as possible was a treat – all that was missing were the video clips shown to those in attendance. The panel presentation began with the early days of Pixar and Toy Story‘s original form as a “Tin Toy Christmas” television special, that Disney suggested be changed to a feature-length film. Then the crew went through the development of the Toy Story That Time Forgot story – originally a six-minute short, it was lengthened into its current form – as well as character development and design of the Battlesaurs. It was great to see the images that were shown of character concept art, a toy line to be released for the holiday season, and screen shots of the special, instead of having to rely on secondhand descriptions.
Although the preview of the new characters was exciting, it was the responses of cast and crew that captivated me, as always. I always appreciate the added insight – relating to story, characters, or the production pipeline – that comes from those directly involved with a film or short’s creation. And the audience Q&A session brought up some especially interesting topics – I know “interesting” is subjective, and what struck me might differ from what appeals to someone else’s sensibilities, but I’ll mention a few that particularly stood out to me.
I’m fascinated with any deeper descriptions of the characters that the voice actors themselves can provide, so I liked that Kristen Schaal was asked if her character fell in love with Reptillus Maximus in the special, and if Rex was jealous:
I think she was definitely in awe of him, and clearly there was some love there. I don’t think Rex is jealous. I think Rex and Trixie are more like just good friends, like brother and sister.
I recall being sort of surprised by the love story aspect – after the end of Toy Story 3 and even in the “Hawaiian Vacation” short, it seemed as if Rex and Trixie might become love interests – however, in hindsight, it makes perfect sense for them to be nothing more than friends. Besides, it was entertaining watching Trixie and Reptillus’s romance unfold during the short. (I’m still holding out hope we might see them together again in the future, thanks to commentary on the special’s blu-ray release.)
But it was the statements Galyn Susman made during the Q&A that really caught my attention at the time. For example, one audience member asked about Woody’s backstory, and she replied that all she remembered was that he had been Andy’s father’s toy. And another questioned if there was going to be a Toy Story 4, and if the characters from this special would be in it:
It’s impossible to know. We love all of our Toy Story characters, so who knows what we’ll do next, and what we’ll make, and who will be in it. I think the only guarantees are usually the core gang. But yeah, we love ‘em all, and we’ll just keep trying to come up with ways to keep ‘em alive for ya.
Of course, now we know that Toy Story 4 was already well in the works, with Susman as the producer, and would be announced in November of that year; with that knowledge, we can read between the lines of her response. It’s funny, though, that Kristen Schaal chimed in as well, joking, with her own answer to the question:
I’m just gonna say yes. There is gonna be a fourth movie and they’re all gonna be in it.
No one took that reply seriously, and I have to wonder if Schaal was aware of the sequel yet, and signed on to reprise her role as Trixie, or if she was completely oblivious when the remark was made. I also wonder what was going through the mind of everyone else on the panel in that moment – at least those who were aware of the imminent announcement of Toy Story 4. Whoever was in on the secret definitely hid it well! Only time will tell if all the toys from the shorts and specials do in fact make it into the film.
Another question touched on future appearances of the toys. When the panel was asked if there could be a Toy Story special for Easter, they all looked at each other and whispered, before Galyn Susman replied, laughing:
An Easter special. There ya go. I’ll take that back home and talk about it.
While this was probably just a polite reply to the child asking the question, and not a hint of things to come – it’s likely their laughter was because something far bigger was already in production – I do hope that someday we might see more shorts and specials with the Toy Story gang. Easter, Valentine’s Day (my personal dream short), even something themed around a summer vacation that they actually get to go on, could all be fun. With the quality of both Toy Story of Terror and Toy Story That Time Forgot, not to mention the Toons, future short-subject programs would definitely be welcome and worthwhile additions to the franchise.
Even though Toy Story treasures are unlikely at SDCC this year, I’m still following along on social media just for the heck of it. And I’ve already bought my family’s tickets to the D23 Expo in July 2017, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to get into all the relevant panels there and be one of the lucky ones to share Toy Story updates firsthand next summer! In the meantime, what did you find most interesting about the Toy Story That Time Forgot panel, or even the special, now that it’s aired for two holiday seasons? Share in the comments! I’ll be back with another throwback post soon.