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To Nostalgia and Beyond: 15 Years of “Toy Story”

In just two days, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 hits theaters. Since the series has been beloved by people of all ages, we at Player Affinity Movies thought it would be fun (and a helpful memory jog) to take a little look back at what we have seen and preview the long-awaited third installment as well as one of 2010's most anticipated films.

Toy Story (1995)

Andy’s room is the center of the action in this 1995 classic, the first major CGI animated film ever created. The main ringleader of the toys is Woody (Tom Hanks), a cowboy toy with a pull-string voicebox. Other pals include the absent-minded dinosaur Rex (Wallace Shawn), the slinky dog aptly named Slinky, the sarcastic piggy bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger of "Cheers"), Woody’s mild mannered love interest Little Bo Peep (Annie Potts), and the snappy Mr. Potato Head (comedy legend Don Rickles). Everything is going great until a new toy arrives. That new toy is Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), the hottest action figure on the market. Problem is, he thinks he is Buzz Lightyear. When Buzz and Woody are kidnapped by Sid, the vicious kid next door (Sid and Nancy pun intended), it is up for the at-odds toys to work together to get back into the hands of their beloved owner.

During one of the pivotal scenes in film, we are introduced to the Little Green Men, three-eyed alien toys inside a toy-grabbing machine and the terrific line "The Claw chooses who will go and who will stay." Toy Story received three Academy Award nominations, including one for its original screenplay. The story was conceived by three Pixar greats, Pete Docter (Oscar winner for Up), Andrew Stanton (Oscar winner for WALL*E and Finding Nemo) and top dog John Lasseter. Cult favorite filmmaker Joss Whedon also had a hand in the screenplay.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

Argued by many to be better than the first, the sequel begins with Woody being accidentally sold at a yard sale. It turns out that the man who bought him is Al, an antique toy collector. Woody was apparently based on a character from an old television series called Woody’s Roundup. Al is out to collect all the toys from that show, including Jessie the sassy cowgirl (Joan Cusack), the easy-going prospector Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer), and Woody’s rambunctious horse Bullseye, all who join the fun in this film. Despite finding a new family, it is up to Woody to find his way back to Andy.

The film also introduces us to the squeaky penguin Wheezy and Mr. Potato Head’s spud companion, the Mrs. (Seinfeld's Estelle Harris). We also get to see some Barbie dolls at the superstore Al’s Toy Barn. Toy Story 2 is one of only three animated films to win the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical/Comedy. It also featured the tear-inducing Oscar-nominated ballad "When She Loved Me," performed by Sarah McLachlan.

Toy Story 3

Many ears have passed both real time and in the story for this third installment. Here we see Andy going off to college. His toys are sold by mistake, and they end up at Sunnyside Daycare. It seems like the perfect situation, as the toys don’t have to worry about being outgrown and the filmmakers can pummel us with a chest full of new characters. Here are the details on the most notable of the 14 new faces (and that number doesn't include cameos).

 – Think its tough being a plush Beanie-Babie style unicorn? Trying being a male plush unicorn. That's Buttercup, voiced by comedian Jeff Garlin (who also played the captain in WALL*E)

The Bookworm
– With a flashlight and glasses, this green worm fits the look of a bookworm down to a T. He also might be of help to Woody and the gang whenever they’re in trouble. The distinct voice of actor Richard Kind lends his talents to this character.

Chatter Telephone
– One of Fisher-Price’s highest selling toys gets its own character in Toy Story 3. In the trailer, the toy tells Woody, “You and your friends ain’t never getting’ outta here.” Chatter Telephone is voiced by Teddy Newton

- She's your typical raggedy doll with googly eyes, but she's voiced by Bonnie Hunt, so you can bet there's got to be some sass to this essential girl toy long-missing from the series since Andy was of course not a fan of dolls.

– Barbie has finally found her Ken! Well, the Ken who lives at Sunnyside. He has his own house and is a celebrity in his own right. Don’t ever tell him that he’s a Barbie accessory or worse: a girls’ toy. He doesn’t like to hear either of those things. Michael Keaton of Beetlejuice fame voices Barbie’s iconic beau.

Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear
– Also known as “Lotso,” this teddy bear seems to be the leader of the toys at Sunnyside. With a sunny and huggable (hence, the name “Lots-o’-Huggin’”) disposition, he is voiced by Academy Award nominee Ned Beatty.

Mr. Pricklepants
– This little hedgehog toy can often be seen in lederhosen, as he attempts “to stay in character.” He’s actually from Germany, but he thinks he’s an actor. Timothy Dalton voices the method-acting toy.

– This purple octopus toy can be seen giving back massages in the trailer. Those aside, she might have a bit of a shady side. Stretch is voiced by the legendary Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner Whoopi Goldberg.

– Trixie is the blue triceratops who is chatting up another dinosaur online in the trailer, much to her embarrassment. Could she be the dinosaur toy that the loveable Rex has been looking for? Trixie is voiced by Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal.

Anime fans can also rejoice, because Hayao Miyazaki's beloved character Totoro will also be making a cameo.

As Disney/Pixar closes out on the series that many have come to know and love, we get one last film to look forward to. With some new characters and a new story, Toy Story 3 should be a great way to close out a series that is held dear by many.


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