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Saturday Matinee

Disney Cartoon #8: "Toy Story Treats" (circa 1996)

by Albert Gutierrez

Welcome to article number 8!  No, I won't spend a paragraph discussing how the number 8 is all around me.  If I did, I might accidentally knock that 8 on its side and turn it into infinity!  And I certainly don't have enough time to figure out how infinite the concept of infinity is around me!  But since we're on the subject of infinity, why not let this week's Saturday Matinee focus on a well-known catch phrase?  All together now: "To infinity and beyond!"  That's right, this week's article will be all about "Toy Story"!  More importantly, the interstitials that were affectionately known as "Toy Story Treats."

These very brief cartoons started airing on ABC's "One Saturday Morning" line-up in 1996, shortly after the first "Toy Story" film hit VHS and Laserdisc (remember those?).  The "treats" gave viewers nice little tidbits that showed life for the toys in Andy's room.  Due to the low-budget nature of these shorts, we don't get Tom Hanks or Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz, but their imitators are just as good.  In addition, the computer animation sometimes feels crude and limited compared to the still-revolutionary animation from "Toy Story".  But there was still a charm to the gag-centered shorts, as the familiar characters still were fresh on the young audiences' minds and presented in a way true to their nature.

 

The canonicity of the shorts is a bit ambiguous.  While it does show life in Andy's room, some of Sid's toys, such as Legs, Baby Face, and Hand-in-the-box have been shown.  The LGM's are also abundant, even though Andy himself wouldn't own any LGM's until the end of "Toy Story 2" (thanks to Mr. Potato, who is often told the eternally-hilarious line, "You have saved our lives, we are eternally grateful!").  I hoped that additional "Toy Story Treats" could have been made following "Toy Story 2", in order to see the further misadventures with the toys plus Jessie and Bullseye.  Unfortunately, the treats just cover the time period between the first two films.

Among some of the more notable gags, Woody's shadow puppets continually get trumped by Buzz's, a great nightmare switches the heads between Woody and Buzz, and Rex has some training to become a space ranger.  We also get a staring contest between Woody and Lenny, a game of checkers with Hand-in-the-box, and Hamm once again takes control of the wheel when he offers LGM's a ride on RC.  Of course, one of the best of the treats has Buzz donning his Mrs. Nesbit outfit once again.  Overall, the shorts featured are humorous and harmless fun, and their brevity make them quick and easy to enjoy.

Over fifty of these interstitials were made, and a nice handful of them are still available.  You can check out most of them online at http://disney.go.com/toystory/#/videos, or on home video.  The treats are scattered as easter eggs in the "Ultimate Toy Box", a three-disc DVD set produced in 2000.  They are also offered as easter eggs again in the 2005 "10th Anniversary Edition" two-disc DVD for "Toy Story", and also appear on the Blu-Ray for the film. 

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