Directed By: John Lasseter
Trivia: Considered to be a prequel to Toy Story. The baby in the short film is considered to be Andy Davis, the owner of Woody, Buzz Lightyer and the other toys in the Toy Story film
I continue my look at Pixar’s short films with 1988’s Tin Toy, winner of the 1989 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, the first time the studio would claim this particular honor (it was also the 1st computer-generated flick to win the award). More than this, though, Tin Toy inspired the feature film that put Pixar on the map: 1995’s Toy Story, making it perhaps the most important 5-minute movie director John Lasseter and his crew ever turned out.
Tinny, a small mechanical one-man band, is horrified at the prospect of being played with by Billy, a very destructive infant. After watching Billy toss around and chew on his other toys, Tinny tries to escape by hiding underneath a sofa, where he finds dozens of other toys, each as petrified of Billy as he is, cowering in the dark. But when Billy accidentally falls on the hardwood floor, Tinny feels bad for him, and wanders into the open to allow the youngster to play with him. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when Billy instead turns his attention towards the box Tinny was packaged in!
Originally created to promote a new piece of software, Tin Toy instead attracted the attention of Disney studios, who, through the mid-90s and 00’s, teamed up with Pixar to produce a number of groundbreaking animated films, starting with Toy Story. Like Toy Story, Tin Toy brought a normally inanimate object to life and, in the process, infused it with personality. Tinny’s initial fear of Billy, which caused him to flee, soon gives way to pity and remorse as he listens to the infant crying his eyes out (the result of his falling down). Even though he knows what he’s in for, Tinny leaves his safe place under the sofa, sacrificing his own well-being to calm Billy down (this notion that a toy’s main objective is to make its owner happy would be further explored in Toy Story and its sequels).
Though rough around the edges (Billy’s movements are a bit too jerky at times), Tin Toy, more than any other short, laid the groundwork for what was to come, and in the process helped transform Pixar into one of the most successful studios of the last 25 years.