STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Video
MSRP: $29.99

RUNNING TIME: 81 Minutes
Audio commentary by the filmmakers
Behind the scenes galleries and featurettes
Deleted scenes
“Filmmakers Reflect” featurette
“Legacy Of Toy Story” featurette
“Making Toy Story” featurette
Sneak peek of Cars
“The Claw!” game
“Toy Story Treats” segments

Five years after releasing the fantastic Toy Story Ultimate Toy Box collection, Disney has to go and ruin the lucrative bootleg DVD market for eBAY scammers by re-releasing the two films in commemoration of Toy Story’s tenth anniversary. That’s bad news for scammers and great news for everyone else. If there’s one series of Disney films that should never be locked away “in the vault” as they say, it’s the Toy Story series.

Toy Story isn’t just a great animated film; it’s a great film in general. As Disney continued to churn out uninspired fairy tale after fairy tale in the ‘90s, Toy Story was a breath of fresh air with its original story, compelling characters and amazing technology. There’s no questioning that it’s a great film worthy of being in anyone’s collection – the question is whether or not this new version offers enough incentive for consumers to double dip on it.

It’s insane, this guy’s taint.

The Flick

The plot of Toy Story centers on the secret lives of toys. Being the playthings of an overactive child is their profession. The child’s room is their office. Whenever the child is away, they conduct meetings on the current happenings of the day and try to pass the time. Woody is a talking cowboy doll and is the favorite toy of Andy. As the favorite toy, he acts as the leader of the rest of the toys and enjoys getting to sleep up on the bed with Andy instead of being stuffed in the toy box.

The one thing most toys fear more than being lost or destroyed is being replaced by a newer, better toy. As Andy’s favorite, Woody figures he doesn’t need to worry about replacement. Unfortunately for him, Andy receives a Buzz Lightyear action figure for his birthday. The figure boasts space flight wings, a laser, several voice commands and a karate chop. All features that make Woody’s cheap pull string seem rather pedestrian.

Woody quickly finds himself being replaced in Andy’s life by Buzz and doesn’t handle the adjustment very well. An attempt to stick Buzz under the bed backfires on Woody and both he and Buzz end up lost. If the two are to have any hope of returning to Andy safely, they’ll have to put their differences aside and work together.

Animated features, especially Disney films, were in a serious rut when Toy Story came out. Instead of innovating and concentrating on making a fun film, the studios were just doing what had always worked and giving us the same types of films they made for the past two decades. The films themselves weren’t important. They were just the vehicles necessary to launch the marketing and licensing machines and rake in the dough.

"And you caught him in bed with Polly Pocket? You need to kick him to the curb girlfriend."

Thank god Pixar arrived on the scene to show that making a great animated film that both kids and adults can enjoy isn’t impossible. Gone were the boring musical interludes that did nothing to advance the plot. Gone were the boring protagonists that were never as interesting as the supporting cast. Pixar threw it out the window and replaced the clichés with an incredibly novel concept – characters that behave like real people and struggle through real conflicts. Lo and behold, making an animated film where the characters actually run the gamut of human emotions and pitting them against real problems – rejection, jealousy, death, love, etc. – resulted in a film that was both a critical and financial success.

Studios seem to believe that the reason Pixar films are so successful is because of the animation instead of the story. If that were the case, then these films wouldn’t be classics. The fact that Toy Story is still considered one of the best animated features of all time in spite of its now dated animation – the bad animation of the human characters is particularly jarring – is proof enough that the story is what counts. Toy Story raised the bar for a new generation of animated films and proved that a movie with true heart will endear itself to audiences in a way that mediocre, pandering films with huge advertising campaigns and licensing deals will never be able to duplicate.

10 out of 10

"Will Toy Story 3 be any good?"

The Look

The transfer of the Ultimate Toy Box Collection was already reference quality but that didn’t stop Disney and Pixar from doing it over again. According to the promotional materials, this new transfer uses the highest digital bit rate to date on a Disney release. The improvements in the transfer are noticeable but very minor. Even if you viewed the old transfer and the new one side by side it would still be difficult to pick out what exactly has been improved. Textures are more defined in portions and blurriness has been reduced from select scenes. The transfers are similar enough in terms of quality that owners of the previous release don’t have much of an incentive to upgrade if all they care about is the video transfer. Pixar once again goes above and beyond the call of duty and improves upon perfection.

10 out of 10

You can join the Church of Scientology if you wish, but you can never leave.

The Noise

Toy Story offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX track as well as Pixar’s first ever DTS 5.1 Surround ES track. The Dolby Digital track is the same one from the Ultimate Toy Box release. The DTS track is a step-up from the previous mix in each regard, from voices to effects to music to the bass. The improved video and audio transfers for this release should make it the definitive Toy Story DVD release, at least until Pixar and Disney unleash some crazy occult powers and manage to make an even better release for the film’s 15th anniversary.

10 out of 10

Turning on your TV with a pair of pliers – the ultimate in class.

The Goodies

This two disc edition offers a mix of both old and new special features. Some of the extras are duplicated from the Ultimate Toy Box set and a few new ones are added that mostly deal with the film’s anniversary. The first disc features a commentary track and some short featurettes. The commentary track includes Pixar bigwig and Toy Story director, John Lasseter, in addition to several of the film’s writers, producers, and animators. The participants have a lot of fun talking about the film and keep the track lively, even if a lot of the discussion is of the “describe what’s happening now” variety. The participants comment on the story and the characters much more often than they do on the animation which is a definite plus.

The first featurette on disc one is a short introduction by Lasseter that basically states that Toy Story is ten years old and has become an iconic film. “The Legacy Of Toy Story” featurette is made up of several interviews with influential filmmakers, established animators and up-and-comers who reflect on what Toy Story means to them and what it meant for animation as a whole. There’s not a lot of meat to the feature but it is interesting to see how struggling animators view the film and how it has inspired their work.

The second disc is full of a large collection of material from the old release. There are numerous galleries full of everything from production art to character sketches to promotional materials. Anything you could conceivably want to know about the work that went into making this film is contained in these galleries. There is also a “Making Toy Story” featurette that goes into further detail on its production. Several deleted scenes are available for viewing, even ones that weren’t actually animated but just storyboarded. “Toy Story Treats” are small bumpers that aired during ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon line-ups shortly after the film’s release. The jokes are hit and miss but they only last a few seconds each so the bad ones are quickly forgotten.

The most macabre episode of Designing Women to date.

Two new features on the second disc are the “Filmmakers Reflect” featurette and “The Claw” game. The first feature is a short discussion between the primary creative forces involved with Toy Story. They joke around and reminisce about making the film and seem amazed that ten years have passed since its release. “The Claw” game allows you to operate the crane machine featured in the movie and try to win yourself a prize. The green martians inside the crane worship at the altar of the almighty claw and provide you with commentary as you play. Whether or not you win anything is totally random. The whole point of the feature is to listen to the martian commentary which is quite funny. Unfortunately, the random nature of this feature means you’ll get a lot of repeated jokes. The feature is a nice humorous addition to the set, but calling it a game is a little misleading.

There weren’t a whole lot of features that could be added on top of the old release that wouldn’t result in total overkill, so Disney concentrated on creating extras that celebrated the film’s legacy rather than its production. Any owners of the Ultimate Toy Box can rest easy knowing that there’s nothing new in this set that absolutely warrants a repurchase. First time buyers will have a real treat with the old features though. It’s a great set, but only worth a double dip if you’re interested in the new DTS track. That’s not to take anything away from this set though. It’s a testament to how great the previous release was. Disney should be commended for making all those excellent features available to consumers once more.

10 out of 10

The tragic side effects of Zygrot 24.

The Artwork

Disney tried to go with the simple and understated approach but the end product just ends up looking “blah.” Woody and Buzz stand in front of the wallpaper in Andy’s room with the title in between them. The large text at the bottom proudly proclaims that this set is the 10th Anniversary Edition. The Ultimate Toy Box was similarly understated but featured a nice silver motif. The film’s original poster artwork was great, which makes the fact that it hasn’t been used for a DVD release puzzling. This set also continues the bizarre and wasteful trend of including a slipcase that’s identical to the DVD artwork. If you’re going to include a slipcase, at least do something cool with it. Of course, Disney could simply write the words “Toy Story” in magic marker on a stark white cover and it would still sell a billion copies.

5.0 out of 10

Overall: 10 out of 10