Christmas is in a matter of days, so naturally it’s time to delve back into Toy Story That Time Forgot, one of the most underrated Pixar projects. The holiday special aired back on December 2nd, 2014 on ABC.
Although this is a Christmas special, the film starts off post-Christmas as we open with Bonnie playing with her toys, a comforting and familiar sight. We’re immediately re-introduced to Trixie the Triceratops but we quickly find out she’s constantly disappointed Bonnie never lets her play as the true dinosaur she is; instead she takes on other random roles during playtime. Jessie, Rex, and Mr. Potato Head are quick to offer support for Trixie, mentioning she will get her chance to be a dinosaur soon (as there will be many more opportunities) but that doesn’t lift Trixie’s spirits. Shortly after, Bonnie attends a play-date at her best friend Mason’s house. Luckily for us Bonnie brings along a few of our other favorite toys from the Toy Story universe: Woody, Buzz, and Rex. She even brings Trixie along and a new ornament named Angel Kitty.
As soon as Bonnie arrives she notices Mason enjoying his new video game and before she joins him, she dumps the toys into Mason’s playroom. The video game wasn’t the only thing Mason got for Christmas; he also got a slew of new warrior dinosaur toys called the Battlesaurs. The gang is quickly introduced to Reptillus Maximus and the Cleric, who are in control of the Battlesaurs army. Naturally, Rex and Trixie are welcomed as part of the clan by Reptillus and shown around their Batteopolis but the Cleric secretly takes Woody, Buzz, and Angel Kitty away as his prisoners.
Trixie and Reptillus quickly bond (naturally). Since Trixie is finally around other toys like her and it’s easy to see why she’s so quick to fall head over heels for Reptillus. Trixie can’t help but praise the Battlesaurs and how they’ve made their life work in Mason’s toy room. Reptillus is even captivated by Trixie’s world of make believe. Soon the two dinosaurs are called to the aptly named “Arena of Woe,” where to Trixie’s dismay, this world of dinosaurs isn’t as perfect or as nice as she thought. In the arena, its Mason’s toys against Reptillus; we soon see that Reptillus completely destroys the other toys in combat. No one has a chance against him.
Things soon get worse when Woody and Buzz enter the arena; it turns out the Cleric wanted Woody and Buzz destroyed from the get-go and it’s the reason why they were taken away so abruptly at the start. Buzz and Woody barely escape their fight against Reptillus before Trixie jumps in to help her friends. It turns out, the Battlesaurs are so hostile because they haven’t had the opportunity to play with Mason yet, since Mason has been too caught up in his new video game. Despite Trixie pleading for the dinosaurs to stop fighting her friends, they bring in another massive Battlesaur named Goliathon, who swallows Woody, Buzz, and Angel Kitty. As Trixie tries to free her friends from Goliathon, she’s knocked over and reveals Bonnie’s name written on her hand. To these Battlesaurs, that’s a sign of weakness and equivalent to someone waving a white flag. Suddenly Trixie is no longer welcome as one of them.
The biggest twist of this special is that the Cleric has known the Battlesaurs were toys the entire time. It was the Cleric’s motivation to keep the toys oblivious to this fact so he can continue basking in his power and ruling over them. Now that Woody, Buzz, and Angel Kitty know that information, he takes them off to be shredded in a nearby ventilation fan.
As Woody and Buzz are trying to escape the Cleric, Trixie nearly unplugs Mason’s video game, in an attempt to thwart his attention and get him to play with the other Battlesaurs. Reptillus intervenes and tries to stop her but Trixie has an epiphany of her own. She manages to persuade Reptillus that it’s almost a blessing being a toy; she speaks to him about how important and meaningful it’s been to be a toy and play with Bonnie every day. She even shows Reptillus the box he came in, which changes his whole perspective.
Reptillus turns off Mason’s video game and “surrenders” to the humans. Soon Bonnie and Mason find Reptillus, and the children agree to go to Mason’s playroom to continue their play-date. The duo arrive just in time, saving Woody and Buzz from being destroyed in the ventilation fan.
Reptillus and the other Battlesaurs are changed by their play-date with Bonnie and Mason; they’re quick to accept their fate as toys and learn to enjoy a calmer life in Mason’s home.
Towards the end of the special, Trixie realizes how important she is in Bonnie’s life and she professes to Woody, Buzz, and the other toys how she would be anything Bonnie wants her to be during playtime, even if that never is a dinosaur.
One of the most impressive elements about this film is the fact it delves deep into the toys existence. It touches the surface of their psychology and how they view their lives when it comes to interacting with characters like Bonnie and Mason. The toys obviously realize they’re toys and figure out their purpose in life, but through that they learn the importance of their existence and that they have these unique gifts; each toy offers something different to children. It’s also interesting to see the differences in how a toy acts before they’ve had the opportunity to be played with or to have a child “mark” them with their name – the Battlesaurs were almost savage, like untrained cats, before they were played with for the first time. I’m curious to see how they will continue this theme in the upcoming Toy Story 4 film, especially with Forky.
Some fun facts about Toy Story That Time Forgot:
- When it comes to the Toy Story timeline, this film is set before the story that’s going to be depicted in the upcoming Toy Story 4 film.
- This film was initially set to be a 6-minute short, but it was John Lasseter who suggested it be a holiday special because he loved the story so much and wanted to explore the themes and characters more.
- It took 3 years to create; 2 of those years were spent on story development.
- The special was the last time Don Rickles voiced the iconic Mr. Potato Head; he died in 2017.
- This was Pixar’s second Toy Story-esque TV special; the first one was Toy Story of Terror!
- Don’t forget that in the first Toy Story film, Buzz was the one who first refused to believe he was a toy. It’s funny seeing that shift in this special; he was almost outraged that the Battlesaurs didn’t know they were toys.
- There is a reference to Star Wars in Toy Story That Time Forgot, when the Cleric says the line, “I find their lack of armor disturbing.” Can you Star Wars fans figure out the line it’s referring to?