While working for Walt Disney Feature Animation,
became enamored with the possibilities that computer animation could offer when
he was shown the lightcycle
scene from Tron.
tried unsuccessfully to have Disney make The Brave Little
Toaster into a completely
computer-animated film before eventually being fired and moving on to Lucasfilm.
|The short that started it all.
Lasseter went on to become a
founding member of animation studio Pixar
where he created short, computer-animated films to show off the Pixar
Image Comptuer’s abilities. His 1988 short Tin Toy,
was told from the perspective of a toy and catered to Lasseter’s love of
classic toys, became the first computer-generated film to win the Academy Award
for Best Animated Short Film. The short had gained Disney’s attention, and
after a series of negotiations the two studios arranged to join together and
turn Tin Toy into a feature film called Toy Story.
|Concept art for Buzz Lightyear.
The story was
drafted by Lasseter, Andrew
Stanton and Pete Docter
to have Tinny from Tin Toy pairing up with a ventriloquist’s dummy to go
on a grand adventure. Studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg
felt the story was problematic and had them reshape it to be more of a mismatched
buddy picture. Tinny, deemed too antiquated, became a military action figure
before being given a space theme and named Buzz Lightyear (after Buzz Aldrin).
His space suit was modeled after those worn by Apollo
astronauts and G.I.
action figures, and colored green and purple after Nancy Lasseter’s
favorite colors. Character designer Bud Luckey
suggested that Woody (named for the material he was originally composed of)
should be changed into a cowboy; a contrast of themes Lasseter liked.
Eventually, they scrapped the dummy angle altogether and turned Woody into a
soft pull-string doll (keeping the name as an homage to Western actor Woody Strode).
The final script would be written by Stanton with Joel Cohen,
Whedon and Lasseter would
serve as director.
Toy Story centered on a world
in which toys would come to life whenever people weren’t around. They had their
own lives, personalities and autonomy, but they loved nothing more than to be
played with. The world of a particular group of toys was changed when a new toy
was introduced: the electronic talking Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen); a toy based
off of an in-universe popular cartoon show. Woody
the original favorite toy of young Andy (John Morris), had become
jealous of Buzz and all the attention he was getting from Andy and his fellow
toys. Buzz was also completely oblivious that he was a toy and believed himself
to be THE Buzz Lightyear. Their squabbling resulted in Woody and Buzz ending up
in the clutches of their toy-destroying neighbor, Sid (Erik von Detten).
Woody and Buzz had to work together and escape in order to return home before
their family was set to move away.
|The ever-growing members of the Toy Story franchise.
Toy Story opened on November
22, 1995, becoming the first feature-length film to be completely computer
animated. The film was a massive success, earning $373.6 million at the box
office, critical acclaim, and several awards and nominations. The film not only
began Disney and Pixar’s long-standing partnership (which eventually culminated
in Disney buying the studio outright), but generated interest in the technology
used for the film and production of other computer-generated media.
Toy Story has since become a
franchise with three theatrical sequels, two holiday television specials, three
theatrical shorts, video games, comic books, actual toys and more. While work
was being done on Toy Story 2, which expanded both Woody and Buzz’s
family of characters with companion toys from their respective franchises, the
idea was floated of turning the Buzz Lightyear show into an actual
Stones was approached by Disney to create the series on an
$8 million budget, along with Mark McCorkle
Schooley. Initially, they had to juggle their duties on Buzz
Lightyear with their work on Hercules:
The Animated Series.
|Buzz and Warp Darkmatter rescuing the LGMs.
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command centered
on the space-faring exploits of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Patrick Warburton)
as he protected the cosmos from the sinister machinations of his arch-rival,
the evil Emperor Zurg (Wayne Knight, who voiced the human villain of the second
movie). While on a mission to rescue three Little Green Men (or LGMs, the toys
encountered in a claw machine in the first movie, all voiced by Warburton),
Buzz’s partner Warp
Bader) was lost, causing Buzz to vow to never have a
|Team Lightyear: Buzz, Mira, XR and Booster.
fate had other plans. Buzz’s superior, Commander Zeb Nebula (Adam Carolla)
issued Buzz a new partner: Princess Mira Nova (Nicole Sullivan), heir to the Tangean
throne with the ability to “ghost” through solid matter and read minds. The
LGMs, who served as the loyal backbone of Star Command by developing and
maintaining all of their equipment, provided Buzz with another partner in the
form of the robot XR (Larry Miller & Neil Flynn). The eXperimental Ranger
(although called eXpendable by most), was originally emotionless and designed
to observe and learn from Buzz. And, in the event of his destruction (which
happened on every mission), the LGMs could rebuild him promptly (the first time
resulted in XR gaining an annoyingly animated personality). But yet a third
partner presented himself in the form of Booster (Stephen Furst), a super
strong and super dimwitted Star Command janitor who desired nothing more than
to become a Ranger and achieved his dream when he helped defeat one of Zurg’s
schemes. Together they became Team Lightyear.
members of Star Command included Ty Parsec
(Steve Hytner), an old
friend of Buzz who got tired of always being rescued by him and ended up being
transformed into a Wirewolf
(a robotic werewolf); Rocket Crocket
(Phil LaMarr), leader of Team Rocket
and Buzz’s chief rival; Petra Hammerhold
(Nikki Cox), forced to join
Star Command by her father, Senator Hammerhold
(Corey Burton), to keep her
away from her boyfriend, Plasma Boy
(Michael Showalter), who
also later became a member of Star Command; and 42
(Joy Behar), an A.I. that
once possessed Buzz’s ship and was later given a robot body to help the LGMs.
wasn’t without his own allies. The bug-like Grubs (all Frank Welker) served the
same functions as the LGMs, albeit less competently. The Brain Pods
(various) were brains in jars on robotic bodies that served as Zurg’s
scientists and researchers while constantly plotting their escape from Zurg’s
clutches. The Hornets
were Zurg’s robotic foot soldiers. They were largely ineffective and extremely
expendable, constantly being destroyed en masse by the Space Rangers. It would
come to be revealed that Warp had secretly been working for Zurg all along and
became Agent Z after faking his death. He gained a robotic arm that could house
|Gravitina has Buzz on the brain (and a lot of other stuff!).
foes included Gravitina
a large-headed woman that could control gravity and was in love with Buzz; NOS-4-A2
a robotic vampire created by Zurg that could drain anything powered by
electricity as well as control any machine he bit; Torque
Garrett), a career criminal that could create unstable
duplicates of himself; and XL
XR’s predecessor who was initially shut down because of his villainous
Lightyear of Star Command was finished long before Toy Story
2, so it was decided to hold on to it until after the film was released.
This gave the production crew a chance to work on a direct-to-video movie to
introduce the concept and new characters that would also double as the series’
first three episodes. Pixar created a new short intro starring the Toy
Story 2 characters settling in to watch the movie, which was otherwise
traditionally animated and had the highest quality of the entire series. Allen
reprised his role as Buzz in the intro and re-recorded over Warburton’s recording
(which was restored when the movie was broken up into individual episodes, and
the Pixar portion omitted). Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure
Begins was released on VHS
on August 8, 2000, becoming the first spin-off of a Pixar film. The series
itself hit television screens on October 2, 2000. It aired both as a feature of
One Too weekday programming block
and as part of ABC’s
One Saturday Morning programming block,
effectively airing seven days a week as a result for its entire 65-episode run.
Each episode ended with Buzz saying his famous line, “To infinity…and beyond!”
|Electric vampire NOS-4-A2.
Pixar did provide some animation for the series’ opening titles featuring
cameos of the Toy Story characters set to a narration by Gary Owens, the
rest of the intro and the series itself were traditionally animated by Walt
Disney Animation Japan, Sun
Min Co. Ltd. Animation Production, Toon City,
Animation Intl, Sunwoo
Animation Co. Ltd., Tama
Production Co., Ltd., Wang
Film Productions Co., Ltd. and Hana
Animation Co. The writing staff included Adam Armus,
Nora Kay Foster,
Michael A. Medlock,
Stonecipher, and Stones, amongst others. Adam Berry
provided the music. In 2001, the series won a Daytime Emmy Award
for “Outstanding Sound Editing – Special Class”.
Lightyear continued to air on UPN until 2003 when Disney’s
partnership with the network came to an end. During that time, it also aired on
Channel and again from 2006 to 2008 before leaving United
States airwaves. It was also seen on Toon Disney
from 2003-2007. The episodes “Inside Job” and “Conspiracy” were taken out of
rotation following the 9/11
terrorist attacks due to their dealing with assassination
elements, and “Super Nova” for its allusion to drug abuse. Lasseter ended up
not being a fan of the series, resulting in Pixar barring any elements of it
from being used in any other Toy Story media and even disallowing the
mention of the cartoon in the movies. To date, only The Adventure Begins has
been released on home media as well as the episode “Planet
of the Lost”.
who released toys for the Toy Story franchise, released two waves of
figures based on the show. The first wave, called Toy
Story and Beyond, featured Buzz, Booster, XR, Zurg and Warp. The Space
Rangers all came with a LGM while the villains came with a Grub. The second
wave, called Cosmic Clash, featured new Buzz, Booster and XR figures
without LGMs, and NOS-4-A2 as their primary foe. The following year, McDonald’s
based on the show in their Happy
Meals. Team Lightyear, Nebula and Zurg could all be
launched from a spaceship part that could be assembled to create a larger
House published a series of story and
glow-in-the-dark sticker books that adapted various episodes, as well as a
pop-up book, punch-out doll book, and coloring books. Five comic strips based
on the show were published in the pages of Disney
Adventures Magazine between 2000 and
2001. Traveler’s Tales developed a game
Interactive that was published by Activision.
It was a rail shooting game that saw Buzz having to traverse various planets for
three missions: a race against a criminal, a time trial, and recovering all of
XR’s body parts. It featured the show’s voice cast and cut scenes comprised of
clips from various episodes.