With Toy Story 4 now playing in movie theaters, I thought it might be a good time to tell the tale of my close encounter with the denizens of Andy’s toy chest.
Back in 2009 when I was writing the CARS comic books I was asked to pitch some ideas for a possible four-issue Toy Story mini-series. I wrote down a few ideas and submitted them, and they seemed to be well received. I was asked to rework one of the story concepts a little, as well as put together another pitch for a potential second mini-series.
I then heard that instead of mini-series a new on-going title was being considered. Imagine my surprise one day to open the latest comics PREVIEWS catalog to see the new Toy Story series being promoted with my name attached as the writer.
A few days later I got a call that a decision had been made to go a different direction with the series and they would be using another writer. I never really got a good understanding of what drove that decision, but these things happen in work-for-hire type situations. So I never got to hang out with Buzz, Woody, and the gang.
Now that the gang are back in action on the big screen I thought it might be fun to dust off those decade old pitches and share what might have been my Toy Stories.
TOY BE OR NOT TOY BE
The story is set in the weeks immediately following the finale of the first Toy Story movie as Andy, his family, and more importantly, his toys settle in to their new home. While it’s a time of transition for all the toys, for one in particular it’s a major adjustment. BUZZ LIGHTYEAR must comes to terms with what it means to be a toy, and who better to show him than the other inhabitants of Andy’s Room?
Issue #1 – COWBOYS AND DINOSAURS
Andy is playing a made up game of the story of a Dinosaur (Rex) attacking a cardboard box Western town (an expanded version of the scene at the start of the first Toy Story). Buzz, who has been thrust into the role of Woody’s deputy, while grudgingly accepting that he is a toy, starts to comment on the implausibility of the scenario that Andy is developing. Until Woody shows Buzz that it’s the child’s imagination that is the most important thing, and if Andy believes it can happen that way, then the toy’s job is to make sure it does happen that way.
Issue #2 – RULES IS RULES
When Andy gets the Buzz Lightyear video-game, Buzz shows Rex how to play the game and Rex becomes addicted to video games. The other toys aren’t happy about it, so Hamm and Mr. Potato Head with the aid of several other toys use the opportunity to help teach Buzz the “Toy Code,” while Buzz shows them that they can open up to doing things they were never designed to do.
Issue #3 – THE RETURN OF MRS. NESBITT
Andy’s little sister Molly finds Buzz lying around and crawls off with him. She puts him in her room with her cuddly toys and cloth dolls. Buzz is desperate to get away from the cute toys, until Woody finds him and teaches him that even though he’s Andy’s toy, he needs to be whatever the child holding him wants to be.
Issue #4 – FELLOWSHIP OF THE AA
When R/C’s batterers run down, Buzz decides that it’s up to him to make the perilous journey to the kitchen, to obtain replacement power units. The only problem is that as it’s a new house no-one is really sure of the way. Buzz and the green army men team up to map the house and restore R/C to working condition. During the quest Buzz learns the importance of team work and loyalty among toys.
THE ROUND UP GANG
We know how Woody ended up in the clutches of Al from Al’s Toy Barn; but what about the rest of the Roundup Gang? How did Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete end up in storage, and what’s the connection to the mysterious Mr. Konishi?
Issue #1 – THE PROSPECTOR
Left high on the shelf of an old-fashioned toy store, Stinky Pete, the prospector has been neglected for years. He’s seen children come and go, but one in particular he always liked. A chubby boy named Al, who often whispered to Pete that he would one day own a toy store of his own. True to his word Al opened his store, the discount Toy Barn, and promptly drove the local toy store out of business and bought its remaining inventory, among which was the still unopened Prospector. A disgruntled neglected toy who thought he had seen how being ruthless could get you what you wanted.
Issue #2 – BULLSEYE
The old fashioned horse was a favorite toy kept by an old lady who had owned him since new. She kept him around for her grandchildren to play with, but after she passed Bullseye found himself consigned to an estate sale where he was picked up in a job lot by a local antiques dealer. The dealer posted Bullseye’s picture on an online auction site, where Al found him. Poor Bullseye went from beloved family heirloom to Al’s storage unit – awaiting the arrival of Woody.
Issue #3 – JESSIE
After being abandoned by Emily, Jessie finds her way to a charity store, where she sits for weeks. Until Al enters the store looking for bargain “collectibles.”
Issue #4 –THE LEGEND OF WOODY
In the Tri-county storage unit rented by Al, The Prospector is telling Bullseye and Jessie all about Woody’s Roundup and Al’s search for the elusive Woody and how he will mean their freedom. Meanwhile in Japan, the mysterious Koinishi-san is telling his young daughter about Woody’s Roundup and how as a child it inspired him to help others, and that e know wants to set up a toy museum to share these lessons with a new generation. The perfect center piece for that museum would be his childhood hero – a genuine Woody cowboy figure.