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If Woody, Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Slinky, and Potato Head are the heart of 1995’s Toy Story, their ensemble of knickknacks are the brains, brawn, and Bo Peep of the operation. On the 20th anniversary of Pixar’s groundbreaking movie, we rank the forgotten stars of Andy's room.
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Let’s begin with the worst: Lenny is a straight-up scumbag trash toy. For a figure supposedly blessed with extraordinary vision, his sight is clouded with plastic and prejudice. His unreliable narration and refusal to get the facts straight is the reason why Woody is left stranded at Sid’s house. But let’s not forget Lenny’s worst, most offensive act of violence: blinded by hate, Lenny literally attacks Woody on the moving truck. It’s as low as an already diminutive toy can get. But Woody has the last laugh since in my Toy Story alternate universe, Lenny is now rotting in a recycle bin behind a highway McDonald’s. Enjoy obscurity, Lenny.
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15. Sarge (and his soldiers)
It's not just that Sarge always stressed you out. More importantly, it's how everyone decided it was insane that Buzz Lightyear thought he was actually a space ranger, but Sarge does THE SAME THING with the U.S. military and nobody even bats an eye. His delusion is unmatched in the bounds of Andy's bunker. Barking orders into a walkie-talkie made of plastic? Sending paratroopers on outrageous surveillance missions?! I would not be surprised if a deleted subplot involved Sarge trying to convince Woody to throw a damn USO show.
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Troll doesn’t talk and Troll doesn't front — but as such, Troll doesn’t make an impression. Troll did nothing wrong to deserve a low spot on this list. But unfortunately Troll was largely useless in Toy Story, primarily used to flaunt a gender-fluid nudist body while Buzz Lightyear does its hair. Troll is pure filler between characters. Troll is a bridge, if you will.
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13. Roly Poly Clown
Andy’s ensemble toys are rarely given moments to shine in their real just-a-toy lives, but Roly Poly Clown doesn’t even factor into Andy’s imaginative manic pixie dream playtimes. Did you see Roly Poly Clown in a bank robbery? Does he even have a speaking role in a Lightyear space fantasy? Consider the fact that you didn’t even know his name was Roly Poly Clown until this very moment.
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12. Barrel of monkeys
Faceless but sentient, the monkeys are a troubling idea. For all your delightful Slinkys and Hamms, you must remember the 12 self-sustaining monkeys spring to life while you sleep. If that doesn't send you scrambling, remember that in the first Toy Story, they’re best known for their greatest failure: Not being flexible enough to save Buzz. Maybe if Andy bought two barrels of monkeys, Buzz could have climbed back up to Andy’s room after being knocked out the window. Instead, the monkeys, in their sparseness, set the film’s tragic events into motion.
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Our only hints to Andy’s cultural heritage are his delightful animal versions of Russian nesting dolls. There’s a dog, then a cat, then a duck, then a fish, then a bug. If you really think about it, their subconscious reminder of the food chain was the first introduction of the idea that the toys had an awareness to the greater implications of their existential mortality in nature. Toy Story 3’s furnace scene was just, like, a follow-up.
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10. The Toddle Tots
Shameless but necessary Little Tikes product placement. RIP, the fire engine of my childhood.
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9. Hockey Puck
Hockey Puck means well but gets no credit, save for the one time he’s directly addressed: when Mr. Potato Head rudely asks “What are you lookin’ at, you hockey puck?” as a result of MPH's own lashing out from self-loathing. With a blameless Dangerfieldian shrug and a deadpan look to the camera, it’s clear that Hockey Puck is actually a very esteemed physical comedic asset in Andy’s room. Just a look to the audience gets everything across, arguably making Hockey Puck the Aubrey Plaza of Toy Story.
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8. Bo Peep
In Toy Story 3, we glean that Bo Peep may have been given away or sold. In the upcoming Toy Story 4, we’ll reportedly explore her love story with Woody. But the fact is, Bo Peep was never a well-written character from the start, and it really wasn’t her fault. Woody’s infatuation with her was always purely physical, and it was obviously just an availability thing. Are there any other eligible female toys around for Woody? No, unless you count Troll, and I don't know why you would count Troll. And look, I’m not saying that Bo isn’t pretty, but a 3 in Molly’s room is a 10 in Andy’s.
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Look, I’ll just say it: If you were ever going to have a crush on a toy in Toy Storywhose name didn’t rhyme with Hoodie or Fuzz, it was going to be Rocky. He’s burly. He’s generous. He’s got arms for days (and we know he takes care of himself by lifting Tinkertoy dumbbells). That weird white hair makes him a strange cross-curio, somewhere between Dwayne Johnson and Michael Douglas. Best of all, Rocky sends major mixed signals to Woody that served as a promise to any questioning Toy Story viewer that it gets better, even for a toy.
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5 and 6. The Robot thing and the Snake thing
I pair these two misfits because they lurk together silently in the shadows, waiting until they can prove themselves indispensable when another toy needs help. Strangely, they’re best served when toys need to get their fitness on. Snake helps spot Rocky during his Tinkertoy workouts, and Robot allows himself to be flipped upside down and treated like a common treadmill as part of Buzz’s cardio routine. Selfless, they are. Also, there’s a strange dual kinship between them — notice how they’re always together? Sadly, that’s a Lost backstory I fear we’ll never flash back to.
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4. Mr. Mike
Hey, look at this guy. Look at this happy guy. Mr. Mike hears it all, sees it all, and amplifies everything — and even doubles as a karaoke machine! He’s quite literally the life of the party, helping Woody make very important staff announcements and keeping the momentum going with great playlists. Even if his wide eyes and perpetual smile are hiding deep-seated trauma that facial expressions won't betray, Mr. Mike is approachable! Like he’s the kind of guy you could just go grab an alkaline battery with.
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3. Mr. Spell
Few toys are actually necessary for survival. The barrel of monkeys couldn’t help Buzz climb back up to the window. Sarge’s military intel was almost always fabricated or compromised. And binocu-loser Lenny couldn’t see past Sid’s house, let alone his own blind prejudices. But Mr. Spell stands proudly as a member of the old guard of vital educational instruments. He’s a socially conscious toy, holding seminars on crucial topics like plastic corrosion awareness or what to do if you get swallowed. He keeps morale high (see: his Christmas cheer in the final scene). Most importantly, he makes learning cool. If Andy were wiser, he would've decorated his bed with Mr. Spell sheets from the get-go instead of wasting his allowance on a cowboy duvet.
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RC was a toy torn between two worlds — his own sentience and his slavery to the remote control that commanded him. Yet he turbos through, rising from carbon ashes as the silent but critical action hero who provided the greatest cinematic thrill of 1995 with his final-act chase scene to the moving truck. And do not for one second forget that RC was the toy Woody so callously manipulated to try and knock Buzz out the window in the first place. For coming through hardships with grace, poise, and surprisingly long battery life, RC is a maverick, and his gentle, emotive eyes tell a Story far more beautiful and nuanced than Toy. Also, super cute color scheme!
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Several toys in the film have a real-life counterpart, but none are as familiar or generally bad-ass as Etch. He’s the Picasso of Pixar, the Fisher King of the Fisher Price crowd, the fastest knobs in the west and the most necessary toy in Andy’s room. Etch is everything you could want in a life partner: his humor is swift and witty (have you even seen him quick-draw?!). He’s artistic. He’s a great listener (and an even better transcriber). He can read you better than you can read yourself, but he’s not above erasing his opinions and hearing what you have to say. He's even figured out a way to physically move, miraculously. Etch may have once threatened to hang Woody, but overall, he’s a team player and the magnetic lineographic glue that holds the whole damn ensemble together. Without Etch, we’d have no creativity. Without Etch, we’d have no map to Al’s Toy Barn. Without Etch, we would all just draw blanks.