When it comes to Disney•Pixar’s TOY STORY franchise, one of the smartest things they’ve done is keep the adventures fresh with spin-off TOY STORY TOONS and TV Specials. These stand-alone adventures have been perfect for introducing new characters and keeping Buzz, Woody and all of their friends current in the minds of what is now a couple generations – two decades past the 1995 debut of the first TOY STORY feature film. While they’ve all been big hits here, none has hit the mark more than TOY STORY THAT TIME FORGOT – a 22-minute short film that premiered on ABC ahead of Christmas 2014. Released now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere, TOY STORY THAT TIME FORGOT is a featured pick in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine as a perfect stocking stuffer for TOY STORY-loving kids and grownups alike… especially ones that grew up in the 1980s (like me) and are raising kids right now.
Set just a couple of days after Christmas (following the continuity of TOY STORY 3), we find the toys accompanying Bonnie on a playdate to a friend’s house. Blue-dino Trixie, who’d recently complained that Bonnie “never plays with her like a Dinosaur” is completely thrilled to find that Bonnie’s friend Mason had received the entire collection of BATTLESAURS for Christmas – heroic, armored, battling Dinos inspired by 1980s staples like HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and DINO-RIDERS (both of which are Mattel properties that might be headed for the big screen very soon). As Buzz Lightyear points out, Mason’s parents are “good,” hooking him up with the complete line of action figures (including army-building extras), the Battle Arena and the Battlesaurs multiple fortress playsets. Problem is, like many kids in the real world right now, Mason just plopped himself down in front of the TV to play video games… and Bonnie got sucked right into that. Aside from being unboxed and set-up, the Battlesaurs had been sitting in Mason’s house completely unplayed-with, and as such – had no idea that they were actually toys. Kids absolutely NEED to play, and this film is a reminder of that. As Trixie is well-aware of, with the power of a child’s imagination, a Dinosaur (or any toy) can be anything… and the possibilities for adventure are endless. Here we find the Battlesaurs living in Battleopolis, with only The Cleric (a very STAR WARS Emperor sort of fellow) knowing the truth as the Battlesaurs attempt to do what they do – BATTLE! – our familiar TOY STORY heroes.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in just 22 minutes, but that time is well-used in the great storytelling tradition of Disney•Pixar. There’s action, adventure, peril, fun, romance, and even a dose of social commentary that all gets wrapped-up nicely. And for those wondering just how much work goes into crafting a film like this, the makers spent over a year on character development alone – allowing every element of the design behind the Battlesaurs being attached to a real-world sense of reasoning as if there really had been a television show and toy line based around Reptillus and his crew. As a pretty cool bonus feature, a 2D animated BATTLESAURS intro was created just for the home release, presenting a true “What If?” for this fictional pop culture behemoth.
Bonus: Mattel actually produced a small assortment of toys based on the toys of the TOY STORY THAT TIME FORGOT. Originally issued just in-time for the 2014 airing of the show, they didn’t get massive retail placement, sans a half-pallet display here and there. You can still find them at reasonable (and in some cases, clearance) prices, and I highly recommend them. We have several here at Rock Father HQ, and they’re very loved and much played with members of our action figure community.