Pixar showcased their latest effort at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 with their new addition to the Toy Story franchise. Following in the success of their Halloween short “Toy Story of Terror” this holiday special follows Woody, Buzz, Trixie, and Rex on a post-Christmas playdate with Bonnie to her friend Mason”s house in “Toy Story That Time Forgot.”
The panel was moderated by film score composer Michael Giacchino who has been tapped to put music to ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot.” He was joined on stage by producer Galyn Susman, director Steve Purcell, voice actress Kristen Schall, and head of story Derek Thompson to give audiences their first look and deep dive into the lore behind this short.
When Bonnie”s friend Mason gets the latest interactive video game system for Christmas, all of his other toys fall to the wayside…including a complete set of Battlesaurs that were also part of his Christmas haul. As yet unplayed with, these armored dinosaurs have no idea they are toys…instead convinced they are a hierarchal society inhabiting a hostile planet. Think ‘Masters of the Universe” mixed with ‘Thundercats” and ‘Dinobots.” The half hour special stars triceratops Trixie and her quest to finally get to be a dinosaur. While Trixie (Kristen Schall) is falling for charismatic leader Reptillus Maximus (Kevin McKidd) and Rex is finally getting the opposable thumbs he deserves, the rest of the team is sent to the Arena of Woe to await death is glorious gladiatorial battle at the hands of the Skeksis inspired Cleric.
The team spent over two years in story development to create a believably campy children's cartoon show and then spin that into the final product. According to Steve Purcell, ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot” was originally pitched as a six minute short but everyone was so in love with the concept that it seemed a better fit for a 30 minute special.
“To create the new characters was just a joy because I could make them as strange as I wanted to. That was really satisfying for me. And to play a character was really super exciting.” Purcell started out playing the voice of the Cleric in the scratch reels and did such a great job they decided no one else could embody the character so well.
Derek Thompson enjoyed working with the structure of working around commercial breaks. It”s a three-act structure with cliffhangers and getting that rhythm of the last line before the cut was good challenge. “There”s something about that short form and the frequency that lent a discipline to it [that can get lost in the lengthy gestation of feature film making]. It was refreshing.”
During the panel, many of the new Battlesaurs were introduced along with the Christmas ornament Angel Kitty (Joan Cussack) which showcased exactly how much detail went into creating this world.
• The Cleric is the top of the Battlesaur hierarchy. His job is to listen for the distant dream elders and their robotic cries of ‘TIME TO BATTLE”. With his three acolytes he controls many aspects of his society.
• Ray-Gon is the Battlesaur scientist. He has two brains and armors the Battlesaurs by using his robotic opposable thumbs.
• Two groups of warriors. Elysian guards are the sleek females guards who use a kendo fighting styles. Raptorian guards are the ‘stormtrooper” of Battlesaurs…they all looks exactly alike and have Dimetrodon hounds they hunt and fight with.
• Brutes…the least intelligent. Brute force and menial labor.
To go with this new group of toys – complete with a terrible 80s hair metal-esque theme song – Pixar is partnering with Mattel to bring a line of toys to store shelves this holiday season. Battle gear Trixie and Rex, Reptillus Maximus, the Cleric, a Goliathon, and Woody with battle crayon will be 4-inch action figures.
“Toy Story That Time Forgot” debuts December 2nd on ABC.