Everything You Need to Know Before Toy Story 4: Toy Story Recap

by Logan Van Winkle

Over the last 24 years, people of all ages have fallen in love with the Toy Story franchise. From movies to merchandise to its very own area at Disney World, (Check out: 5 Things You Don’t Want To Miss at Toy Story Land). Toy Story has been a huge deal since it started. With Toy Story 4 coming out next month, we thought it would be a good idea to look back on the story of Woody the Cowboy, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of Andy’s toys so far.

Poster for the first Toy Story movie
Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story

The movie that started it all! The first film in the Toy Story franchise is notable for many reasons. It was not only the very first Pixar movie but it was also the very first movie to be computer-animated, ever! It is crazy to think about how far the medium has come since we met Woody and the gang.

In this first instalment of Toy Story, which depicted a story of a young boy named Andy, and his toys who take on life like adventures and defeat any obstacles that they come across along the way. Woody, a cowboy doll is the leader of the group, that is until a new action figure that Andy is given, Buzz Lightyear, threatens Woody’s leadership position.

Buzz is charismatic, has flashy accessories, and comes into the playroom with all the confidence in the world. The difference between Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys? They know they are toys. Buzz Lightyear believes he is an actual, living, breathing space ranger. This causes tension between Woody and Buzz, eventually leading to an altercation between the two toys. This altercation lead to severe tension between the gang, which eventually leads to an argument that results in Buzz falling out of a window.

Tension between Woody and Buzz arises immediately
Tension between Woody and Buzz arises immediately

Immediately after, Andy comes into the room and grabs Woody to take with him to Pizza Planet. Still in the yard, Buzz hops onto the car before the family leaves for the restaurant. At Pizza Planet, Buzz and Woody are stolen by Andy’s neighbor, Sid, and are taken to the toy torture chamber known as Sid’s bedroom. The two must then work together in order to find their way home.

The first film is short, simple, and sweet. In the end, Woody and Buzz overcome their obstacles and become friends. Like many Pixar movies, it deftly mixes humor with an important message, which makes it easily accessible to people of all ages.

Poster for Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 (1999)

Toy Story 2

Little known fact: Toy Story 2 almost didn’t happen. At least, not how we know it. Pixar originally wanted it to be a direct-to-video movie but then decided to go ahead and release it in theaters. The sequel picks up where the last one ended. Woody and Buzz Lightyear are now friends, Andy and his toys have been reunited, and life is good.

That is, until Woody hurts himself. The seam connecting his arm to his body rips, which leaves him at the house while Andy goes to Cowboy Camp. While at home, Andy’s mom has a garage sale that all the toys are afraid of being sold in. A toy penguin named Wheezy is one of the unfortunate ones that ends up being sold. Woody, ripped arm and all, sets out on a plan to save Wheezy. Although he is successful in doing so, Woody is mistaken for an item to be sold and is taken by Al, a toy collector.

Woody is taken to Al’s apartment, where he learns that he was once the star of his very own TV show, Woody’s Round-Up, and is reunited with some of his co-stars – Jessie, a cowgirl, Bullseye, a horse, and Stinky Pete, an old prospector – as Al plans to sell the vintage toys to a museum as a collection. Simultaneously, Andy’s other toys are attempting to save Woody from his new home.

Woody and his new friends, Bullseye and Jessie
Woody and his new friends, Bullseye and Jessie

Toy Story 2 is a wonderful follow-up to the classic original. It is just as funny as the first and even more of an adventure, as we get to leave the space of Andy’s neighborhood. We get to spend more time with our old friends while also meeting new friends in the process.

Poster for Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3

The most recent movie until Toy Story 4. A full fifteen years after the first Toy Story was released, Toy Story 3 came out in 2010! Like the children who watched the first movie when it came out, Andy is now significantly older. Additionally, the technology has advanced so much that it’s like we are seeing these characters again for the first time.

In the third movie, Andy is preparing to head to college. He has his room all packed up and ready to go. He decides to keep the toys that we know and love and hide them away in storage. Unfortunately, his mom mistakes the toys for donations and accidentally takes them to Sunnyside Daycare.

Andy's toys arrive at Sunnyside Daycare
Andy’s toys arrive at Sunnyside Daycare

When the toys arrive at Sunnyside, they meet an old stuffed bear named Lotso, the leader of the daycare. Lotso introduces them to the other toys and gives them a tour of the daycare. The gang is ecstatic! At Sunnyside, they will be played with and won’t have to suffer a fate of being put away to gather dust. After they learn that they will be played with by pre-schoolers, who have not yet learned how to play with toys without putting them in various bodily orifices, their excitement dissipates. They also learn that Lotso is not a cuddly as he seems to be.

Toy Story 3 quickly turns into a prison escape movie but with just as much fun and humor as you would expect from the franchise. Just as the second movie did, Toy Story 3 introduces us to plenty of new characters that we come to love by the end of the movie. It also ends with a bittersweet finale, as Andy gives up his toys to a young girl named Bonnie.

Toy Story 4

Now that we have had nine years to let the tears dry after the end of Toy Story 3, Pixar is taking us on another adventure with Woody and the gang!

Luckily, all of the voice actors from the previous movies are returning to bring life to our favorite characters. Joining the cast, are Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key, among others. Toy Story 4 comes to theaters Friday, June 21!

Make sure to follow along with Sarah as she attends the press junket for Toy Story 4 in Orlando.

We’ve also linked movies 1-3 below in case you need a refresh. 🙂

With the new movie, we’ve got new characters…check out this DIY: How To Make Your Own Toy Story Forky!

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