Toy Story

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Details At A Glance

Category Family Featurette - Tin Toy
Featurette - The Story Behind Toy Story
Year Released 1995
Running Time
77:20 minutes
(not 80 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 4 Director John Lasseter
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Hanks
Tim Allen 
Don Rickles
Wallace Shawn
John Ratzenberger
Annie Potts
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music Randy Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Arabic (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    And so we finally get to the feature film that changed the way animated films will be made forever more, and the film that pushed merchandising of a film to new heights. What can be said about Toy Story, that you probably don't already know? The first fully digitally animated feature film ever made and the culmination of a lot of work including the development of almost a whole new bunch of computer software to do the job necessary to make the animation as lifelike as possible. Whilst it would be false to say that Toy Story is solely responsible for the eventual making of A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, there is no doubt that had Toy Story not proven so successful the concept of a fully digitally animated feature film would certainly have been delayed. Just as a succession of animated shorts proved the technology, so Toy Story proved the audience acceptance of this new form of film making. Unusually though, Toy Story is one of those rare films that was outshone by their sequel, at least judging by the votes on the Internet Movie Database that currently have the film ranked at number 141 in the Top 250 films of all time. Naturally enough, after the DVD triumph of A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, the expectations coming in to review this effort were pretty high.

   For those one or two people who have escaped the attraction of this film, the story is quite a simple little yarn. Andy's room is populated with a whole raft of toys, like any young child, with the undisputed number one toy in the collection being Woody (Tom Hanks). Woody is smart, handsome and a winner with the ladies - well at least Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Everything is fine in the world of Andy's toys until his birthday party. Like every year, and every Christmas, this event brings panic to the toys as they fear that they will soon be destined for the garage sale as they are replaced with a bigger and better toy. This year will be a little different though, as a surprise present emerges and is promptly placed on the bed in said room. Big deal you say? It is, as this is the place for the favourite toy and it would appear that Woody is now out of favour. Not taking too kindly to this, Woody is determined to make the newcomer pay and petty jealousy overflows as the new toy is introduced into the fold - Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), bells, whistles, laser, wings and everything. This is one really cool toy. What follows is the adventures of the toys as Woody lets his jealousy get the better of him, and Buzz ends up taking a trip for which Woody is entirely blamed for by the rest of the toys. Woody has to make amends but to do so he has to swallow his pride, whilst Buzz has to come to the realization that he really is not Buzz Lightyear of Space Command and that he is a mere toy. Still, you are what you believe you are.

    A nice little story, although perhaps not quite as good as it used to be thanks to the quality of the aforementioned sequel. But, the quality of the film is still there for all to see and once again we can all marvel at what was achieved with this film. With some truly wonderful vocal characterizations, there is little to be quibbled about as far as this film is concerned. The painstaking care that went into its gestation is seen in every frame of the film. It won a Special Achievement Award at the 1995 Oscars, as a recognition of the stunning work done to virtually define an entire new genre of film.

    Another essential purchase for the collection and as fine a piece of family entertainment as you can get - outside of A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2.

Transfer Quality


    There are just a few minor quibbles with the transfer here that I was not expecting at all. Whilst the overall transfer is still very good, these minor quibbles do detract from the overall quality of the transfer. Perhaps it is the result of expecting too much, but I have to say that this is not as good as either A Bug's Life or Toy Story 2.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    There are no minor quibbles as far as the basic transfer is concerned. Just like its successor, this a reference quality transfer as far as sharpness and detail is concerned. This is one area where the use of a totally digital presentation excels - the more you watch the film, the more subtle detail seems to emerge from the transfer. The reflections inside Buzz's helmet for instance are so subtle yet so precise that they still are amazing after repeated viewings. A stunningly clear transfer that is matched by the other two features from the same source, there is nothing hidden at all by this transfer. The quality of the animation as far as the subtleties of shadows are stunning. There is nothing approaching grain or noise in this sucker at all.

    Once again the colours are extremely well handled throughout the transfer, and even though this does not quite approach Toy Story 2 as far as ultimate subtlety is concerned, this is genuinely superb throughout. The vibrancy in the colours is amazing, despite the pastelly nature of the colours as opposed to a glossy look. You can forget about oversaturation or colour bleed here. Another utterly superb demonstration of how animation can redefine terms like vibrancy and subtlety.

    Being entirely in the digital realm, you can forget MPEG artefacts in the transfers - well, at least I thought you could. But at 32:13 is that an MPEG artefact I spy in that downward pan shot? It may well be, but believe me it is a very, very minor one if it is. Since this transfer is all in the digital realm, there are no film-to-video artefacts in the transfer - well, again not quite true. There is some quite definite aliasing going on in this transfer, such as in the petrol station sign at 28:27 and in the truck grill at 63:44. Again, very minor stuff indeed but it is there. There is also the vaguest hint of some moiré artefacting at 29:06 in the car seat. About the only thing that does not raise any issue here is film artefacts, for the simple reason that this is not sourced from film but rather bits on a computer disk. And just to make sure you understand, the indicated issues are there but really are very minor ones indeed. It is just that the bar has been set very high by A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2 and Toy Story just falls short of clearing the bar.

    I did not notice any layer change at all. In the absence of finding it, I am presuming that the formatting of this DVD is Dual Layer.

    Just to ensure that there is something to lambaste Buena Vista over, the recurring problem of packaging errors returns with a vengeance here. Aside from failing to mention one of the extras on the DVD, the packaging refers to soundtracks in Norwegian, Danish, Greek and Hebrew. They are not present on the DVD. What are present are a French and an Arabic soundtrack not mentioned on the packaging. And just to keep the goofs rolling along, the subtitle options listed include Danish, Greek, English and Norwegian efforts that are not present on the DVD. Again, a French option is available that is not mentioned. It completely staggers me how simple errors like these are not picked up in quality control. Just in case you are wondering, the mention of an extra is not incorrect!

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Whilst there may be minor quibbles about the video transfer, there are none with the audio side of things. Superb.

    There are three soundtracks on offer on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and, of all things, an Arabic Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack: the logic for the latter on a purely Region 4 coded DVD really does escape me. I stuck to the English soundtrack for this review, although the temptation to go with Norwegian was huge until it proved impossible to find on the DVD (see above). I might suggest that you give the Arabic effort a go - it provides a whole new experience for this film.

    This is a brilliantly clear presentation of dialogue and a wonderful display of audio sync. It just continues to highlight how much better digital animation can be in terms of matching the animation to the vocal work.

    The original music for the film comes from Randy Newman, and a very good, complementary score it is too. Some nice original songs add to a score that does its job very well indeed.

    Just like Toy Story 2, we have the mildly unusually situation for a Disney family film of a full unrestrained bass channel. Buena Vista are quite renowned for restraining the full dynamics of the bass channel in their films so as not to upset the little ones. No such deal here and we get some great bass support when it is required in this soundtrack. Surround channel use is again very fine, and this soundtrack also takes every opportunity to demonstrate how good Dolby Digital can be. The front to rear sound effects are terrific and the whole soundtrack is virtually flawless. The only issue seems to be a very, very brief nanosecond of silence in the soundtrack at 63:10 which just sounds a little unnatural. I am guessing that a very, very brief drop-out in the soundtrack is the culprit. Another fine effort overall though.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Another mildly disappointing effort from Buena Vista here, again indicating stuff being held back for the triple DVD Ultimate Pack, that will also include Toy Story 2, which of course makes the absence of one extra off the packaging listing even more lamentable.


    Whilst they are all 16x9 enhanced, that is the only enhancement they get and once again this really did cry out for at least some animation in the menus. The navigation between menus seems once again to be a little clunky too, and I really would have expected a little more seamlessness here.

Featurette - Tin Toy (4:57)

    Precisely how do you miss mentioning this little effort on the packaging? After all, it is an Academy Award winner (1989 Best Animated Short). Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this really is quite a delightful little gem even though the animation of the baby leaves a little to be desired.

Featurette - The Story Behind Toy Story (27:16)

    Presented in Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is a mildly interesting short effort on how the film was put together, including some admittedly fascinating stuff on how they created the animation. The fact that it is about two hours too short, as I am certain that the entire process of the making of this film would be a delight to see, should not detract from what we are offered.

R4 vs R1

    Toy Story is released in Region 1 as part of a two disc set, with Toy Story 2. It is also released as part of a triple DVD Ultimate Pack that is loaded to the gunwales with extras. However, the most appropriate comparison is with the two DVD set version. As near as I can work out, from the rather contradictory information I have found across a number of sites, the Region 4 release misses out on:     The Region 1 release misses out on:     Unless you are already in possession of an EX capable system, I cannot see any great reason to prefer one version over another. Certainly the reviews of the Region 1 release indicate a similar high standard of presentation of the video and audio. However, just be aware that we are getting the three DVD Ultimate Pack, which will contain both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 as well as a whole bunch of extras. It will however have a hefty purchase price that may prove difficult for some.


    Toy Story is a very good film on a very, very good DVD, with a mildly disappointing extras package (at least in quantity). A more extensive extras package, including an audio commentary, would probably have seen this one elevated close to the Hall Of Fame as an honourable mention. As it is, if you cannot wait for or cannot afford the delayed triple DVD set, this is another essential purchase for Christmas. Technically however, this is not quite in the league of its successor, although still very, very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
2nd December 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL