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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Toy Story / Toy Story 2 - Collector's Edition - The Ultimate Toy Box
(1995 / 1999) | Approx. 81 / 92 Minutes | Both rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value
Advanced Home Theater - Wow!
Toy Story / Toy Story 2 - 2-Pack
(1995 / 1999) | Approx. 81 / 92 Minutes | Both rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value Auto Play Previews
Advanced Home Theater - Wow on a budget!

The Movies...

From the outside, the shiny silver box with the cute pictures of Buzz, Woody and Jessie on the plastic over-sleeve looks very cool and so innocent. There is no indication of the monster that lies within.  

CAUTION: this set will devour your time if you let it - just ask my wife...

In the last week or so, I have already spent well over 12 hours watching and rewatching these disks, and I've only spent a little bit of time on the still galleries! We'll get to that in a bit, but first, a quick rundown on the two movies in this set.

I think everyone is familiar with the plot of "Toy Story" - it primarily focuses on the relationship between Buzz Lightyear (the cool new space action figure in town) and Woody (the classic pull-string, talking cowboy doll). It's really a guy's kind of buddy movie about how these two characters learn get along with each other and ultimately end up relying on each other. The story is simple and fun, the characters and voice cast are great, and the pioneering animation is the icing on the cake.

As for "Toy Story 2", what started out as a direct- to- video release turned into a wonderful, award-winning theatrical feature. This movie took the characters that we knew and loved from the original, blended all of the things Pixar learned during the development of "A Bug's Life," and added some new characters and plot complexities. In the end, Pixar delivered a movie that was much more solid, emotionally engaging and fun than the original - not something that happens often with sequels these days...

The main plot of the sequel is that Woody turns out to be a collector's item, and he gets stolen by a greedy collector. The other toys, including Buzz, witness the heist and go after Woody to rescue him before he is shipped off to Japan with his new friends. The story provides a wide emotional spectrum that the original didn't have, yet it maintains a high level of fun and excitement throughout. Also, the number of "in-jokes" and cultural references makes the movie even more enjoyable.

Both of these movies stand up extremely well on their own, but it's the extra stuff that comes along with them in the box set that will blow you away.

The Goodies...

The ONLY way to remotely cover the massive collection of goodies is to look at each disc by itself. As usual, all of the goodies are listed in the side-bar, and I'll just touch on a few notable ones below.

Disc #1 - Toy Story

Since there is a whole disk of goodies, I wasn't really expecting a lot of extra stuff on this disk. As it turned out, there were a number of bonus items, and between the two movie discs, this one has the most. First of all, you get a very fun commentary by Lasseter and crew. My only problem with it was that there are so many people on the track, it gets a bit tough to follow who is talking at times. There's a lot of great insight into how these creative folks developed this unique film, and you can tell just how much fun they had pushing the technology of storytelling. It is a must listen-to feature.

The second goodie of note is the "Making of Toy Story" featurette. This was one of the many goodies that was transferred from the laser disc box set, and it provides a concise, yet comprehensive, review of all of the efforts that went into creating "Toy Story." It runs over 30 minutes and makes for a very nice starting point for investigating the rest of the goodies in the set. 

Thirdly, there is a collection of "Toy Story Treats," which were the very short "bumper" cartoons for ABC's Saturday morning cartoon shows. Some are very clever and funny but some are just plain clunkers. It's also a bit weird to hear different voices for Buzz and Woody.

Finally, a very cool treat, the entire Buzz Lightyear TV commercial that Buzz watches in the movie! I just love having cool little stuff like this...

Disc #2 - Toy Story 2

As I just mentioned, the movie discs don't have a lot of goodies on them.  This one, though, is pretty scarce - The main extent of the bonus material is a good commentary, the outtakes, and the "Monsters, Inc." sneak preview. It was a little disappointing at how relatively quickly I went through everything on the disc. However, I'll admit that I'm still going through Disc #3!

The commentary on "Toy Story 2" doesn't have as many people (there's only three this time), but Lasseter and gang provide an equally entertaining and informative commentary as the first disc. They answer a lot of the little questions that I had been thinking about since I saw the movie for the first time, and they also continue to demonstrate how passionate they are about their work.

The outtakes are the same ones that Pixar inserted at the end of the movie shortly after it was released theatrically. I never saw them in the theater, so it was a lot of fun watching them for the first time. They are presented in full-frame, and they are absolutely wonderful additions to the set. It's also very nice to have the outtakes on the same disc as the movie, unlike the "Bug's Life" Collector's Edition DVD.

As for the "Monsters, Inc." sneak preview, it is strictly a teaser, and it doesn't really explain much. It is kind of like those "Bug's Life" teasers with the characters climbing the leaf... there's just not much to go on. John Goodman and Billy Crystal voice the two characters in the clip, and they are good fits for the characters. Also, the animation, as expected, looks great, and the animation of the fur on Goodman's character is impressive. It looks like an interesting movie, but don't look for the clip to divulge much of the plot.

Disc #3 - Toy Story / Toy Story 2 Supplemental Material

Wow. There is so much great stuff on this disc! I could spend a ton of time running on about each of these fantastic goodies, so I'll try to restrain myself a bit... ;) 

The material on this disc is divided into "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" sections. Under these two main sections, there are several menu items leading to additional sub-menus which cover history, sound, story, editing, etc. Pixar has nicely organized similar bonus features under a common title, so most of these second level options are common for both movies. For example, under "History" in both movie sections, a viewer can expect to find original story treatments, history featurettes, cast information, etc. It really helps to tame the large volume of material on this disc.

Most of the "Toy Story" material was directly transferred from the special edition laser disc box set from a few years ago, but it has been nicely rearranged and organized. The still-frame galleries are comprehensive, and they have been organized into easy to use "pin- boards" of thumb-nail pictures. This is different from past DVD still-galleries which make the viewer skip through each of the pictures to see all of the items. With the pin-board structure, viewers can select individual thumb- nails to view the full still-picture or skip through all of the pictures, one- by- one.

The "Toy Story 2" material covers the same general areas as in the "Toy Story" section, and it does so with a similar format (i.e. galleries and featurettes).  In some cases, goodies like the "Production Progression Demonstrations" are very comparable to those shown in the "Toy Story" section and feel a little redundant, but they are still fascinating to watch. On the other hand, there are several new additions, like the interactive sound and music mixing demo and "Woody's Roundup" related material, that are wonderful to have.

Here are some of my personal favorite goodies from the disc:

  • Animation Set "Turnaround" Tours - For each of the sets from both movies, a camera spins around in at least one full circle, and all of them have a commentary which tells you what is on the screen and some of the background info. You can also pause the turnaround to take a very close look at the sets
  • "Woody's Roundup" TV Show Featurette - A cool little window into how Pixar made the fantastic puppet animation in the TV show that appears in "Toy Story 2."
  • Animation Render Bugs - These clips let the viewer in on some of the odd problems that can occur when the animation goes wrong: Buzz Lightyear's eyeballs sitting at the bottom of his helmet, arms replacing heads, and so on.
  • Hidden Jokes Gallery - Do you know how many "A Bug's Life" references are in "Toy Story 2"? This is how you can find out! There are also several references to other Pixar shorts that are also described. It's a great little reference to have.
  • "Who's the Coolest Toy?" Featurette - This featurette shows many of the voice cast and production team members answering the question. There's quite a range of answers, and it's interesting to see which toy(s) they pick. The best part is watching Tom Hanks try to cuddle a Buzz Lightyear figure... :)

As I mentioned, all of the material on this disc is top-notch and really gives the viewer a wonderful sense of what these artists are all about.

The Video, Audio and Interface...

As with the DVDs for "A Bug's Life" and "Tarzan," the video transfers for both movies were fully digital, meaning that the original digital animation files were directly used to generate the compressed digital files that are stored on the DVD. This actually meant that Pixar had to go back into their digital archives and reload all of the digital files for "Toy Story" onto their computer system. It involved a lot of work and time, but it was well worth it! As expected, the results on both movies are flawless and detailed pictures throughout. The colors are beautiful, and even on a regular TV, these DVDs look eye- popping.  Talk about demo discs and eye-candy! 

Both movies are enhanced for widescreen TVs, but even on a standard TV, the widescreen image does not require very large black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. If the movie is good enough, I don't even notice the bars, and that was certainly the case for these two movies. However, I'll quickly mention that the 2-pack has a full-frame, recomposited version of "Toy Story 2." This was done the same way that "A Bug's Life" was modified to fit all of the screen action into the full-frame format. Don't bother with it. The screen format differences are not as great as they were with "A Bug's Life," and you'd be wasting your money if this was the only reason you wanted to buy the 2-pack.

Each of the movies is presented in both English and French Dolby Digital 5.1.   Both of them also have Dolby Digital 5.1 sound effects only soundtracks. They are nice to have for certain scenes, but I don't think I could listen to the whole movie like that. All of these soundtracks are absolutely fantastic, and they'll sound great on any system.

I should also mention that both movie discs contain the THX Optimode tests to ensure your home theater is operating in its optimum condition. I quickly ran through it, and you just step through the audio and visual tests and make the proper adjustments to you system. For the video, you will need a blue filter that you can get from THX. It is handy to have, but you will probably rarely use it once your system is set up correctly.

The menu system is simply phenomenal. My jaw dropped when I saw what these folks had done!  What a pleasant change from the "normal" Disney menus - Thank you, Pixar! Just about every menu and submenu on all three discs is animated and has sounds or music. I had fun just going from menu to menu to see what they did. You really have to see them to believe them.

In terms of interface design, the menus on the movie discs are pretty straight forward, and they're easy to navigate. However, the supplements disc has a much deeper menu structure, and it's a bit more difficult to find your way around. Fortunately, for quick reference, Disney has included an insert card with a menu map to help you quickly find the features you are looking for.

The Advanced Home Theater...

Wow, what can I say? The deluxe set takes the original standard- setting laserdisc box set and explodes it into even more stuff about these wonderful movies. Every feature you can think of that DVD does, Pixar has taken advantage of in presenting both movies in the deluxe edition. You can tell the guys at the company are all a bunch of home theater / DVD fans.

The anamorphic video is stunning on both - as Kevin has mentioned above they re-rendered the first movie to newly transfer it to DVD, and the quality difference between the old transfer and this one is very noticeable. The sound quality is also just amazing - your 5.1 system, in particular the subwoofer, will get a real workout. This is demo standard material.

Although the collector is best served with the three disc deluxe edition - if you simply cannot afford it, the less expensive two disc set is also worthwhile - since you get the same quality transfers minus only the extensive supplemental materials. Considering some dealers were offering the two disc set at under twenty dollars the last few weeks - this is a terrific value.

My only nit-pick? [And it is SUCH a minor one... you have to understand I feel the folks at Pixar are just about the only people left on this earth who GET what a Disney movie should be.] It's that the commentary track on the second film, is just a twee bit... well... (don't get mad at me guys) too self- congratulatory. Here's where an outside director / editor may have helped rein it in a bit.

With this set (and the previous Tarzan and Bug's Life special editions) Disney shows they DO know how to do DVD right. Why they can't seem to apply these exemplary standards to their regular releases (in particular the Gold Collection) is a mystery to this consumer, and apparently the world at large.

By the way - just a quick note - I had written a recent review on the horrible Buzz Lightyear traditionally animated "made for video" not too long ago (which you should STILL stay away from) - in it I mentioned how you could get a refund. I wanted to alert folks that the refund did arrive last week, and I am pleased to note it was handled promptly and professionally. Basically with postage and tax, the cost to me for this awful title was what it would have run to rent it, not a bad deal. Kudos to Disney for honoring their guarantee, and kudos again to them for doing Toy Story RIGHT on DVD.

- Al Lutz

The Final Evaluation...

I'll continue my "Collector's Edition" mantra... if you are a fan of these movies, skip the standard edition 2-pack and just buy the "Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box." It is simply the best way to experience these wonderful movies. Not only do you get two great movies, but with the supplements, you gain a greater appreciation for the effort, care, love and passion that the Pixar team has for their work - it's a very personal thing for them, and it comes across beautifully in the set.

However, as I stated at the beginning, take this box set in moderation!   Otherwise, your family will begin to miss you - unless you can get them hooked, like I did! ;)

COLLECTOR'S EDITION 3 DVD SET FEATURES

Goodies

- Disc #1 - Toy Story

  • Academy Award-winning short "Tin Toy"
  • Audio commentary by the filmmakers
  • The Making of "Toy Story" Featurette
  • Multi-language reel
  • Two on-set interviews with Buzz and Woody
  • Saturday morning cartoon "Toy Story Treats"
  • Buzz Lightyear commercial in its entirety

- Disc #2 - Toy Story 2

  • Academy Award-nominated short "Luxo Jr."
  • Audio commentary by the filmmakers
  • Outtakes
  • Monsters, Inc. Sneak Peak
  • "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" home video commercial

- Disc #3 - Supplemental Features

  • Introductions by the filmmakers

Toy Story Material

  • History and Development Featurette
  • Early Animation Test Featurette
  • Original Story Treatment Gallery
  • Production Notes Gallery
  • Voice Cast Gallery
  • Green Army Men Story Board Pitch Featurette
  • Editing Gallery
  • Story Reel Featurette
  • Finale Chase Scene Storyboard to Film Comparison
  • Abandoned Concepts
  • Individual Character Design Material
  • Designing "Toy Story" Featurette
  • Concept Art Gallery
  • Color Script Gallery
  • Color Keys Gallery
  • Gas Station Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Andy's Room Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Pizza Planet Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Sid's Room Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Computer Animation Production Tour Featurette
  • Animation Layout Tricks Featurette
  • Animation Tour Featurette
  • Shaders and Lighting Featurette
  • Building a Shot Featurette
  • Production Progression Demonstration Featurette - with DVD Multi-Angle
  • Special Effects Galleries and Clips
  • Sound Design Featurette
  • Randy Newman's Original Song Demos
  • "Torture Scene" Deleted Animation
  • "Rain Scene" Deleted Animation
  • Animated Render Bugs
  • Movie Trailers and Commercials
  • Ad Campaign Gallery
  • Merchandising Gallery

Toy Story 2 Material

  • "Why a Sequel?" Featurette
  • "The Continuing World of Toy Story" Featurette
  • John Lasseter Profile Featurette
  • Production Notes Gallery
  • Voice Cast Featurette and Gallery
  • Individual Character Design Material
  • Color Script Gallery
  • Lighting Guide Gallery
  • Zurg's Planet Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Andy's House Design Gallery and Turnarounds (Interior & Exterior)
  • Downtown Design Gallery and Turnaround
  • Al's Apartment Design Gallery and Turnarounds (Interior & Exterior)
  • Al's Toy Barn Design Gallery and Turnarounds (Interior, Barbie Aisle, Buzz Aisle, & Al's Office)
  • Airport Design Gallery and Turnarounds (Interior & Exterior)
  • "Woody's Nightmare" Storyboard Pitch Featurette
  • "Jessie's Song" Storyboard to Film Comparison Featurette
  • Computer Animation Production Tour Featurette
  • Opening Sequence Production Progression Demonstration Featurette
  • Special Effects Featurette
  • Music Featurette
  • Sound Design Featurette
  • Sound and Music Mixing Interactive Demo
  • "Woody's Roundup" Music Video
  • "Jessie's Song" Original Demo
  • "Crossing the Road" Deleted Animation Clip
  • "Godzilla Rex" Deleted Animation Clip
  • Trailers and TV Commercials
  • Ad Campaign Gallery
  • Character Autographed Picture Gallery
  • "Who's the Coolest Toy?" Featurette
  • Hidden Jokes Gallery
  • International Scene Clip
  • Woody's Roundup Collectibles Featurette
  • Woody's Roundup Design Gallery
  • Woody's Roundup TV Show Featurette

Technical Specifications

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON ANAMORPHIC RELEASES
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- Region 1 Encoded

- Disc #1 - Toy Story

  • Fully digital transfer to DVD
  • Single-Sided, Dual-Layer
  • 30 Movie chapters
  • Widescreen (1.77:1), anamorphic (enhanced for widescreen TVs)
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 sound effects-only track
  • THX-certified
  • THX Optimode Testing
  • English Subtitles

- Disc #2 - Toy Story 2

  • Fully digital transfer to DVD
  • Single-Sided, Dual-Layer
  • 35 Movie chapters
  • Widescreen (1.77:1), anamorphic (enhanced for widescreen TVs)
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX soundtrack
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX sound effects-only track
  • THX-certified
  • THX Optimode Testing
  • English Subtitles

- Disc #3 - Supplemental Material

  • Single-Sided, Dual-Layer
  • Aspect Ratio Varies
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 - 5.1
TOY STORY/ TOY STORY 2: 2-PACK DVD FEATURES

Goodies

- Disc #1 - Toy Story

  • Academy Award-winning short "Tin Toy"

- Disc #2 - Toy Story 2

  • Academy Award-nominated short "Luxo Jr."
  • Outtakes
  • Monsters, Inc. Sneak Peak

Technical Specifications

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON ANAMORPHIC RELEASES
Click on the logo to learn more

- Disc #1 - Toy Story

  • Fully digital transfer to DVD
  • French & Spanish language tracks
  • Widescreen (1.77:1), anamorphic (enhanced for widescreen TVs)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • THX-certified

- Disc #2 - Toy Story 2

  • Fully digital transfer to DVD
  • Widescreen (1.77:1), anamorphic (enhanced for widescreen TVs)
  • Recomposited Full-frame (1.33:1)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • THX-certified
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