How Pixar Landed The Rights To Feature Brand Names In 'Toy Story'

Toy Story

Photo: Courtesy of Pixar

Why are there Combat Carls instead of G.I. Joes in “Toy Story”? Why doesn’t Barbie make an appearance until the third film? Plenty of toy brands appear In 2010’s “Toy Story 3,” including Barbie and Ken.

However, before the predecessor’s initial release in 1995, there was a time Fisher Price and Mattel didn’t want to be associated with the kid’s flick.  

Pixar Camera Artist, Craig L. Good took to Quora at the end of last week to set the record straight explaining how Pixar landed the rights to feature brand-name toys in its films: 

Some flat turned us down. We couldn’t get G.I. Joe, so had to invent Combat Carl. Mattel in those days didn’t want Barbie in any kind of animated film because they felt it was important for her to be neutral, allowing girls to imprint any personality they wanted. Obviously they later changed their minds. In this case it helped us make the story stronger. Barbie was going to show up driving her Corvette in Sid’s house and tell Woody, “Come with me if you want to live.” Yeah, a Sarah Connor reference. In the process of writing her out John and the story team realised that she would have been deus ex machina and that Woody needed to be in charge. That’s when the whole complicated “wind the frog” sequence was born. 

Good also went on to reveal there was a lawyer dedicated to releasing the rights to use Mr. Potatohead. Thank goodness they didn’t have to revert to Mr. Cucumber

I can remember our producer, Ralph Guggenheim, updating us by saying, “I just got off the phone with Mr. Potatohead’s lawyer.” There really was (probably still is) a lawyer dedicated to Mr. Potatohead licensing. It was touch and go for a while, but we landed him. To the best of my recollection we didn’t pay cash for any clearances, but did offer credit at the end of the film. 

By the time we made the sequels it was much, much easier to convince people it was a good idea to let their toys appear in the movie. In all fairness they had no particular reason to think so when we were making the first one.

SEE ALSO: Pixar’s making a “Finding Nemo” sequel >

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