Adding new faces to an existing and beloved ensemble is always a tricky proposition, and it’s not one that the producers took lightly. According to director Josh Cooley, the team specifically looked for toys of a different era than the ones already in the franchise – and ensured that their presence would contribute to the storyline, rather than being a gimmick.
“With the new toys in this film, we looked at the toys that we grew up with, the ones that we played with. If you look at the original Toy Story, some of those are the more classic toys, like Slinky and Potatohead and stuff. So we went more to the ’70s and ’80s,” Cooley explained at the recent Toy Story 4 press junket. “And then just tried to figure out characters that weren’t just there on the screen just to be characters, but actually helped the story move along and supported Woody as much as possible, but were also entertaining as well … It’s really hard to do; people love Toy Story already, and then to try and introduce new characters into this, you hope you like these characters that as much.”
Producer Jonas Rivera agreed, “You don’t do it just for the fun of it: For example, the story would not work without Gabby Gabby. She is an echo of Woody. And we needed her to be this legit and real and truthful human character. The same thing for Duke Caboom and Giggle and everybody new… this movie wouldn’t work without them. That’s kind of our metric.”
If you’re having trouble keeping track of all these characters and need a refresher before you watch Toy Story 4, fear not. Read on for a breakdown of every major toy character in all four Toy Story movies, from stalwart heroes like Woody and Buzz to oddballs like Stinky Pete and Toy Story 4’s Forky. And for more on the new film, check out whether Toy Story 4 has a post-credits scene and every upcoming Disney/Pixar animated movie.
Woody is the main hero of the Toy Story saga. He’s utterly devoted to his owner Andy, which has caused some problems as Andy has grown up and put away childish things. Where does that leave his old pardner? Luckily, Woody and his friends have found a happy new home with Bonnie.
No Toy Story movie would be complete without Buzz acting as the peanut butter to Woody’s chocolate. These two didn’t get along so well in the beginning, what with Buzz hogging all of Andy’s attention. But over the years, they’ve become the closest of friends and the go-to leaders whenever problems crop up. Buzz sometimes has trouble distinguishing between the reality of toy life and the fictional Buzz Lightyear mythology that’s been imprinted in his plastic brain.
Though she originally belonged to his sister, Bo Peep eventually found her way into Andy’s toy collection. As the frequent damsel-in-distress in Andy’s various play sessions, it was probably inevitable that she and Woody would eventually fall in love. Unfortunately, she was sold off at some point in between the events of Toy Story 2 and 3, leaving Woody alone and depressed. Fortunately, the two characters will be reunited in Toy Story 4, as Bo Peep plays her biggest role yet.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head
The Potato Heads are among the only Toy Story characters to be based on actual real-life toys. Mr. Potato Head tends to be the most surly member of the group, with an implied backstory that he used to be Andy’s favorite toy until Woody came along. Fortunately, he’s mellowed out a bit since Mrs. Potato Head joined the group and he finally found a lasting companion.
Based on the classic Slinky toy, Slinky Dog is a battered favorite in Andy’s collection and also Woody’s most faithful friend. He’s always down for a game of checkers and is always happy to harness his stretchy abilities in dangerous situations. Unfortunately, the character has taken on a reduced role in the franchise following the death of original voice actor Jim Varney.
As a piggy bank, Hamm may not be as interactive as some of the toys in Andy’s collection, but he certainly finds ways to make himself useful. Hamm is by far the most worldly and experienced of the group, and he’s inevitably called upon to lend his expertise when the toys find themselves in another jam. Recurring Pixar player John Ratzenberger voices Hamm.
Appearances can be deceiving, as Rex constantly proves. Though he’s one of the largest toys in Andy’s collection and modeled after one of the most fearsome predators to walk the planet, Rex is actually very timid and easily frightened. He also suffers from self-confidence issues, forever worrying that he’ll be replaced with a scarier dinosaur toy.
Sarge and the Army Men
What toy collection would be complete without at least a few green, plastic army men? Sarge and his soldiers are very disciplined and serious. They’re always happy to carry out dangerous missions, such as doing Christmas recon to find out what new toys are joining the group.
The Squeeze Toy Aliens
These diminutive aliens are easily among the most eccentric toys in the Toy Story universe, but that’s what happens when you spend most of your shelf life cooped up inside an arcade claw machine. These aliens have come to worship the claw as their god, one who picks and chooses individuals to ascend based on its own, unknowable whims – but they’ve also become the surrogate children of Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead.
RC is, appropriately enough, a remote-controlled car. Though he can’t speak apart from making engine-revving noises, most of the toys seem perfectly capable of understanding him. RC was instrumental in reuniting Woody with his friends at the end of the original Toy Story. Sadly, he was also among the toys sold off before the events of Toy Story 3.
Jessie is one of several major toys introduced in Toy Story 2. As Woody learns, he was originally part of an entire set of cowboy figures called Woody’s Roundup. Jessie was originally very reluctant to join Andy’s collection, having had her heart broken when she was abandoned by her original owner years before. Fortunately, she warmed up to her new family and has now even developed a romance with Buzz.
Bullseye is the faithful steed Woody never knew he had — another member of Woody’s Roundup. More a lovable, dimwitted dog than a true horse, Bullseye has remained steadfastly loyal to Woody ever since they met in Toy Story 2.
Wheezy used to be one of Andy’s favorite toys until his squeaker broke. That relegated him to a lonely existence on the shelf, forever waiting for Andy’s mom to finally repair him. Wheezy also served as the catalyst for the plot in Toy Story 2, with Woody being snatched away after trying to rescue Wheezy from a yard sale.
Stinky Pete is a cautionary tale about what happens to good toys when they’re kept in the box and never played with. Though he seemed like a benevolent grandfather figure at first, this prospector proved himself to be a villain when he tried to keep Woody from returning home to Andy in Toy Story 2. He was given a fitting comeuppance in the end, forced to find a new home with a young girl who doesn’t care one bit about keeping her toys in mint condition.
Evil Emperor Zurg
Zurg is Buzz Lightyear’s sworn enemy and the would-be conqueror of the entire universe. Like Buzz himself, Zurg doesn’t initially realize that he’s a toy. But after a good konk on the noggin, Zurg has mellowed out and found a home among Andy’s other toys.
Barbie & Ken
Toy Story 2 introduced another iconic Mattel toy to the franchise in the form of the superhumanly cheerful Barbie. Barbie took on a bigger role in Toy Story 3, as she was among the toys doomed to a hard life at Sunnyside Daycare. There she met Ken, the man of her dreams and the only toy who dresses more flamboyantly than she does. Ken finds himself torn between his love for Barbie and his loyalty to Lotso, but he eventually throws his lot in with his new family. He and Barbie then become the new leaders of the toy community at Sunnyside.
Short for Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, Lotso is the seemingly benevolent leader of the toys at Sunnyside. But like Stinky Pete, a lifetime of neglect and abuse has turned Lotso bitter and cold. Having seen firsthand how easily one toy can be replaced by a copy, he believes all toys belong in the dump.
Mr. Pricklepants is one of Bonnie’s favorite toys. A high-end stuffed hedgehog manufactured in Germany, Mr. Pricklepants considers himself a thespian and takes his job as a toy extremely seriously.
Trixie is another of Bonnie’s go-to toys, and definitely the most Internet-savvy member of the Toy Story crew. She quickly becomes best friends with Rex, giving the poor Tyrannosaur a much-needed confidence boost.
Dolly is the leader of Bonnie’s group of toys in Toy Story 3. She’s instrumental in helping Woody get back to his friends and rescuing them from certain doom at the hands of rambunctious toddlers.
Big Baby is one of Lotso’s chief enforcers, having been manipulated by Lotso into believing his old owner no longer loves them. Big Baby’s battered body and lazy eye are a testament to the years of abuse suffered at the hands of Sunnyside’s children. Luckily, Big Baby is shown the truth about Lotso and rises up against his master.
Stretch is another member of Lotso’s crew, and a friend who quickly morphs into a foe when Lotso’s true nature is revealed. However, she’s also the first to turn on Lotso when it becomes clear just how dark and twisted he’s become.
Forky looks to be the most significant new character introduced in Toy Story 4. Basically a spork with some decorations attached, Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) doesn’t even believe himself to be a toy in the first place. But because Bonnie made Forky herself, she treasures him above all her possessions. That causes a problem when Forky escapes, forcing Woody to hit the road and convince him to return home.
Ducky & Bunny
Two more new faces introduced in Toy Story 4, Ducky and Bunny (voiced by Key & Peele) are two sarcastic, wisecracking stuffed animals who live in a carnival booth. The second teaser trailer for the movie shows the two making fun of Buzz and Woody’s catchphrases, suggesting they may be a little more self-aware than the rest of the Toy Story cast.
This doll’s cute exterior belies a darker nature. Based on this trailer, Gabby Gabby (voiced by Christina Hendricks) looks to be the Lotso-esque villain of Toy Story 4, running a local gift shop with an iron fist.
The Ventriloquist Dummies
Gabby Gabby appears to have an army of creepy ventriloquist dummies that act as her enforcers. It remains to be seen how much personality and individuality these creepy dolls have.
This muscular action figure (voiced by Keanu Reeves) is another new addition to the Toy Story 4 cast. Duke Kaboom appears to be a parody of the old-school G.I. Joe and Action Man figures, and his dated mustache definitely places him in a bygone era.
Woody will meet the tiny, adorable Giggle McDimples (voiced by Ally Maki) during his disastrous road trip in Toy Story 4. From what we can tell, this tiny toy lives at the carnival alongside other new characters like Ducky and Bunny.
Bo Peep’s Group
The newest Toy Story 4 trailer offers a glimpse of numerous other new characters who inhabit some kind of secret toy club. We don’t yet know their names or whether any of these new additions will have a big part to play in the sequel, but you’ll soon find out!
Who are your favorite Toy Story toys? Discuss in the comments! Toy Story 4 is in theaters now.
With reporting by Laura Prudom.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.