Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy.
Woody is the same pull-string cowboy sheriff that Andy fell in love with years ago. He’s found a new home with Bonnie and her toys, and he’ll do anything to make sure she’s happy and they’re all taken care of. But an unexpected reunion with his dear friend Bo Peep shows Woody that the world is much bigger than he ever imagined.
Bo Peep is a long-lost friend of Woody, Buzz and the gang, who always shared a special connection with Woody while residing with her sheep on a lamp base at Andy’s house. After being separated for years, Bo has become chipped and discarded, but her spirit is far from broken. She has grown into an adventure-seeking free spirit whose strength and sarcasm belie her delicate porcelain exterior. When she and Woody are reunited under unlikely circumstances, Bo realizes just how much she’s missed him, and can’t wait to show him what she’s been up to.
Forky is not a toy! At least that’s what he thinks. An actual spork-turned-craft-project, Forky is pretty sure that he doesn’t belong in Bonnie’s room. Unfortunately, every time he tries to get away, someone yanks him back into an adventure he’d rather skip.
Gabby Gabby is an adorable, talking pull-string doll from the 1950s. But unfortunately for her, a manufacturing defect in her pull-string voice box has left her sounding anything but adorable. She has spent more than 60 years forgotten in the depths of a jam-packed antique store—her only companions are a band of voiceless ventriloquist dummies. Gabby Gabby knows someone will want her if only she can find a working voice box to repair hers.
Buzz Lightyear is loyal not only to his owner, but to the friends he’s made along the way—especially his once-rival Woody who’s like a brother to the ace Space Ranger these days. Buzz would do anything to support his pull-string buddy, but when his efforts land him in a carnival game booth as an inadvertent prize, he turns to his inner voice for guidance.
Ducky and Bunny
Ducky and Bunny are carnival prizes who are eager to be won. But when their plans are rudely interrupted, they find themselves on an unexpected adventure with a group of toys who have no idea what it feels like to be tacked to a prize wall.
Giggle McDimples is a miniature plastic doll from the 1980s Giggle McDimples toy line. As a toy, Officer Giggle McDimples is head of Pet Patrol for Mini-opolis, overseeing search and rescue. But out in the world, Giggle is Bo Peep’s best friend. Small enough to perch on Bo’s shoulder, Giggle is Bo’s confidant, supporter and advisor.
Duke Caboom is a 1970s toy based on Canada’s greatest stuntman. Riding his powerful Caboom stunt-cycle, Duke is always prepared to show off his stunt poses with confidence and swagger. However, Woody learns quickly that Duke has an Achilles heel: He has never been able to do the awesome stunts advertised in his own toy commercial. For years, Duke has been sitting in an antique store, constantly reliving the failures of his tragic past.
Benson is a classic, antique ventriloquist dummy, and Gabby Gabby’s right hand. He leads a small group of ventriloquist dummies that serve as Gabby's henchmen. With no person to give them a voice, these silent toys patrol the antique store with a looming quietness that is inherently unsettling.
Combat Carl teams up with Combat Carl and Combat Carl in “Toy Story 4.” The trio is part of a band of lost toys who, like Bo Peep, seek out opportunities to be played with wherever kids are likely to gather: playgrounds, parks and the occasional outdoor birthday party. The Carls know from experience that parties with piñatas are particularly fun.
A Toy’s World View
Part of the magic of the “Toy Story” movies is getting to view the world from a toy’s perspective. “‘Toy Story’ has a caricatured world where everything is designed from the toy’s point of view,” says director Josh Cooley. “We really wanted to expand the world as much as possible. So, going outside of the tri-county area was huge. And we put the toys in places that they’d never been—places that would have new types of toys that would present new problems.”
While the look of the films is stylized, advancements in technology led to new opportunities. “With each film, our technology gets better and better, and we’re able to make things look more believable, more realistic,” says Cooley. “In this movie, there are shots that are staggeringly realistic. At times we have to pull it back—it’s too real. One thing we learned from the first three films was to keep the lighting to more stage-like so that it feels presentational.”
The Antique Store
According to Production designer Bob Pauley, the antique store is vast and filled with thousands of objects. “We did a lot of research,” he says. “For ‘Ratatouille,’ they went to Paris. For ‘Up,’ they went to Venezuela. But for ‘Toy Story 4,’ we stayed close and visited local antique stores. We discovered a lot of charming, interesting and fun people running them, and many visual similarities from store to store. There’s often a stoplight, a juke box, sometimes a big plastic Santa and of course lots of collectables and real antiques. There are many lights and lamps illuminating all the items throughout the store—lights connected to lots and lots of extension cords and power strips. The front desks are always interesting, small notes, little curiosities, extra tags and refreshingly low tech: they laboriously hand-write receipts and chat about your purchase. There’s also a cat or two that have the run of the place, so we incorporated one to help tell our story.
According to Screenwriter and Executive Producer Andrew Stanton, the idea of a carnival conjured many ideas when it came to new characters. “If you think about it, a carnival has the cheapest, saddest, most disposable toys known to man,” says Stanton.
Cooley adds that the setting itself provided endless opportunities for the toys to explore those areas unseen by humans. “We want the toys to go places we can’t,” says Cooley. “They walk the roofs of the game booths, along the giant power cords on the ground and even into the middle of the carousel. And it just looks beautiful.”
Pauley and other artists went to several carnivals to gather reference. “We wanted to capture the charm of carnivals—the bright candy colors, the lights, the obligatory Ferris wheel, all the rides and game booths,” he says. “We learned how they function, how they are designed and work. Few will notice all the details, but together, they help build a world that just feels right.”