Toy Story Easter Eggs In The Lightyear Trailer Only Fans Will Notice
Pixar is the undisputed king when it comes to animated feature films, pumping out numerous classics since the 1990s. Though several of these productions have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim and recognition, the studio’s crown jewel remains the “Toy Story” franchise. Since its start in 1995, the series centering on a lovable crew of living toys has earned itself a special place in pop culture, alongside three sequels, a handful of shorts, video games, merchandise, and more. 2019’s “Toy Story 4” served as the formal end of the saga, but Pixar isn’t completely done with it just yet.
June 17, 2022, will mark the debut of “Lightyear”: a “Toy Story” spin-off focused on the fictional character that provided the basis for the Buzz Lightyear toy (voiced by Chris Evans). If nothing else, it’s a unique way to keep the property alive without doing another direct continuation — a concept that some fans were initially skeptical of. However, it’s fair to say that the first trailer for the project, which dropped on October 27, 2021, has changed the minds of many. It didn’t reveal too much about the story, but it gave us a welcomed look into human Buzz’s world and the kind of intergalactic adventure we’ll follow him on.
Additionally, the “Lightyear” teaser gave a few nods to the “Toy Story” movies as well as the plastic Buzz Lightyear’s (Tim Allen) backstory that only die-hard fans would recognize.
The power of crystallic fusion
Unlike any “Toy Story” movie before it, the first “Lightyear” trailer opens seriously and dramatically. A stoic Buzz suits up for his next mission, donning a space suit that doesn’t quite resemble his iconic white, green, and purple one that pops up later in the teaser. He then makes his way onto a landing platform where various personnel make preparations for his big launch. That includes fueling up his futuristic spacecraft, which we see in detail, though the power source doesn’t resemble anything that we have here on Earth.
That’s because the ship gets its power from something known as crystallic fusion. Buzz first name-dropped this vague scientific process in the first “Toy Story” — asking Woody (Tom Hanks) if they’ve discovered it on Earth yet. That’s not its only mention, though, with it also playing a role on the beloved Disney Parks attraction Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The dastardly Emperor Zurg stole batteries identified as crystallic fusion cells to power his secret weapon, leaving it up to parkgoers to put an end to his evil schemes and save the universe.
That curious little lamp
Shortly after Buzz takes flight at the beginning of the trailer, his ship successfully makes it into space. Now among the stars, his craft flies further and further away from Earth with a radiant blue beam behind it. In the same shot, there’s a peculiar formation of stars off to the right of the screen, but it doesn’t form a constellation that we can make out in our night sky. Rather, it’s an outline of the Pixar mascot, Luxo Jr., not-so-subtly added in just for fun.
Luxo’s rise to prominence began way back in 1986 in the aptly-titled short, “Luxo Jr.” It’s not the most remarkable film ever made — depicting two lamps hopping around a desk — but one cannot overstate its impact on the animation world. The two-minute project took approximately four and a half months to complete, with John Lasseter and Ed Catmull working tirelessly on it. Thankfully, their hard work paid off, and “Luxo Jr.” won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film — earning the titular lamp a special place in Pixar’s history.
Property of Star Command
As opposed to running around in his state-of-the-art space armor all day, Buzz is shown a few times in the “Lightyear” teaser wearing his simple civilian garb — full head of hair and all. These outfits range from full-body jumpsuits to simple t-shirts and pants, essentially just comfortable stuff to put on between missions. Although they’re rather unremarkable, there’s one notable detail that was just begging for “Toy Story” fans to take notice of it: “Property of Star Command” is written across one of his shirts.
Star Command is an integral piece of “Toy Story” Buzz Lightyear’s personality seeing as he often attempted to contact its members (and failed to do so since his wrist communicator is just a sticker) or simply remind everyone where his loyalties lie. Famously, Buzz and Star Command took center stage in the direct-to-video movie “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins” and the four-season cartoon that followed: “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.” Week in and week out, the famed space ranger and his companions kept the galaxy safe from the forces of evil.
The minions of Zurg?
Buzz stars in the prologue of “Toy Story 2,” or, at least, a video game version of him does. As Rex and the toy Buzz watch the screen, the game kicks off in Sector 4 of the Gamma Quadrant. The digital Buzz arrives on a strange, desolate planet, noting in his mission log that it’s supposedly Zurg’s base of operations. Naturally, he doesn’t have much time to explore before legions of shiny, gun-toting robots surround him. Using his quick thinking and trusty wrist laser, he handily defeats the Zurg Bots — something that this version of Buzz may have to attempt himself.
For a brief moment in the “Lightyear” trailer, we get a quick clip of Star Command’s finest walking toward an unknown spacecraft. On either side of him are lines of humanoid robots colored yellow and gray with no face or head, aside from a single red dot emanating from their visors. Could these be the inspiration for the Zurg Bots from “Toy Story 2”? In that same vein, does that mean that some version of Zurg will factor into the upcoming spin-off? We’ll just have to wait and see.
A marketable spaceship
The “Lightyear” trailer hit all of the beats “Toy Story” fans could have hoped for. We saw the man himself, a bit of his life as a member of Star Command, tense space travel, his legendary (and incredibly toyetic) costume, and almost his famous catchphrase. At the same time, it also hit us with some unexpected curiosities, including glimpses at the supporting human cast, aliens, and a couple of sleek spacecraft. One of them, as pictured above, may even strike you as rather familiar. Here’s why.
Every toy needs box to both keep it safe during distribution and stand out on a store shelf, urging kids to buy them. What better way to advertise an action figure of Buzz Lightyear than by making the box it comes in resemble his awe-inspiring jet? That’s right, if you go back and watch the previous “Toy Story” movies, you’ll find that the packaging Buzz comes in looks incredibly similar to this specific ship, right down to the red stripes down each wing, and the blue accents across the body. Talk about smart marketing.
“Lightyear” is a bold new direction for the “Toy Story” IP to take, but it’s great that it’s not leaving its source material behind. Surely these Easter eggs are only the tip of the iceberg compared to what the whole film has to offer.