Monday, February 29, 2016

Memories: My Pixar Childhood (Part 1)

Just recently, I was going through some of my old drawers and memory boxes filled with pieces of my childhood (and there's a lot of it- I feel like I took care of and saved just about everything). I'm a very nostalgic person, so I love looking back at all the old stuff that I saved from time to time! It transports me back to simpler days.

Since I started this blog, I've often talked about how my love for all things Pixar dates back all the way to the mid 90s when I was just a little kid. I've mentioned my obsession with Toy Story, trying to recreate Andy's cardboard town buildings, attempting to draw the characters, getting the toys, I thought it would be fun to actually show you some of what I've described! When I was going through my stuff, I realized how much of it was Pixar related- so I figured, why not? Not only will this be good documentation on my end, but hopefully you'll also enjoy this entertaining peek into my childhood as well.

Time to go back in time to 1995-1999!

As seen above and below, here are four drawings I did featuring Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Bo Peep and Mr. Potato Head. I had been looking for these so I was thrilled to find them all! There they were, still in their sheet protectors (I always did that). These are from either late 1995 or early 1996 (ish).

These things crack me up. You can see why I never went into animation or art in general. I gotta say though, Woody's pull string detail is pretty top notch! ;) And yes, I spelled Buzz "Buss."

I loved making books when I was little. I wrote stories, made illustrations and stapled them together almost daily. Here's one that I forgot about- "A Disney's Toy Story Poster Book." Brilliant! 

This was made during a time (I couldn't have been older than five) when I would label all the items/characters on the page with their first letter. For example, see the "S" above the little people on the cover below? Those are the Soldiers.

Lets open the book up. What do you know, here's another Buzz! Possibly an improvement over the last one?

Here's Andy on his birthday. For some reason he's wearing a pink onesie? And I guess I thought that Andy started with an "E"...and that ceiling started with an "S". Oh least I got the presents (Pr), windows (W) and floor (FL) right!

Here's the last page- the grand finale! I see Mr. Potato Head (P), Hamm (H), Slinky (S), Etch (E) and "Radio" (R)...Yes, got them all right this time! And lots of suns? And rain (or snow)? I also spot a plethora of birds (the "M"s in the sky) and clouds. Man, this scene is spot on. I probably couldn't do much better today.

And here we have my last remaining Andy's room town building...the one with the Mr. Potato Head "WANTED" poster! I guess the rest of them (the Saloon, Bank and General Store) got thrown out somehow at some point. I remember sitting there by the TV with the VHS paused trying to replicate this (and all the buildings) perfectly.

It's not perfect that's for sure. Like, not even close to the one in the movie. But I was proud of it at the time! It's definitely classic to me.

 Here's where my mom started helping me. You can see a vast improvement with the cows.

Well that's it for now. If you're having fun with this, be sure to check back tomorrow for more! I'll be taking a look at my original Buzz Lightyear toy (who barely survived) and some Pixar related photos of little me. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Events: Pixar at the Oscars 2016

Image courtesy of Disney·Pixar

Well, they did it. At the 88th Academy Awards tonight, Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera took the stage to accept the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Inside Out! A HUGE congratulations to them and the entire team at Pixar- I had no doubt they would win!

Check out some of the pics below- boy do they look happy! Very classy acceptance speeches as well. And you gotta love the Pixar Studio Store exclusive Bing Bong flower pin that Pete is wearing! Fantastic touch.

Note-  Inside Out was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to the film Spotlight. How cool though that it was nominated? I was rooting for it! 

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly
Image courtesy of Disney·Pixar

I was happy to see that Pixar was well represented there at the award show. It was fun...they actually had Buzz and Woody (in honor of Toy Story's 20th anniversary) present the the Best Animated Feature award. That was the perfect way to do it!

You can watch the entire segment featuring Buzz and Woody, Inside Out's Oscar win as well as the acceptance speeches right HERE.

Sanjay's Super Team (Pixar's short film which debuted before The Good Dinosaur in theaters) was nominated for Best Animated Short film, but it unfortunately didn't take home the Oscar. Still, what an honor to be recognized with a nomination! It's a marvelous achievement regardless. Director Sanjay Patel and his super team there at Pixar won in my book!

This isn't so much Pixar, but Gary Rydstrom (renowned sound designer for Toy Story and many other Pixar feature films, as well as the director of two Pixar short films- Lifted and Toy Story Toons Hawaiaan Vacation) was nominated for the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for his work on Bridge of Spies.

It was also nice to see a tribute to the late Daniel Gerson during the "In Memoriam" montage. Gerson tragically passed away just a couple of weeks ago (on February 6) due to brain cancer. He was the co-writer of Monsters Inc. and Monsters University.

That about sums up Pixar at the Oscars 2016! What are your thoughts? Shoot them off in the comments below.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Toy Story: Alphabet Blocks

toy story abc blocks

Though they don't have a significant role in Toy Story (per se), the ABC blocks (based on real life, classic designs) do play a big part of the overall look and feel of Andy's room! In both Toy Story and Toy Story 2, alphabet blocks can be seen stacked and placed around in the background (and foreground) of Andy's room in many, many, shots.

Check out a select few below-

toy story abc blocks

In fact, ABC blocks are so much a part of Andy's room that even the imagineers behind the Toy Story Midway Mania ride at Disney World utilized them heavily in the design of the entrance and line queue!

So in my quest to find as many of the toys seen in Toy Story as possible, I knew I needed the alphabet blocks in order for my collection/Andy's room display to feel complete. But since they are real life items (such as Barrels of Monkeys, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, etc.), there has never been an official Toy Story release of the that meant finding the most film accurate ones through my own research.

Believe me, it was no easy task! Much harder than you'd think. I had been keeping my eyes out for years. There are lots of versions (both vintage and modern) of wood ABC blocks out there from many different companies. I've probably looked through hundreds...

But I think I finally did it. And here they are!

toy story abc blocks

Here are the main components of the most film accurate Toy Story block:
  • Primary colors (red, blue, green and yellow only) 
  • Correct font with solid colored border 
  • Horizontal white grooves behind letter
  • Correct large size wood cube (about 1 3/4")  
  • Simple illustrations of animals, numbers and other objects on sides 
Check, check, check, check and check! This set of blocks has all the components I was looking for. I can't tell you how happy I was when I finally stumbled upon this! There are so many blocks out there that have most of what I was searching for, but they would be missing one or two key aspects (most of the time they were too small or were missing the white grooves. Sometimes they had everything right except no little pictures on the sides).

I almost settled for a set not quite as accurate, but I'm glad I kept searching! At one point last year I even bought a vintage set on eBay that I thought was perfect, but they turned out too small as well (it was hard to tell from the pictures).

toy story abc blocks
toy story abc blocks
toy story abc blocks
toy story abc blocks

Many Toy Story fans and collectors have settled for the most popular set of ABC blocks out there right now; the ones made by the Melissa and Doug company. However, though they have almost all the right components, they are much too small (only about 1")! To show you the difference, I brought a few of my blocks to Toys R Us for a size comparison pic.

toy story abc blocks

Well, hopefully this helps all you Toy Story collectors out there! My hope is that this post will save you time looking through hundreds of eBay and Amazon listings. Though not 100% screen perfect (the edges with these aren't quite as rounded as the ones in the film, for example, but that's nitpicking), these really are the absolute best I've seen in my many years of searching.

Check out how great they look with the rest of Andy's (what I call) "secondary toys." I had a lot of fun setting up this display today!

toy story abc blocks
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Pick up these blocks up on Amazon using the direct link below:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Events: Disney Store Finding Dory Merch Release (Phase 1- Kids' Swim Gear)

A few weeks back, the Disney Store's first phase of exclusive Finding Dory merchandise (consisting of kids' swim gear) was released online. Now that same merch has hit the store's shelves! As I went into work last night, I was thrilled to see that it has finally started to trickle out.

These aren't items that I plan on getting and saving for our future kids (so I won't be doing individual posts on them), but it's always exciting to see new Pixar products whatever the case may be! For those of you with young kids who might be interested in getting some of this for the upcoming summer, I definitely wanted to fill you in on what's out there.

Here is the full assortment of items seen above and below with links to buy online:

If anything, I might pick up that beach towel. I do like the design of it and it's something for really any age. What I'm really looking forward to though is the full collection of toys and collectibles that will be released in May. You'll be seeing that all right here soon enough! Please wallet, forgive me. 

Ultimately the Finding Nemo franchise is the perfect set of films for these types of beach/pool products. You know you'll be seeing lots more of it! If you have any young Nemo fans in your life, then I'm sure you'll be excited to go check these out (Note- visit my similar post HERE to view more Finding Dory swim gear and water toys now available at Target, Walmart and Toys R Us stores).

Additionally, relating to Finding Dory, the next trailer for the film will be released on Wednesday, March 2nd during the Ellend DeGeneres show! Be sure to tune into Pixar Post's live Google Hangout that night at 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST- I'll be joining in the discussion! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pixar Collection: Disney·Pixar Collector Buttons Jigsaw Puzzle

pixar jigsaw puzzle

When I was a little kid, I absolutely loved puzzles. I had a bunch of them and usually got a puzzle or two for every Christmas and birthday. You could often find me in my family room on the floor working on some kind of puzzle or another. While I can't say that same love for puzzles has stayed with me through my older years, sometimes I see one I can't resist. That was the case here with this uniquely awesome Disney·Pixar "Collector Buttons" jigsaw puzzle from Ceaco!

As soon as I stumbled upon this at my local Toys R Us, I was really drawn to the design. I've never seen anything like it! The image of all the different stylized "collector buttons" formed together to make a collage of my favorite Pixar characters was right up my alley.

This puzzle is 750 pieces, retails for $9.99 and is 24"x18" in size once put all together.

pixar jigsaw puzzle

Check out the full puzzle image on the back of the package...lots of hidden and subtle gems!

pizar jigsaw puzzle
pixar collector buttons puzzle

Honestly, building a 750 piece puzzle is pretty daunting for me. Since it's not a hobby of mine, this could take me a long time. I'm not sure when I'll start it or how long it will take me to complete it, but the thing I'm excited for is to glue it all together and hang it like a poster when finished. That's my motivation right there! There's no way I'd do all this work, only to take it a part and throw it back in the box when done. Nope, this will be displayed proudly and it will look sweet up on the wall.

For that reason I'm excited. For me, it doesn't matter how long it takes since I'm in no rush at all. Ultimately it'll be a fun project and I recommend the same project to you for some family fun! This would make a fun thing to do during the winter months and it's something each member of the family can contribute to. The recommended age for this is 12+, but I'm sure younger kids would be more than capable with helping.

pixar jigsaw puzzle

If you're interested in starting this project as well, pick up the puzzle and some Mod Podge puzzle glue (the best out there from the research I've done) using the links below or at a Toys R Us near you!

Best of luck- be sure to comment below or shoot me an email if you too are gonna take this on! I'd love to see your progress and check out your final product. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cars: Chuck Armstrong (Mood Springs)

mood springs screen shot

From Disney·Pixar Cars, here is the newly re-released Mattel 1:55 scale diecast of Chuck Armstrong, better known by his sponsor Mood Springs (No. 33)! This character has been released a couple other times over the last 10 years, but this particular single pack release is from this year's 2016 "Piston Cup" sub series (#9/14). I've been waiting for this one to come back for a long time!

As shown in the screenshot above, Mood Springs is briefly seen in the film's opening Motor Speedway of the South (Dinoco 400) race. He is one of the 36 race cars competing for the Piston Cup.

cars mood springs

I'm so happy to finally have this one as part of my collection. Now if they'll only re-release the ultra rare (like we're talking eBay prices well over $100), highly sought after "Race Damaged Mood Springs" (seen HERE)! Here's to hoping.

You can find Chuck here in stores now (I just found him tonight at Target), or be sure to purchase him online soon. This one hasn't quite hit eBay or Amazon yet, but I'll update the post here with links when he does. Best of luck on the hunt!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Good Dinosaur: Blu-Ray Review (Target Edition)

As of today, almost exactly three months since the film's theatrical November 25th release, Disney·Pixar's latest feature The Good Dinosaur is now available to own! Here I'll be taking an in depth look at the Target edition Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD Combo Pack, which includes some exclusive bonus content (more on that below).

Today I'll just be reviewing the special features, not the film itself. To read my full positive review of the film, visit my original review post HERE!

To start things off, I wanted to (yet again) talk about the different home video versions that are available. There are lots of options (all with a varying amount of special features)- whether you're a film/animation fan who enjoys loads of bonus content or just a casual movie goer looking to watch the film again, there's a version for you! Below is a guide as to which version has what features:

  • Sanjay's Super Team Theatrical Short Film 
  • Audio Commentary 
  • Sanjay's Super Team Theatrical Short Film
  • Audio Commentary
  • True Lies about Dinosaurs
  • Recyclosaurus
  • The Filmmakers' Journey  
  • Every Part of the Dinosaur 
  • Following the T-Rex Trail 
  • Three Deleted Scenes ("The Attack", "Building the Silo" & "Waiting for Poppa")
  • Dino Bites 
  • Hide and Seek
  • Trailers
  • Just Listen (Digital Exclusive)
  • Includes everything listed above
  • Everything above, plus...
  • Bonus Deleted Scene ("Raptor Trap" - Target Exclusive)
  • The World of the Good Dinosaur (Target Exclusive) 

There you go! Hopefully that will help you when deciding on what version to get. As you can see, the reason I bought the Target edition is because it's all encompassing. You get everything. You get the movie, all the special features, the digital HD copy, the digital exclusives and the Target exclusives. It's the way to go if you're a special features nut like me!

There are other ways to purchase the film as well (such as digital on iTunes, digital on Amazon Instant Video, Blu-Ray 3D, etc.), but there is no exclusive content with any of those. While the Best Buy version doesn't have any additional material, it does have an exclusive lenticular 3D slip cover. Man though, there is no shortage of ways to purchase a film these days, phew! Boy is it complicated now... I use to just go pick up the VHS copy at the store back in the day; that was the only way!

As soon as you pop in the disc, you'll notice the gorgeous menus. They really show off the beautiful landscapes and scenery seen in the film! They remind me very much of the Blu-Ray menus for Brave.

OK, now that the housekeeping stuff is out of the way (hopefully it was helpful though), lets dig deeper into all the bonus content included with this Target version!

  • Audio Commentary (running time 1:29:48 *length of film*)- Peter Sohn (Director), Kelsey Mann (Story Supervisor), Sanjay Bakshi (Supervising Technical Director), Mike Venturini (Supervising Animator) and Sharon Calahan (Director of Photography, Lighting) discuss the filmmaking process! Audio commentaries are always the #1 feature I look forward to and this did not disappoint.
  •  Sanjay's Super Team (running time 6:49)- This is the theatrical short film (Directed by Sanjay Patel) that played before The Good Dinosaur in theaters. While it did take a few viewings for me to really enjoy this short, I can now honestly say that I have a stronger appreciation for it. It's very different for Pixar, but well worth checking out!
  • True Lies about Dinosaur (running time 1:56)- This little segment discusses the big differences between what we know scientifically about the real dinosaurs and what the filmmakers fudged to make an entertaining animated film. This is a pretty fun, but very short, tongue and cheek extra.
  • Recyclosaurus (running time 6:19)- It's very obvious that Pixar employees work extremely hard...but to help with the stress of long hours and tedious deadlines, they also play extremely  hard! In this clip, you'll witness one of the main studio wide games that was played during the production of The Good Dinosur. Watch as the different departments compete by creating homemade dinos. The catch? They can only use items from Pixar's "Free Table!" I enjoyed this one quite a bit and it made me want to work there that much more.
  • The Filmmakers' Journey (running time 7:54)- Speaking of hard work, this mini documentary on the making of the film shows just how much heart and soul the team put into the creation of The Good Dinosaur. The director, Peter Sohn, shines as he reflects on the joys and difficulties of the production. From what I gather, Sohn is such a caring, humble and heartfelt person and that really shows in his, as well as the whole team's, work. He's yet another Pixarian I would love to be friends with!
  • Every Part of the Dinosaur (running time 6:08)- This is another really insightful mini documentary, this time focusing more on the actual character animation. I really loved when the filmmakers talk about "truth to character" and "arch of growth." For example, Arlo's animation/character arch can be seen in his posture; when the film starts, he's "slumpy" and weak. When it ends, he stands up straight with confidence. It's little details like this that set Pixar apart from the rest. 
  •  Following the T-Rex Trail (running time 6:58)- This is an amazing story about how a real life rancher family in Juntura, Oregon, the McKays, inspired Butch and his T-Rex family in the film! Seeing this family's humility, hard work and dedication to their farm, as well as the filmmakers' interaction with them, was truly inspiring.
  •  Deleted Scenes (with intros by director Peter Sohn):

1.) The Attack (running time 2:29)- Arlo's fears are set in motion through an attack from a vicious dinosaur. I liked this, especially seeing another dinosaur character/species (since I feel there were a tad too few in the film), but I understand why the cut was ultimately made.

2.) Building the Silo (running time 4:30)- Another nice, heartfelt scene with Arlo and Poppa building the silo together. There is nothing wrong with the sequence (meaning it's not embarrassingly bad like some deleted scenes for films out there), but it just wasn't needed.

3.) Waiting for Poppa (running time 3:05)- This is an alternative version of Poppa's death. In this version, Arlo is not with Poppa during his death in the storm. Instead, other dinos (seemingly family friends) come to the farm and bear the tragic news. While, again, I liked seeing other dinosaur characters and species, I agree that actually seeing his death and having Arlo there was stronger emotionally. This is a powerful deleted scene nonetheless.

  • Dino Bites (running time 4:15)- A montage of promotional animation toolkits featuring Arlo, Spot and all your favorite dino/critter characters. Of course I would rather see more making of stuff, but this is pretty fun to watch. 
  • Hide and Seek (running time 0:59)- Here we have another promotional scene; this time featuring Arlo and Spot playing a game of hide and seek. Short but sweet! I had to laugh at Spot's hiding places. 
  • Trailers- "Moment" North American Trailer 2 (2:12), "Different" German Trailer (1:57) &  "Courage" Russian Trailer (2:23).
To access your Digital HD and Target exclusive features, just enter the code included with your copy into Disney Movies Anywhere. Then just select The Good Dinosaur from within your collection and you'll be able to view all the bonus content! Simple as that. 

Oddly enough though, I'm having trouble accessing my Target content. As soon as I'm able to, I'll update the post below with more details.

  • The World of The Good Dinosaur (Target Exclusive)
  • Deleted Scene- "Raptor Trap" (Target Exclusive)
  • Just Listen (runningtime 6:14; Digital HD Exclusive)- This is probably my favorite bit out of the bonus content. In this short featurette, Sound Designer Craig Berkey, Composers Jeff and Mychael Danna and others takes us behind the scenes of the sounds of The Good Dinosaur. I've always loved the sound aspects of filmmaking (sound effects, ambiance, foley, music, ADR, etc.), so this one was really interesting for me. Really well done!

Additionally, when you purchase the film digitally or the Blu-Ray combo pack, you also receive a cute digital storybook of the The Good Dinosaur Little Golden Book! You can redeem this from the "Unlocked Offers" area of the Disney Movie Rewards website (once you enter the code). This will lead you to the Disney Story Central website where you can access your digital storybook (with sounds and music). 

Well, I think that's just about everything. Just to total things up here- Including the exclusive content, we have one short film, one audio commentary, seven featurettes, two animation toolkits, four deleted scenes and three trailers included with this Target edition of The Good Dinosaur. Though I'm greedy and wish there was much more included (since I enjoyed what was here so much), I really can't complain.

My favorite features are Just Listen and Following the T-Rex Trail, but I highly recommend checking all the bonus content out! If you're wondering which version to pick up yourself, I'd highly suggest this one. Head to your local Target store (or online) to purchase! If you're interested in just the standard edition DVD or Blu-Ray combo pack, visit Amazon using the direct links below.

4 out of 5 stars