Woody, for example, started out as kind of a jerk. ("An early scene," Sawyer notes in the book, "had him abusing Slinky Dog, and another had him pushing Buzz out the window.") Eventually, the Pixar team rewrote the script to make Woody more likable. (So instead of Woody pushing Buzz out the window, Buzz fell by accident.) Barbie was going to be involved in the movie at one point; so was G.I. Joe. Mr. Potato Head was added to the cast of characters because of licensing snafus.
Here is a rough timeline of the path Toy Story took in becoming Toy Story.
- March 1991: The first draft of the script was released. It featured two main characters: a one-man band (Tinny) and a ventriloquist’s dummy. Sawyer describes this early plot:
The movie starts with Tinny waking up in his factory, and then he is given as a birthday gift to a young boy. The boy’s family goes on a road trip to the Southwest, and they take Tinny along. But early in the trip, he gets forgotten and left behind at a gas station. There, he meets the ventriloquist’s dummy, and they work together to find their way back to Tinny’s home. In a series of adventures, the two travel from the back of a truck to an auction, to a garbage truck, a yard sale, a couple’s house, and finally to a kindergarten playground—the happy ending in which the toys are reunited with the children.
- Summer 1991: Jeff Katzenberg, of Disney at the time, told Pixar to rewrite Toy Story as more of a buddy movie. He wanted, specifically, an odd couple movie in which two characters who disliked each other would be thrown together by luck—and then forced to work together.
- September 1991: The Pixar team came back with a second treatment of the movie. This one still featured Tinny and the dummy, but the factory scenes were removed; this time, the dummy was already in the house, and it was the household kids' favorite toy. Tinny was introduced; the dummy became jealous of the new toy; the two started fighting.
And then more iterations came, one after the other:
- Lasseter decided that Tinny was too old-fashioned. He replaced the character with a G.I. Joe-style action figure.
- Lasseter changed the action figure character into a space hero doll. His name? Lunar Larry.
- Lunar Larry became Tempus.
- Tempus became Morph.
- Morph's outfit was changed to a red spacesuit.
- The dummy from the original script was turned into a cowboy character, the better to exaggerate the contrast between the space hero and the boy's previously favorite toy.
- Disney, worried that viewers would associate the ventriloquist dummy with similar characters in horror movies, changed that character into a stuffed toy with a pull string. They named him Woody.
- Tempus was renamed Buzz Lightyear.
- Pixar decided it wanted G.I. Joe to be one of the toys in the movie.
- Hasbro refused to license the rights to the doll. It granted permission, instead, to use Mr. Potato Head. That's what Pixar went with.