Today on Popcorn & Princesses, things are getting a little bit dark… We’re diving into the world of Toy Story villains!
While there are a few extra evil side characters (such as Al of Al’s Toy Barn fame), for the purposes of today I’m going to look at the four main villains of the films:
- Sid, Andy’s neighbour who is a destructive bully of a kid, and breaks all his toys
- Stinky Pete, aka the Prospector, who pretends to be nice and friendly until it is revealed he is manipulating the toys to convince them to go to the museum in Tokyo rather than back to Andy
- Lotso, a cute, fluffy teddy bear who is also runs the Sunnyside Daycare Centre as though it’s a prison and manipulates/abuses his inmates
- Gabby Gabby, a doll whose voicebox is broken and desperately wants to be loved by a kid of her own
So out of the four main villains, Sid is the only human character. What’s particularly interesting about this, is that he’s also the most simple, least complex character of the four. He doesn’t have much of a backstory, we’re never unclear about where he stands, and there’s no surprise that he is the bad guy. He’s just a nasty kid who doesn’t care about his belongings (or those of his sister) and enjoys destroying them, or pulling them apart to create incredibly creepy hybrids (that spider-with-a-baby-head haunts my dreams). We also see him in Toy Story 3 where he has grown up to become a garbage man. Now on the one hand you could say, great, he’s a rubbish person who treats his belongings like garbage, so it suits him. BUT I much prefer this adorable fan theory that Sid (the only human to know that the toys are alive) is actually helping them out!
Stinky Pete, also known as the Prospector, is one of those revealed-at-the-last-minute villains. Although really, with a name like Stinky Pete, why did no one consider that he may not have the best intentions? The Prospector is a truly horrible toy, he manipulates both Jessie and Woody into thinking that the museum is the best/only option for them, because it’s what he wants. He makes it look as though Jessie was the one who turned on the TV, foiling Woody’s plan of escape, and fueling their argument, only to then be the “nice guy” and bring them back together again. The fact that he hides his true intentions right up to the last minute makes you question everything he’s said and done up until that point. His resentment of Buzz and space toys had clearly been building up over a long time, and you can see similarities between him and Woody in the first film. I think his ending up with a little girl who draws all over her toys is brilliant revenge!
Ah Lotso, the most manipulative, strawberry-scented, villain-est villain to ever grace a daycare centre. I think it’s fair to say that he is definitely the most evil villain of the four. He starts off pretending that he’s all cute and cuddly, but unlike Stinky Pete, can’t keep up the facade for very long. He runs the centre like a prison, forcing all new toys into the caterpillar room with the younger kids who haven’t learnt how to play nicely with toys yet. When Buzz discovers the truth, he resets him to his default factory settings and uses him as a guard dog against his own friends! Lotso reminds me a lot of the Governor from The Walking Dead, able to be charming and charismatic, but underneath that he’s cruel, violent, and only looking out for himself. Even when the toys save his life at the garbage dump, he still stabs them in the back! He has quite a sad backstory, being lost by his kid, and then replaced with a new bear. Having said that, his reaction is really not warranted- the other toys with him didn’t become so psychotic? He ultimately ends up strapped to the front of a truck by a trucker who loved his Lotso when he was a kid.
Gabby Gabby is the only female villain of the films, and also the only one to really be redeemed. She’s an odd villain, because you feel sorry for her, and want her to find a kid, but also she does horrible things like coldly rip out Woody’s voicebox as though it’s a black market kidney. I have watched Toy Story 4 twice now, once in the cinema when it was released, and once in the lead up to Toy Story month for Popcorn & Princesses, and still I can’t figure her out. Both she and the Bensons (the ventriloquist dummies) are very creepy from the beginning, wandering around the antique store, being totally obsessed with Harmony, the owner’s grand daughter. I also really don’t understand her relationship with Forky. Is she being a creepy psycho using him as bait for Woody and playing creepy hide-and-go-seek with him, or is she genuinely connecting with him as a friend? Her softly spoken “I’m so nice” routine is hard to differentiate from the likes of Stinky Pete or Lotso, but she is also clearly lonely and sad. When Harmony ultimately rejects Gabby, even after she finally has a working voicebox, you do feel sorry for her, and happy when she finally finds a little girl to love her.
Of the four villains, I think it’s fair to say that Lotso is the worst (or is that the best?) villain, and Gabby Gabby is the most confusing. What I really love about the films is that even though they focus on toys, they are able to create these characters that are so complex and audiences are able to create such emotional connections with them. It’s not every film that could have such a psychotic teddy bear that doesn’t come off as joke- he’s genuinely awful.
Want to know more about my thoughts on Toy Story? Check out my previous post here!