Ben, normally on this channel, we spend time searching for tiny little undiscovered
nuggets of information that can connect otherwise unconnected dots and come
up with brand new theories.
Today is a little bit different, it's more of just a story — a "Toy Story," if you will,
because it fills in almost every single plot hole in "Toy Story."
Why Woody doesn't know who he is — why he's so rare and valuable — and, most
importantly — the unsolved mystery of Andy's dad.
If you are a longtime viewer of this channel, or just love fan theories, then
you've probably come across the mystery of Andy's dad.
I mean, people have come up with all sorts of stuff to explain where he is.
Is is he dead?
Did they get divorced?
Is it Al?
Did they just not want to animate another human being that early on in the
development of Pixar?!
As always though, the truth is more magnificent and strange than anyone ever
could have dreamed up.
So, let me clarify by saying this is not a fan theory or fan fiction or anything like that,
but you're also not going to find it in the bonus features of a DVD, or a Disney wiki
page lost somewhere deep on the Internet, or on the novelization of any of
From what we can tell, the full story of what we're about to tell you may have only
ever been entirely known by one man.
One of the original members of the Brain Trust at Pixar, and their head of Story,
Joe was involved with the writing and production of every single Pixar movie, and
was even nominated for an Oscar for storytelling, but as many Pixar fans
probably already know, he tragically died in a car accident in 2006.
Before he died however, he told the story of Woody's origin and Andy's dad to an
unsuspecting friend at lunch one day, and that friend was Mike Mozart.
And earlier this week, we were able to sit down with Mike and ask him about what
they talked about that day at lunch.
For background, Mike is a a longtime Disney artist, toy collector, toy designer,
and early YouTuber.
If you want to look him up on YouTube, his channel, JeepersMedia, is fittingly about
And although it's been dormant for a while now, it was at one time one of the top 25
channels on the entire site!
Mike is THE toy guy.
Like, long before YouTube, or eBay, or even the internet was so mainstream,
he was already known as THE toy guy.
He was the guy that TV shows called to come review toys on their show.
Mike first met Joe on a visit to Pixar long before "Toy Story" was even announced,
while he was working as an artist for Disney out of Connecticut.
But on a trip to California for some of his Disney work, he decided to take a trip up to
Pixar after being impressed by one of their early shorts, "Knick Knack," to check
out the studio.
This is when he first met Joe.
And the two immediately hit it off and stayed in touch over the years.
Mike would occasionally send Joe various magic tricks because he knew he collected them.
[ He said he liked magic because that's what his job is, is magic.
That all filmmakers are magical, and he said, "What my job is as a writer is to
Here, look over at this while I'm making this magical thing happen over here."
The sleight of hand to fool you into thinking something's real. ]
And Joe would occasionally pick his brain about toys.
Mike at the time, of course, had no idea that "Toy Story" was even in production,
but he answered his questions anyway, and sent him books about toys coming to life.
[ Was I aware of any books or any story about toys coming to life, specifically?
And I said, "Yeah, I have a great book, and I have a copy of that book here someplace,
I'll try to find it." ]
But most important to this story are two conversations they had;
One before "Toy Story" came out, and the other after "Toy Story 2" had come out.
The first was when Joe asked Mike,
"What would make a toy rare?"
And not just any toy, but like, the main toy of a series.
Like, if somehow Pikachu was the hardest Pokemon toy to find, that just wouldn't
make sense, right?
What would be the scenario where that happened?
[ Toys in the '50s we're done in such low quantities.
Just before that whole age of consumerism hit, where they started mass-
producing millions, there was this magical point where they were still hand-
making a lot of that stuff in the USA.
If they had a promotion for like, cereal, you collect 25 box tops, send in the box top and
then, in 8 weeks you will get your toy.
But what happens is sometimes, those toy companies went out of business,
or sometimes, the cereal company went out of business.
I said it's very possible that the company went out of business.
So, they produce all the other toys, they're all in all the stores, they're selling, and now,
the main toy or the special premium toy is a no go. ]
So, in a nutshell, that rarely happens, but when it does, it's normally because of a
promotion ending prematurely, and the toy in question never even making it to
And I'll leave that there for now, and move to the second conversation, which
happened after "Toy Story 2" in an Easter egg of a diner.
The two were having lunch, and Mike was marveling at the animation quality in "Toy
Story 2" and his love of "Toy Story" in general, but he said, "Well, There are a few
mistakes," to which Joe said,
"No, there are no mistakes the movie is perfect,"
But probably a little more eloquently, I'm just little defensive.
[ He said they're perfect.
There's no inconsistencies, just no mistakes. ]
The mistakes Mike was referring to had nothing to do with the animation or
anything, but plot holes or unanswered questions that unbeknownst to either of
them would become the topic of much debate on the Internet 20 years later.
[ What happened to Andy's dad, because how could Andy be happy at his first
And his dad must have just died or just got into a divorce, because he's got a little
sister in the crib that's like 14 months old, maybe.
So, whatever happened to dad had to have happened in the past year.
Why would he be so happy for his birthday party?
His first birthday without dad? ]
And Joe told him.
He told him how Andy could be so happy on his birthday, right after his dad either
divorced or died away from the family, how Woody could have no memory of his
past, how Woody was so rare.
He told him EVERYTHING.
Are you ready for this?
Because the story is a-mazing!
It turns out, the house we see in Toy Story 1 is actually Andy's dad's house, or more
specifically, Andy's dad's parents' house, the house he grew up in.
And just that tiny bit of information clears up a lot of things.
Like, for example, many people assume that Andy's parents are divorced because
there are no pictures of the father in the house.
If he had died, obviously, they'd keep the pictures up, right?
So, where are they?
But according to Joe, there are TONS of pictures of Andy's dad in the house.
In fact, all the pictures you think are pictures of Andy are actually pictures of
Andy's father, who looked almost exactly like him as a kid.
And the proof has been right in front of us the whole time, like, look!
Look at this photo of Andy in glasses.
You know what the problem with this photo is?
Andy doesn't wear glasses!
This is his dad!
And look at this picture where Andy is missing his two front teeth.
Oh, it's adorable, right?
Except, Andy isn't missing his two front teeth, he still has all of his baby teeth.
But so then, where is the dad in "Toy Story?"
If they're staying at his parents' house... why isn't he around?
Well, for that, we have to travel all the way back to 1957, when Andy's dad was a kid.
According to Mike, Andy's dad, whose name was actually also Andy, was a huge
fan Woody's Roundup as a kid.
He watched the show every week and loved Sheriff Woody.
So, imagine his elation when he discovered there was a promotion where you could get
a Sheriff Woody doll by sending in 30 box tops of Cowboy Crunchies cereal.
Now, part of the reason that young Andy Sr. looked up to Woody so much is because
his family was kind of poor, and he was bullied at school, and was kind of a sickly
And specifically, he was bullied by none other than Al, from Al's Toy Barn, who was
the same age as Andy's father, and whose family was quite wealthy and owned a
very large dairy farm.
In fact, Andy Sr.'s father, so Andy's grandfather, worked for Al's father,
and you can even see a picture of him with a plow on the wall.
But anyway, because young Andy Sr.'s family was poor, they weren't able to afford
enough cereal boxes before the end of the promotion.
Andy had only been able to collect 7, but he decided he was still going to try.
He sent in the box tops he had with a letter explaining how he was Woody's favorite
deputy, and how his family was just too poor to get all the cereal, and could they
please just still send him the doll.
And even on the envelope itself, he wrote all over it and decorated it, so it really stood out,
and then, he sent it away.
And that might have been the end of the story, except for something else that
happened in 1957 —
Just as the promotion was coming to a close, Sputnik went up.
Woody's Roundup was canceled, and so was the promotion.
Meaning that even though plenty of Woody's Roundup toys and merchandise
was already available for sale in stores, nobody had ever been able to purchase a
Woody doll because this promotion was the only way to get one.
In fact, Woody dolls never even went into production.
The only one they ever had made was the prototype they used for the marketing.
And that might sound ridiculous, like, "Why would they make the most popular toy so
hard to get?"
But, what you have to realize is that Woody's Roundup was literally made by
It's literally, "Cowboy Crunchies presents, Woody's Roundup."
The whole thing is just a ploy to sell more cereal.
Speaking of which, back at Cowboy Crunchies, all of a sudden, they're all sort of
freaking out, because Sputnik goes up, their show gets canceled, and sales have
stopped because now, kids only want—
But, they were good businessmen.
They realized, "OK, we just need to pivot.
We're not going to make all these Woody dolls, because they're not popular
Instead, we're going to send everyone who entered the contest a space toy and just,
hope they forget about the whole Woody's Roundup thing."
And got one Woody prototype they made for the marketing—that went in the trash.
But, the secretary who had been receiving all of the letters from the kids entering the
promotion thought differently.
She thought the kids would be really upset that they weren't getting the Woody doll.
So, she fished out the prototype and decided to send it to the kid she thought
most deserved it.
And it wasn't hard to pick out the envelope.
Which means that Woody isn't just rare, he is one of a kind, and Andy's dad owned the
This explains why in "Toy Story 2," Woody doesn't know who he is.
[Why you don't know who you are, do you?]
He was literally produced after the show went off the air, and was never around any
of the other merchandise.
But wait, then, wouldn't he still remember Andy's dad, though?
Well, remember how I said Andy's dad was a sickly child?
Well, more specifically, he was sick with polio, and soon after he got Sheriff Woody
in the mail... things got bad.
And if you're a history buff and are saying at home, "Ah, but J, the polio vaccine was
invented in 1955.
How could he have had it?"
Yes, it was, but it wasn't widely distributed until 1961, and being poor probably didn't
help his chances.
But like I said, it got bad, meaning that young Andy Sr. had to be sent to a special
hospital for treatment, which meant, even worse, that all of his possessions,
including his toys, had to be burned!
Well, young Andy's dad couldn't bear the thought, so, after all of his possessions
had been placed out in the yard to be burned, he snuck out, crawled without the
use of his legs, to retrieve three toys:
Woody, Slinky Dog, and Mr. Potato Head.
And that part of the story really adds up pretty well, because the original Slinky Dog
came out in 1952, as did Mr. Potato Head, although both of their appearances were
slightly altered for the movie.
Afterwards, as you may have guessed, since he grows up to have Andy, he does
not die of polio as a child.
Instead, he recovers, but does not return home, and instead, moves to Seattle, where
he meets and marries Andy's mom.
[ He said that he married the mother that we see.
They move to Seattle, specifically.
I don't why he said Seattle.
Specifically, Seattle. ]
Here is where they have Andy and are expecting Molly, when Andy's dad is struck
by something known as Post-Polio syndrome.
Post-Polio syndrome sucks!
It basically means that if you had polio, even if you recover from it, it just kind of
strikes again, and in different parts of your body, and worse!
This recurrence forces Andy's dad and his mom to move back to his childhood home,
where he would later live out the rest of his short life.
Now, young Andy at this point is understandably upset about his father's
So, one day, his dad tells him he has something for him.
He opens up his wallet, and right on the inside, you can see the imprint of a key that
has been in that wallet for probably most of his life.
He pulls out the key and tells Andy,
[ "Andy, go upstairs, and you're going to find a very special little trunk.
It's waiting for you all these years.
It was something very special from my childhood, and now it's yours.
And inside, inside is going to be your best friend in the world." ]
But by the time Andy has gone upstairs, and found the trunk, and brought it down,
his father—has died.
And for a few days, Andy forgot all about the key.
It wasn't until after the funeral when he came back home and found it, that he
finally opened the trunk, and discovered Woody, Slinky, and Mr. Potato Head.
All of whom failed to recognize that this boy, this Andy, was not the same Andy that
put them in the trunk.
They had all been asleep the entire time, and had no idea of the passage of time,
and because Andy and his father looked so similar as kids, the toys didn't even
realize it was a different kid.
Woody doesn't even realize that his original owner has passed away, or that the Andy
playing with him now isn't the Andy who wrote his name on his boot.
And that's pretty much it, and God, it just answers EVERYTHING!
Like, why is the moving truck so empty?
Ah, because it wasn't really their house.
Andy's parents already had a bunch of stuff up in Seattle.
The stuff in the truck is mostly just their son's and a few mementos from the
Why doesn't Woody remember who he is, or Andy's dad, despite being an "old family toy?"
Because Andy and his dad looked the same and Woody was never aware of the show.
Why are there no pictures of his father?
By the way, did you know that polio causes poor vision, and that's probably why that
picture of young Andy's dad is wearing glasses?
And if you're not sold yet, there's one more tiny little detail I left out.
When the secretary sent Woody to Andy's dad, she included a note that said,
"To Sheriff Woody's favorite Deputy,"
and guess who else happened to get a couple of prototypes of Buzz and Woody
when they were first released.
None other than Mike Mozart.
He showed them to us.
He still has them in the box, it was so surreal.
But on the box which Joe Ranft sent him, he left him a note that said—
[ —He actually broke on this original box, "To my favorite deputy, Mike," and they
signed it on the outside of the box. ]
Ugh, seriously, this story is just so perfect, and like, the real like, tragedy of it all is that
Joe isn't around anymore to confirm or deny any of it.
Even Mike was amazed, he asked him—
[ —I said, "I can't believe that you have all this like, figured out like—like, the wallpaper,
and everything, I thought was a coincidence."
He said, "Well, a lot of things just worked out right, so, they worked out the right way,"
but he said, "When your writer says you can't know where you're going, unless you
know where you've been," ]
A line he would later write into "Cars."
[Ain't no need to watch where I'm going!]
[Just need to know where I've been.]
And now, I have to give a huge shout-out to a couple of people.
First, to Joe Ranft for being just an inspiration, and an amazing writer, and for
caring so deeply about his characters, and his stories, and just for sharing them
And another huge thanks to Mike Mozart for sharing this very personal and touching story.
I mean, honestly, he teared up a few times just telling it to us.
I almost teared up retelling it to you, just now.
It was truly a pleasure talking to him, and I highly recommend you go follow him over
on Instagram @MikeMozart.
If you'd like to see the full interview we did with Mike to fill in even more details,
seriously, it gets very deep, and very emotional at times, I recommend you go
check it out on our Patreon, it will be available under the exclusive feed.
It's about 90 minutes long, but it is so worth the entire watch.
Especially, because there's yet another shocking reveal about Andy's mom in there, too.
So, Ben, my question for you and everyone else is really more of a request just to
share this story.
Let's see if we can get this to Pixar to get confirmation of it, because it's so perfect.
I have a feeling there's only maybe like, 5 people on the whole planet who can
actually do that for us.
So, share this video.
Thank you in advance.
These socks are amazing!
Guys, thanks so much for watching.
Please like this video if you haven't already, and subscribe so you don't miss
any future Pixar videos from us.
If you would like to see the truth about Woody's holster, you can check out this
video, right here.
Or if you would like to see our review of "Cars 3," you can check out that, right here.
But Ben, that's all I got for you today, man.
I will see you in another life, brother.