Toy Story Laserdisc Box Set

Unboxed: Toy Story Deluxe CAV Laserdisc Edition

With Blu-ray and Ultra HD available, I may no longer have much cause to watch Toy Story on Laserdisc, but the Deluxe CAV box set is still a handsome collectible to have on the shelf.

The new sequel in theaters obviously got me nostalgic for the original Toy Story, which I long ago upgraded to Blu-ray and will probably buy on 4k Ultra HD before too long. Nonetheless, for sheer aesthetic wow factor, the Laserdisc box set is hard to beat.

Released in December of 1996, the Deluxe CAV Edition was a celebration of the film’s three Academy Award nominations and its landmark value as, to quote the front cover, “The first full-length feature animated entirely on computers.” At 14″ square, the Toy Story box is the largest Laserdisc in my collection and does not fit in any of my shelving next to my other LDs. Currently, my copy is sitting on top of a board game box between my Laserdisc shelf and another piece of furniture. The silver reflective artwork is also difficult to photograph without the glare of lights beaming back at the camera.

The outer box is made of thick cardboard. A plastic tray slides out of the right side. Held inside are two Laserdisc jackets, an art book, and a sleeve containing a piece of 3D lenticular art.

Toy Story Laserdisc - Box Contents

The movie itself is spread to two Laserdiscs across three disc sides in CAV format (30 minutes per side). Side 4 contains five early Pixar shorts: The Adventures of Andr√© and Wally B. (1984), Luxo Jr. (1986), Red’s Dream (1987), Tin Toy (1988), and Knickknack (1989). Notably, the copy of Knickknack on this disc is the original uncensored version, in which the bikini girl and the mermaid had comically exaggerated breasts that were later removed in future video editions.

Despite its inconvenience, the CAV format was considered very desirable for visually inventive movies like Toy Story due to its ability to provide high quality (for the time) paused images and forward-or-backwards slo-mo effects. Discs encoded in the more common CLV format could get an hour per side, but their frame-stepping features weren’t as good.

These first two discs are stored in one gatefold jacket:

Toy Story Laserdisc - Movie Gatefold Front & Rear

 Toy Story Laserdisc - Movie Gatefold Interior

A second gatefold jacket holds two bonus feature discs loaded with content:

Toy Story Laserdisc - Supplement Discs

Toy Story Laserdisc - Supplement Discs Gatefold Interior

The art book is kind of a love-fest for and by Pixar founder and Toy Story director John Lasseter. Looking at it today, all the focus on Lasseter is a little unfortunate given his later sexual misconduct scandal and ousting from the studio. Credit where it’s due, however, the man was a visionary who made this movie happen and revolutionized Hollywood animation. It seems almost impossible to talk about the movie without putting a lot of attention on him.

Toy Story Laserdisc - Art Book

Toy Story Laserdisc - Art Book Page Sample

The final item inside is a piece of 3D lenticular art.

Toy Story Laserdisc - Lenticular Art

Toy Story is the only Pixar movie to be released on Laserdisc in the United States. The first DVD edition didn’t hit store shelves until October of 2000.

The studio’s second feature, A Bug’s Life, was released on Laserdisc in Japan and France, both only in dubbed editions with no English. By that time, the Laserdisc market had collapsed in favor of DVD. Disney gave up on the LD format entirely not long after.

17 comments

  1. Julian

    This box was for sale last year in a local store (asking price $35), and I even e-mailed Josh to ask his opinion. This was his response: “That’s a decision only you can make for yourself. I assume you wouldn’t actually be watching the discs, just keeping it as a collectible?”

    I never bought it.

    My girlfriend bough it for me the next day, as a surprise gift. I was very, very happy.

  2. Charles Contreras

    Thanks for posting this article. I was a longtime fan of laserdisc, and I would save up my hard earned money for those anticipated box sets including the original Star Wars trilogy in cav format, and Oliver Stone’s The Doors, which I fortunately had autographed by Val Kilmer a number of years ago. I sometimes wish that I still had my collection for nostalgia purposes, but it’s still nice to reminisce from time to time. Maybe you guys should do an occasional spotlight article on a movie that’s on laserdisc like you did with Toy Story, that would be pretty cool.

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