Monday, July 16, 2012

Toy Story The Sketchbook Series - Book Review

Whether you've been a fan of Pixar for many years or are just getting started, there is no better way to dig into the history, spirit and art of the company than through the many books that have been released. While many fans are familiar with the "Art of" series of books from Chronicle Books, the early Pixar-related books were released by Disney Editions (Toy Story 1 & A Bug's Life) and Applewood Books (Toy Story: The Sketchbook Series - though it is commonly referred to as Toy Story Sketchbook).


Toy Story: The Sketchbook Series could be argued to be the most sought after of the Pixar-related books due to the fact that it was released as a limited edition of 2,500 and comes in a classic looking hard book sleeve (or slipcover). Each book comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity and each copy also includes a printed image of Buzz and Woody signed by John Lasseter himself. UPDATED - we have come to find out, because of one of our great readers, that only the first 500 books were signed by John Lasseter - the remaining 2,000 still have the image of Buzz and Woody, but they are not signed (click here to read the full Pixar Pickle story). The book itself (released in the year 2000) measures 11.75 inches tall by 9.56 inches wide by .75 inches thick (29.85 cm x 24.29 cm x 1.91 cm) and its 88 pages (thick card-stock paper) are packed with sketches from Toy Story & Toy Story 2. (Note - The official press release for this book lists it as having 112 pages, but that takes into account blank or section header pages as well, so that's why we count this as 88 pages.)

Unlike the Disney Editions and Chronicle series of books, which contain a fair amount of text, the only text in this book is limited to a few pages of artist acknowledgements (1 page), a foreword by Lasseter (1 page), a congratulations page by Ed Catmull / Sarah McArthur (1 page) and a full list of film credits for Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (4 pages).




Regarding the sketches - you will see an average of ten character sketches per page, broken down into the following sections (with a few words about the sketches on the page):
  • Woody - shows the many phases and faces of Woody's development.
  • Buzz Lightyear - great sketches showing his wrist communicator as well as details surrounding how his wrists and ankles would move.
  • Jessie - highlights her expressive nature from happy to sad.
  • Bullseye - Showing his transition from a slightly realistic looking horse to his current dog-like lovability.
  • Rex - Shows the early versions of Rex as a plump dinosaur to an iron-clad beast.
  • Mr. & Mrs Potato Head - shows their ever-changing faces of emotion with the switch of their "parts".
  • Hamm - Although he was always a portly pig, it doesn't look like he was always intended to be a bank.
  • Slinky - The springy dog we know today had a few drawings where he has full wheels attached to his feet.
  • Aliens - The little three-eyed guys weren't always green, nor did they always have three eyes.
  • Sid's Mutant Toys - A collection of the rag-tag group of toys.



  • Green Army Men - As expected, these drawings showcase the hardworking group of soldiers.
  • Wheezy - Among others, there is a fun drawing of him being squeezed.
  • The Prospector - He seems to have always stayed relatively close to his final look.
  • Zurg - If you're a fan of Zurg (and who isn't), there are some great sketches of the early versions of Zurg - who was much more menacing looking (decked out in all black). I also love the early sketch of Zurg on standard lined paper.
  • Al, his penthouse and Al's Toy Barn - Great concept drawings of Al in his chicken suit as well as amazing architectural (scale) drawings of his penthouse and exterior of the toy store.
  • Zurg's Fortress - Great details surrounding the interior and exterior of his lair with a scale, showing Buzz's height in relation to the environment.
  • Andy's House - Another set of amazing architectural drawings of Andy's house as well as some amazingly shaded images of the toys playing by lamp light in the evening.
  • Downtown - Shows the building details of the downtown area outside of Al's penthouse.
  • Airport - Pixar houses some amazing artists as there are many, very detailed sketches of airports, luggage carts and airplanes.
  • Woody's Roundup Art - This is a collection of the artwork that emblazoned the many packages and trinkets when Woody realizes that he was the star of his own television show.
  • Toy Barn Toys - These few pages show some funny sketches of other toys from the shelves of Al's Toy Barn - from the Serious Putty (a play on Silly Putty) to the Claude Monet French Impressionists Action Figure, these pages are just pure fun.

So, why did we do a detailed write up on Toy Story: The Sketchbook Series? After we read a review that said that this book helped teach how to draw the characters from the movies, we figured we had to put out as much detail as possible. Also, since there are a limited number of these books out there and since a lot of them still remain sealed, we wanted to bring this book the additional attention that it needs.

As a side note - I would also like to note that there is no official "Art of" or other book dedicated to Toy Story 2 - this is the only book that you will find that truly delves into Toy Story 2

If you're looking to get your hands on a copy, the easiest place to get one is on Amazon - it will usually cost around (gulp) three-to-four hundred dollars no matter where you look.


Pixar Post - T.J.

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