Tin Toy is a 1988 American computer-animated short film produced by Pixar and directed by John Lasseter. The short film, which runs five minutes, stars Tinny, a tin one-man-band toy, attempting to escape from Billy, a destructive baby. The third short film produced by the company’s small animation division, it was a risky investment: due to low revenue produced by Pixar’s main product, the eponymous computer to manage animations, the company was under financial constraints.
Lasseter pitched the concept for Tin Toy by storyboard to Pixar owner Steve Jobs, who agreed to finance the short despite the company’s struggles, which he kept alive with annual investment. The film was officially a test of the PhotoRealistic RenderMan software, and proved new challenges to the animation team, namely the difficult task of realistically animating Billy. Tin Toy would later gain attention from Disney, who sealed an agreement to create Toy Story, which was primarily inspired by elements from Tin Toy.
The short premiered in a partially completed edit at the SIGGRAPH convention in August 1988 to a standing ovation from scientists and engineers.Tin Toy went on to claim Pixar’s first Oscar with the 1988 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, becoming the first CGI film to win an Oscar. With the award, Tin Toy went far to establish computer animation as a legitimate artistic medium outside SIGGRAPH and the animation-festival film circuit. Tin Toy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2003.