Back in November, Pixar revealed that they weren't quite ready to leave the Toy Story franchise behind and that they'd be revisiting its beloved cast of characters through a series of short films.
Producer Darla K. Anderson confirmed that we'd see the first Toy Story short debut in front of Cars 2 this summer, but kept the details of its premise under wraps. She did hint that a number of old favorites would be making appearances, but if you were anxiously awaiting the return of Woody and Buzz you might have to wait just a little bit longer.
According to legendary Disney animator Floyd Norman, the first short will focus on Toy Story 3 scene-stealers Ken and Barbie. Bleeding Cool took notice of Norman's Twitter page where he announced that he'd seen the film and also dropped some hints regarding the plot:
Saw the Pixar “Hawaii” short. Cute. Ken and Barbie want to go to Hawaii. I don’t know what it’s gonna be attached to. Fun stuff, however.
Given the pitch-perfect ending of Toy Story 3, it makes sense to me that this first short will function more like a spin-off rather than a direct continuation. I think it's safe to say that most fans can't stand the idea of a Toy Story 4, but this seems like a great way to catch up with these characters without disrupting the closure of the feature film series.
Personally, I thought Ken (as voiced by Michael Keaton) was one of the best parts of Toy Story 3. From the moment these shorts were announced, I was optimistic that it meant we might be able to see more from him. Quite honestly, I think giving the audience a little bit more time to appreciate the amazing epilogue for Toy Story's main cast is a smart decision. It also gives us something to look forward to in subsequent short films.
Pixar has an incredible track record with their features, but their collection of short films is pretty astounding as well. They've struck a nice balance between original material (like Day & Night and Geri's Game) and stories that detail the further exploits of established characters (Jack-Jack Attack and Mike's New Car still crack me up).
Here's hoping that the upcoming Toy Story shorts will be of similar quality. You can check out Ken and Barbie's attempts to get to Hawaii when Cars 2 hits theaters on June 24th, 2011.