Toy Story 4 is out this month, and curiosity abounds over what will happen to our beloved cast of vinyl and polyester friends. Bo Peep has returned, and I'm hoping she comes with a tale of gritty, wild adventure: Did she lose her sheep while gambling in Vegas? Has she become trained in the use of her “Bo”-staff? Will the relationship between her and Woody rekindle, or is their romance no longer in mint condition? Maybe I can find the answers to these questions hidden in a new line of Toy Story 4 puzzles.
There are new characters this time around as well: Duke Caboom (voiced charmingly by Keanu Reeves), an Evel Kinevel-esque stunt toy, Gabby Gabby (a talking doll who’s lost her voice), Ducky and Bunny, a pair of carnival prizes attached at the hip (or hands), Giggle McDimples, a pea-sized cop toy, a pair of ominous looking ventriloquist dummies, and, of course, “Forky” (a new toy made out of a spork, a pair of googly eyes, and pipe cleaners). Forky seems to undergo a bit of an identity crisis: He's a spork who gains cognizance as soon as he is created by a little girl, the implications of which are frankly mind-boggling. As Trixie the triceratops says, “I have a question. Well actually not just one, I have all the questions.”
Though the movie is coming out shortly and all my lingering q's will be answered, I still want to do some detective work to puzzle out the plot... with the help of these Ravensburger child-friendly Toy Story 4 puzzles. Available June 21st on Amazon, these puzzles are adorable, huge (one of them has over 100 pieces) and have large pieces that are perfect for small hands and developing minds. But can I analyze these puzzles, piece-by-piece, to make predictions about the movie? Are there secret, hidden messages to be found? Am I being obsessive? Maybe, but when it comes to sentient toys, I want to believe.
1. Giant 100-Piece Puzzle (Ages 6+)
The plot to the new 'Toy Story 4' movie may be a big puzzle, but this one is gigantic! With 100 pieces and measuring nearly 20-by-15 inches, this will keep older children (ages 6 and up) occupied for quite some time. It appears to feature most of the cast in a carnival environment, with a few easter eggs for the more observant: In the right-upper corner, there’s a pair of carnival prize guitars that look strikingly familiar to the guitar in Coco, another Pixar film. And near the right edge, are those new characters I spot? Is that a little group of GI-Joe-like action figures? And are they friends or foes? You'll have to see the movie to find out.
2. 4-Pack Puzzle Box (Ages 3+)
Let’s see what I can deduce from this puzzle for ages 3 and up: Well, Woody and Buzz still appear to be friends. Forky seems nervously optimistic, surrounded by the text, “I’m homemade!” (Does that mean he comes to terms with his origins? Does he reach self-actualization, as far as a spork can?) The puzzle also hints at Bo Peep’s new raison d’etre with the quote: “Saving one toy at a time!” She also seems to have found her sheep. Each puzzle measures at about 13-by-9 inches.
3. 3-Pack Puzzle Box (Ages 5+)
This 3-puzzle box (for ages 5 and up) comes with art featuring Woody and Forky hugging, with Forky looking rather content. It seems there’s hope for our nascent toy spork. It also indicates that Woody and Forky have something of a father-son relationship. How do toys reproduce? I won't linger too long on that question. Instead, I can see in another puzzle that Ducky and Bunny seem to be sharing a moment of friendship (they’re voiced by the inimitable duo, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele). And in the third puzzle, Forky looks on in sheer terror at the stuntman antics of Duke Caboom, while Bo Peep seems far more relaxed, but hey wait — isn’t she porcelain?
4. Giant Floor Puzzle: 24 Pieces (Ages 3+)
In this 27-by-20 inch puzzle (for ages 3 and up), you must assemble a variety of character portraits, one of which is particularly intriguing: that of the new character Gabby Gabby. (I’m not sure I like that heavy-lidded look in her eyes; I think she may be plotting something.) There's also a sneak peak of Officer Giggle McDimples. I hope Bo Peep has a reason to say, “You’re a loose cannon, McDimples!”
5. 34-Piece Puzzle (Ages 3+)
This puzzle is a 35-piecer for ages 3 and up, and includes some new key information in the form of those two menacing ventriloquist dummies lingering in the background. They seem to be hanging out with Gabby Gabby. Hmm, suspicious. Very suspicious.