The Brave Little Toaster

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The film is not quite as cheery as this picture. [1]

The Brave Little Toaster is a 1987 animated film produced by Hyperion Pictures, distributed by Disney, and based on a children's novel by Thomas M. Disch.

The film centers on five appliances—the eponymous Toaster, Lampy (a lamp), Kirby (a vacuum), Radio (guess), and Blanky (an electric blanket) -- who live in a old cabin out in the woods. The appliances have been left behind by their Master, a young boy, and have been waiting for him to return for years. When the cabin is put up for sale, the appliances determine to go find the Master (who, unknown to them, is now a young man getting ready for college) by making a journey to the city.

Though it didn't get much of a theatrical release, it's still fondly remembered and has become somewhat of a cult classic by its own right amongst many kids of the late Eighties and Nineties thanks to its airings on the Disney Channel and its home video release. It's proved to be a popular enough film to grant two direct-to-video sequels, and neither of them really sucked. As a side note, some of the people behind this film (such as John Lasseter and Joe Ranft) went on to go work for another company specializing in heartwarming animated features...

The Brave Little Toaster, despite its title (and its cover), has also become notorious as one of the most scary movies Disney ever produced, with gems like the song "Worthless", as you'll see here.

WARNING: If you plan on seeing this film, please make sure you're not going to be replacing or throwing out any old appliances in the near future. You will regret it.

Tropes used in The Brave Little Toaster include:
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, the new appliances that Toaster and the others meet in Rob's apartment aren't nearly as mean as they are in the movie. They are actually quite helpful, aiding the old appliances in finding a new owner, and even a little guilty about their part in the replacement of the old appliances.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plothole: The balloons in Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars seemed like a giant Non Sequitur Scene, right? In the book, they actually served a purpose: The balloons helped push the laundry-basket spacecraft to Mars, and one mylar balloon, who became friends with Toaster because they were both reflective, decided to accompany the group to Mars and proved to be a reasonably competent navigator.
  • Adorkable: Rob and Lampy both fit this description to a tee!
  • All Animation Is Disney: Distributed by Disney. Actually made by Hyperion Pictures.
    • If we want to get really specific, it's a "joint venture" between Hyperion and Taiwan's Wang Film Productions. The backgrounds, camera work, ink, paint, and most of the animation was done by WFP. Disney had nothing, zero, to do with the production. Nothing at all. See Executive Meddling.
      • Fox also financed some of the film (in exchange for the foreign rights). Disney and Fox later became rivals in animation.
    • The sequels however, were by Disney.
  • The Alleged Car: "Worthless"
  • Ambiguous Gender: The Toaster. In the book Toaster is explicitly without gender, in films one could get into minutia but really there is no clear indication either way. Aggravating as this may be to some, the movie's target audience either doesn't notice or doesn't care.
    • Director Jerry Rees and Toaster's own voice actress, Deanna Oliver, refer to Toaster as "she" and "her" here starting at 53:30. Can we say updated Word of God declares Toaster is female?
    • In Goes to Mars, it's referred to as "him" during the "Humans" song. Perhaps his/her gender will forever be a mystery.
    • Kirby refers to Toaster and Blanky as "boys" and in "It's A B-Movie" one of the appliances in the shop clearly says, "You must be the new boys in town."
    • When Toaster is lost in the river after the failed waterfall crossing:

Kirby: Where's Toaster?
Lampy: He sank!

Lampy: Hey, come over here. I'm gonna...
Radio: Why, do you dare to cross foils with the greatest Saxon swordsman in the land? Haven't you the slightest idea who you're dealing with?
Lampy: Precisely - a total idiot!
Radio: If your sabre wags as loosely as your Norman tongue, you'll be run through in an instant. Defend yourself, Sir Lampy of Locksley!
[Radio continually whacks Lampy with his antenna, Blanky falls on them]
Radio: A blow for Richard! A blow for Marion! A blow for Mario, the garbage man! And for Carl and all the boys at the delicatessen! And here's one for the guys on 5th street!

  • Animate Inanimate Object: Type 1.
  • Art Evolution: The sequels look somewhat different to the original. Switching over to another studio from Wang also made this noticeable.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: The idea of anthropomorphic electronics sharing a world with humans is Deconstructed with themes of materialism and abandonment.
    • It Gets Worse during the "Worthless" scene, set in a junk yard: there's a huge magnet seeking out the toaster and crew, to throw them all into a compactor - essentially attempting to murder them as they run away from it and hide in fear for their lives. Meanwhile, it actually is throwing cars into the compactor.
      • To make that even worse, the cars are singing a song about how helpless and worthless they feel. Some attempt to escape the magnet, which is pretty horrifying in itself, but even more disturbing is others convey that they want to die and fully understand the concept of death, even though they are objects.

Personified hearse: I took a man to a grave yard. I beg your pardon, but it's quite hard enough just living with the stuff I have learned.

Radio: Shut up! Shut up!
Toaster, Kirby, and Blanky: SHUT UP!

  • Black Comedy: How the appliances at Elmo St. Peter's shop have chosen to deal with their situation, and the basic idea behind the "B-Movie" song.
  • The Blank: Radio
  • Captain Obvious/Sarcasm Blind: Lampy, when Air Conditioner denies laughing at them.

Lampy: I think he was laughing at us.
AC: You know something, you're a real bright little lamp.
Lampy: Oh thanks! (Beat) "Heeeeeyy...."

  • Cool Car: The red car (people are split as to whether its a Corvette or a Plymouth Superbird that's been rear-ended) during "Worthless".
  • Companion Cube: This film is based around this trope.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Air Conditioner, due to the preferential treatment the other appliances received, developed wild theories about them which are revealed during his rather disturbing death scene.
  • Contemptible Cover: As mentioned by the caption above, the cover art depicts this movie as a light-hearted family flick. The actual film is a far cry.
  • Conveyor Belt O' Doom: Which leads to a crusher that mashes you into a cube.
  • Corrupt Hick: The toaster oven during "Cutting Edge". She has a southern accent, and offers a bit of back-handed "Southern Hospitality" to Toaster in the form of some muffins, while flaunting how much more advanced she is and zaps him a second later.
  • Covers Always Lie: Do. They. Ever. If you think the one above is bad, another cover for the DVD shows the main five characters and the younger master skipping down a yellow road surrounded by twinkling stars.
  • Crap Saccharine World
  • Crying Little Kid: Blankey.
  • Cultural Translation: During the "Worthless" song, the Indy 500 car instead mentions running the Nürburgring in the German dub.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The appliances in Elmo Saint Peter's parts shop may be broken, tinkered with, and twisted by the events they have seen, but they are by no means evil. You COULD say that they're resigned to their fate in a fairly unhealthy, EXTREMELY macabre way, however...
  • Darker and Edgier: The film has a significantly darker tone than the book, which is an interesting inversion to what usually happens to animated adaptations of books.
    • Also in comparison to the sequels.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kirby and the Air Conditioner.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Sometimes Lampy speaks a little like this sometimes.

Lampy: All of a sudden, you're being so darn nice to him all of a sudden.

Radio: We're trapped here like rats! Small, little rats with no hair and one leg.

  • Driven to Suicide: The Air Conditioner in the first movie.
    • In Goes to Mars, Tinselena becomes this after her Heroic Sacrifice, and decides to throw herself into the garbage can. She is ultimately saved when Chris finds her and decides to give her a makeover.
    • There is a literal example in the original where a green truck drives himself onto the Conveyor Belt of Doom instead of letting the magnet crane get him.
  • Dying Alone: There is one scene when the poor little flower realizes that it was loving its own reflection on Toaster after he runs away, and as he peeks into the bushes, he notices that the flower is losing its petals as it dies emotionally alone and brokenhearted. So disturbing... and heart-breaking!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how.
  • The Eighties: Especially with the new appliances and electronics that appear in the movie.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Naturally, how Toaster's horrific dream ends.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending
  • Evil Brit: The ridiculously large projector/stereo/mainframe/entertainment-system/generic high-tech device (possibly a Beeping Computer) seen in the apartment and "Cutting Edge" has a somewhat vague British accent, but like all the "Cutting Edge" appliances he is definitely an evil Jerkass.
  • Evil Laugh: The clown in Toaster's dream puts all other evil laughs to shame. Arguably, the laugh done to start "It's a B-Movie," though not done by anyone evil.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Both the "It's a B-Movie" and "Worthless" numbers. And in a particularly horrific scene, Rob just misses being added to this list.
    • The air conditioner getting worked up to the point of aneurysm, and dying... on camera.

Blanky: Poor Air Conditioner...
Toaster: I didn't think he'd take it so hard.
Kirby: Eh, he was a jerk anyways.

Lampy: Yeah, none of us needs a hearing aid.
Kirby: What did you say?
Lampy: I said none of us needs a hearing aid!

  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Lampy has watts of 'em!
  • Insane Proprietor: Done by the TV to get the Master to go to the junkyard.
  • Irony / Ironic Echo: Tons. Examples:
    • Elmo St. Peters, after the blender hides, says something along the lines of "It couldn't have just got up and walked away."
      • When Radio hides, he said "What did it do? Just get up and walk away?"
    • HUGE situational irony. After the appliances' journey, it is revealed that Rob/The Master actually was coming back for them.
      • Also, Kirby suggested that they just stay in the cottage. Only that someone will buy the cottage and have a new master.
    • It is ironic that Lampy, who is physically bright, is not that bright mentally.
      • And yet it is he who figures out a way to save Radio's life.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Kirby tries to pull this as an excuse for rescuing the others from the waterfall ("I just slipped and fell in, that's all!") None of them buy it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kirby.
    • Ratso the rat in the sequels.
  • Large and In Charge: The Supreme Commander in Goes to Mars thinks that he should be voted for simply because he is bigger than everyone else.
  • Large Ham: The Radio.
    • Heh... Ham Radio.
      • Kinda comes with the territory, since Radio's character is a mixture of the news broadcaster and the radio dramatist.
    • No love for TV?
  • Least Is First: Blanky, the youngest and weakest of the group, is the first to join Toaster to find the Master
  • Leitmotif: Each character has their own theme.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like recharge a battery.
  • Lighter and Softer: The sequels.
  • Literal-Minded: From Goes to Mars:

Balloon: Howdy y'all! Where ya headed?
Toaster: Mars!
Balloon: (Laughing) You're pulling my string!
Blanky: No we're not, we're way over here, and you're way over there.

  • The Man Behind the Curtain / The Reveal: The Supreme Commander in the third movie turns out to be the hearing aid's long lost brother.
  • Meaningful Name: The appliance shop owner is named Elmo St. Peters—as in "Saint Peter", as in "the guy you see shortly after your death". Fitting for a man who runs a store where everything's on its last legs, and alluded to in "B Movie Show" ("You just tell St. Pete/That you got cold feet").
    • Also, "St. Elmo's fire" is an electrical aura that sometimes appears around pointed objects (like ships' masts) in stormy weather. So "Elmo" is a meaningful name for an electrician.
  • Monster Clown: One shows up in the Toaster's brief Nightmare Sequence.
  • Mood Whiplash / Shoo Out the Clowns: From silly animal antics to a Narcissus flower dying of a broken heart in a heartbeat...until one of the clowns returns.
  • Motor Mouth: The radio.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The VHS trailer for the movie didn't do too much better than the cover on making it look like it was a very Dark and Edgy movie.
  • New Technology Is Evil: Literally. The "cutting edge" appliances try to off the main characters.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The air conditioner (a Jack Nicholson sound-alike) and the hanging lamp (a Peter Lorre sound-alike). Of course, what did you expect, what with impressionist extraordinaire Phil Hartman doing their voices?
    • The can opener/lamp/shaver is an obvious Joan Rivers sound-alike, so it's only appropriate that it makes a self-deprecating quip.
  • No Name Given: The radio's name is never revealed nor is he addressed by any name in the first movie. However, in the sequels, he has been addressed by the other appliances as "Radio".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: During the "Its a B-Movie" sequence, there are disembodied cords that drag characters away into the darkness.
  • Not So Stoic: When Kirby is finally all alone. He doesn't handle it well, to say the least.
  • One Mario Limit: Averted with Kirby, who debuted before the video game character. (He's named after the vacuum company, which also debuted before the video game character.)
  • One-Scene Wonder: The air conditioner.
    • Technically a TWO Scene Wonder where the Master fixes him up.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The magnet and the mechanic are both just doing their jobs.
    • While that does apply to the mechanic (in his defense, he's unaware that the appliances he takes apart are alive), the magnet is still pretty evil, calmly dropping a human onto the Conveyor Belt O' Doom and all.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Air Conditioner: "IT'S MY FUNCTION!!!!!"
  • Put on a Bus: A very Literal-Minded example of this is the green pickup truck in the "Worthless" scene. He has literally been Put on a Bus (as in literally sitting on top of a bus) and left to rot, even though he is still in perfect working order (his engine is already running when the magnet comes for him, and he drives himself away, only for the camera to cut to him sitting on the Conveyor Belt O' Doom, not even trying to struggle despite being perfectly capable of out-running the magnet, implying he committed suicide, averting the trope, but still implying it).
  • Quicksand Sucks: Mud in a swamp works just as well.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Ripped From the Phone Book
  • Rousing Speech: In the first book Toaster gives one of these to the rest of its True Companions.
  • Say My Name: "TOASTER!!!" "BLANKY!!!"
  • Setting-Off Song: "City of Light."
  • She's a Man In Japan: Lampy is female in some versions, such as the German, Polish and Brazilian Portuguese dubs.
  • Shout-Out: Radio suggests going North by Northwest while trying to find the city.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: Expected in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. But then it's a kids' movie, and they are appliances.
  • Spiritual Successor: Watch The Brave Little Toaster, then watch Toy Story 3.
  • Staggered Zoom
  • Stealth Pun: There is a talking faucet in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. See "Hey, It's That Voice!" on the Trivia tab.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Murgatroyd from To the Rescue.
  • Tears of Joy: Air conditioner after the Master fixed him. AC recognized the Master and realized he was wrong about him and really does care.
    • Some viewers thought that those were regretful tears for doubting the Master to begin with.
      • And others always thought they were a reference to the beginning of the film, where we see AC's anger at never being "played with" by the Master (what with being stuck in the wall and the Master being too short to reach). Yet now the Master is all grown up and can not only reach him, but resurrect him.
      • It's probably all of the above.
  • Team Mom: Toaster, although it has an Ambiguous Gender, often falls into this role, especially once the others start to argue.
    • And taking care of clingy, crying Blanky.
  • Technology Marches On: The computers, telephones, etc. that brag about their features now sound horribly dated a decade-and-a-half later. Yet the main characters who are demeaned as 'outdated' would still all be fairly useful today.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Wasn't that the whole point?
    • The new appliances' song 'Cutting Edge' also has the lyric: From LEDs to CRTs, Woofers, tweeters, antenna trees.... There must have been something else called Tweeters...
      • Woofers and tweeters are speakers.
  • Thank the Maker
  • That Poor Plant: The saddest example of this trope ever done.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: The Air Conditioner becomes hot-tempered literally and figuratively, as he irately turns red after the other appliances offend him with mentioning that he's incapable of mobility unlike the others, and he becomes so heated he breaks down.
    • The Giant Magnet from the junkyard turns gold (or yellow) with fury rather than the normal red, trying to attract and collect the appliances.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: All of the songs contain at least one instance.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Plugsy. Oh so very, very much. He may be a Talking Purple Lamp, but its still applicable. His voice, his facial features, his mannerisms... if Uncle Tom were a real character, and that character was a lamp, that lamp would be Plugsy.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Can be observed with Lampy. Near the beginning of the film, he explains his ideas of how they can travel before they're implemented, with hilarious (but failed) results. When they're trying to come up with a plan to save Radio from having his tube taken out, he simply says he has a plan—which then works.
    • Earlier, due to the group being distracted, Lampy didn't tell anyone he was going to use himself as a lightning rod. He just did it. And it worked.
  • Villain Song: Both of which are Crowning Moments of Awesome:
    • While they aren't exactly villains, the insane machines in "Like A Movie" (aka "It's a B-Movie") do a wonderful job of showing the horror of waiting to be taken apart for spares. And they aren't bad shadow puppeteers either.
    • A more directly evil example is "Cutting Edge", where the new appliances sing an egotistic preview of their superiority to the main characters.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Lampy and Radio, Type 2.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Kirby throws out a sarcastic quip as the entire party is sinking helplessly into a mud puddle, with him being the first to go.

Kirby: "Oh, this is great fun! Let's make these outings a regular thing!"

Toaster: Well, I'm going, with or without you.

  • Yellow Peril: Look closely at the blue boombox during "Cutting Edge" and tell me you don't see it. All its missing is is a Sony or Panasonic logo! It even has slanted eyes! Well, slanted, notches on its knobs, which are implied to be its eyes.
  • You're Just Jealous: The air conditioner ridicules Toaster and the others for their optimism that their Master/Rob will come back one day. Toaster thinks its just a defense mechanism to hid the fact he's jealous of them because the Master never gave him much love as them. At first he denies it, but when Kirby points out he's stuck in a wall, his repressed rage kills him. (He's repaired later in the movie, though.)
  • Zeerust: Averted with the main characters, who are based on contemporary designs of the 50's. Despite their age, they are perfectly functional and have not been made obsolete, even as of 2012 (moslty). These two factors make the main characters somewhat timeless.
    • Played straight with the appliances in the appartment Rob lives in. Though some of them are functionaly timeless, their 1980's designs have a more zeerust feel by modern standards. They are currently in the uncanny valley of design, essentially. It doesn't help their case that they chant about being on the cutting-edge. In song, no less!