Toy Story 4 is now available on BluRay and Disney Digital – and we just got to celebrate in the BEST way. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know (and love) Forky – Bonnie’s new best friend made from a few art supplies and… trash. And who thinks he is (and should only be) trash. We visited Happen Inc’s Toy Lab in Cincinnati, Ohio, to “upcycle” our OWN one-of-a-kind toys!
What are The Toy Lab and Happen Inc?
In partnership with Disney Studios and The Owens Group, we spent part of our afternoon at The Toy Lab – a project from Happen Inc, which just so happens to be one of my new favorite non-profits in the city. Happen Inc offers totally free community classes, outings, and activities. Their purpose is to “[bring] families together through shared creative experiences” – so basically, I have absolutely no idea how our paths haven’t crossed before.
At The Toy Lab, kids (and kids at heart!) choose seven toy parts – from among discarded, broken, and otherwise donated toy pieces – and make a new creation of their own invention. The guest then names the new toy, AND gives it super powers, and takes it home to keep.
How Upcycling Toys Gives Back
The nominal fee to create a toy provides funding for all of the other great activities Happen provides. By “upcyling” old toy parts, the Toy Lab has kept hundreds of pounds of plastic out of the landfill. And by giving kids pretty much free reign over the design process, they’re empowering them and encouraging creative thinking in a way that all kid seem to be drawn to, but some rarely have the chance to explore.
The Toy Lab and the Toy Story Franchise are a Perfect Match
As soon as we heard about the opportunity to reuse toy parts (and what otherwise amounts to trash) to create our own toys, it was instantly clear how great a fit this was for a Toy Story 4 release celebration. Much of Toy Story 4 centers around both Forky’s and Woody’s identity crises. Is Forky a toy, or just trash? What does it mean for a toy to first come to life? What is Woody’s purpose if he’s no longer really needed by his kid?
When we were looking through the gallery though, to get an idea of what kinds of things we might find at the Toy Lab, we saw some creations that also instantly reminded us of the toys first seen in Sid’s room in the original Toy Story film.
Honestly, if we were to be given an unlimited budget and all the resources in the world to make the perfect location to celebrate the release of Toy Story 4 on BluRay and Disney Digital, I don’t think we could’ve come up with a better fit.
How to Upcycle your Own Toy if you DON’T Live in Cincinnati
Ok, so it turns out we’ve discovered the coolest new place in town. Even before we knew of its existence though, my eleven-year-old daughter was queen of upcycling. Even if she didn’t know it.
If there’s any box, carton, cool paper scraps, etc, we know we should probably save them. Chances are Avery would make something out of them – and if she wouldn’t, the other two would.
If you have kids, there’s every chance you already have some unwanted happy meal toys, a shelf full of things you’ve been meaning to put batteries in and the kids have forgotten, or pieces that you remember go to something, but just can’t quite remember what. Between that and some craft supplies you’ve been collecting, you may already be off to a great start.
If you can’t round anything up that gets your creative juices flowing, keep an eye out at garage sales or on goodwill shelves – or look in your recycling bin for non-toy trash!
Check Out these DIY/Upcycle Projects for More Inspiration
This post from DIY n Crafts is full of fun and quirky ideas. I think the Toy Wreath, Lego Minifigure Cable Holder, Drawer Knobs, and Army Men Bowl are my favorites.
Mom Approved Toys has some incredible ideas for redesigning toys with glow in the dark paint or using them to come up with fun games.
Check out this DIY Network article for inspiration using shoe boxes and paper towel rolls, or how to make a bowling alley out of pool noodles and adorable cars out of clothespins.
Watch Toy Story 4 on BluRay and Disney Digital
This summer, Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” took audiences on a hilarious and heartwarming road trip with Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the while gang, earning a 98 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and more than $1 billion at the global box office. Packed with old friends and new faces, the fourth film in the beloved Toy Story series, which leads Woody to an unexpected fork in the road.
There are more than an hour of bonus features that take a look at not just Toy Story 4, but the whole franchise we’ve loved for more than 20 years. Our whole family sat down and watched all of them this afternoon. Our favorite was definitely a toy-point-of-view spin around Second Chance Antiques, where you’ll see lots of Easter eggs from other Pixar movies and shorts. After watching, take another spin through Second Chance Antiques: Hidden Treasures, where filmmakers and animators point out just some of the things hidden in the antiques store – and some fun facts about the movies they’re from.
You’ll find the special features in the “ADVENTURES” menu on the splash screen. They’re all adorably road trip themed, such as the “Guided Tour” (full movie with director commentary) and “Travel Logs” (mini-documentaries about the characters, interviews with the cast about their favorite toys, a great look at how dialogue comes to life in Pixar films, and other insider looks at the film. There’s also “Local Attractions” (features about the animation process), “Trip Highlights” (mots exciting scenes), “Detours” (deleted scenes), and “International Passports” (trailers from around the world and the “Photo Journal” (stills from the movie).
Check out more photos from our adventure, over on Facebook!