The Disney-Dreamworks Wars: Toy Story VS. Small Soldiers


For decades a fierce rivalry between two animation giants has shaped the very landscape of the industry. Disney, through Pixar and their homegrown animation department, against Dreamworks, founded by former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Each company releasing certain films that have drawn many comparisons. In this series we shall compare those films and see which is superior. 

This matchup is a rather interesting one since one is fully animated while another is live-action with additional animated characters. Pixar’s classic Toy Story and Dreamworks’ Small Soldiers. Both tell stories of toys coming to life. One a family friendly adventure about two friends, the other an action packed thrill ride.

Toy Story (1995)

A young boy named Andy owns various toys, his favorite being a cowboy named Woody (Played by: Tom Hanks). However, things change when Andy gets a new toy, a space ranger named Buzz Lightyear (Played by: Tim Allen). Woody grows extremely jealous of Buzz, but Buzz doesn’t realize he is a toy, he thinks he’s a real space ranger.

When things get out of hand Woody and Buzz end up lost. They are soon picked up by Andy’s next-door neighbor Sid. After trying to fly out of a window and falling Buzz realizes he is just a toy. Sid decided he’s going to blow Buzz up and ties a rocket to his back. In a last-ditch effort, Woody inspired confidence in Buzz to make one last escape attempt. After freeing Buzz the two return to Andy just as he moves to a new house.

The story has a timeless feel with each character given distinct personalities and quirks. It is a story of friendship and teamwork, showing how no matter if you’re “old” or “new” you are all equal amongst your friends. Not only is this film Pixar’s first, but it is also often called Pixar’s best.

Small Soldiers (1998)

When a weapons development company decides to get into the toy business it is decided to make a line of action figures with artificial intelligence. The line would be separated into two factions, The Commando Elite, and the Gorgonites. The Commandos are led by Chip Hazard (Played by: Tommy Lee Jones) and the Gorgonites are led by Archer (Played by: Frank Langella).

A young boy named Alan, whose father owns an antique toy store, decides to try and sell some of them to help make money for the store. But he soon finds out that the toys are intelligent, almost alive. He quickly befriends Archer, while the Commandos decided to embark on a hunt for the Gorgonites.

The Commandos follow Alan to his neighborhood and decide to kidnap his next-door neighbor Christie to force a surrender. They also convert her doll collection into a makeshift army. Alan and Archer are able to rescue Christie and are chased by the Commandos. Thinking Chip Hazard is dead after an explosion they return home and try to explain to their parents what happened.

However, Chip Hazard returns with a truck full of Commando Elite soldiers and launches an attack on the house. During the fight, they realize an electric explosion will fry all of the microchips and kill all the Commandos. Alan climbs a telephone poll to put a wrench in between two transformers. Chip Hazard tries to stop him but Archer steps in. Alan then grabs Chip and puts him in between the transformers, causing an explosion.

In the end, all of the Commandos are destroyed and Alan and Christie are now a couple. Alan says goodbye to Archer and the other Gorgonites as they set off on a quest to find their home.

The film has a lot of similarities to the 1984 film Gremlins (mostly due to Joe Dante directing both films) but also tries a few new things with the idea of living toys. But some of the effects haven’t quite aged that well and the story can drag at times. While it is a fun experience it’s not a movie you’ll watch as often as other Dreamworks classics.

Winner – Toy Story

While both films have their positives Toy Story is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made. The film became a franchise with multiple sequels, snip-offs, video games, and theme park rides. While Small Soldiers does have its fans the film ultimately comes up short in terms of longevity and marketability. 

Which films should we compare next time? Let us know.

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.