All of the following was prompted by purchasing a toy truck for my daughter today.
In Toy Story, toys incapable of independent locomotion by design are actually capable of movement, so long as no humans are around to observe it. A ceramic piggy bank is suddenly flexible and capable of walking, despite being made of a rigid substance. A cowboy doll, made largely of cloth and stuffing is able to prop himself up and move much like a human. All of this is fine, because 1) it is a children’s tale and 2) it is the internal logic of the story. One of the things that I wondered after buying the toy truck was, would this toy have a place in such a universe? All of the toys capable of sentience, that I can think of initially, are toy representations of thinking things. They are physical manifestations of characters, with the notable exception of the thinking etch-o-sketch. The only vehicle that I can think of in the series is a remote-controlled car, which demonstrates no sentience and only seems capable of moving because a remote control toy car can in fact move on its own, regardless of a human audience.
Further thought down this path made me wonder about the entire plot line of the third movie. All of these characters have personalities that are dictated by who they are, despite having no mechanism in their actual toy ‘self’ that would generate a personality, except for Buzz. Woody can occasionally be forced to say things by the string on his back, but these are just throwback sound effects and don’t really dictate who he is. None of the other prominent characters have ‘personality’ baked into their actual function as a toy. Meanwhile, by simply pressing a reset button, the entire personality of Buzz can be altered. It seems to me that it breaks with the entire logic of sentience in this ‘universe’ but it is well used and serves the plot well. Which is, I suppose, the whole point of this post. Logic is always logical. Story logic is only logical until it gets in the way of telling a good story.