The Christmas Toy (1986)

christmas toy poster 1986 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great Jim Henson creations

Odd story is sometimes unbalanced

TV Show Info

TV Show Name:  The Christmas Toy

Studio: Henson Associates (HA)/The Jim Henson Company

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 6, 1986 (US)/December 24, 1987 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


The goal of every toy…being under the Christmas tree

Christmas has arrived again, and Rugby the Tiger is worried that he’s going to be replaced by a new and better toy.  He has decided to secretly switch places with the new toy under the Christmas tree so Jamie will open him instead of Meteora, Queen of the Asteroids.  Unfortunately Rugby has forgotten that if he’s caught outside of the playroom out of place, he’ll be frozen forever.  As Rugby tries to make himself the best toy on Christmas, Apple the Doll and Mew the Catnip Mouse must risk their own lives to stop him.

Directed by Eric Till, The Christmas Toy was a Jim Henson production which first aired on ABC on December 6, 1986.  It was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Program and the basis for the series Secret Life of Toys.  Originally the special featured an introduction by Kermit the Frog, but the introduction has since been edited out due to copyright issues.


Die catnip mouse!!!

Essentially The Christmas Toy was Toy Story before Toy Story.  The holiday special is a fun little “Muppet” adventure and a good family entertainment for adults and kids.  It is worthwhile picking it up for the holiday.

The story (as mentioned) is very much like Toy Story…so much so that I can’t imagine that Toy Story hasn’t been compared more often to this special.  The characters are somewhat similar (though the story centers around a girl instead of a boy) and there is even the space action figure character of Meteora which reminds me a lot of Buzz Lightyear in behavior.  There is also a very similar Barbie-type doll who can’t decide what outfit to wear for each adventure…something Toy Story also capitalized on.


You’re alive! I guess love brought you back for some arbitrary reason…

With the comparisons to Toy Story, there also is that odd guilt factor.  The toys in The Christmas Toy realize they are replaceable in the hearts of their owners.  Rugby replaced Apple and Meteora might replace Rugby.  The sad old bear talks about how he never leaves the nursery anymore and who knows how long Mew will last with the arrival of Mew Two.  It is kind of a sad existence that the show tries to soften with the end sequence with Jamie telling her toys that she loves them.

The special does have the great Jim Henson characters and features Henson’s voice among other classic Muppet voice actors.  The story is set up essentially in live action sequences and Muppet sequences since the Muppets cannot move when the real actors are present.

The Christmas Toy is a special with more than one layer.  You have a nice Christmas story with fun characters but you also have this sad storyline about the temporary nature of toys in the hearts of children and add to that the toys can die if they are caught moving, and you have kind of a strange Christmas special that is different from some of the other stuff out there.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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