Burger King agreed to market the film with its kids meals, before it was rated PG-13. The film was released soon after Oregon teen Kip Kinkel killed his parents, then went on a shooting rampage at Thurston High School in Springfield, killing two students and wounding 25. The Kip Killigan action figure was not distributed in Oregon.
The original promotional artwork featured Chip Hazard pointing a gun sideways at the viewer. The artwork was altered, removing the gun, so Chip appears to be reaching out instead. The original, unaltered artwork appears in the movie as a store display. It was later used for the home video cover.
Irwin (David Cross) tells Larry (Jay Mohr) that he was given the computer password "Gizmo", a reference to Gremlins (1984) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), also directed by Joe Dante. A Gizmo toy is later seen in the dumpster with the Gorgonites.
When Chip Hazard addresses his troops and appears in front of the large American flag, it's a nod to the opening of Patton (1970). The music in the scene was written by Jerry Goldsmith, who also scored this film.
After Nick Nitro (Clint Walker) shuts down, Chip Hazard (Tommy Lee Jones) says, "His battery has run out, but his memory will keep going, and going, and going." It's a reference to Energizer's marketing slogan, "It keeps, going, and going, and going."
WILHELM SCREAM: When Brick Bazooka is firing at Alan's bike to attack Archer, and ends up getting chewed up by the tire spokes and chain, Brick lets out a Wilhelm scream as he flies away. A Commando Elite soldier emits the same scream, as he breaks apart from the EMP on Stuart Abernathy's chest.
The vehicles that the Commando Elite construct, and that they used to attack and chase Alan (Gregory Smith) and Christie (Kirsten Dunst), and attack the Fimple house, are heavily influenced by the vehicles from the Mad Max film franchise.
The movie is set in fictional Winslow Corners, Ohio, and the producers tried hard to represent northeast Ohio accurately. Alan rides his bike past a newsstand selling "The Plain Dealer", a Cleveland newspaper. When he leaves his phone number on the Globotech voice mail system, his area code is 330, used in the Akron area. The Heartland delivery truck appears to have 1990s-style Ohio license plates.
A book of the film, "Small Soldiers: Top-Secret Dossier: From The Files of Irwin Wayfair" by Irwin Mayfair and published by Puffin Books, was Wayfair's (David Cross') private journal, which gave an insight into what went wrong at Heartland Play Systems. It exposed company secrets and highly classified interoffice memos and revealed where the Gorgonites actually came from, and blueprints of the Commando Elite's vehicles.
On making the movie, Director Joe Dante recalled "originally I was told to make an edgy picture for teenagers, or when the sponsor tie-ins came in the new mandate was to soften it up as a Kiddie movie. Too late as it turned out, and there are elements of both approaches in there. Just before release, it was purged of a lot of action explosions."
On the film special effects, Joe Dante stated "We were planning to use a lot of Stan Winston's puppets. He had made some very elaborate puppets that could do a lot of things, but in practice, we found it was much simpler and cheaper to let the CGI people do the work after we shot the scenes, so I would say it's one-third puppetry and the rest CGI, even though the original idea was to do mostly puppetry."
Brad (Jonathan Bouck) getting his jeans set on fire by Butch Meathook (Jim Brown) with a flamethrower, causing him to fall down the stairs, mirrored a similar scene in Bottom (1991) season three, episode four, "Dough", which in a scene, Richie (Rik Mayall) falls down the stairs when his jeans are set on fire with a blowtorch by Eddie (Adrian Edmondson).
When the Commando Elite are trying to get Archer to reveal where the Gorgonites are, Major Chip Hazard says, "We have ways of making you talk". This was also said by Sid in Toy Story (1995), which was also about toys that come to life.
The film has a Marvel comic book connection with some of it's cast members: Gregory Smith starred opposite Emily VanCamp and Chris Pratt in Everwood (2002). Emily VanCamp played Sharon Carter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). Chris Pratt played Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Kirsten Dunst played Mary Jane Watson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, and Tommy Lee Jones starred in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).