An early version of Lotso can be seen in Toy Story (1995) during the staff meeting. Woody asks if the toys "up on the shelf can hear" him, and we see a shot of a big, pinkish bear. John Lasseter wanted to use Lotso in the original Toy Story, but Pixar had trouble getting the fur right.
For inspiration for the Sunnyside escape, the Pixar staff watched numerous prison movies. Director Lee Unkrich said, "There are a lot of prison movies out there, and I think we watched every single one of them."
For Big Baby's one line for the entire movie ("Mama"), the crew had a lot of babies audition by recording them saying the line. The baby that was chosen was named Woody. In fact, director Lee Unkrich joked that was the reason why they chose that baby.
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen insisted that they record their lines together, which they had previously done for one day during the making of the original Toy Story (1995), but which is rarely done with animated films. They loved the chemistry their characters shared on-screen.
By the time Toy Story 3 (2010) was made, Pixar animators had figured out how to animate things like water and fur. Although being able to realistically animate fur was originally a concern for Toy Story 3 (2010) animators, the real animation challenge was trying to animate the trash bags in the movie. Since trash bags have special properties, such as how it reflects light, animators spent weeks trying to get the trash bags correct.
When Barbie is going through Ken's closet, they come across a blue and gold letterman's jacket with a "K" embroidered on the breast and a "State" pennant laying across the front. Michael Keaton, the voice of Ken, graduated from Kent State University, whose colors are blue and gold.
Ken's line, "Take him to the library (pronounced as 'lie-berry')," after capturing Buzz, was an intentional mispronunciation as an improvisation by Michael Keaton. Director Lee Unkrich liked it so much, that he kept it in the film.
Lee Unkrich voiced the Jack-in-the-Box that yells, "New toys!" to Andy's toys, when they arrive at SunnySide. He also provided the vocal effects of the cymbal-banging monkey, that looks through the daycare's security footage.
Andy's surname is Davis. Near the beginning of the movie, Woody is looking at photos on the bulletin board, and underneath one is a certificate with the name "Andy Davis" on it. This is the first time it's been mentioned.
Originally, a sequel was planned when it seemed that Disney and Pixar would split over creative differences in 2004-2005. Disney started up an animation division titled 'Circle 7,' which would have been in charge of churning out sequels for Pixar films, that would not involve the original creators at Pixar. Entertainment Weekly published an article that said the original plot for Toy Story 3 was going to be about Buzz Lightyear having a defect. Buzz would then be shipped to Taiwan to be fixed, but the other toys find out that the toy company is just replacing the broken Buzz toys with new ones, so they ship themselves to Taiwan to rescue him. This script had to be canned when Pixar and Disney made amends. Part of their agreement was not to further develop projects that had been planned during their fallout.
During the early development stages, when the people behind the film sat down to look at their work from the first Toy Story (1995), they found they could not edit any of the old 3-D models because advances in technology rendered the digital files containing the models incompatible with newer software. As a result, everything had to be re-created from scratch.
FRANCHISE TRADEMARK: The Pizza Planet delivery truck, which has appeared in every Pixar film, except The Incredibles (2004), is the truck that Lotso and his friends hitch a ride on, in a flashback sequence. Andy has a calendar from Pizza Planet in his bedroom. It appears again during Chuckles the Clown's flashback, where he rides on the rear bumper, in the rain, with Lotso.
At one point in the film, Mr. Potato Head scurries across a toy piano. The notes the piano plays are the "Petrushka chord," a recurring motif from a ballet composed by Igor Stravinsky about a puppet who comes to life.
The beginning was meant to mirror the beginning of Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999), with Mr. Potato Head presenting his attack dog with a force field, Woody responding he had a dinosaur that eats force field dogs with Evil Dr. Pork Chop and Death By Monkeys, with added things (The Orphans, The Train).
FRANCHISE TRADEMARK: The letter and numbers "A113", which appears in most of the Pixar films, makes an appearance on a license plate on the back of Andy's mom's car. A113 is a reference to the room at CalArts where the Pixar Animators studied. The car itself bears a lot of resemblance to an Opel/Vauxhall Zafira.
The final shot in the film before the end credits is that of white clouds against a blue sky. This is a reference to the very first frame of the movie, which is also the same as the first frame of the Toy Story trilogy, that of white clouds against a blue sky in the wallpaper on Andy's room.
The phrase "I'd like to join your posse, boys, but first I'm gonna sing a little song." had not yet been said by Woody's voice box in the final cut of any Toy Story film until now, but it did exist as far back as Toy Story (1995) in a deleted scene where Sid tortures Buzz and Woody.
A trio of plastic Hamburger, Soft Drink, and Fries toys appear in the crowd of toys that greet Woody and his friends at the day care center. These three toys are based on three puppets (called "Hamburger", "Soft Drink", and "Fries") that appeared with Ronald McDonald in 1980s television commercials for McDonald's Happy Meals.
John Morris, who voiced young Andy in Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999), voices the now older Andy in Toy Story 3 (2010). On the other hand, Charlie Bright provides the voice of the younger Andy in the film's opening sequence, and also voiced Peatey, one of the toy Peas-in-a-Pod at Bonnie's house.
1225 Sycamore Street (Bonnie's house) and 234 Elm Street (Andy's house) do exist together in two cities: Cincinnati, Ohio and Denton, Texas. Though they are, in reality, much farther apart in Cincinnati, in Denton, they intersect. Elm Street is similarly surrounded by roads with names of trees (Maple, Walnut, Hickory, Oak) as seen in the scene where Woody uses the computer to find his way home.
In an interview with KCRW's movie industry radio show "The Business", Joan Graves, the chair of the MPAA's Classification and Ratings Administration, admitted that (based on the response she and her board have gotten from parents) giving Toy Story 3 (2010) a G rating was a mistake, and that it should have gotten at least a PG (especially because of the incinerator scene), and that the lesson learned in that case would be applied to future movie ratings so that movies would no longer be given the "benefit of the doubt" while being rated.
When Woody comes back to Sunnyside to save the toys, and enters the Caterpillar room through the ceiling, he lands on top of a shelf and runs past bins labelled "Toys", "Glue", et cetera. The font used is called "Andy".
Pixar is known (at least by devoted Pixar fans) for referring to a character in their next movie to come out in their most recent one. A poster showing Finn McMissle (from Cars 2 (2011) appears (but not in the trailer) as Woody sighs as he looks around teenage Andy's room.
The lunch box Buzz grabs to save himself from the shredder on the conveyor belt is a replica of an actual The Six Million Dollar Man (1974) lunch box Lee Unkrich had in his childhood, his favorite one.
In the scene where Barbie goes through Ken's clothing collection, she pulls out a Nehru Jacket and asks, "This is from what, 1967?" The famous James Bond villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who popularized the Nehru style in film culture, made his first formal appearance in You Only Live Twice (1967). Additionally, the shirt resembles the same style worn by The Beatles on the cover of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, which was also released in 1967.
This is the first Toy Story film to receive the Oscar for Best Original Song with the song "We Belong Together". The first Toy Story movies lost the category for non-Pixar Disney films. "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story (1995) lost to "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas (1995) and "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 (1999) lost to "You'll be in My Heart" from Tarzan (1999). "We Belong Together" won over the non-Pixar Disney film Tangled (2010) song "I See the Light".
One of the toys in Bonnie's room is a plush Totoro, from Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro (1988) ("My Neighbor Totoro"). Disney is the American distributor of Studio Ghibli's films, and John Lasseter serves as Executive Producer for their American DVD releases. Another one of her toys is a hedgehog that resembles the Shalom Sesame character Kippi Ben Kippod.
Near the beginning of the movie, a sticker resembling the Clemson Tigers helmet can be seen on the toy box. It is actually a reference to Lee Unkrich's high school alma mater, the Chagrin Falls, Ohio Tigers.
When Barbie is going through Ken's outfits, she declares the space suit is called "Mission to Mars", which was the name of one of the original rides from Disney World's and Disneyland Park's Tomorrowland. The former is now another attraction called ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, and the latter is now a restaurant called Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.
This is the first feature film released in Dolby Surround 7.1. The Dolby Surround 7.1 format is made up of eight channels of audio, with the following channel layout: Left, Center, Right, Low-Frequency Effects (LFE), Left Surround, Right Surround, Back Surround Left (new), and Back Surround Right (new).
In the scene, where the toys send Buzz to see Lotso, about transferring them to the Butterfly Room at Sunnyside, Buzz mentions the "transom". In the script, Rex says "What's a transom, Buzz?" as an homage to Drugstore Cowboy (1989). Michael Arndt had repeatedly begged Lee Unkrich to include the line in the movie, but Lee didn't think it was necessary, so was not used. It is, however, mentioned in the DVD commentary.
First Pixar film to be a follow-up to a previous Pixar film, since Toy Story 2 (1999). Both of these films are part of the same franchise. Pixar considered doing a third Toy Story from the get-go, based on the success of the second film, but Disney wouldn't allow them to do it, or any other follow-up films, until after they acquired/purchased Pixar in 2006.
Numerous visual references to Pixar Animation Studios' hometown of Emeryville, California, are visible in Andy's room, such as the poster for a fictional Baja 1000-style off-road race that finishes in the city of Emeryville. In addition, a ticket stub can be seen on the cork board above Andy's desk for a concert in Emeryville featuring the New Jersey pop/punk band Humble Beginnings, which may also be a reference to the "humble beginnings" of Pixar itself.
Initially was intended to conclude the Toy Story franchise, with Andy saying goodbye to his toys, having had no plans to do a fourth film at the time. But after the film was a huge success, it allowed Pixar to continue the franchise following the toys' new life at Bonnie's, with three shorts, two television specials, and eventually, a fourth film.
In the film, Andy has a sign on his bedroom door that says "Newt Xing". That is a reference to another film called "Newt", that Pixar cancelled during production, because it's plot was too similar to Fox Animation's Rio (2011).
According to Ed Catmull's book "Creativity, Inc.", this movie was reportedly the first Pixar film without "any major meltdowns". During production, Steve Jobs called Catmull checking on how the film was coming together. When Catmull reassured him that everything was going smoothly with no major incidents, Jobs responded to him saying "Be careful. That is a dangerous place to be."
In the opening toy fantasy scene, the locomotive has the number 95, the racing number for Lightning McQueen, from Cars (2006) and its sequels. The music used for when Dr. Pork Chop was driving away, was re-used as the spy car's theme for Cars 2 (2011).
On the kids' shelves (which is seen twice in the film, first when Woody return to Sunnyside through Bonnie's backpack and during the credits when Stretch puts Ken's letter in the backpack to Woody and the gang) you can see the names Max, Hannah, and Alice beside Bonnie's shelf. Those are the names of Lee Unkrich's children.
When all the bad guys are hanging out in the teacher's lounge, a battery is seen on the table and it is actually a Re-Volting battery. This is of course a shadow to the Re-Volting car from Cars (2006).
Just like in the first two films, when Andy's mom is pulling out of the driveway and heading to Sunnyside Daycare, above the license plate, you will only be able to see this if you have glasses, or it is the Blu-ray version. But above the license plate, it says "10", which is a reference to when the film came out in 2010.
At the end of the original Toy Story (1995), Rex said he hoped Andy would get another dinosaur, preferably a "leaf eater" so he could act as the dominant predator. In Toy Story 3 (2010) he gets his wish, because his new owner, Bonnie, has Trixie.
Pixar came with the idea of using a teddy bear as a villain for the first time in 1990, when they were planning "A Tin Toy Christmas", the never produced sequel to Tin Toy (1988). In the planned short, Tin Toy would get lost in a mall ruled by a gang of old toys bitter for not having been bought and played with for years, and the teddy bear would be their leader. Some of the ideas were used in Toy Story 2 (1999).
A piece of concept art found in the book "The Art of Toy Story 3", shows that originally, Trixie the blue dinosaur was envisioned to be part of Lotso's gang at the daycare center. However, in the final movie, she is one of Bonnie's toys, and is a friendly character.
The plot of the movie is loosely based on the original treatment for Toy Story (1995), which had Tinny (from Tin Toy (1988)) getting lost at a rest stop, and being found by a junk man, who throws him into back of his truck. Tinny meets a ventriloquist dummy, and they both decide to stick together. But in the end, they end up in a preschool, where they'll never get lost, or outgrown.
Several toys from previous movies are not present in this film. Bo Peep, Etch, and Wheezy are mentioned. Wheezy does appear (briefly) during the opening sequence with Andy taking down the toy's heights on the wall (he's stacked up on the wall).
This is the only film in the Toy Story franchise where Andy says the names of his toys, in the scene where he hands them over to Bonnie. In the previous films, he only mentioned the names of Woody and Buzz.
When Lotso is helped to the Emergency Stop button on the trash conveyor belt, instead of pushing the button to stop the belt and save the other toys, he glares at them and yells, "Where's your kid now?" This is a wink to the Billy Crystal routine making fun of the incongruity of Edward G. Robinson being cast in The Ten Commandments (1956): "Where's your deliverer now, Moses?" This supposedly sparked the Internet meme of "Where is your god, now?", which Lotso's statement echos.