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In Toy Story, the toys are alive. Do any non-toys display this characteristic as well? I don't believe so.

If it is true that only toys can come alive, is it ever explained exactly why toys, and only toys become alive? Why not toilets, or chairs or whatever?

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    Did you see the fourth one? Garbage can become alive as well – Jenayah Aug 31 at 18:01
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    @Jenayah No I have not. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Aug 31 at 19:39
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    @Jenayah it became alive because it was a toy...sort of a toy anyways. Apparently, to come alive you must merely be perceived to be a toy. – Reinstate Monica NOW Aug 31 at 21:31
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    Does the Toy Story level in Kingdom Hearts 3 count for this? It gives a degree of explanation for how the toys coming to life works. – nick012000 Sep 1 at 8:10
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    Some things are true because people have faith that they are true. The innocent and uncomplicated faith of a child is a cosmically powerful force. If enough children believe that toys have a secret life of their own, reality doesn't stand a chance. – A. I. Breveleri Sep 1 at 20:28
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+150

In the Toy Story segment of Kingdom Hearts 3, it’s explained that some unknown force unique to that world causes toys in that world to become imbued with Hearts (a spiritual organ responsible for your ability to feel emotions, which is apparently distinct from a person’s soul), and that this imbuement is what causes the toys to come to life.

Their connection to the children who own them does seem to create those Hearts, and it seems to strengthen their Hearts, as do their connections to other toys, but it’s not responsible for the process of them becoming imbued with their Hearts in the first place and becoming animated - that's some process in that particular world that doesn't seem to occur in other worlds, barring deliberate magical intervention.

We can see this in this video, where Xehanort causes a Heartless to take over an inanimate toy, stating:

One heart's shadows fill the emptiness of another. See how they bring him to life? Like Heartless and Nobodies, they fit together.

This is evidence that the toy had had its heart removed, or had a "space" for a Heart to be placed in, since when a person's Heart is corrupted by Darkness, it becomes a Heartless, with their body and soul transforming into a being called a Nobody. Later in that video, we can see a couple of toys that have been animated by a Heartless, and since they've got the Heartless symbol appearing directly on them, we know that they're being directly possessed rather than simply piloted.

Later, in one of the climactic scenes, Xehanort states:

In this world, toys have hearts. And those hearts come from a powerful bond.

In a following scene, he states:

So, even empty puppets can be given strong hearts. ... But now I know that a Heart can be placed in a vessel of our choosing.

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    +1 for an unexpected answer that actually does explain. Never would have thought of using KH as reference :) – Dylan Meeus Sep 2 at 8:28
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    Kingdom Hearts is in a weird place. Officially, KH stories are not a part of Disney (or Square Enix) canon. However, Disney does have very tight creative control over the way their IP is used in KH stories, so we can assume they had some creative approval. In addition, a KH game director posted that the Toy Box world was directly related to the canon of Toy Story 1 and 2. blog.esuteru.com/archives/20016371.html – Brian R Sep 2 at 15:05
  • Excellent! You will get a bounty. If you quote the exact text from the game, you will get another one. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Sep 3 at 21:09
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    @TheAsh I might do that once I get home, since I’m posting from mobile right now and I’ll probably have to watch something like a half-hour to an hour of video game cutscenes on YouTube to find the quotes. – nick012000 Sep 3 at 23:06
  • @nick012000 The second bounty would be worth a 100, so it would be worth your while. If it looks like you put in a lot of work, I'd reward more. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Sep 4 at 14:53
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Based on Toy Story 4, where we see an animated toy chair named Chairol Burnett, and Bonnie creating a toy named Forky, it seems that objects that are not inherently toys can be animated, although it only seems to be objects used as toys. Other non-toys include a garden gnome in Toy Story 2, and Christmas ornaments. A common fan theory is that the ownership of a child and/or having a name written on them is what makes them animated, but that's contradicted by the toys in the toy store in Toy Story 2.

It is never explained in-universe. It's just part of the world. As Wipqozn notes in their comment, there's even a joke in the credits of Toy Story 4 about the lack of explanation. One character asks "Why am I alive?" to which another answers "I don't know," and the scene ends.

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    To your last point, Toy Story 4 actually makes a joke about not providing an explanation as to why toys are alive during a mid-credits scene. One character asks "Why am I alive?" to which another answers "I don't know", at which point the scene ends. – Wipqozn Sep 1 at 14:11
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    What about the toy maker's point of view? if not only the child, but also the maker, perceives or treats an object as a living being, it becomes alive. This would explain the living toys in the toy store in Toy Story 2. Forky is a good example too. – Broken_Window Sep 2 at 20:14
  • @Broken_Window: That could indeed be possible. – FuzzyBoots Sep 2 at 20:21
  • Is it only children's toys that come to life, or does my Fender Jazz bass come to life when I'm out of the room? :-) – Wallnut Sep 4 at 8:09
  • @Wallnut: Never mind the various speculations about it being due to an owner's name and what that means for Andy's mom's toys... – FuzzyBoots Sep 4 at 11:24
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Some things are true because people have faith that they are true. The innocent and uncomplicated faith of a child is a cosmically powerful force. If enough children believe that toys can come alive and have a secret life of their own, reality doesn't stand a chance.

Because children supply the divine force that creates life in toys, children get to decide what is a toy and what is not. If a child plays with an object until he begins to feel some love for it, it may come to life.

The reason that most of the things that have a secret life are toys, is that toys are designed to attract the affection of children. But it's not unusual for a chair or a fork to attract that same affection.

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    Is this the reason in the Toy Story films that toys can become alive, due to that childlike belief? – Rand al'Thor Sep 1 at 21:08
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    Back this Answer up with citations, please. – nick012000 Sep 1 at 22:05
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    I've heard this called velveteen rabbit syndrome, I think, something becoming real because folk put their hearts into it, and believe it should be so. – Megha Sep 2 at 3:32
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    "Some things are true because people have faith that they are true" - If you are claiming this as in-universe reasoning, please provide citations. If you are claiming this as out-of-universe reasoning, then the only examples of that that I can think of would be along the lines of "I have faith that this statement is true". As examples of it being false, on the other hand: Geocentricism, Flat Earth, Phlogiston... and so on, and so forth. – Chronocidal Sep 2 at 15:57

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