‘Toy Story 4’ and the Amazing Women Behind the Return of Bo Peep

“The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.” — Amy Tenney

Earlier this month, I wrote about the debut of Toy Story’s newest character, Forky, whom will be making his arrival in Toy Story 4.

However… Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story gang aren’t just welcoming new friends like Forky in Toy Story 4 — they’re also getting reunited with an old one.

Bo Peep is back!

Toy Story 4 will mark Bo Peep’s first theatrical appearance in 20 years.


Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the creative powerhouse that is Pixar Animation Studios and was honored to sit and listen to an amazing presentation from the filmmakers’ on why ‘Bo is Back!’ led by the amazing women behind Bo’s return!

“Bo Peep is just such a great character,” says screenwriter, Stephany Folsom. “She was part of a baby’s lamp in Andy’s sister’s room, so she was given away a long time ago. Life was different for Bo, but she didn’t just sit around. She long ago decided to make the best of her situation, pick herself up by her bootstraps and stand on her own two porcelain feet.”

Producer, Jonas Rivera adds, “To me, Bo is really the most important piece of the movie. If you were to run into Woody at the end of this movie and ask him, ‘What’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to you?’ He would say that meeting Bo Peep for the second time is the biggest thing by far.”

Pictured — Story Supervisor: Valerie LaPoint, Story Artist: Carrie Hobson, Characters Modeling Artist: Mara MacMahon, Directing Animators: Patty Kihm & Becki Tower and Character Modeling Artist: Tanja Krampfert.

She’s no longer anyone’s porcelain doll.

After being separated for years, Bo has become chipped and discarded, but her spirit is far from broken. She has grown into an adventure-seeking free spirit whose strength and sarcasm belie her delicate porcelain exterior. When she and Woody are reunited under unlikely circumstances, Bo realizes just how much she’s missed him, and can’t wait to show him what she’s been up to. “Bo’s taken control of her own destiny,” says Director, Josh Cooley. “While Woody was watching Andy grow up, Bo gathered dust until she took it upon herself to head out into the world. And when Woody shows up, they can’t believe that they’ve found each other again.”

According to Folsom, Bo and Woody first connected as leaders of their respective rooms. “Woody ran Andy’s room, overseeing the toys there, and Bo was in charge in Molly’s room,” says Folsom. “There’s a certain responsibility that comes with running a room, and it’s clear that Bo is strong and in control.”

Annie Potts returns as the voice of Bo. “Annie not only brings emotion to Bo, she completely fleshes out that character,” says Cooley. “She’s heartwarming and funny, and Annie has a natural sarcasm that’s just perfect.

“We had a few sessions when Annie and Tom Hanks (voice of Woody) recorded together,” continues Cooley. “They’ve known each other for such a long time, there’s a natural chemistry between them that made it so easy.”

Producer, Mark Nielsen adds, “There is definitely love between them. We see in the prologue just how hard it was for Woody to let her go.”


The Re-Design:

  • #ToyStoryFact: Bo’s previous screen time from Toy Story 1 & 2 was seven minutes.
  • #ToyStoryFact: Codename for Toy Story 4 was ‘Peep.’

The animators reviewed the Pixar Archives of the original Bo concept designs and artwork, along with reviewing the scenes in the previous Toy Story films. The team additionally made research trips to doll and porcelain fabrication manufacturers to incorporate an understanding of the design into the new model.

From a toy attached to an appliance to a lost toy…

Toy Story 4 — Bo Peep Concept Art by Carrie Hobson and Daniela Strijleva. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The animators started with what they knew of the character, life as part of a lamp, her personality and expanded role as a driving force for the change in Woody’s character in Toy Story 4.

The animators then began to imagine what occurred during her time away from the Toy Story gang.

Toy Story 4 — Bo Peep Concept Art by Carrie Hobson. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

How crazy does her life get? How terrible could it have gotten?

Ultimately, the animators decided the focus would be that Bo would become a lost toy.

Toy Story 4 — Bo Peep Concept Art by Mara MacMahon. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

She became someone, as Cooley says, “who can stand up for herself, has confidence, and has seen a lot of things, has lived through it. She’s more well-rounded. We looked at different kinds of female characters. [Mad Max: Fury Road’s Imperator] Furiosa. Rey from Star Wars. Marion from Indiana Jones is a huge one as well, especially because they have that relationship in Raiders. Also, Ilsa from Casablanca.”

“She’s gotten all wise and courageous,” says an obviously proud Potts. “She is a fierce warrior.”


The Real Women that Inspired the New Bo!

One of the challenges animators faced was how to portray Bo as athletic while still feminine? They found that strong athletic women were often portrayed as masculine in movies and the team wanted Bo to be both.

“She is poised. She is purposeful. She is graceful AND strong.” adds, Directing Animator, Becki Tower. “Much like a dancer or gymnast.”

The following women inspired the animators as reference:

Alexandra Rose Raisman is an American gymnast, model and two-time Olympian.

Sharna May Burgess is an Australian ballroom dancer who is best known for being a professional partner and troupe member on the ABC series Dancing with the Stars.

Chloe Bruce is a Professional martial artist, stunt woman, and performer known for her work on high-profile films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Kick-Ass 2, and Wrath of the Titans.

Michelle C. Smith is a World Champion Baton Twirler, Stunt Woman, Actor and Educator.

Xu Huihui (徐慧慧, known professionally as Jade Xu) is a Chinese martial arts actress and multiple World Wushu Champion.

“We are highlighting feminine athleticism. Being feminine and being athletic. Those are not contradictions.” adds Tower.

“I constantly hear, ‘oh, she’s graceful and she’s beautiful and she’s refined’ and, you know, that can take you into a whole different, old way of thinking,” Tower says. “It could be more submissive if you’re not careful, older, traditional. And for us to use those adjectives and redefine it in a modern way was really enjoyable. And just to really shows how competent she is as she’s moved into this new world and life where she’s out on her own and really just show her strength and show that you don’t need anyone — you can go out there and survive and be so fulfilled and a definition of a toy that we haven’t seen before.”

“You got a friend in me.”

Giggle McDimples (Bo’s Best Friend)


Giggle McDimples is a miniature plastic doll from the 1980s Giggle McDimples toy line. Giggle is Bo Peep’s best friend. Small enough to perch on Bo’s shoulder, Giggle is Bo’s confidant, supporter and advisor. “Giggle is Bo’s Jiminy Cricket — we’re able to get insight on Bo through their relationship together,” says Cooley. “Giggle is definitely the smallest toy in the Toy Story universe. She’s been stepped on, vacuumed up, and probably put up a kid’s nose in her time.”

Ally Maki voices the tiny character. “Giggle McDimples literally pops on the screen because of Ally’s personality and infectious energy,” says Cooley. “Nobody can laugh like Ally Maki.”

Bo is back!

Thanks again to the amazing team at Disney and Pixar Animation Studios for the wonderful trip! I am truly excited to see Toy Story 4 on June 21 with the rest of the world but even more excited to share that experience with my daughter with a hero that she can see herself in and be inspired by!

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