Film ID:
NEFA 20762



Visitor Tabs


The South Shields-born animator Sheila Graber looks at the growing gender bias in toys for girls and boys. At the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, monster killing machines and robots fight each other and toy soldiers in khaki battle against pink clad, cute dolls, threatened animals and fairies. The toys gradually find their traditional roles reversed and harmony returns to the fictional killing fields of a Christmas home. This animation was inspired after a meeting with the musician Fredy Reyna, master of the Venezuelan cuatro, who created the music and owned a large collection of historical toys. 

The animation opens with a close-up of snow falling on a snowman. The camera zooms out to reveal the image of a glass snow globe placed in an arrangement of Christmas food and ornaments on a table in a living room decorated for the festive day, with toy gifts scattered around the room and Xmas tree. In the room there are plastic boxes containing a soldier and a Barbie-style doll dressed in pink, a toy army jeep, and a shocked cat seated on a pushchair. A sleeping baby in a wicker basket toy and a robot are placed on the tree. Baubles also decorate the tree, which is topped by a fairy in a yellow tutu with wand. A cuckoo clock strikes midnight, the cuckoo in a Xmas hat. On the twelfth stroke the bird retreats inside the clock, its claws sticking out as if the bird is lying on its back, asleep.

Close-up of the fairy whose eyes open. Close-up of the toy baby in a crib who opens one eye, and the robot whose eyes light up. The fairy blinks. Her wand turns into a guitar (or cuatro) and the fairy transforms into girl musician.

Title: Toys will be Toys (with animation of girl playing a guitar)

Credit: Guitar played by Fredy Reyna

Credit: Animated by Sheila Graber (girl musician zapped by the robot as credits fade)

The toy robot aims his laser gun and fires a blue flare. A green monster toy with tail and fangs fires a weapon back. The toy baby wakes up and screams as the two toys swap fire across its crib. The wailing baby, covered with a pink blanket, falls into the mouth of the green monster in its crib. The green monster has a small baby bottle in one hand. The girl guitarist looks on as the green monster sticks the bottle in the baby’s mouth, which it sucks happily. The robot takes the baby and pats its back. The girl musician serenades as the robot rocks the now contented baby. The green monster and robot join together to rock the baby.

Suddenly, there’s a wolf whistle. Three lecherous toys, including a puppet wolf and clown, ogle blonde dolls in pink skating dresses with love hearts in their hair, who cutify the cat, and also an elephant toy, brushing the cat’s hair with a pink brush and giving it a bow tie, whilst laughing prettily together. The cat makes a distressed noise.

The girl musician is annoyed and begins to play her guitar again (a kind of musical wand now). The pink accessories fall from the cat. The cat smiles and appears to become larger with claws out (rediscovering its animal nature). It growls. The four blonde-haired dolls look surprised. The toy elephant they were dressing with pink accessories suddenly grows very large. One of the blonde girl toys screams. The elephant trumpets loudly and lifts its front legs accidently knocking over Christmas decorations. The blonde-haired girl toys shake the tree mischievously and the fairy-turned-girl musician falls off. The elephant and cat shrink into a corner looking shocked at this change in behaviour.

Toy soldiers with a cannon pop up on a toy castle wall and sound a bugle horn alarm. The girl guitarist is flattened beneath the tree and the cat faces up to the toy soldiers whose cannon pops with a pathetic cork ball.

Everything turns red as soldiers in khaki uniform man a modern tank, and one of the soldiers shouts into a walkie-talkie. A battalion of soldiers in helmets march in carrying guns. The girl musician and blonde-haired dolls hide under the Christmas tree that has fallen over. The girl musician grabs for her guitar and makes a run for it through no man’s land as the soldiers and tank fire at the elephant who is hiding behind a large pane of bullet proof glass. The glass transforms into a television set, the elephant inside and the girl musician playing happily on top. The soldiers’ guns transform into “nutty guns”: the cat runs up to them playfully as the soldiers keep firing. One of the soldiers is now feeding the cat milk from his tin hat. The soldier commanding the tank looks unhappy. He aims the tank gun at the girl musician but it transforms into a sewing machine.

Looking on from the collapsed Christmas tree, the blonde-haired dolls transform into a multi-ethnic crew, and one of them, now an alternative eco pioneer, re-plants the tree. A line of charging soldier toys transform into a multi-ethnic crew with hoovers and brushes, sweeping up the mess, as multi-ethnic sprite figures leap through an open window.

A wolf and clown toy create a Christmas stocking graphic on a toy computer and print it out.

The girl musician serenades from the top of a present box, where mum and dad’s Christmas stockings hang, as the clown toy grins happily. The baby is still being rocked by the toy monster and robot. The robot holds a bauble decorated with a love heart as the girl guitarist lands on his head, her guitar transforming back into a wand.

An LED cuckoo clock reads six in the morning. The cuckoo makes electronic sounds instead of its traditional call. The cuckoo trills and flies out of the clock happily towards camera.

Harmony has returned to the living room. The robot and monster cradling the baby in a basket now form the shape of a Christmas tree, on top of which the fairy is back in position with her wand. The wrapped presents are arranged on the floor. The cat is happily asleep in the pushchair. Back in her plastic box, the blonde doll in pink wears green wellingtons and holds her spade looking happily at the soldier in a box beside her, now wearing a pinny and holding a hoover. The cat opens one eye. Across the room a robin perches on a Yuletide chocolate log. The snowman is smiling from his glass ball as the snow begins to fall and he transforms into a female with a wand (the animator’s alter ego), who winks at camera with a smile.

Credit: ©Sheila Graber animation 1988