If you were a kid around the year 1986, maybe you had parents nice enough to set up the VCR for recording the monumental TV special, The Christmas Toy.

Originally airing December 6, 1986 on ABC, Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy stars a group of toys, including Rugby the Tiger, Mew (the cat’s Toy Mouse), Apple the Doll and many others. When no people are around, the toys come alive and play in the family’s playroom (nine years before Toy Story, mind you)! Since a toy will be frozen forever if a person catches it out of position, they have to be very careful. That Christmas Eve, Rugby the Tiger remembers how he was the favorite Christmas toy last year and wants to be the favorite again this year, as not to be replaced by another toy. With the help of his muppet pals, Rugby embarks on a dangerous adventure and rescue mission through the family house.


I remember watching the 50-minute special so often that I could recite lines from the movie and mimic the Kraft holiday appetizer commercials that aired during commercial breaks. When I watch it now over three decades later, it remarkably still holds up and even a crusty-old veteran like Uncle T had to hold back the tears at times. The characters, story and music will have you laughing but pull at the heart strings at the same time.

Admittedly I miss the grain and hiss from our family’s original VHS tape, but up until now I totally missed the dark tone during some of the movie. Scenes like when the lights go out in the home and all you see is poor Rugby trying to hide from the humans walking around the house are downright terrifying. Much like Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, when it comes to human beings all you ever see or hear are voices, shuffling feet or shadows.


As far as Christmas TV specials go, The Christmas Toy is still my all-time favorite. Instead of analyzing it to death and picking the movie apart to pieces, everyone should just grab a friend or family member and watch the damn movie (for free) on YouTube below. If you can hunt down a VHS or DVD copy, even better...way better. Then nuke’ up a pizza, grab some pillows and curl up in front of the tube to experience it yourself.

Oh, and if you have kids, please have them watch this long before Toy Story. You might be a hero someday because of it.


Thanks for the memories, Jim!


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