The Toy That Saved Christmas is the sixth episode of the VeggieTales animated series and the first holiday special in that series. This video was released in 1996 on VHS and distributed by Word. The original version of the episode used much different animation (a video showing the differences is available in the videos section) sound effects and music, and it was replaced in 1998 with new animation to go with the VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular TV special. In 1998, Lyrick Studios re-released the program on VHS with the old animation and the new animation. Unlike its predecessors, this episode does not feature an opening/closing countertop. Like the other holiday episodes, it also has no "A Lesson In…" subtitle.
The opening sequence features the Veggies at a theater filming "The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular" in their "first ever" network broadcast. Entertainment includesJunior Asparagus in the Holy Land singing "While By My Sheep" and Archibald Asparagus singing "Ring, Little Bell" (with help from Larry the Cucumber) while Bob the Tomato, Pa Grape, and others search for the feature film that the Veggies had planned on showing. Just when the network is about to cancel them in favor of Bonanza, the film can is finally located by Jimmy and Jerry Gourd (who mistook it for a pizza) and the episode begins.
The main story opens with Grandpa George telling a bedtime story to his granddaughter Annie about Wally P. Nezzer (Mr. Nezzer), the owner of a toy company, who is spreading the word via television commercial about his newest toyline, “Buzz-Saw Louie”, the only toy featuring an actual working buzz saw built into his right arm and a trigger in his nose that makes him tell kids to get more toys. After seeing the commercial, the previously content kids of Dinkletown begin whining to their parents about wanting more toys. Mr. Nezzer explains to his assistant (Mr. Lunt) that this is a strategy to create demand for his toys, which will result in him making lots of money. As many Buzz-Saw Louie dolls roll off the production line, one of them inexplicibly comes to life. That night, Louie wonders if there's more to Christmas than materialistic greed and escapes the factory to find the true meaning of Christmas.
The story is interrupted by a Silly Song entitled "Oh Santa!" Larry is staying up late awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, eager to give him some home-made cookies. Instead of Santa, however, he is visited first by a bank robber (Scallion #1), then by a Viking (Pa Grape), and finally by an agent of the IRS (played by The Peach). All the visitors are invited into Larry's house and get a cookie (except for the IRS agent). Santa (Bob) finally shows up, but rather than being jolly, he angrily chases after the bank robber and the Viking for stealing his belt and hat.
On Christmas Eve, while most of the kids are filled with a mad desire for the new toy, Larry, Bob, and Junior go sledding. They happen upon the escaped Louie, who explains his story and asks the Veggies for help. Bob suggests that they go see Grandpa George who reads the Nativity of Jesus from Luke Chapter 2: verses 8-14. In this, George explains to the group that the true meaning of Christmas is not to get, but to give, the way God gave us Jesus, the greatest gift of all. The kids are heartened by the news, but puzzle about how to tell the rest of the Veggies before Christmas Day.
Bob, Larry, Junior and Louie decide to sneak into Mr. Nezzer’s toy factory and use his television studio to broadcast a message of the true meaning of Christmas to all the surrounding towns. The plan is a huge success, except that Mr. Nezzer discovers the group upon seeing the TV belonging to Laura's family. The family sees the kids being surrounded before the TV turns off, and they decide to rescue them. Meanwhile, Mr. Nezzer decides to get rid of the intruders by tying them to a sled and sending it into a deep ravine. He is about to launch it when the families of Dinkletown arrive, having forced a penguin to give them directions. At first they seem ready to chew out Mr. Nezzer, but Nezzer remains dishonest of his true intentions. With that, Laura Carrot steps forward and shows Mr. Nezzer kindness by giving him a gift. Overjoyed, Mr. Nezzer quickly repents the errors of his ways and promises to make up the trouble he caused. However, the sled with Bob, Larry, Junior, and Louie is accidentally sent on its fateful course. As the families look on with concern, a chase soon ensues in which Mr. Nezzer and a half dozen of his penguin workers attempt to save the doomed Veggies. The tables turn, however, when Louie is able to divert the sled’s course, leaving Mr. Nezzer alone racing toward the ravine. Louie again springs into action and hitches a ride with the penguin taking up the rear of the group. Together, they are able to save Mr. Nezzer just as he is about to plummet to certain death. Afterwards, Grandpa George helps them back to the factory. The story concludes with everybody in Dinkletown, including Mr. Nezzer, getting together to celebrate a Christmas party. Next-door to the party, Buzz-Saw Louie is hard at work in his new house, putting the buzz-saw for good use making furniture.
Back in the theatre, Bob learns from Pa Grape that the network apparently didn't watch their special (Pa hints that they were watching the Rudolph special instead). Regardless, he closes out with his usual line, "God made you special and he loves you very much" and says farewell to the audience.
Cast of Characters
VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular
- Mr. Nezzer as the announcer
- Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber as the hosts
- Pa Grape as the director
- Junior Asparagus singing "While By My Sheep"
- Jimmy and Jerry Gourd as stage crew
- Archibald Asparagus singing "Ring, Little Bells"
- Larry the Cucumber as himself
- Scallion #1 as a bank robber
- Pa Grape as a Viking
- The Peach as an IRS agent
- Bob the Tomato as Santa Claus
The Toy that Saved Christmas
- Grandpa George as the narrator and mailman
- Annie as George's granddaughter (debut)
- Bob the Tomato as himself
- Larry the Cucumber as himself
- Junior Asparagus as himself
- Dad Asparagus as himself
- Mom Asparagus as herself (Cameo)
- Mr. Nezzer as Wally P. Nezzer
- Mr. Lunt as Mr. Nezzer's assistant
- Buzz-Saw Louie as himself (debut)
- Laura Carrot as herself
- Lenny Carrot as himself
- Dad Carrot as himself
- Mom Carrot as herself (debut Cameo)
- Baby Lou as himself (debut Cameo)
- Dad Pea as himself (debut)
- Mom Pea as herself (debut Cameo)
- Percy Pea as himself (debut)
- Li'l Pea as himself (debut)
- Dan Anderson
- Lesly Benodin
- Kristin Blegen
- Ken Cavanagh
- Bridget Miller
- Mike Nawrocki
- Lisa Vischer
- Phil Vischer
- Shelby Vischer
Due to the format of the show, this episode does not contain the usual "VeggieTales Theme Song" and "What We Have Learned", although the "VeggieTales Theme Song" is still present. It also contains the following songs:
- Can't Believe It's Christmas, sung by Junior, Laura, Lenny, Percy, and Lil' Pea
- Grumpy Kids, sung by Buzz-Saw Louie
- Oh, Santa! (Silly Song), sung by Larry (Mike Nawrocki), Bob (Phil Vischer), Scallion #1 (Phil Vischer), Pa Grape (Phil Vischer), and the Peach (Mike Nawrocki)
In the VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular special
- While By My Sheep, Sung by Junior Asparagus (Lisa Vischer)
- Kling Glöckchen/Ring Little Bells!, sung by Archibald Asparagus (Phil Vischer) and Larry the Cucumber (Mike Nawrocki)
Directed by MIKE NAWROCKI CHRIS OLSEN PHIL VISCHER
Produced by CHRIS OLSEN
Re-Release Project Coordinator JENNIFER COMBS
Written by PHIL VISCHER MIKE NAWROCKI
Storyboards LUIS CONTRERAS PHIL VISCHER
Art Direction MIKE NAWROCKI CHRIS OLSEN RON SMITH PHIL VISCHER
Character Voices DAN ANDERSON LESLY BENODIN KRISTIN BLEGEN KEN CAVANAUGH BRIDGET MILLER MIKE NAWROCKI LISA VISCHER PHIL VISCHER SHELBY VISCHER
Audio & Video Editing MIKE NAWROCKI
Dialogue Breakdown BRIDGET MILLER
Modeling ROBERT ELLIS ADAM HOLMES MIKE LAUBACH BRYAN MOLL CHRIS OLSEN
Animation Direction CHRIS OLSEN
Animation THOMAS DANEN ROBERT ELLIS MIKE NAWROCKI CHRIS OLSEN RON SMITH
Effects Animation CARA BUKOVSKI ADAM HOLMES MIKE LAUBACH
Development & Render Management LESLY BENODIN KEN GREENE
Score KURT HEINECKE ALAN MOORE JASON MOORE PHIL VISCHER
Audio Engineering MIKE NAWROCKI
Content Consultant SCOTTIE MAY Ed.D.
Catering BILL "YUM YUM" HALJUN
Toy that Saved Christmas '96 version - animation and sound differences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3olTmcqejxQ