Tinny being one of a set of tin toys in the 1940s that performed music, but is put away in storage because he didn't sell very well. After being asleep for many years, he finally wakes up in the present time and finds himself in a huge megastore during Christmas. Tinny then goes on a search to find his old friends, along the way meeting a ventriloquist's dummy and a junkman.
After the success of Tin Toy, Pixar started doing commercials for television and by 1989 started planning the idea for a holiday special, with the hopes of working their way up to making a feature film (which is what Ed Catmull dreamed of one day doing). However, it turned out that they didn't have the budget to get it made because the network they pitched it to wouldn't give them enough money. After the idea was shelved for two years, John Lasseter took it out again and began expanding it to feature length when Pixar was hired by Disney to make for them an animated feature, which ended up evolving into Toy Story. When the story was being re-worked into the storyline for Toy Story, Tinny's role was replaced with that of Buzz Lightyear, and the ventriloquist's dummy character became Woody. There was also a penguin character that ended up being used in Toy Story 2 as Wheezy, and a bear that became Lotso in Toy Story 3 (as stated in the official movie magazine for Toy Story 3).
- Some elements of A Tin Toy Christmas still found their way into Toy Story and Toy Story 2:
- The ending of Toy Story takes place on Christmas.
- Tinny being put in storage became a concept used for Jessie.