Buzz Lightyear
Source: Disney

We Know Him From 'Toy Story,' but Who Is the Character Buzz Lightyear Actually Based On?


Oct. 28 2021, Published 12:04 p.m. ET

A few characters from the Toy Story universe have stood out over the years as really being something special. If you ask different people who their favorite is, the answer is likely to change from person to person, but undoubtably one of the most universally beloved faces from the franchise is Buzz Lightyear.

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Now, Buzz is finally getting the kudos he deserves in a standalone film titled Lightyear, which will explore the "real" person that the Buzz Lightyear toy featured in Toy Story was based on. With that being said: How does the new Disney-Pixar film differentiate between what's "real" and what's a toy, and is there actually a person in real life that inspired the creation of the Buzz Lightyear character? Keep reading to find out!

Buzz Lightyear
Source: Disney
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'Lightyear' focuses on the "real" person that the Buzz Lightyear toy in 'Toy Story' was based on.

It may slip some viewers' minds at points while watching Toy Story, but (most) of the characters involved in it are, well, toys. With that being said, Lightyear takes a look at the same universe that Toy Story took place in, albeit from a different angle. In the new film, the story of the human Buzz Lightyear, the person whose commendable efforts as a space explorer made him a star with his own toys, is explored.

It may sound confusing, but the Buzz that fans will see in Lightyear is not a toy, he's an actual person (albeit animated, Pixar style). During the movie, fans take a look at Buzz's early days as an elite member of an unnamed space force jetting from planet to planet in order to save the galaxy. The trials, tribulations, and successes he encounters in the film serve as the basis for him becoming the legendary space ranger that he is known and immortalized as a toy as in the Toy Story storyline.

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Buzz Lightyear
Source: Disney

Who is the character of Buzz Lightyear actually based on?

Human and toy storylines aside, the real-life origin of the Buzz Lightyear character is a direct homage to one of the most famous people in the history of space travel: Buzz Aldrin.

For those who don't know, Buzz (the astronaut, not the movie character) was the second man (behind Neil Armstrong) to set foot on the surface of the moon in the famed 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

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A Buzz Lightyear figurine has even been to space just like the real Buzz. While preparing for a 2008 space mission as part of NASA's 50th-anniversary celebrations, Buzz Aldrin jokingly was seen on video giving the action figure a series of fitness tests and lessons prior to blasting off.

That wasn't the astronaut's only reference to his namesake character though. In a clip that can be found on the Toy Story 10th anniversary DVD, Buzz Aldrin pulls a toy Buzz Lightyear out while giving a speech for NASA, causing the crowd to erupt in cheers. Despite the clear linkage between the real person and the movie character, Buzz was never given any endorsement fees or compensation for the use of his name in the films.

The upcoming Lightyear (in which Chris Evans voices the lead role) is set to hit theaters in summer 2022.

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