Lotso came across the toys' well being and at first seemed caring, welcoming, friendly, and possessed all of the good qualities of the stereotypical soft teddy bear. This was further emphasized by his strawberry aroma and his hugging of Buzz Lightyear (hence his name Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear) when the toys first arrived at Sunnyside Daycare. He even went so far as to "promise" the toys that different kids at the daycare center would continue to play with them and that they would never feel unloved or rejected.
However, this facade merely concealed his true nature later in the film. Lotso's true colors revealed him to be a dark, sadistic, conniving, selfish, rage-driven tyrant and prison warden, ruling Sunnyside with an iron fist and imprisoning new toys in the Caterpillar Room to test their ability to endure the abuse of the reckless and destructive children there. This nature was mostly brought about from his perceived betrayal from Daisy. However, he was considered to be a kind-hearted friend to both Chuckles and Big Baby before they were accidentally abandoned and subsequently replaced. Due to his painful past, Lotso possessed a negative philosophy about being a toy, believing toys to be nothing special and originally made for future disposal.
While in power as a head toy at Sunnyside, he also seemed to develop nihilistic tendencies, as evidenced by his statement that all toys were ultimately going to be tossed out like garbage, and there is no salvation for them. Additionally, by destroying Big Baby's old pendant, Lotso not only wanted to forget his own relation with Daisy and pretend it never even existed, but he also wanted to destroy all of Big Baby's ties to Daisy and essentially all toys' ties to their owners. At the landfill, despite seemingly showing thankful feelings toward Woody for saving him from the shredders, Lotso still held on to his beliefs that children would discard their toys out of boredom and disinterest without realizing the physical and emotional pain they are causing to the toy, as evidenced when he refused to push the emergency stop button that, if pressed, would have led to his redemption by saving Woody and his friends from their fiery death in the incinerator.
Lotso first started out as a Christmas present for a little girl named Daisy and instantly became her favorite toy. One day, Daisy took Lotso and her two other toys, Big Baby and Chuckles, out for a little drive with her parents and stopped at a rest stop for a little bit of playtime. After lunch, Daisy fell asleep and her parents took her back into the car, accidentally leaving Lotso, Big Baby, and Chuckles behind. The three toys waited for a long time, but Daisy never came back for them. Not wanting to give up, Lotso, followed by Chuckles and Big Baby, finally made it back to Daisy's house, only to discover that Daisy had bought another Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy, making Lotso heartbroken and feeling betrayed.
Those feelings traumatized Lotso, and it made him turn evil, and he forcibly ordered Chuckles and Big Baby to leave Daisy and follow him. The three lost, cast-off, unloved and unwanted toys hitched a ride on a Pizza Planet delivery truck's rear bumper until the truck hit a bump, knocking the three off the bumper. Then, the three found Sunnyside Daycare, where Lotso and Big Baby somehow took over the daycare and "rigged the whole system".
Role in the film
Lotso's an old, pinkish-purple stuffed teddy bear with a strawberry scent and a Southern accent, who uses a wooden toy mallet as a cane (he is still able to walk, even without it).
He is first introduced riding over to Woody, Buzz, and the other toys in his banana-scented dump truck. He greets them in a friendly manner and shows them around Sunnyside. He assigns the new toys in the Caterpillar Room, knowing that the toys there are treated abusively by the younger kids.
That night, after the toys experience a rather rough playtime with the toddlers in the room, Buzz decides to go find Lotso to ask for his friends to be moved to the Butterfly Room because they do not belong in the Caterpillar Room. When Buzz finally reaches Lotso in the library (after being discovered by Lotso's thugs as an eavesdropper and forced into their "Time-Out Chair" for interrogation), he requests a transfer for him and his friends, to which Lotso agrees (but only to Buzz's moving, knowing that Buzz might be useful to him).
However, he refuses to listen to Buzz's plea to move his friends with him, believing that the Caterpillar Room needs toys for toddlers to play with, which makes Buzz instantly refuse his offer. He is unwilling to abandon his friends because they stay together as a family, Thinking Buzz is too useful to give up, Lotso then tells his henchmen to put Buzz back in the Time-Out Chair. He then uses a Buzz Lightyear action figure manual, which is given to him by the Bookworm, to reset Buzz to his demo mode. Lotso then makes Buzz think he is a real space ranger again and manipulates him into believing that his friends are helpers of Emperor Zurg. Lotso then makes Buzz imprison the toys inside their cells, with Mr. Potato Head being put in "The Box." To sure the toys stay in their cells over night, he tosses them Woody's hat.
The next night, while Lotso's asleep, Woody, who has escaped Sunnyside earlier, manages to rescue his imprisoned friends and formulates a plan to escape Sunnyside, including the attempt to get Buzz to rejoin their side.
When the toys try to leave Sunnyside through the garbage chute that the Chatter Telephone had told Woody about earlier, Lotso and his gang catch them at a dumpster, blocking their way of escape. Lotso tries to coax the toys into coming back to the Caterpillar Room to join his family again so as to avoid an approaching garbage truck, but the toys retort, labeling Lotso a liar and a bully who is running Sunnyside like a prison. This makes Lotso signal Stretch to push the toys into a dumpster, thinking that disposing them as trash will be better. At that moment, Ken tries to stop Lotso, but Lotso teases Ken for loving Barbie. When Ken disagrees with Lotso, Lotso becomes enraged at Ken's act of defection as well as his attachment to Barbie and throws him across the dumpster so as to force him to join her. Ken then speaks up, explaining what Lotso has done to Sunnyside, making Lotso question his cohorts if anyone concurs with Ken.
When no one answers, Lotso continues, telling the toys that not one kid has ever loved (or will ever love) a toy. Woody then attempts to remind Lotso of his old life with his previous owner, Daisy. However, Lotso immediately becomes upset as he doesn't want anything to do with Daisy, but to forget completely that his relation to Daisy has ever existed. Woody then pulls out Big Baby's old pendant (received from Chuckles during his stay at Bonnie's house earlier), and after unsuccessfully telling Lotso how she has loved him, Woody tosses the pendant to Big Baby, who picks it and, looking at the token of his lost love, sniffles, "Mama." Outraged at how Big Baby is still emotionally attached to his previous owner, Lotso snaps out at Big Baby, yelling at him that Daisy never loved him as he snatches the pendant away from him and smashes it to pieces with his mallet, making Big Baby burst into tears. He then orders a now reluctant Stretch to push the toys into the dumpster, pokes Big Baby abusively with his cane for being a dummy and a baby (which is not actually an insult), and denounces all toys as trash awaiting disposal.
Without warning, Big Baby lifts up Lotso, causing him to drop his mallet. Lotso orders Big Baby to put him down, but Big Baby, having had enough with his treacherous nature, throws the bear into the dumpster and closes its lid on him. He then blows a raspberry directed at Lotso and allows the toys to escape. As the toys try to leave Sunnyside, one of the Aliens has become stuck by the dumpster's lid, prompting Woody to rush back to free the alien by slightly opening the lid. But then, Lotso, having caught sight of Woody through the opening and wanting revenge for being humiliated and having his schemes foiled, grabs Woody's ankle and pulls him into the dumpster, making Andy's other toys rush to his rescue just as the garbage truck arrives to pour the contents of the dumpster into the truck.
The truck takes Lotso and Andy's toys to Tri-County Landfill, where they are pushed onto a conveyor belt leading to the shredders. After the toys grab onto a metal object so that they hang from the magnetic ceiling, safe from the shredders, Lotso calls for help from under a golf bag. Woody and Buzz drop down from the ceiling to free Lotso. They use one of the golf clubs to pry up the bag to let Lotso crawl out, and Woody makes Lotso take his hand as the club pulls them up to the ceiling, seconds before the shredders chew up the golf bag. Realizing that the conveyor belt is leading them to an incinerator, Lotso and the toys try to run for it, but the conveyor belt pushes them closer and closer to the furnace. Lotso then notices an emergency stop button and rushes over to grab hold on the lower rung of a ladder leading to the button.
He calls to Woody, and Woody and Buzz rush over to nudge Lotso up, allowing him to climb up the ladder and access the button. Woody and Buzz then shouts at Lotso to push the button, but Lotso, who hasn't changed overall, gives the helpless toys a menacing glare, shouts an insult directed at Woody as he runs off, leaving the toys to die in the incinerator. However, the toys are rescued by the giant crane that the Aliens have commandeered at the last moment. After the toys emerge out of the furnace, Hamm and Slinky express their desire to get back at Lotso for almost getting them killed, but sadly Woody convinces them to forget it, since he believes Lotso is not worth it, even though he clearly is.
Meanwhile, as Lotso tries to find his way out of the dump, he turns to see another garbage truck pulling up toward him, forcing him to go limp. As the truck stops next to him, a garbage man steps out of the truck and is surprised upon discovering Lotso, claiming how he has once owned a Lots-o'-Huggin'-Bear during his childhood. Sticking to his love for Lotso (as well as his strawberry scent), the garbage man decides to take him along.
Lotso is last seen tied up on the truck's front grill with a few other toys the same garbage man has collected earlier. Lotso panics as he wakes up to find himself in that predicament, but then one of those toys, a frog, warns Lotso to keep his mouth shut to prevent mud and insects from getting in, and Lotso does so right away, ending with the other toys laughing at him.
It is unclear what becomes of Lotso after Toy Story 3, but he most likely remains strapped to the truck like the other garbage toys and is eventually thrown away.
Lotso makes meet and greet appearances at Disney's Hollywood Studios and is part the then Toy Story Block Party Bash Parade (Now Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun) and at Disney's California Adventure. Despite being considered one of Disney's biggest villains, Lotso is a popular attraction at Hollywood Studios and California Adventure.
From Official Website:
- "Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is a jumbo, extra-soft teddy bear with a pink and white plush body and a velvety purple nose. This lovable bear stands fuzzy heads and shoulders above other teddy bears because he smells like sweet strawberries! With a smile that will light up your child's face and a belly just asking to be hugged, Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is sure to become a bedtime necessity. Stain-resistant. Spot clean plush surface with a damp cloth."
- In a viral marketing campaign, Pixar posted two commercials, for a "real" Lotso teddy bear manufactured in 1983, on YouTube. One was a typical American toy commercial from the 80's, and the other was done in Japanese. Both feature the "Toy Story Collection" edition of Lotso, that comes with the Certificate of Authenticity.
- Lotso made a cameo appearance in Up when he was first spotted next to Dee's bed when Carl's house flies past her window outside, and it was later confirmed that he would be a new character in Toy Story 3.
- When Lotso is helped to the Emergency Stop button on the trash conveyor belt, instead of pushing the button to stop the belt and save the other toys, he glares at them and yells, "Where's your kid now, Sheriff?!" This is a wink to the Internet meme "Where is your God now?", a sarcastic way of inducing fear in a victim (the internet meme in turn originates from a line in an Billy Crystal routine making fun of the incongruity of Edward G. Robinson being cast in The Ten Commandments (1956): "Where's your Messiah now, Moses?").
- Lotso's comeuppance is fitting because it has given him two things he had been asking for:
- The true meaning of love, which he got from the garbage man, who remembered having a Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy as a kid.
- A fitting end to a considerably miserable life, which he would face from the elements, bugs, and mud; or from eventually being thrown away again, leading him to die in the shredders or the incinerator.
- Coincidentally, Lotso's fate by the end of the film is quite similar to Stinky Pete's. Both are unexpectedly found, and then, they find themselves in a unwanted predicament: Stinky Pete becomes stuck with a girl who likes to draw on her toys, while Lotso becomes a fly attractant for a garbage truck. However, after Toy Story 2, it has been stated that Stinky Pete got used to it and he liked it, while it is unclear if Lotso, after Toy Story 3, has ever got used to it because it has never been stated. Also, the two villains never met Andy, who is in fact a good kid.
- Lotso is considered to be a tragic villain because of his backstory.
- His thick Southern accent, initially soft-spoken demeanor, and many of his iron fist policies as "Warden" -- including throwing uncooperative prisoners into "the box" -- are clear references to "The Captain," Strother Martin's character from Cool Hand Luke (as well as Lotso' voice actor, Ned Beatty's previous character, Sheriff J.C. Conners, from White Lightning).
- According to the official movie magazine for Toy Story 3, Lotso was originally created for A Tin Toy Christmas (which later became Toy Story).
- He can be assumed as one of the most evil and depraved Disney villains for his many wicked deeds:
- Lotso was originally conceived as a teddy bear from the early 80's Care Bears toy line. This idea was not dropped until after the storyboard was completed and can be seen in the tie-in book The Art of Toy Story 3.
- In the same source, the animators also admitted that they increased Lotso's cruelty in the final version (such as Woody pointing out how weak his backstory was) in order to ensure that people understood that he got exactly what he deserved, as the test screenings had some kids still sympathizing with him after his backstory was revealed.
- Lotso was portrayed as a "good toy" back when he was friends with Chuckles and Big Baby. However, when Lotso snapped and turned into the antagonist (when he saw that his owner, Daisy replaced him with another Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy), he was dropped from the list of protagonists.
- In the PS2 version of Toy Story 3: The Video Game, Lotso has a silent appearance, and his fate is not revealed nor is it seen.
- Test audiences who had sympathized with Lotso for his backstory had wanted to him to push the button in the incinerator scene to redeem himself, but according to the DVD commentary, director Lee Unkrich explained that Lotso chose not to save the other toys so that audiences who had gotten to know them for three films could really care about even more when it looked like the end just before the aliens rescued them with the claw.
- Some people blame Daisy's parents for Lotso's villainous demeanour, as they could have went to look for their daughter's lost toys, instead of replacing Lotso.
- An advertisement for a Lotso bear appears in Tokyo, in Cars 2.
- Lotso was originally meant to appear in the first film, but the technology needed to create his fur had not existed until the third film. A pink teddy bear that appears to be an early design of Lotso makes a brief appearance in Toy Story.
- Lotso's character is similar to The Governor of The Walking Dead TV series in many aspects:
- They both lead a community that is introduced in the 3rd installment of the franchise
- They receive strangers and pretend to be kindly and gentle to them.
- In reality, they are corrupt leaders with a dark side that they hide to their people but not to their henchmen.
- They both have lost their "special girl", (Lotso lost his owner, The Governor his daughter) which drove them to darkness.
- After the leader of the opposing community (Woody and Rick Grimes) rallies their group against them, they initate a battle against them.
- Their guests discover their dark sides, promting them to hunt them.
- They punish their triators by beating them.
- They both have their own trucks to patrol in, Lotso's is a dump truck while The Governor's is a stolen military truck.
- However, besides their similarites, they both are a little different:
- Lotso takes over Sunnyside without getting rid of anyone in his way, The Governor kills National Guards to rule the town of Woodbury.
- Lotso's fate is getting tied to the garbage man's truck, while The Governor dies by getting stabed and shot.
- Lotso's weapon is a cane mallet, whereas The Governor's is an AUG sniper rifle.
- Lotso shares a lot of character traits with Stinky Pete. They both seemed to be loving at first, but were then revealed to be cruel tyrants in the end. This is mainly because of a sense of feeling rejected or unloved, which were clearly seen in both Pixar villains.
- Lotso is very similar to the titular character Ted as both are teddy bears, are able to talk and move, and both have deep voices and that both of them have dark sides. Unlike Ted, Lotso never saw the error of his ways.
- Hades mentions Lotso in the Disney Cruise Line show Villains Tonight when he is looking for villains to call. However, he doesn't call Lotso as he "always brings that baby with him."