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Disney licensed Toy Story 4’s Forky for a $30 talking doll—I made one for $12

Forky, the handmade spork doll in ‘Toy Story 4,’ is being mass-produced as toys IRL, undercutting the film’s message about the magic of childhood DIY crafts. So I made my own Forky.

Disney licensed Toy Story 4’s Forky for a $30 talking doll—I made one for $12
[Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]

It’s been said that Toy Story is responsible for bolstering sales of classic toys featured in the films. Mr. Potato Head sales leaped 800%. Etch A Sketch devices skyrocketed by 4,500%. Even toys original to the franchise like Woody and Buzz Lightyear have become regulars on toy shelves across the world, all contributing to Disney’s growing “Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products” revenue, which grew 5% year-over-year in Disney’s last quarter, to $6.2 billion.

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Toy Story is essentially a master class in product placement: build a movie around toys, sell said toys IRL. In most cases, that’s justified: You’re getting a talking cowboy or space cadet that can fly.

But there’s a new a character in Toy Story 4 whose action figure feels like peak capitalism: Forky.

Woody’s new owner Bonnie made Forky in school and, according to Woody, “Forky is the most important toy to Bonnie right now.” But Forky isn’t a toy. It’s a utensil outfitted in a craft store’s finest. Feeling like the hierarchy of toy life is out of whack (“I am not a toy. I was made for soup, salad, maybe chili, and then the trash!”), Forky escapes and so begins our new adventure.

But Forky knows he’s not a toy. Forky is an ode to the DIY craftiness of our childhood, when you were given a cardboard box and turned it into a spaceship with some markers and a massive dose of imagination.

KC Ifeanyi with a a store-bought (left) and homemade Forky. [Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]

Even though Forky is Bonnie’s everything, he’s just a pastiche of popsicle sticks, modeling clay, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and a spork.

Yet there’s a Forky making “creativity set” going for $15, and a talking, pre-assembled Forky for $30.

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Look, I’m sure some child out there is going to flip when they get a talking Forky doll or the chance to make their own via an assemble-by-the-numbers kit. Doesn’t that undercut the point of the character, though? As janky as Forky is, Bonnie loved him unconditionally because she made him from scratch. Mass-producing a toy whose backstory is the fact that he was created uniquely by and for a child feels like it’s fighting the message of the movie. And yet, here we are.

So I decided to tap into my inner child and make my own Forky to see A) if it could pass for the real thing and B) calculate what it would actually cost. My hypothesis was that I could do it much cheaper than the retail version.

Because I really wanted to push myself, I opted to make the talking version.

Total cost of my personalized Forky doll after you factor in cost per item: $12.35! Honestly, I could’ve done this for much, much less, but I splurged on an expensive voice-recording module.

Cost of materials:

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Red pipe cleaners = $0.99 for a 25 pack
Blue pipe cleaners = $0.99 for a 25 pack
Popsicle sticks = $3.99 for a 100 pack
Big googly eyes = $2.99 for a 24 pack
Small googly eyes = $0.99 for a 22 pack
Foam ball = $2.99
Audio recording device = $8.90
Giant clear spork = Free!
White paint = Free!
Glue gun = Free!
Markers = Free!

So this summer, if you see Toy Story 4 and fall in love with Forky, just make one with your kids.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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