In many ways, the cinematic Easter Egg is the purest indication of quality. The Egg's presence suggests confidence; a confidence that the film in which it appears will be so darn good, fans will want to pour over every last detail in order to unearth it. It's the self-assurance to proclaim: "We will have a sequel, there will be a spin-off, if it were otherwise, why would we be dropping so many hints?".
No studio is more synonymous with this kind of quality than Pixar. From humble beginnings, the little start-up has become one of the main movers in 3D animation, regularly churning out box office beasts that speak to both children and adults alike. Oh, and Pixar is pretty damn good at hiding its hints. And with new movie Inside Out coming soon to play with your emotions, it's time to keep those peepers peeled. Here are 50 of the very best Pixar Easter Eggs.
The Easter Egg: The runaway train seeing during the opening sequence of Toy Story 3 can be seen to bear the number 95. It's a reference to Lightning McQueens number in Cars, which itself is a reference to 1995, the year that Toy Story was released.
How Obscure Is It? The number is easy enough to spot, but you have to be in full Pixar Brain mode to make the connection.
49. Who framed Finn McMissile?
The Easter Egg: A poster of a normalised Finn McMissile - the British spy from Cars 2 - can be seen hanging up in Andys room in Toy Story 3.
How Obscure Is It? The non-anthropomorphised versions of Cars characters are almost impossible to spot. This one is an in-joke that barely goes beyond the offices of the animators themselves.
48. Nemo, found
The Easter Egg: In one scene during Toy Story 3, a Nemo sticker can be seen on the side of Andys toy dresser.
How Obscure Is It? That clownfish colouring is easy to spot anywhere as long as you are looking out for it. Which you might not be, of course. Theres always the plot to be following instead.
47. Chef special
The Easter Egg: The scooter that Chef Skinner rides in Ratatouille can be seen atop a junk-pile in Wall-E.
How Obscure Is It? Its seen pretty prominently in Ratatouille - when Skinner is chasing after Remy - so its a hard vehicle to forget, and yet seen here amongst the dirt and rubbish? It just looks like any other hunk of junk.
46. Robots in disguise
The Easter Egg: The Rock Em Sock Em Robots that appear in Toy Story 2 can be seen on a shelf in Mr Incredibles office.
How Obscure Is It? Those bright colours stand out in the frame so its an easy one to spot. It would be even easier if they were seen actually fighting each other.
45. Totoro recall
The Easter Egg: Less an Easter egg and more a neat crossover, Totoro from Hayao Miyazakis My Neighbour Totoro makes a brief appearance in Toy Story 3.
How Obscure Is It? As long as youve seen Miyazakis 1988 film, this ones easy. Of course were guessing that the average seven-year-old Toy Story fan wont get it. Or care.
44. The right to bear arms
The Easter Egg: When Wall-E builds a statue of Eve from junk, her right arm is made from a Luxo, Jr. desk lamp.
How Obscure Is It? That desk lamp has become synonymous with Pixar and its almost always easy to spot the angle-poised mascot whenever it crops up.
43. Car part
The Easter Egg: In Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3, a small toy car version of Cars Lightning McQueen can be seen.
How Obscure Is It? That familiar red paintwork with the bright yellow lightning bolt down the side? It might as well have Owen Wilsons voice coming out of it.
42. Telly vision
The Easter Egg: As Hamm is channel-hopping in Toy Story 2, clips from Pixar shorts Reds Dream, Luxo, Jr., Tin Toy and Knick Knack can be seen in quick succession.
How Obscure Is It? Well, all focus is on the TV screen, so you cant miss it. As long as youre familiar with the Pixar shorts themselves, then this is a cinch. You ARE familiar with the Pixar shorts, right? If not, go away and watch them immediately. For shame.
41. French connection
The Easter Egg: In Cars 2, when in Paris, a vehicular version of Ratatouilles Gusteaus Restaurant can be seen, called Gastows.
How Obscure Is It? Its a quick spot and a neat gag to throw in. You only need to have a rudimentary knowledge of Ratatouille to get this one.
40. Lightning strikes again
The Easter Egg: In Toy Story 3, as all the kids enter Sunnyside Daycare, one child can be seen sporting a 95 t-shirt with a lightning bolt design - a clear reference to Cars Lightning McQueen.
How Obscure Is It? The kid runs by so quickly that its a hard one to spot but, if you did, theres no mistaking that lightning bolt.
39. Set a date
The Easter Egg: In Toy Story, the calendar in Andys room showed a picture from A Bugs Life. In Toy Story 3, however, Andy has grown out of cartoon bugs and become a fan of engines, so his new calendar shows a (more realistic) image of Snot Rod from Cars.
How Obscure Is It? If you spot the picture in the background and recognise this life-like nod to Snot Rod, then you have won all of the Pixars.
The Easter Egg: In one blink-and-youll-miss-it moment in Finding Nemo, Luigi from Cars (albeit a non-anthropomorphised version) can be seen driving past.
How Obscure Is It? Youll need a degree in Pixar to get this one.
37. Living doll
The Easter Egg: When Boo returns home at the end of Monsters, Inc, she gives Sulley a doll of Jessie from Toy Story 2.
How Obscure Is It? All too easy, but a nice touch all the same.
36. Batteries included
The Easter Egg: When the toys in Toy Story 3 are seen playing cards, they seem to gambling with ReVolting batteries, which just so happens to be the sponsor for #84 in the Piston Cup in Cars.
How Obscure Is It? Frankly, if you got this reference straight away, we suggest you watching something other than Pixar films for a while. Or maybe just going outside for a walk.
35. Red alert
The Easter Egg: At Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3, one child appears to be playing with a toy version of Red, the fire engine from Cars.
How Obscure Is It? Hes a memorable character and this is at the front of the scene so there are really no excuses for not making the connection. NO EXCUSES.
34. Fishing line
The Easter Egg: As Buzz escapes the Caterpillar room of Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3, painted images of Dory and Nemo can be seen in the background.
How Obscure Is It? Buzz whizzes by so quickly in this shot, youll need a pause button to go through it frame-by-frame. Once you do, though, that orange-and-white-striped colouring is unmistakable.
33. Crushed it
The Easter Egg: During the end credits of Wall-E, you can see a mosaic of Crush, the surfing sea turtle from Finding Nemo.
How Obscure Is It? In tiny tile form or not, how can anyone not recognise one of Finding Nemos best characters?
32. Boo who?
The Easter Egg: In Toy Story 3, one of the girls playing in the Butterfly Room at Sunnyside Daycare looks an awful lot like a slightly older Boo from Monsters, Inc.
How Obscure Is It? Well, director Lee Unkrich said this isnt supposed to be Boo, but theres certainly more than a passing resemblance and shes playing with a blue cat (Boos nickname for Sulley is Kitty). Well put this down to how much you actually want it to be her.
31. What's up, Doc?
The Easter Egg: As the Incredibles and Frozone are fighting the Omnidroid, Doc Hudson from Cars can be seen in the background (albeit a non-alive normal car version of him).
How Obscure Is It? Another non-anthropomorphised version of a Cars character. This one is a little more prominent than the others, but you still have to really want to see it to make the connection.
30. Molar bear
The Easter Egg: In the toy chest at the dentists office in Finding Nemo, you can just about see Boos teddy bear from Monsters, Inc.
How Obscure Is It? The chest lid is half-closed and its difficult to make out, but once you spot it, yep... thats definitely Boos teddy. Its not obscure exactly, but its certainly makes for a good eye test.
29. Anty hero
The Easter Egg: During the breakout scene in Toy Story 3, a toy version of Flik from A Bugs Life can briefly be seen.
How Obscure Is It? Another blink-and-youll-miss-it-moment, but the colouring is hard not to recognise. The only thing left to wonder is if a toy version of Flik would be exactly the same as the real Flik when it comes alive? Its at this point that you realise Pixar has the power to really mess with all our heads.
28. Book marked
The Easter Egg: In one scene in Toy Story, a book shelf can be seen behind Woody bearing titles of Pixar shorts, such as The Adventures of Andr and Wally B., Reds Dream, Luxo, Jr., Tin Toy and Knick Knack.
How Obscure Is It? A nice nod to all the Pixar short films thats very easy to spot. And you have obviously all seen them by now, havent you? We shouldnt need to have this conversation again.
27. See it in the stars
The Easter Egg: As Buzz flies back down to Earth in Toy Story 2, Luxo Jr, Pixars famous desk lamp can be seen as a constellation in the stars.
How Obscure Is It? That depends on how quickly you spot it in the image above. Its alright, well wait.
26. Lightyear Buzzard tyres in Cars
The Easter Egg: All of the cars racing in the Piston Cup in Cars have Lightyear Buzzard tyres, which is obviously a reference to a certain space ranger.
How Obscure Is It? Well, theres only one Lightyear as far as were concerned, so this is an easy spot.
25. Silver lining
The Easter Egg: Andy's cloud wallpaper, as seen in the Toy Story films, appears in Monsters, Inc as Randall is practising his scares.
How Obscure Is It? Its hard not to associate that white-clouds-on-blue-sky image with anything else so this quite an easy one. The same thing goes with those little green soldier men.
24. I should Dinoco
The Easter Egg: Dinoco is a small petrol station seen in Toy Story, but is also the sponsor of the Piston Cup in Cars. The name and logo can also be seen on a lighter in Wall-E.
How Obscure Is It? The signs are clear in both films and yet its not the kind of thing youd recognise unless youve seen Toy Story more than 100 times. Which isnt completely out of the realms of possibility.
23. Battery-powered Buzz
The Easter Egg: The batteries that power Buzz Lightyear (as seen in Toy Story 3) have a BnL logo on them, which is a reference to Buy N Large, the company that controls all government services in Wall-E.
How Obscure Is It? Even if the batteries actually said Buy N Large, this would have been a difficult one to notice, but BNL? If you spot it, you should get immediate entry into Mensas inner circle.
22. Sids career trajectory
The Easter Egg: Sid, the next-door neighbour and twisted antagonist from the first Toy Story film makes an appearance here as a rubbish clearance man. He wears the same skull t-shirt as before and is voiced by the same actor, Erik von Detten.
How Obscure Is It? Wed recognise that black-and-white skull t-shirt anywhere. And Sid ending up as a rubbish man certainly has a certain poetry to it.
21. Spot the Lotso
The Easter Egg: Lots-O-Huggin Bear can be seen in Up in the corner of a childs room as the balloons pass by her window.
How Obscure Is It? As long as you take your eyes off the balloon for a second, its not hard to spot Toy Story 3s devious-but-cuddly villain.
20. Him off of Cheers
The Easter Egg: Referred to by John Lasseter as "Pixar's good luck charm", John Ratzenberger has voiced a character in every Pixar film, including Toy Story's Hamm, A Bug's Life's P.T. Flea, The Underminer from The Incredibles and Mack from Cars.
How Obscure Is It? Spend enough time watching Toy Story - or Cheers for that matter - and Ratzenbergers voice becomes hard to miss. Plus, once you know that he appears in every Pixar film, it almost mandatory to keep an ear out for him.
19. Up and away
The Easter Egg: It seems that Toy Story's Andy knows - or is related to - Up's Carl and Ellie, as a postcard from them can be seen on top of his dresser.
How Obscure Is It? If you spot the postcard, can read the handwriting and recognise the names on it? Yes, wed say this one was obscure.
18. Monster sink
The Easter Egg: During the end credits of Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc's Mike can be seen swimming across the screen in scuba gear.
How Obscure Is It? A nice and easy gag for the kids. In fact, the trickiest part is getting them to sit through the credits in the first place, but then how else are they supposed to appreciate the work that has gone into their favourite films?
17. Fish out of water
The Easter Egg: In what was originally a sneaky homage to Pixar's next release, Finding Nemo, we see Boo offer up her Nemo toy to Sulley in Monsters, Inc, just before he leaves her room.
How Obscure Is It? Another simple sight-gag. The real test would be if you got the reference when Monsters, Inc first came out... a full two years before Finding Nemo.
16. Car crash viewing
The Easter Egg: During the chase through London in Cars 2, the Lemons crash through a pub wall and in the background you can see Brave's Princess Merida and her family depicted as cars on a tapestry.
How Obscure Is It? Well the tapestry itself is easy enough to spot, but car versions of Merida and her family? Even now, were still unsure whos who.
15. Heimlich manoeuvre
The Easter Egg: Heimlich from A Bug's Life can be seen climbing on a branch in Toy Story 2 before Buzz Lightyear pushes past him.
How Obscure Is It? Of course, it could be any old caterpillar, but the blooper reel during the credits confirm that it is Heimlich. This is one that youll really only be able to spot on repeat viewings.
14. Mime control
The Easter Egg: Supervillain Bomb Voyage from The Incredibles appears in the background of Ratatouille as a mime.
How Obscure Is It? Well, Bomb Voyage is a French mime-like baddie, so its not too much of a stretch. Of course, its hard to imagine him taking some time out to entertain kids on the street.
The Easter Egg: In Toy Story 2, Mrs Potato Head can be seen reading from a storybook of A Bug's Life.
How Obscure Is It? Its difficult not to recognise the green foliage on that page, so this one is for Pixar novices.
12. Wood works
The Easter Egg: A wooden carving of Sulley can be seen in the witchs shack in Brave.
How Obscure Is It? Easy enough to see once you know what youre looking for. The real question is why? Has the witch seen Sulley? We demand a crossover movie!
11. The newt that almost was
The Easter Egg: Famous for foreshadowing future films by including small cameos in earlier movies, Pixar included a couple of nods to a film Newt, which was eventually shelved. A Newt Crossing sign can be seen on Andys door in Toy Story 3 and the witch in Brave also holds a newt up when concocting a spell.
How Obscure Is It? Well considering were talking about a film that was never actually released and only exists in titbits online, well forgive you if you didnt spot this one.
10. Comic relief
The Easter Egg: As a young boy waits in the dentists office in Finding Nemo, he is clearly reading a Mr Incredible comic.
How Obscure Is It? We say clearly - this is a golden age, pre-red-suit Mr Incredible. Still, that is one hell of a distinctive jaw-line.
9. Welcome to the pants party
The Easter Egg: In one scene in Ratatouille, you can just about make out that Linguine is wearing Incredibles-themed boxers.
How Obscure Is It? You have to really focus, and possibly stand on your head to see it, but - yes - those are definitely The Incredibles. Of course, we spotted them straight away because we own a pair just like them.
8. Soda, so good
The Easter Egg: When Ellie gives Carl a bottle cap in Up, it belongs to the same brand of grape soda that can be seen in Buzz Lightyears advert in Toy Story.
How Obscure Is It? As long as you remember the commercial from Toy Story, this is a familiar logo and its seen clearly enough on Carl. Besides, after watching Up you may have started pinning bottle tops to yourself too. Oh, you didnt? No... um... us neither.
The Easter Egg: A Rex figure from Toy Story can be seen among Wall-Es collected junk.
How Obscure is It? A hard spot, but theres no mistaking that fixed nervous grin peering out from behind those bowling pins.
6. At the drive-in...
The Easter Egg: In the Cars franchise, we frequently see advertisements for automobile versions of Pixar movies, including Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks, Inc, The Incredimobiles and a vehicular version of A Bugs Life.
How Obscure Is It? Not at all. These are perfect little gags for everyone to enjoy.
5. Shadow pup/pet
The Easter Egg: As Remy runs through Paris in Ratatouille, a silhouette of Dug from Up is cast against the wall.
How Obscure Is It? Once youve seen up, theres no denying Dugs recognisable shadow. We just need a short film now to explain how this came to be.
4. To a dentists office and beyond
The Easter Egg: In Finding Nemo, as the little clownfish looks around the dentists office for a way to escape the fish tank, you can see a Buzz Lightyear figure lying on the floor.
How Obscure Is It? One of the first, more obvious Pixar Easter eggs. Its just a thrill to see him at all.
3. The new '1138'
The Easter Egg: In a nod to the classroom at CalArts, where many of the original Pixar crew studied, the reference 'A113' appears in every Pixar movie to date, in everything from license plates to the ear-tag on Ratatouille's lab rat Git.
How Obscure Is It? Another regular in-joke among the animators and, while no one will get the reference without a little research, once you know about it, youll spot it everywhere.
2. The Luxo ball
The Easter Egg: The small yellow ball with a blue stripe and red star first featured in early Pixar short Luxo, Jr. and has appeared in several of their movies since, most noticeably in the Toy Story films.
How Obscure Is It? Its hard to miss, isnt it? And it appears so frequently in Pixar films, we kind of assume theres a ball lying around at all times in every room were in.
1. "What a spaceport!"
The Easter Egg: The sci-fi-themed pizza restaurant Pizza Planet first appeared in Toy Story and a delivery truck for the fictional franchise has appeared in every movie since (except for The Incredibles).
How Obscure Is It? This is the real Wheres Wally of Pixar references. From obvious sightings to having a truck drive past in the far distance (Ratatouille), this is the pinnacle of Pixar Easter egg perfection.