Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011

Buzz Lightyear

As the fictional star of Disney Pixar's 1995 film Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear was a futuristic astronaut with an appreciation for gadgets and a zest for intergalactic travel. His character was openly inspired by real-life space hero Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 crew member and the second man in history to walk on the moon. Released as an action figure almost identical to the one featured in the film, Lightyear charmed his way into the hearts of Toy Story fans with his tenacity and cheesy tagline, but his cultural impact weighs more than that of your average animated darling. While still selling out at toy stores in 2008, Lightyear was sent on a real space mission at the request of NASA and accompanied the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station, where he remained until 2009. Popular "training videos" were shown online as a way to promote interest in aerospace science among kids. Lightyear also logged a journal of his space travels on NASA's website.