The laser gun gameplay of “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin” may give this Magic Kingdom attraction a video game quality, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of references to more classic playthings in this “Toy Story” spin-off. One example can be seen in the load area’s blacklight mural, which features Buzz Lightyear and the little green aliens facing off against some of the mechanical minions The Evil Emperor Zurg is sending their way. The way in which Buzz Lightyear is shown defeating one of theses robots draws inspiration from “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,” a boxing-inspired game in which players each control a toy robot. In order to win, one of the robots has to punch the other enough that its head pops up in a manner similarly to the robot Buzz faces off against.
While the mural merely winks at the beloved toy, “Toy Story 2” features a more overt tribute to “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” when the game itself made a cameo appearance in the film. During a scene in Al’s Toy Barn, Slinky Dog question the toy’s robots about Woody’s whereabouts, but the pair only end up duking it out over which one of them was being addressed. During “Toy Story 2” audio commentary, Director John Lasseter and Co-Director Lee Unkrich revealed that they provided the voices for these dueling characters in the film. Pixar’s filmmakers have clearly gone to great lengths to pay homage to the various types of toys they grew up with over the course of the “Toy Story” films, and details such as the mural at “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin” is but one example of how this tradition has been carried over into how the franchise is featured in the Disney theme parks as well.