The smashing new star of Toy Story 4 is Forky. The spork-turned-toy is the creation of the gang’s new child, Bonnie, and unwillingly brought to life (with a voice provided by Veep’s Tony Hale). Forky dominated most of the Toy Story 4 trailers and subsequently dominates most of that sweet, sweet Disney merchandise. Do you want Forky sneakers? Have some Forky sneakers. Do you want a Forky spoon rest? Here it is. How about a Forky Funko Pop? Yes.
On top of the Forky’s-face-slapped-on merchandise, Disney has also created a way for creative children to build their own Forky. The “Make Your Own Forky and Friends” kit runs approving parents $14.99 plus shipping.
The thing is ... the whole concept of an official Forky kit counters the pure idea of Forky. In the movie, Forky is an organic creation, made of regular arts and crafts objects and a spork. Forky is a creature born of creativity and innovation, not mass-produced in a factory!
What does a Disney-official Forky have that a handmade Forky does not? Polygon set out to find out which Forky creation brought more fulfillment.
The “Make Your Own Forky and Friends” kit comes not only with necessary Forky materials but also with enough craft supplies to decorate Forky’s “friends,” which include a crayon, milk carton, and apple. [Disclaimer: the crayon, milk carton, and apple are not featured in Toy Story 4.]
The Forky from the Disney kit (or, as we took to calling him during the creation process, “Corporate Forky”) is made out of an egg-carton-like cardboard material. He’s large, but not hefty, and comes with googly eyes, plastic arms, paint to slather on his mouth and eyebrows, and a vaguely popsicle-stick-shaped platform to glue onto the bottom of his body. None of those things are a spork, which is the vast majority of Forky’s physical form.
The Forky kit was one of a number of Forky toy options. There’s also a set where you mold Forky from dough. Target sells a “Forky Creativity Kit” that, to its credit, actually does include a very large spork (albeit not one you could actually use).
The ingredients for our homemade Forky, in contrast, were straightforward: a spork (one from a pack of 1,000, at $11.99); pipe cleaners (100 pipe cleaners for $4.99); mismatched googly eyes (500 for $3.99); popsicle sticks (200 for $4.99); paint (we picked the pen kind that leaves a slightly puffy line behind in order to capture Forky’s signature wide goofy grin, a pack of five colors for $5.17); and putty to adhere the popsicle sticks ($4.98).
No weird rubber arms. No giant spork that’s not actually a spork. No spork made out of cardboard. No fake popsicle sticks or putty that’s actually just an extension of Forky’s body. The only drawback is that our blue puffy paint pen is a tad darker than the official Forky blue.
Creating Forky from scratch is a simple enough process. First, we took a pipe cleaner and twisted it around the stem of the spork, making sure that both sides were roughly even. Then, we bent the ends of the pipe cleaner to create Forky’s fingers and stuck on some googly eyes (they must be asymmetrical). After, we broke a popsicle stick in half and pressed the ends into a wad of putty at a roughly 45-degree angle, finally securing the base of the spork in the putty. For the final touch, we drew out Forky’s signature smile and unibrow.
After making Forky — well, after making a couple of Forkys — we quickly learned that Forky creation is a very intimate act. How you tighten the pipe-cleaner arms around his torso can give Forky either wild, gangly arms, or shorter, more secure arms. You can bend the fingers just so. The feet can be a little off. Each step is done with care and at the end, when you decide just how his fixed facial expression will look, you essentially seal Forky’s fate.
You still pick Corporate Forky’s face (though there is the option to slap a pre-generated smile sticker on his face), but instead of curving his arms and creating his fingers, you just stick the little rubber appendages in holes. Instead of snapping open some mismatched legs, you just glue ’em. There is no putty. He’s not even a spork.
The real difference between the two craft projects? Making a homemade Forky was fun. After struggling initially to figure out the right arm-to-finger ratio, after figuring out that perfect amount of putty, the creation came naturally. With a surplus of supplies — no thanks in part to the fact that it’s virtually impossible to buy just one of these items; the Polygon office now has a crate of about 990 sporks — we ended up with a small army of Forkys ... and then decided to go outside the mold, first by tweaking Forky’s face, then the color of his arms, until eventually a few misfit-looking Forkys joined the army.
While creating Forky was an intimate, artistic process, mass-producing homemade Forkys took its toll. By the fourth red-arms, blue-mouth, smiling Forky, the process became mechanical. We paused. We reflected. Perhaps engineering the same exact Forky over and over again did not make us better than the kit. While each smiling Forky ended with various gushing and cooing over his mismatched eyes and dopey arms, the sheer joy that came from breaking away from the Forky mold and crafting a friend of our own creation was unmatched.
Forky is more than the sum of his parts. Forky is more than a spork, a pipe-cleaner, googly eyes, paint, popsicle sticks, and putty. Forky is about creativity. Replicating Forky is a wonderfully warm experience that gets more to the heart of who Forky is than the Corporate Forky kit; to capture what makes Forky, well, Forky, one has to go beyond the limitations and embrace the creative side. Just look at these Forky makers.