It seems like Disney made a tradition of having Donald and Chip and Dale mix it up around the holidays. In 1948, the chipmunks tried to steal Donald’s breakfast in Three For Breakfast. In 1947, they made their first appearance while trying to disrupt Donald’s sleep in a log cabin. And now, in 1949, we get the most overt holiday short of all in Toy Tinkers, as Donald faces off with his arch nemeses over the Christmas bounty.
Of the three, Toy Tinkers is probably my least favorite, since it really doesn’t introduce any new dynamic to the back and forth between Donald Duck and Chip and Dale. That does not mean, though, that this is a bad short. All the Chip and Dale shorts are fun if not groundbreaking. This is not the series where Disney applied animators to creating a new art form, but that is not the point.
The gags in this short are definitely a nice touch, providing the chipmunks with more props to play with as opposed to their standard nuts or trees. I was particularly amused with a sequence where Dale dons a hat and cane while playing with the toys, bowing to dolls, getting caught in a crossfire between two hat wearing mechanical gents and generally wreaking havoc. That is just a warm up, though, to the main event between Donald and the boys.
It becomes all out war between the two during the last couple minutes of the short, with both taking refuge behind a stack of presents and firing away at each other. That’s right, it’s trench warfare in Donald’s living room. That is as cool as it sounds, and probably the highlight of the Chip and Dale vs Donald wars. The issue is that outside of that sequence and the hat gag, the rest of the gags are pretty standard compared to previous shorts.
Lots of nuts being pursued by Chip and Dale leads to lots of Donald trying to steal them back. That’s nothing new. We’ve seen it in most of the other shorts these characters have been in, and it doesn’t add anything to the story in this one. If you trot this one out at Christmas time each year and watch it as a stand alone piece, it’s pretty fun and a worthwhile addition to the festivities. If you view it as part of the Chip and Dale oeuvre, though, it’s another edition that does basically the same thing. Regardless, it’s worth checking out and enjoying.