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Toy Story 4 hits cinemas in June with a bigger gang

Emeryville, California

RE-IMAGINING everyday objects as toys is a staple of anychild's playtime: a cardboard box becomes a car; a piece of wood transforms into a sword; and a plastic fork... well, it can become "Forky"!

And so a discarded piece of cutlery is set to become the latest addition to the toy chest - along with Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the adorable animated gang - when Toy Story 4 hits movie theatres worldwide this month.

The much-anticipated sequel also features the return of the plucky Bo Peep (Annie Potts) as a leading character, and the arrival of 1970s action figure Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves). Many, including Pixar's own animators, were convinced that the saga would end as a trilogy after its third instalment in 2010.

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But the question "What's next for Woody?" kept coming up, director Josh Cooley told AFP during a visit to the studios in Emeryville, just outside San Francisco. "Toy Story 3 ended with Woody being passed by Andy - his former boy owner, now all grown up - to Bonnie. Woody finds himself "in a different room with a different girl, different toys ... something he's never lived through, and we felt we had the beginning of another story," Cooley said. AFP