Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is among one of the most well-known and beloved Christmas movies of all time. The film stars Rudolph, a reindeer who is born with a nose that glows red. He is exiled for his differences, and thus he runs away from home. There, he finds fellow misfit Hermey the Elf, who wants to become a dentist rather than make toys, and an eccentric prospector Yukon Cornelius. Many other wacky events happen throughout the movie, and in the end, Rudolph becomes one of the reindeer that get to pull Santa’s sleigh.
It is easy to see why so many people enjoy this movie. However, like any movie, it isn’t without its faults. Being made in 1964, there are many aspects to the movie that either didn’t age well or were weird in the first place: Mrs. Claus body-shames Santa for being skinny; Santa being extremely rude to Rudolph (and in general); Hermey becomes a dentist when he doesn’t even have a degree or certification; the implication that Hermey might actually be a human instead of an Elf; and, most notably, the overall theme that disabled people should only be accepted if they can be exploited. However, if there is one thing that stuck out to me more than anything else, it would be the Island of Misfits—a shelter for toys who were abandoned by children or were never loved by a child at all. All of these toys have some sort of abnormality, and yet some of their reasons for being misfits make little to no sense. In this I will list each notable misfit toy on the island and analyze whether or not they are fit to live on the island.
But first, let’s define what exactly makes a toy a “misfit.” As previously mentioned, every one of these toys has some sort of abnormality that makes them different from other toys, and therefore less desirable to children. I believe most of these flaws take the form of factory defects (although there are other reasons a toy could be a misfit).
The first toy we are introduced to is Charlie-in-the-Box, the official sentry for the Island of Misfit Toys. Charlie is a Jack-in-the-Box toy who is (obviously) named Charlie instead. He claims that “no child wants to play with a Charlie-in-the-Box.” I personally don’t think that children will care much about the names that their toys come with; I know this from my own personal experience. When I was younger, I had a LeapFrog My Pal toy—a green stuffed dog that could play games with you, sing songs, and play bedtime music. The name written on his collar was Scout, and yet I insisted that his name was Bingo. I even wrote it on his collar with a permanent marker. And, besides, Charlie’s name isn’t written anywhere on him (unlike Scout), so how would a child even know that his name wasn’t Jack? I honestly think Charlie should be more concerned with the fact that literally nobody likes Jack-in-the-boxes; they’re essentially just “baby’s first jumpscare.” From this, I deduce that Charlie-in-the-Box should not be on the Island of Misfits.
The next toy is a set of clown-themed Russian nesting dolls, whose smallest doll is a wind-up mouse toy instead of a clown. There’s no way this was some sort of factory defect; the mouse must’ve made its way into the set of dolls by accident. The clowns could just tell the mouse to stop invading their personal space. There’s nothing wrong with the clown dolls on their own (unless you count the fact that the last doll is missing), but the mouse has its wind-up key on its head instead of its back. It’s an odd placement, sure, but it seems to work just fine.
After that is a minor cameo from a blue bear with white tail feathers. I can definitely see the misfit quality in this one, but I don’t think kids would really mind. If it was some creepy bird-bear abomination, then sure—but the little bear is adorable, and I think it would have no trouble being loved.
The next four toys are seen singing together: a Dolly “for Sue,” a blue plane, a train with square wheels on the caboose, and the Spotted Elephant.
Dolly is a typical rag doll with red yarn pigtails. Now, on the surface level, it might be hard to tell what makes her a misfit. Some have speculated that she might be on the island because she’s a redhead, while others theorized that she was sent there because she was a knock-off of Raggedy Ann. Well, according to the creator, “she ended up on the island due to depression and low self-esteem.” Wow, that’s… not what I expected. Initially, I was going to say that a possible solution is therapy, but that made me question if there even is a therapist in this region. I mean, there wasn’t even a dentist in the North Pole until Hermey came along (and he’s not even certified). Of course, the Island of Misfit Toys is assumed to be farther away from the North Pole, but I think the question is still valid. I think it would be kind of insensitive to categorize Dolly as a misfit or a non-misfit, so I’ll just end this analysis here.
Now… I can’t exactly tell what’s supposed to be wrong with the plane, as it’s never stated. I think it might be that the face is on the bottom of the plane, and thus the plane stands up straight instead of sideways like a plane normally does. If that’s the case, then I’d say that this is definitely a misfit. I also believe that the train with square wheels is a misfit. Although, I think you could just change the wheels (if they are removable).
Next is the Spotted Elephant, a white elephant with red polka-dots. If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I have a very, very special place in my heart for the Spotted Elephant. If you so much as mention Spotted Elephant, you will get a very long rant about how there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him and about how he deserves all the love in the world. So what if he has spots? It’s not that strange to find stuffed animals with patterns on them. I believe I actually owned an elephant plush with spots (it wasn’t the one from the movie, sadly). Strangely, it was a white elephant with white spots. I wasn’t just pretending it had spots, though; you could visibly see the bumps on the elephant, and yet they were white. I’m not sure why they would have done that other than to avoid copyright (but they could have colored the spots something other than red).
Moving on from that, the next toy is a Scooter “for Jimmy.” I searched far and wide on the internet, but I could not figure out what was wrong with the scooter. Why is he even here?
Right after the Scooter is a water pistol that shoots Jelly. Unlike all the other misfits, this one’s just a temporary condition. It’s the previous owner’s fault for filling it with jelly instead of water.
Next is the bird that swims instead of flying. From this description alone, you might think “but isn’t that just a penguin?” Well, turns out, it’s actually a weird hybrid thing. Unlike the bear-bird mentioned earlier, this thing is a total abomination. I’m just… completely baffled as to how this could even happen. So, yeah, definitely a misfit.
After that thing is the cowboy who rides an ostrich instead of a horse. I understand why he’s supposed to be a misfit, but that actually sounds really cool. Imagine if you were a kid and you and your friends were really into cowboys, and all your friends’s cowboy toys had horses, but yours had an ostrich. Do you realize how jealous they’d all be? And besides, if he was that insecure about it, he could always just get off of his ostrich and find a horse (I personally wouldn’t, though; the ostrich is pretty cool).
The last toy with their own solo is the boat that sinks when in water. This one is just straight-up broken. I can’t tell if it’s a balance problem (like toy boats you buy at Dollar Tree) or if he’s got a leak. If it’s the latter, then just put some Flex-Tape on him or something. I’m not even sure this one could be considered a misfit or not since he’s probably just broken or poorly made.
There are several other toys that appear in the background of the song. These include a sailboat, a blue car, two British soldiers, a firetruck, and a cat. We don’t see enough of these toys to determine what makes them misfits.
Overall, I’m not trying to bash anybody who likes this movie. Yeah, there are a lot of things that don’t make sense, but no piece of media is absolutely perfect. I believe that when looking at the parts of the movie that are deemed controversial or problematic, we must remember that those views were acceptable at the time it was made. This doesn’t make those views right, but it gives us an understanding as to why the movie is the way it is. Honestly, the only reason I decided to write this whole thing was because we watched the movie in school and I realized just how many things don’t make sense, and I remembered just how salty I am about Spotted Elephant being called a misfit. So, yeah, thanks for reading this… uh… well, it’s not professional enough to be called an essay, so I’ll call it an essay’nt. Yeah, thanks for reading this essayn’t.