Some can argue it happened almost immediately, with the release of A Bug’s Life. Others offer that Cars signaled a chink in their artistic armor. For many in the Pixar fan club, however, Cars 2 proved to be the moment when the animation dynamo went from creators of clever, inventive masterworks to mere producers of product. The anthropomorphic automobiles featured in John Lasseter’ love letter to Route 66 and American’s obsession with the open road had, between the first and second film, become one of parent overseer Disney’s most profitable toy lines. They wanted more merchandising power, and pushed Pixar to bring back Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the rest of the impulse-buy players (it also explains the non-Pixar Planes, which is listed as “from the world of Cars”).