As the villain of the piece, the Jack-in-the-Box was deliberately made physically unappealing. He is a lecherous person who desires the Ballerina for himself. At first, he tries a gentle approach, making himself look amicable, but when the Ballerina rebuffs him, he acts more aggressively like a ruffian, attempting to force himself on her. When the Tin Soldier comes along and develops feelings for the Ballerina as well (this time fully returned), the Jack-in-the-Box acts viciously, resulting in a scuffle that ends with the Tin Soldier being knocked out the open window. With his rival out of the picture (albeit temporarily), he proceeds to romance the Ballerina, or tries to, as she remains faithful to the good-hearted soldier. In the end, his pride and lust for the Ballerina prove to be his downfall as he meets a fiery end falling into the fireplace.
The Jack-in-the-Box went through several different designs during the production of the segment, including those of a king, clown, melodrama villain, French soldier, and pirate.
The Jack-in-the-Box is a large toy encased in a brown music box with pink diamond-shaped markings on the sides and spots of gold paint on the corners. When out of it, he resembles a jester with a long pointy nose, a brown beard, a bald head, red lips, and rosy cheeks. He is dressed in a blue harlequin outfit, complete with a gold-lined collar and a purple and blue hat with two points, each with a gold bell at the end. His head takes up the majority of his coiled body, while his arms are smaller in comparison. Due to the box acting as the lower portion of his body, he can only hop around as mobility.
Role in the film
At night, when all of the toys in a boy's room come to life, the Jack-in-the-Box is the second to do so. The first toy to come to life, the Ballerina, catches his interest, and he decides that he must have her for himself. However, his attempts to woo her fail miserably as she rejects him.
Things get more complicated for him when the Tin Soldier arrives and wins the Ballerina over with his kind personality. Angered, the Jack-in-the-Box confronts the couple, traps the Ballerina under a glass, and attempts to do away with the Tin Soldier. He first tries throwing some blocks at the Tin Soldier in order to knock him out of the window, only to have the hero knock one back at him with his bayonet, dislodging the Jack-in-the Box's hat and revealing his bald spot (much to the Ballerina's amusement). However, when the Jack-in-the-Box tosses a wooden boat at his opponent, the Tin Soldier is successfully eliminated from and the Ballerina is left at his mercy.
While the Tin Soldier is away, the Jack-in-the-Box tries once again to win over his would-be girlfriend, this time by offering her some plastic roses. Remembering what he did to her friend, the Ballerina rejects him again. Infuriated, he leaps forward and tries to grab her, only for him to hit his head on the door of the toy castle.
On the night that the Tin Soldier returns home, the Jack-in-the-Box becomes more determined than ever to have the Ballerina and grabs her, roughly forcing her to dance with him. Angered, the Tin Soldier rushes to her side to protect her, at which point the Jack-in-the-Box pulls out a sword, and continuously tries to strike his rival, chasing him to the edge of the table. Thinking he has the Tin Soldier cornered, the Jack-in-the-Box leaps toward him to finish him off. However, the Tin Soldier blocks his sword with his bayonet and pushes him over the edge of the table, where he falls into the fireplace below and immediately burns to death.
- In the original story, the Jack-in-the-Box was a black goblin who lived in a snuffbox. It is implied that he may have been the one who caused the Tin Soldier to fall out the window, but it is also said that it may have been the wind.
- In the original story, it is not the Jack-in-the-Box who perishes in the fire but rather the Tin Soldier and Ballerina.
- In a 1938 set of storyboards for a short-film version of the segment by Bianca Majolie, the Jack-in-the-Box appears as a green demon-like creature with horns and pointy ears. The ending shows him pushing the Tin Soldier into the fireplace, but, much to his dismay, the Ballerina jumps in right after.