A boy receives a set of toy soldiers and arrays them on a table top. One Tin Soldier stands on a single leg, having been the last one cast from an old tin spoon.
At nightfall, the clock from a nearby toy dancing rink strikes to midnight, and all the toys in the room come to life. The first one to come to life is the Ballerina standing atop the dancing rink. The second being the Jack-in-the-box, yawning as he rises from sleep. He sets his sights on the Ballerina, and tried to kiss her hand, but she pulls away, and dances once more.
Then the tin soldiers come to life and begin to patrol the room, as the Jack-in-the-box sees them patrolling, and hides from them in his box. The last one is the title character. As a result, he tips over almost knocked down, and knocks down every tin soldier in front of him.
Nearby, he notices the Ballerina and for a moment, thinks she has one leg like he does. He goes to her and gives her a plastic rose from a part of the dancing rink. However, as she smiles at the gesture, she then lets down her second leg from under her dress, disappointing him. Despite this letdown, she accepts his gift and takes it, smelling it. This act surprises him, and they quickly fall in love. However, the Jack-in-the-box grows jealous, as he wants the beautiful Ballerina all for himself. The Ballerina and the Tin Soldier playfully tease each other, she dancing for him, and him tapping on her shoulders while she isn't looking. She gets in front of him, and they smile at each other. As they are about to grab hands, the Jack-in-the-box springs out from his box, and grabs the Tin Soldier. The Ballerina saves him, by throwing a small ball at the Jack-in-the-box. After trapping the Ballerina in a water goblet, the Jack-in-the-box casts the Tin Soldier out of the house using a barrage of blocks and a wooden boat. Using the boat to stay above the water, he rolls into the sewers, and, after evading an army of rats, is eaten by a trout. Fishermen reel it up soon after and find the Tin Soldier in its mouth. They return him to his owner, and he soon re-engages the evil Jack-in-the-box.
The Jack-in-the-box utilizes a sword and attacks the Tin Soldier. However, he dodges the attack and outmaneuvers him into a fireplace. The Jack-in-the-box burns to ashes after falling into the pit and the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina happily reunite.