Sunday, July 28, 2013

Toy Review: Spin Master Sulley vs. Bandai Sulley

Several weeks ago I wrote an article lamenting the lack of decent looking toys of Sulley, the big blue monster that everyone loves from Pixar's Monsters Inc. and Monsters University.  Though that article largely focused on plush toys, the ugly-Sulley curse has not just been limited to plush toys alone.  It also has impacted the vast majority of Sulley action figures over the years.

In my quest to acquire a toy that truly captured Sulley's likeness I ended up importing an action figure from Japan that I thought did a good job.  I also acquired the equivalent figure that's widely available throughout the US.  Which Sulley will come out on top?  There's only one way to find out!  Let's have at it!

Spin Master's Scare Student Sulley vs. Bandai's Monster Student Sulley.
Our two contestants today are Scare Student Sulley, the US version created by Spin Master, and Monster Student Sulley, the Japanese equivalent created by Bandai.  The two are priced very similarly, around ten dollars depending on the retailer, but Bandai Sulley is a bit larger.  He checks in at about six and a half inches tall while Spin Master Sulley is about five inches tall.  Spin Master Sulley is made form a hard solid plastic, while Bandai Sulley is made from soft vinyl.

Sculpt Quality:

Both versions of Sulley are at least clearly recognizable as the same character.  That said, the Bandai version has the definite edge here.  The fur texture is much more noticeable and defined versus the Spin Master version.  Having molded fur overlap the joints between Bandai Sulley's neck, legs, and wrists definitely helps to give him a nice shaggy appearance.  Spin Master Sulley is much more subdued, having a smoother overall appearance.  That said, Spin Master Sulley preserves the slightly longer fur that Sulley has around his shoulders while Bandai Sulley does not.  Overall, though, the look of Bandai Sulley's sculpt is much more effective.

Winner:  Bandai Sulley

Paint Application:

When it comes to paint, both figures have some noteworthy pros and cons.  Bandai Sulley as a whole is a little bit calmer when it comes to colors, being just a touch more green-tinted than Spin Master Sulley.  Most of Bandai's Sulley's paint appears to be applied via airbrush, which creates nice soft edges for details like his spots and the lighter fur on his belly.  The downside to this approach, however, is that some of the paint application looks little sloppy, causing the colors bleed onto other parts of figure.  Sulley's claws are also only painted on one side, leaving them blue on the opposite side.  His spikes, horns, and eyes are all painted with more precision.

Spin Master Sulley's paint is noticeably brighter and bolder  His paint is much more precise, with all the details having hard edges.  This works fine for his claws and face, but looks a bit odd on his spots and belly as the edges are so crisp and defined.  There are also some imperfections in the paint job on his back.

It's hard to judge which figure does a better job here.  On the plus side, Spin Master Sulley has considerably more spots than Bandai Sulley, though he has no spots on his head.  Bandai Sulley has one small spot on his cowlick, similar to the movie.  And, while the airbrush look does lead to some imperfections, it does create a better furry effect for the spots and belly.

Winner:  Bandai Sulley


This the category where Spin Master Sulley really falls short.  When it comes to which toy looks more like Sulley, there's almost no comparison.

Spin Master Sulley has the look of a Happy Meal toy.  You can tell what character he's supposed to be, but there's just something a little off about all of his proportions, especially his legs.  His pose is also rather stiff and he's much more hunchbacked than the Bandai version.  His face is rather lifeless, primarily because of his eyes.  His irises are a bit too large for the size of his eyeballs, and they aren't quite looking in the same direction, giving him a rather dead expression.  He's showing off his teeth, at least.

Bandai Sulley knocks it out of the park when it comes to matching the look of the character from the film.  His overall posture is noticeably more relaxed and his proportions are much more authentic.  Sulley's face has a sense of warmth and liveliness to it.  Though his mouth is closed, it conveys a lot of personality.  It's the eyes that really make the difference here, though.  With better shaped brows and smaller irises, Bandai Sulley looks just like the movie.

Winner:  Bandai Sulley


Spin Master Sulley runs away with this category.  His articulation is primarily limited to his arms, but it's quite good, with his shoulders being able to rotate and move in and out, as well as having the same kind of articulation at the elbows.  This means it's possible to put his arms in a variety of positions, even up like he's about to scare someone.  His tail and head can also rotate, but given the design of the figure, they look best when left alone.

Bandai Sulley really doesn't do a whole lot.  His arms rotate at the shoulder, but with no other articulation in the elbows or anything like that, it's hard to pose his arms in way that doesn't look stiff and unnatural.  They pretty much have to be left at his sides.  His head rotates similar to Spin Master Sulley, but his tail does not.  His legs actually rotate as well, but due to how they connect to the body, they really don't move that much.  As a whole, Bandai Sulley is pretty much stuck in his default position.

Winner:  Spin Master Sulley


In the end, the obvious winner is Bandai's Monster Student Sulley, available in Japan.  Though a little cheaper in a few aspects, Bandai Sulley is head and shoulders above Spin Master's rendition in almost every way.  The sculpt in notably more detailed and the paint job looks a bit nicer as well.  Spin Master Sulley has the advantage when it comes to articulation, but Bandai Sulley takes the cake when it comes to the overall likeness. There is no question which figure looks more like the character as we see him in the movie.  If you want to have Sulley on your shelf, Bandai Sulley is the way to go.

Bandai's Monster Student Sulley can be ordered online here.
Spin Master's Scare Student Sulley can be ordered online here.

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