Pixar Builder
Greetings PIXAR Post!

I know how much you guys love looking at rare PIXAR toys and I just saw your fantastic Hamm the Piggy Bank comparison on your podcast, so I thought I'd share mine.  Last week, I finally accomplished one of my major life goals and got a chance to step inside PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS for a brief tour.  It was so amazing!  As a long time fan, I pretty much had a clear idea of what the inside would look like, but even I was in for several surprises (for instance, in their Animation wing they have entire "arch" set from the 2011 "The Muppets" film!)

At the end of our tour I got a very, very, opportunistic bonus trip inside their official Studio Store (a place where most fans know sells studio exclusive merchandise).  And while inside I picked up this: a brand new yellow and blue-striped PIXAR Ball!
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This famous ball has been in numerous PIXAR productions (as well as some non Pixar ones- Rugrats anyone?)  This version of the PIXAR ball is extremely rare and usually sells on eBay around $70-80. But this isn't my first one. As posted in my "Favorite Merchandise" thread, I also happen to own the Disney Store Exclusive Luxo Jr. Ball.  So today, I'm going to give a very rare side-by-side comparison of the two balls and offer my opinion on which is better.

OVERVIEW
Starting with my beloved Disney Store Exclusive ball, this item was purchased in 2011 at the Disney Store.  Its made from a thick rubber material, very similar to a kickball, and features rough ribbing across the surface.  It has lasted me a good solid 3 years so far and I love it dearly.  I took it to the Maker Faire with me in 2012 to help promote the WALL-E Builders and, while I can't say I'm at all pleased with how it was used, it made for a very entertaining video nonetheless .   



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My NEW studio exclusive ball on the other hand is extremely smooth, made from an almost vinyl like material. It's very similar to those "character balls" you might find at Target or Walmart.  To my knowledge the only place you can buy it at is at the PIXAR studio store (except for online, which is where we get to some clearly outrageous price inflation- wait for later).

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I'm going to compare the DS and the SS version across four different categories: Design, Screen Accuracy, Pricing/ Availability and Play Factor.  

DESIGN

Starting with my DS exclusive, the overall look of the ball is very similar to the one featured within the original short.  The ball itself measures around 8 1/2'' in diameter and sports a very thick baby blue band around the waist that measures roughly 3 1/2'' in width.  All of the colors are extremely nice and unlike being printed on the ball itself, I believe these are all separately dyed colors that were molded together, producing a crisp line separation.

The major subjective opinion with the DS version, however, is the ball's rubber ribbing.  I'll discuss more in detail in Screen Accuracy, but while the ball is extremely durable in doing so it sacrifices a bit of its screen accuracy.

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The new SS model is similar but also distinctly different.  It's considerably smaller than the DS version, measuring around 5'' in diameter and with a 1 1/2'' band.  Instead of being made from rubber, the ball is much more like an inflatable child's ball toy and as such all of the design features are printed on it. The ball looks very shiny in my pictures.   
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There are only two noticeable drawbacks I have with the design, one more noticeable the other more nitpicky. The first is that the band is I think the band is too small, but I'll discuss that in the Screen accuracy section.  The more nitpicky one is that due to the fact that the designs on the ball were printed as an after effect means that it suffers from some very minor bleeding at points.  It's not a lot, but you can tell the base color of the ball was yellow and they simply printed a blue stripe and red star on it.
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Winner: DS version.  Everything just seems much more rich with the ball being rubber and the molded pattern means less obvious bleeding. 

SCREEN ACCURACY
[20120622045344!Luxo_Jr] 

I feel like this one is more of a subjective grab bag.  Neither ball, in my opinion, looks entirely spot on to its cgi counterpart so it really boils down to what you care about.

That said, starting with the DS ball, the ball looks very screen accurate from a distance.  The band is the exact scale dimension I'd imagine the ball Luxo Jr. to be playing with and the light blue band is perfectly captured in this item.

There's only two major setbacks with this model, the first being the ribbing, which I mentioned.  While it doesn't bother me that much,  it does give the ball a more
 like a rugged outdoor play item and not one someone would play with indoors.    
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My second issue is that, while the ball is very nicely proportioned to itself, the ball is way too big for me to imagine a baby lamp to play with.  For instance, photographed next to my screen accurate Luxo Jr, I feel like its about ready to roll over and crush him.

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On that note, this is where the SS version mostly stands out.  Due to the limitations of the early CGI, the Luxo Jr. ball already looked plastic to begin with so the vinyl smooth texture makes it look like it came directly from the screen.  Also with the smaller size it means that it sizes up nicely to my Luxo Jr. and Buzz Lightyear.

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Now, as photogenic as the SS version is, there's still two very big areas that keep it from getting a perfect score.  The first is that, while the dark blue band color doesn't bother me (more to the Toy Story version than Luxo's) it still looks too thin- like maybe it should have been 2 -2 1/2'' rather than 1''.  This means you can't photograph it as it's recognized "icon" image (half yellow ball, surrounded by a blue crescent) without taking a picture of the other half of the ball.
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My other issue is this- while the designers of the DS ball were smart enough to hide the inflation hole along the side of the band and not obscure either half of the ball's pattern, the makers of the SS version just stuck it any old location.  Which just happens to be directly in the middle of the star.

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This is very distracting and means that only one side of the ball will ever be photogenic.  Nonetheless, when the ball does manage to land on that sweet spot, it looks exactly like the one on screen.

Winner: close call but SS Version 


PRICING/ AVAILABILITY

This is where things get a bit...tricky.  See, I have this theory that the DS version was meant to satiate a group of fellow PIXAR fans who weren't able to get their hands on the SS version, where might I remind you is only available at the company's store.  So, they sold the ball at a slightly higher price of $15 USD so it could reach a larger audience.  Trouble is, the ball has been sold out since 2012 and is no longer available.  

Thus, the only way to buy a ball now is to get one at PIXAR Studios. Personally, I think PIXAR knows this and is able to control the market value and crank out a bunch of these at a greatly cheaper price.  How cheap?  Try $5.  Yes, I'm dead serious.  You see all those PIXAR balls selling out like $80 on ebay? That's a $75 net profit right there.

Winner: Neither.  They're both insane to get your hands on. 


PLAY FACTOR

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Personally, given the rarity of these items, I wouldn't "play" with either of these and keep them for display only.  That said, I'd suggest playing with the DS ball (despite the fact that it can get dirty quite easily).  Why?  Because I imagine that if you accidentally break your DS ball, you can at least hope Disney decides to stock them again.  If you pop the SS ball, unless you're an employee how likely is it that you can visit PIXAR again?

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Winner: DS 


BOTTOM LINE
So with 2 to 1, the DS ball wins!  However it all comes down to the bottom line between the two is which aspects do you care about more.  Do you want a durable rubber ball that you don't have to worry about playing around with?  Or do you want a vinyl version to display next to your TS3 characters?  Personally, I like my DS version since I've had it for a much longer period but I'm still glad I picked up the SS.   It was a nice memento overall.


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-Pixar Builder

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Pixar Post - T.J.
What an awesome and complete writeup on the versions of the Pixar Ball out there. It's so great that you included all the stats in the writeup as well so people can get a sense of the size differences between the versions. I would have to say that I like both of them for different reasons. 

Obviously, the exclusivity of the Studio Store version increases its "cool factor", and the colors are more accurate so I favor this one as a collector piece...but if you want to use or play with the Pixar ball then yes, the Disney Store version is by far the better choice!

Thanks again for the great writeup - what are anyone else's thoughts as well? Do you have either of these and which version do you prefer?
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Oh, and I love the final photo you took of the Luxo lamp (that you made) looking at the deflated Studio Store ball! Awesome!! [Big-Grin_zps23ec4c40]
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Dan the Pixar Fan
Great write up! I just have the Disney store one since I've yet to be lucky enough to go to the studio store and the ones that sell on eBay are wayyy up there in price. Man, I wish I had the other one though. It's much more movie accurate. as far as the material and colors. Maybe someday!

btw, great pics!
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