I was able to get a life size replica of James P. Sullivan (Sulley) from the animated movie, Monsters Inc. I thought it would be a great addition to the store. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted by that big lovable blue monster when they walk in the door? We envisioned lots of happy faces from kids (and adults). Once he was set up it was noticed he is not very stable. His arms kept pulling away from the body and his head would slide forward on the mount like he was stretching to see something in the distance. The body leaned precariously forward and to the right. I knew Sulley would get a lot of attention and I didn’t want any accidents to happen to him in the store. I can only imagine the horror on a child’s face if Sulley’s arm, or heaven forbid, his head fell off while they were looking at him.
For these reasons I decided to pull Sulley off the scare floor (movie reference) and fix all the issues with him. So I removed his arms and head and wheeled him into the back room to work on him away from prying eyes. I did not want to traumatize little kids so having him disassembled out of view was the best idea. Sulley is basically a Styrofoam shape with blue fur wrapped around it. The first step in repairing him was to remove his fur. Originally it appears it was held together by velcro along his spine. That velcro had long since worn out and wasn’t strong enough to hold the fur in place tight. Whoever owned Sulley previously thought it would be a great idea to pull it together using safety pins. After precariously removing approximately 100 safety pins, most of which were bend and stretched beyond the ability to even close any more, I was able to remove the fur and expose the underlying Styrofoam body. I had to pause here for a few minutes so my fingers would stop bleeding. Blood is hard to remove from fur. I hope I don’t need a tetanus shot. The fur on the body was actually very easy to remove once the safety pin booby traps were removed. The fur opens up along the spine and then pulls forward and off the body. I cleaned the fins along Sulley’s spine as they had years of accumulated dust and grime on them. I couldn’t help myself and had to do an Emergency Code 2319 on Sulley with no fur. I know the sock isn’t white, but those are the socks I wore that day!
The first thing I noticed after getting the fur off Sulley was the pipe frame for holding his enormous head was not even attached to the body framework. Somewhere along the years of Sulley being displayed and moved by various owners, the head harness had worked itself loose from the frame. This is likely why his head kept sliding forward. I decided to completely dismantle all of the Styrofoam body pieces so I could make sure the rest of the frame was in one piece. Good thing I did, because there were tons of loose joints and even one completely missing piece. Sulley’s right leg didn’t have the PVC pipe there for the frame. Some genius used a metal bar which only kept the body from sway too much front/back. It did nothing the keep it from moving up and down. All this up and down movement on just the right side is probably what caused the other frame pieces to work loose. Some of them were even cracked/broken. Overall the frame was in bad shape. After a run to the hardware store to get replacement PVC pipes and connectors I set about patching up the frame. Lots of glue at every joint. To be doubly sure it would hold I wrapped each joint with heavy duty industrial level tape. Oh yeah, I couldn’t resist. I had to put the iconic Andy signature on the bottom of Sulley’s right foot (Toy Story reference). I think it’s cool, sue me!
While repairing the frame I removed all the half-hearted attempts someone else made at repairing Sulley. There were pieces of broomstick, wooden handles, and metal rods that look like part of an old window frame. I can’t believe someone actually thought these repairs would be a good idea. The ended up causing more damage. I cleaned up the feet, again because of dirt and grime from years of use. The tail section was easy. It was just two pieces of Styrofoam that fit over a loop of pipe in the frame. I noticed there was nothing pulling the Styrofoam tightly together. I am guessing the fur probably relaxed and stretched over time allowing the Styrofoam tail pieces to move apart. This was allowing the tail piece to move away the frame when Sulley is moved. Since the tail is actually the third point of contact to help stabilize Sulley I wanted to ensure it fit on the frame nice and tight. I didn’t want to use glue for two reasons. First, I didn’t want to make it a permanent thing in case I needed to disassemble it in the future. Secondly, I was afraid any glue I used might actually eat away at the Styrofoam. For these reasons I decided to use my heavy duty industrial tape along the seams of the pieces to hold them in place. This seems to be working pretty well. I also taped the spots where the frame makes contact with the Styrofoam to try to keep it from wobbling and wearing away at the Styrofoam. At this point the base is pretty sturdy. Now I need to concentrate on putting the body back together.
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