Working with Mainstays acrylic yarn resulted in a negative review before I was finished working on this pattern. (You can read that review here if you missed it.) I was aware it didn't perfectly match Red Heart Super Saver. I knew to not expect much from a Walmart brand acrylic yarn. What I didn't know was how the smallest difference in gauge would make this project much harder than it needed to be.
Let's just start with quality... Do you see the "seam" running up the body of the character? Well, it's not really a seam. That is the tail from starting new yarn after joining the legs, and I worked over it as I always do. The beginning of my rounds on the other side don't show as much. So why didn't I sew the backpack to this side to cover the flaw? Because the other side is riddled with a bunch of snags from the yarn splitting as I worked.
I already knew this wouldn't be great, but since some adjustments in the pattern were still needed I didn't mind continuing with the Mainstays yarn. The backpack on the first character needed to be wider, and I wasn't sure if the body needed to be shorter or if I got the placement of the visor wrong (maybe both?), but I was mostly happy with what I had worked out using Red Heart.
The finished size of the Mainstays version came out smaller and the yarn doesn't stretch the same when stuffing. That means I can't be sure if any of the adjustments I made will work the same when I go back to using Red Heart. Plus, I had to rework the whole design for the visor because I'm still using Red Heart to create that piece. The size of the original visor didn't match and in the end it was necessary to start over with fewer beginning stitches. I think I like how the new visor is a bit more round, so I'll still have to redo the pattern to match Red Heart if I decide to keep it that way.
Overall, I think the version made in Super Saver looks better. If you take a close-up look at these two pieces, you can see that Red Heart fills in the gaps between the stitches, while Mainstays allows a peek through to the stuffing. Same hook, almost same pattern but with a few more stitches across for the backpack.