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Questions to ask when ordering a mascot costume

An organization makes a significant investment when purchasing a mascot costume. However if the person in charge of ordering doesn’t know what to ask they may end up with a sub par costume.

When ordering a mascot costume, make sure to ask your sales representative the following questions:

  1. Have you ever been a mascot performer?
    • If they say “no” then you should take this into consideration. If they have never been a mascot performer then how will they know what’s best for your mascot performer? Will they be able to effectively convey to the production staff what works and doesn’t work? Do they even have a role in the design/production process? We’ve heard performers say of some company’s creations “It’s like they’ve never even worn a mascot costume.” Often times you have seamstresses or people with a fashion/clothing background producing and designing the suits.
    • If they say “yes” ask “How long ago?” Some companies do have former mascots on staff. However, some of them haven’t been working performers in years. They may be advocating outdated methods.
    • If they say “yes” ask “For who?” A corporate, theme park, or minor league mascot has a different experience and knowledge than a full time professional sports mascot performer.
      • At AMAZING!! Mascots our costumes are designed by veteran mascot performer Kelly Frank. She spent 5 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball, three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, and has also been a mascot for Arena Football, Major League Soccer, the WNBA, minor league baseball, minor league hockey, NCAA Basketball, Division 1 NCAA Football, in addition to being a parade performer at Walt Disney World and a seasonal character for Universal Studios Florida. She is still an active mascot performer. She tests out every costume and makes sure they have the most vision, ventilation, and mobility that is allowed with the design.
  2. Is there a charge for artwork?
    • Most companies offer a free design service. Others do not. If there is a fee ask what it includes (how many revisions are allowed, will it be in color or black and white). Also ask if the design fee will be applied to the purchase price of the costume.
      • AMAZING!! Mascots offers a free design service. We provide a basic black and white pencil sketch to begin the process, and do revisions to the black and white sketch. Once it is approved we provide a color version of the character. We retain the rights to our concept art.
      • Pencil sketch

        Pencil sketch

        Color concept

        Color concept

  3. Will we own the rights to the character?
    • Many companies include the rights to the character with the purchase of the costume. Make sure to get this in writing and have your legal department look over the agreement.
    • Other companies charge for the rights to characters. This can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The rights to the Phillie Phanatic were notoriously purchased for $250,000 five years after his debut after the team mistakenly passed on purchasing the rights for $1,200 when they first ordered the costumes.
      • AMAZING!! Mascots charges between $175-$2,000 for the rights to our original mascot designs. The fee is based off the type of organization (corporate, college/university, high school, minor league, major league). You can avoid this fee by coming to the process with an existing character.
  4. What material is the head made out of?
    • If they say “Fiberglass” you do not want this head. These heads are very heavy and prone to cracking. This is an outdated method of producing costume heads.
    • If they say “Paper Machie” you do not want this head. Water breaks down paper, and a performer’s sweat can damage the head. Additionally this type of head cannot be washed properly. It is an old and outdated method of producing mascot heads suited for hobbyists and cosplay, but not professionally made mascot costumes.
    • If they say “ABS Vacuformed plastic” this isn’t a bad option, but it comes with some negatives. Plastic heads are far heavier than foam heads (some weighing as much as 15 pounds!). The hard nature of the head can be a hazard. Our mascot designer gave two different people black eyes while wearing two different ABS plastic heads. From a performance standpoint they are limiting (can’t face plant into a wall/hockey glass/floor, can’t “kiss” fans, etc.). The seam where the two formed pieced are glued together is often a weak point that comes apart over time. Additionally helmets are often screwed into place. This creates a pressure point and causes  weakness in the head’s wall over time. Plastic heads are more difficult to repair than foam heads. This style of head is best for corporate or theme park characters. Often an organization will need multiples of these costumes, and vacu forming is a less expensive option. Also they are an exact duplicate every time. Since corporate and theme park characters aren’t as active, they don’t mind the lack of mobility.
    • If they say “upholstery foam” this is not ideal. Upholstery foam is “open celled foam” meaning it is porous and can retain sweat and moisture like a sponge. This can lead to the growth of bacteria or mold. It loses it’s shape over time and eventually (7+ years) will rot and crumble apart.
    • If they say “Ethafoam” this is a good option. Ethafoam is a rigid closed cell foam that can be carved for details. We have encountered issues with helmets detaching from ethafoam heads. Also if it is carved there may be an issue with creating exact duplicates as carving leads room for error.  We have found that most companies that use ethafoam  use metal mesh in the mouths to keep them open. This is a terrible idea. Over time the metal rusts due to the performer’s exhalations. The metal can also come detached from the face and expose jagged edges, like we found in this costume head. If you chose a producer who uses ethafoam make sure that they don’t use metal mesh in the mouth.
      • AMAZING!! Mascots uses microcell foam. This is a lightweight closed cell foam. It maintains it’s shape over time. Because it is closed cell it does not absorb sweat and does not break down over time. For some features we use open celled “filter foam.” We use this for cheeks, noses/beaks, and eyebrows. We only use it in places that will not come in contact with sweat. Occasionally we produce duplicates of existing costumes using filter foam. This is not our preferred method (filter foam does absorb sweat and will break down over time) but do it upon client request.
      • Micorcell foam

        Microcell foam

        Filter Foam

        Filter Foam

  5. How much do your heads normally weigh?
    • If they say “we don’t know” this means that they are not a company that takes the weight of the head (and the comfort/safety of the performer) into consideration when designing and building a mascot head. This is a red flag.
    • If they say “5-15 pounds” this is pretty heavy and is likely made of plastic or fiberglass. Heavy heads can lead to performer injury.
      • Our heads are designed to be around 2-3 pounds with our “heaviest” heads weighing in at 4.5 pounds. Considering that the helmet weighs 1/2-1 pounds, that’s pretty light!
  6. Is there a helmet inside the mascot head?
    • If they say “no” this is not ideal. A mascot head requires a helmet to respond best to the performer’s movements. A head that rests on the shoulder, uses under arm straps, or clips into place is uncomfortable for the performer to wear and severely limits movement. Instead of being a lively animated character the mascot often comes off as a stiff, Frankenstein moving “guy in a costume.”
    • If they say “yes” ask what type. Baseball helmets offer a nice cushiony but tight fit. But the inner foam can absorb sweat and break down over use. Construction helmets are used, but don’t offer a great chin strap system.
      • We use lightweight street hockey helmets. We have found these to offer the best fit at the lightest weight. However we encourage your performer to find a helmet that fits them and that they like best and send it to us to install in the head. 
  7. Where is the vision in the head?
    • If they say “eyes” ask how much of the eye is see through. Some companies only make the black/iris of the eye see through. For best eye vision make sure that all of the area is see though.
    • See through eyes

      See through eyes

    • If they say “mouth” tell them to make sure it has as much peripheral vision as possible. This will be limited by the design. Also a lower jaw will limit the vision. You want as much vision as possible and may have to compromise on the look of the design to achieve this.
    • Wide open mouth

      Wide open mouth

    • If they say “neck” ask if it’s a sewn in screen or if it’s athletic mesh. A sewn in screen can be pretty obvious in a character and show up as a darker circle. Athletic mesh that has yarn crocheted into it hides it a little bit better. This method is best used in characters with longer fur. Vision through the neck takes some getting used to and can be less sanitary if you have multiple performers.
    • Neck vision

      Neck vision

      • We use all three vision options. The option chosen depends on the final design.
  8. Does the head have any vents?
    • If they say “no” this means they are a company that does not take the performer’s comfort into consideration.
      • We put a vent at the top of the mascot head. Hot air rises so we find it is the best place to put it. We sometimes put additional vents by the character’s ears.
  9. Do you put a fan in the head?
    • If they say “yes” that’s nice. Ask if it pulls air inside the costume or sucks stale air out. Fans work best in low impact corporate characters that stand around in one place.
      • We DO NOT put fans in mascot heads. Our experience with fans is that they ALWAYS break. The wires become disconnected and the battery terminals rust over time. They create noise which hinders the performer’s safety. We have also seen a fan become detached while on and cut the performers head. If you insist we will install one for an additional fee.
      • Broken, as usual

        Broken, as usual

  10. Is the neck attached to the head?
    • If they say yes, ask if it can be removed. Necks soak up a lot of sweat. It’s best if they can be detached from the head and washed.
      • We build our necks to the client’s specification but strive to make them detachable. Some designs do not allow for detachable necks. We also offer costumes with the neck built into the body (tucks into the head) or with necks that are attached to lycra hoodies. Hoodie necks allow the bottom of the mascot head to remain open creating maximum airflow.
  11. Is the costume body lined?
    • If they say “no” this is not ideal. The fur can be pulled out from behind. The friction caused by wearing an unlined suit will accelerate this. However unlined suits are slightly lighter.’
    • If they say “yes” ask what it’s lined with. Some lining just adds unnecessary weight/heat to the costume. We’ve seen suits lined with thick cotton fabric and even quilt padding!
      • We use lightweight athletic mesh to line our costumes.  We find that this adds to the life of the fur body while adding a minimal amount of weight.
      • Lined mascot body

        Lined mascot body

  12. Can the hands detach from the costume?
    • If they say “no” this is not ideal. Hands are the highest wear part of the costume. They get dirty and worn out faster than the rest of the suit. Buying a new pair of hands/gloves is less expensive than having to send your entire mascot body back to have the old hands removed and new hands attached.
      • Our hands are connected with velcro and snaps. We make our hands detachable so they are easy to wash and less expensive to replace. We make them connect with snaps and velcro so they are less likely to get misplaced.
  13. Can the feet detach from the costume?
    • See above entry for hands.
  14. What is the average lifespan of the different fur options?
    • If they say “what??” then they have not been testing fur for it’s durability and are likely using whatever fur they see fit, or is cheapest.
      • We can let you know the expected lifespan of your fur options. We have been observing and testing fur for years. We make note of the different fibers, thicknesses, and asses their lasting powers. Basic shag fur, for example, has a short lifespan and needs to be replaced more frequently. We prefer to use deluxe long pile fur and plush fur options.
  15. Is the costume machine washable?
    • If they say “no” do you really want this costume? A costume that needs to be hand cleaned, or taken to a specialty cleaner will take up a lot of time and resources. As a result the costume often ends up going unwashed and gets smelly fast. Also dry cleaning just sprays a layer of chemicals on the costume and is not an effective cleaning method.
      • Our costumes are machine washable. However you must use a machine without an agitator. An agitator can/will tear the costume. Our heads are washable by hand.
  16. Do the feet/sneakers have internal straps so the performer can secure their own shoes inside?
    • If they say “no” this is not ideal. Feet that are worn as “slipper” do not offer optimal arch support or responsiveness.
      • Our feet are built with straps to secure the performer’s own shoes inside. We find that this allows for the best mobility and foot support. Our feet are also built to be lightweight and durable. We can even make the cover detach from the base for easy washing.
      • Shoe strap system

        Shoe strap system

  17. How do you make your mascot bellies?
    • If they say “foam sandwiched between mesh” this works, but we have found it to make the costumes unnecessarily hot.
      • Our bellies are made out of athletic mesh and five to eight 1/4 inch pvc tubes. We do not use foam to pad out bellies as we find that it makes the costume much hotter and does not add to the character’s over all shape.
      • Get in my belly

        Get in my belly

  18. Do you offer any annual maintenance with the costume purchase?
    • Most companies do not offer annual maintenance with your purchase, and some charge up to $400 for a cleaning!
      • We offer a free annual cleaning with minor repairs for the life of the costume! You just pay shipping to and from the studio. We deep clean the costume and fix any tears we see. If we assess that the costume needs advanced repairs (zipper replacement, knees patches, hands replaced, etc.) we will give you a written estimate and will only make repairs if approved. We find this service valuable to keep our characters looking their best. We want you to have an AMAZING!! Mascot for years!

If you can think of any questions we didn’t answer here, or would like more information on ordering a mascot costume, please feel free to contact us using the form below:

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How to be a baseball mascot, part 2: The Game

how to be a mascot

Now that pregame is over, it’s time to “tackle” the game. Since the baseball season is long, and games have no set time limit, it’s best to establish a schedule and develop a routine.The most useful thing to know before you go out are your entrance/exit points, the fastest ways to get around the stadium, and alternate break rooms. You may get stuck out somewhere during the game and need to take a quick break. Concession stands with freezers, storage closets, suites, bull pen lounges, “family” bathrooms, and offices are great escapes when you don’t have the time to get back to your dressing room. By knowing how to navigate your stadium you’re getting the maximum exposure with the minimum effort. Also it’s extremely important that you are comfortable with your dugout top and familiarize yourself with it’s dimensions. Falling off the dugout is a real danger and you, and the players below you, can get seriously injured. Check out the infamous clip of Wolfie falling off the dugout in Reno <click here> You should also watch out for the outfield walls, as they can be dangerous. Slider of the Cleveland Indians fell off the wall during the ALCS and torn his ACL. I fell off the outfield wall and broke my arm, requiring surgery to put a plate and four screws in my bone. Be aware of your surroundings!

dumbass who broke arm

If possible give your mascot an introduction sometime after the first inning, mid 2 being an ideal time (the theory being that not everyone is in their seats yet during the 1st). You can announce the character, he/she makes his/her entrance, and does a quick skit, dance, or T-shirt launch. It’s a great way to let the crowd see the mascot and know that he’ll be around during the game. Check out Orbit of the Astros introduction <Click here> This was done pre game, but could easily be done in game.

Mascots are often used to accentuate promotions. Work with your game director/promotional staff and determine which promos they mascot should be at and know when/where they are. One of the most common on field mascot promotions is the mascot race. Another is musical chairs. Normally I would budget 6 outs for a promotion. I would use 3 outs to get to position and be in position 3 outs prior. While you’re waiting for a promo, either interact with the crowd, or hide away in a tunnel/hallway. You should never be seen just standing idle clearly waiting for a contest. It makes you look like a bored intern in a costume.

Skits are another great way to entertain the baseball crowd. There are many common skits, such as the Dance off, where the mascot attempts to get someone (planted player, umpire, fan, opposing mascot) to dance. The person is reluctant at first, but then breaks out into a dance, like this skit with Raymond and the Oriole Bird, the Greenville Drive game and the Eugene Emeralds.  An easy skit is the “mascot streaker” where the character runs out “naked” and is pursued by security.For the “Slow Dance request” skit, the mascot finds a pretty lady who he wants to dance with, but has to argue with the sound guy to play the correct song. Watch Raymond perform this routine <click here>. Another is the “mascot in drag” routine where the mascot puts on a dress and serenades an umpire or player. The Phanatic took it up a notch by dressing up as Lady Gaga and dancing. <click here>  There is also the mimic/Monkey See Monkey do skit where a fan has to do what the mascot does. Check out Thunder from Lake Elsinore performing this <click here>. If your budget allows it, you can get real creative and create prop based skits, like Raymond’s tear away skit, which was adapted from a Famous Chicken bit <click here>.  The grounds crew field drag is another opportunity to perform. Here Parker of the Fresno Grizzlies and his “Drag Kings” performing a dance to “Soulja Boy.” The “Mascot Evolution of Dance” is another popular routine, where the mascot dances to a variety of popular songs. Parker reworked the skit into the “Evolution of Hip Hop“.  Watch YouTube and look at what other mascots do. Feel free to “borrow” the skits, as most mascot performers do. I suggest that you find some twist or unique way to make it your own.

how to be a mascot ace

In the minors it’s easy to get time to perform, but in the majors where every inning break is sponsored and time is at a premium, it’s much harder to get time. One way to “sneak” skit time in is by piggy backing on a promotion. Here the Tampa Bay Rays mascot and the Texas Rangers mascot serve as contestants for the Pappa Johns “Dance for your dinner” promo <click here> A great place for “found time” are pitching changes. These breaks are usually not sponsored and offer time for the mascot to strut their stuff. Since pitching changes are random, it’s next to impossible to perform a live skit, so video skits are a better option.

Video skits are easy and impactful ways to engage the crowd with the mascot. With the Rays I did several “sing-a-longs” that got the crowd going, such as “Living on a Prayer” and “Minnie the Moocher.” Video skits are great because they can be used over and over again. You can theme them for special events, like Father’s Day (Raymond goes Fishing with Dad) or for specific opponents (Raymond vs the Rally Monkey, Raymond vs Wally the Green Monster)

The 7th inning stretch usually features the mascot. The character hops on the dugout and pantomimes the stretch. After the stretch there is usually 60 seconds of “pump up” music. The Winston-Salem Dash dances to the song “Ice Cream and Cake.” You can also invite fans up to dance with you like the Phanatic does.

The bane of anyone working in baseball is the dreaded rain delay. This is a good time to take a break, but it is also a great time to do some schtick. You can get a rain outfit for the character, but if your budget doesn’t allow for a custom costume, just go buy a large yellow poncho. It will fit over your mascot easily and people will “get it.” If you have an old/backup suit you can take it out and slide on the tarp or play in puddles. Be sure to check with your groundskeeper and supervisor before doing this.

how to be a mascot momma monster

Mascot “Family” members are a great way to add entertainment to the game on Family Fundays (usually Sundays) and Mothers’/Fathers’ Day. Take your old costume or your backup costume and add accessories to make it into Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Or Grandma. For female family members a large dress, fancy hat, wig, lipstick/eyeshadow (made of felt and pinned on) and a purse work. For male characters a sports jacket, neck tie, tacky Hawaiian shirt, and a bushy mustache (fake fur fabric, pinned on) do the trick. For grandparents have the performer walk slower and perhaps give them a cane or walker. Many of these items can be found at a thrift store so you don’t have to break the bank to costume your characters.

Mascot birthday parties are a popular event at baseball games, sometimes drawing large crowds. Invite local sports and sponsor mascots to the event. If you have a budget it’s even possible to bring in out of town mascots which is a special treat for the fans. Pregame is a good time to do a group introduction and skit. If you have time, film a video skit with the mascots to show during the game (or online) like the Raymond’s house party or the Mascot card video we did. Have the mascots available to do an autograph session. Having a poster made with all of the mascots on it is a great touch. If this is not in your budget, get the mascots to take a group photo before the game begins, print off color copies in the office, and have the characters sign the photo during the autograph session.

If the team is down, consider a “rally” version of your character. In Tampa we had “Rally Ray.” They played an intro video, cued the music, and Rally Ray came bounding out during the middle of the 9th. We created a super hero style costume for him to wear. “Rally Ray” when then pump up the crowd using his drum. If you have a Rally version of your character, pay attention to the game and make sure you take a break so you have some gas left in the tank. See where you’re at after the 7th inning stretch.

how to be a mascot

If your team wins its great to “run the flag.” Get a custom flag made and run out to the field with it. It’s a nice way to end the game. If you have a “kids run the bases” post game it’s a nice opportunity to high five or take pictures on the field after the game. I was so wiped after working all game that I actually had my backup do it, which is advisable, unless you want to spend all day in costume.

That’s all for now. Look forward to Part 3: Working the crowd.

Stay Fuzzy my friends~ Kelly

How to generate revenue with your mascot

lots-of-dollar-signs-clip-art

No longer simply side show entertainment, mascots have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for their organizations. Some of the “revenue” is increased brand awareness in the community. The areas of direct revenue are:

mascot sponsorships

Sponsorships

  • Overall mascot sponsorship: This package usually involves logo placement on the mascot’s jersey, autograph cards/printed materials, and website. Also included are in game mentions and appearances at the local branches. These sponsorships can range from $8,500 for a minor league baseball mascot to $40,000 and up for major league sports mascots. A mascot sponsorship allows a business a nontraditional marketing opportunity that is very visual/interactive and helps draws traffic to their locations. 
  • Kids Club: Teams and businesses can offer a fan club for children. They usually offer a free membership that includes a membership card and an electronic newsletter or a premier membership that costs $15-$100 and includes a variety of items and invitations to members only events. The Nashville Predators Kid’s Club is sponsored by a local dentist. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s is sponsored by Subway. Kids clubs allow the team and it’s corporate partner to get their brand message to children and their parents and creates a database for marketing efforts.
  • School shows: The Chicago Bears “Tackle Reading” program is sponsored by ComEd, the local electric company. The Indianapolis Colts offer five different school shows each with it’s own sponsor. The Houston Rockets have numerous school shows that the charge $850 a show for, and partner with a local hospital to distribute a children’s book featuring Clutch to area students. The team receives money AND gets to bring their brand message to tens of thousands of school children annually, all while generating exposure for their corporate partners. Popular school show themes are reading, physical fitness, anti-bullying, and state standardized test preparation.
  • In game promotions: The Minnesota Wild of the NHL have Dairy Queen as a sponsor for their “mini mascot” promotion. The Denver Broncos and Minnesota Twins also have mini mascots. This allows the sponsor an unique and visual opportunity to promote their brands and draw traffic to their stores/websites through registration for the contest. In minor league baseball mascot races  attract local sponsors. In major league baseball mascot races are very popular sponsored contests with the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages being the most famous. Almost every MLB team has a racing mascot promotion.
  • Giveaway items: Mascot themed giveaways such as bobbleheads, plush dolls, banks, jerseys, hats and more allow a sponsor a chance to get their logo on thousands of gifts given to the fans. Items can be customized to the sponsor like a toothbrush holder for a dentist, a piggy bank for a bank, or a soap dispenser for a health care provider.
  • In stadium/arena mascot zone: Numerous teams have created a zone/home/den/play area featuring their mascot. These areas allow for sponsor placement/integration, serve as a mascot meet and greet location, and offer photo opportunities.
  • Promotional Vehicle: In addition to giving the mascot a means of transportation a promotional vehicle is a mobile billboard for the team and any presenting sponsor. These deals generally involve logo placement on the vehicle and appearances at all mascot related events. Car dealerships are the most common partner and the vehicle is usually included in the deal.

orbit delivers

Paid Appearances

  • Deliveries: Seasonal gift basket/flower deliveries are popular ways to generate revenue with Valentine’s day being the most popular. The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers mascots deliver a gift basket and flowers to their fans for a fee. The Astros even found a sponsor for their delivery increasing their earning potential. Other holidays include Easter, Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers/Fathers Day, and birthdays. For an additional fee, Tampa Bay Lightning season ticket holders could get their tickets delivered to thier home or office. It’s a great way to kick off the season. These deliveries can be advertised through social media, on the team’s website, in the team store, through e-mail blasts, and in game.
  • Birthday Parties: Appearances at  birthday parties are an easy way to generate paid appearances. Most teams offer a few options including a short visit (10-15 minutes) or a deluxe package including playing party games and other entertainment. Additional add on items are a customized jersey or additional ticket vouchers. Teams charge anywhere from $50-$800 for these visits. Birthday parties can also be held at the ballpark/arena. These packages generally include tickets, food, drink, cake, a present, and a visit from the mascot.
  • Parades: Community parades often need to book entertainment. Almost every little league has a parade. Fourth of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are also big parade seasons. The mascot and their promotional vehicle appear in the parade and distribute giveaway items and provide entertainment. Parades are some of the most difficult appearances, often lasting 2-5 hours including pre-parade positioning and post parade traffic, therefore these appearances generally cost more than standard mascot appearances.
  • Weddings: Many super fans want to include their team on their special day. A mascot is often a surprise guest who adds excitement to the event. College and University mascots are often booked for these events. The mascot can act as a ring bearer or just be there to cut a rug on the dance floor.
  • Seat/Suite visits: Teams can offer a personalized seat visit from the mascot in their seat or luxury suite. Groups can also book the mascot. These are quick visits where the mascot delivers a gift and takes a photo. This is a great way for fans to guarantee a visit from the mascot. They are great for birthdays, holidays, and even wedding proposals

doll

Merchandise

  • Plush Dolls: Teams offer mascot plush dolls in a variety of sizes and price points. Several teams have partnered with Build a Bear and created “build a mascot.” The teams then offer stations in the park/arena for children to make their own mascot doll. Bobble head dolls, and plush mascot hats are also great items to sell.
  • Clothing: Youth T-shirts and mascot jerseys are popular items. Adults wear mascot t-shirts as well. Other items include scarves, sweatshirts, socks, and hats.
  • Costumes: Recently Halloween costumes of team mascots have become popular. These are great high end items that help grow lifelong fans, while also advertising your team in local neighborhoods.
  • Other items: School sets, backpacks, pennants, pucks, baseballs, bats, basically any item can feature the mascot.

A properly run mascot program can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for its organization directly and increase brand value through social media and grassroots marketing. Make sure you’re not leaving money on the table and maximize your mascot program today!

If you want a personal assessment of your mascot costume and program, please feel free to contact us at AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc.

Stay fuzzy my friends~ Kelly

How to find a mascot performer

stanleyparty The only thing that is more important than an amazing mascot costume is an amazing mascot performer. They truly do bring your brand to life. A talented performer transforms your mascot from a “person in a costume” to a memorable character. Dancing, juggling, prop use, and crowd interaction are just some of the skills a true performer brings. How do you get someone like this? Simply put, treat your performer/s professionally and compensate them for their time. You invested in your costume, now invest in your performer. How to find someone like this, not simply put…

zing!!

Business Organizations Businesses should be the most aware of brand presentation, yet when it comes to mascots, they are one of the worst offenders. The majority of corporate characters, even highly recognizable ones, are usually staffed by part time or temp employees with little to no training on how to perform as a character. I have seen multiple occasions when companies have shipped out the costume and let event organizers staff it with any body available. ADVICEAlways know who is in your mascot costume! How old are they? Do they have health issues? A criminal record? Have they been trained how to react to a scared child? An abusive one?  This is not just an issue of poor brand presentation. It can become a legal issue (performer punching abusive child) or even child endangerment. To avoid facing the problems of an unknown and possibly untrained performer, you can:

  • Have  a member or members of your staff dedicated solely to performing as and  escorting your character. Make sure they have cleared a background  check and a physical exam. Make sure your mascot receives proper training  on performance, costume maintenance and legal issues. If you don’t feel that your company can properly train your performers and escorts, hire a professional organization to help you. I personally recommend Amazing!! Mascots, Inc.
  • Look  for a local mascot performer. If you can’t find a member of your  current staff capable of being a performer, look outside your company. Put out a “mascot wanted” job posting in the newspaper, www.gameops.com, or www.mascot.net.  Call your local sports teams and colleges/universities. You may be able to hire one of their performers or even back up performers for part time work. Theme parks have numerous trained performers as well. Even though these performers already have experience and some training, it may not be enough. You should still train your performer on legal responsibilities and run your own background and health check. Any performer, no matter what their level of experience is, could benefit from training.
  • Contract  a professionally trained and experienced performer. There is a nationwide network of past and present professional mascot performers and theme park workers. Several companies have a database of experienced performers with references for staffing corporate events. They are:

The pay scale for corporate mascots varies. My recommendations are as follows

  • Member of your staff trained to be the mascot with no prior experience, $10-$25/hour  (plus the cost of professional training)
  • Theme park  character performer $15-$30/hour
  • Sport team/college mascot with one year minimum experience, $20-$50/hour
  • Sport team/college mascot with over 3 year’s experience, $50-$150/hour or more

The more experienced the performer, the more you should expect to pay. The cost is worth the value of having an experienced performer. If you start off with an inexperienced performer who undergoes training and shows improvement, bump up their pay. Don’t waste your money training an employee if you don’t want to invest in keeping that performer. Remember, you get out what you put in to your mascot program.

custom mascot costume

custom mascot costume

High Schools  High school cheer coaches are often in charge of the mascot. Depending on the state of the mascot program, a coach can have a hard or easy time finding student volunteers. If the mascot costume is in good shape, performers are treated with respect, and the administrator is attentive a school could recruit several students to perform as the mascot. Schools that lack these elements may have costumes that go unfilled. To improve the status of being the mascot, you can:

  • Invest  in a good looking, professionally designed mascot costume. It’s a lot  easier to convince someone to wear a clean and good looking costume over  an old smelly one. For a professionally designed custom mascot, expect to  spend a minimum of $3,500 with costs averaging $5,500 and up to $8,000. Low cost “stock” characters are available from $500-$2,500, but as their  prices indicate, they are not custom and are like their price, “cheap.” To purchase a new costume you can look for funds from the PTA, student activities fund, or have your own fundraiser (car wash, candy sale, flower deliveries, etc.)
  • Offer perks allowed to athletes. Leaving class early for the game, recognition in the yearbook, a letter man jacket, etc. While you are not paying the students you are compensating them for their time.
  • Highlight a the possibility of college mascot career. Many colleges offer partial or full scholarships for mascot performers. These students usually enjoy perks such as traveling to away games, performing at championship  games, and participating in national mascot competitions (UCA Nationals, Capital One Mascot Challenge). Working as a high school mascot is a great way to get an extra curricular activity that could add value to their college applications.

To search for mascot performers at your school, put up bulletins, put an ad in the school paper, or make an announcement over the PA system to promote the try outs. Cheerleaders and members of the drama club are a great resource for finding performers. They can often times be the mascot or know people with personalities that would fit. For the audition, spend at least 5 minutes interviewing each student. Try to get a feeling of their sense of judgment. They need to be able to think before they act in costume to avoid any embarrassments. After the brief interview you should conduct the physical part of the audition. Have the hopefuls come prepared with a 2 minute skit, dance, or other demonstration of their performance skills. Before they perform the skit, test their performance abilities by asking them to show you how they would react to common situations such as:

  • The team scored a touchdown/point/run
  • You just scared a small child
  • Someone from the other school just said something rude to you
  • The  cheerleaders are leading a cheer
  • Your team just got scored on
  • You see a pretty girl/guy
  • Different types of music (fast, slow, rock and roll, disco, hip hop in 10-20 second spurts)

If you have multiple people auditioning but only one costume to audition in at the very least you should allow for 5-10 minutes between candidates to allow the costume to air out. If possible, contact a local costume shop and rent a costume or two to speed up the audition process. If you are lucky enough to find multiple qualified candidates you could establish a mascot “team” of performers and escorts. If some performers are better than others, establish a JV and Varsity status. The varsity mascot can perform at the larger sporting events while the JV covers some of the smaller events. Make your selected performers take a sports physical to make sure they can handle the rigor of wearing the costume. Consider investing in training for your high school mascots. The Universal Cheerleaders Association offers affordable training camps throughout the country.

knightro

mascots for UF and UCF

Colleges/Universities Many college and university mascots rank as some of the oldest established characters out there. The Penn State Nittany lion dates back to the 1920’s, five decades before the San Diego Famous chicken hatched the modern sports mascot industry. Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami dates date to 1957.Albert the alligator has been prowling the University of Florida since 1970. Aubie of Auburn University started off in 1979. The list goes on. Top mascot programs earn their respective schools recognition through national competitions (UCA nationals, Capital One Mascot Challenge), appearances in the community, and appearances on Sports Center and other commercials. These programs also foster future professional mascot performers. As with high school mascots, most college mascot programs are overseen by cheer or dance coaches or former cheerleaders/dancers/mascots working as a coach. Most schools rely on several students to serve as performers and escorts as a part of a mascot team. Interest in the school mascot depends on the traditions of the school and the way the program is run. Some schools attract dozens of hopefuls to auditions while others attract none. A good school program should strive to provide:

  • Full/partial  scholarship or stipend for service as a mascot performer. This allows your performer to dedicate more time to working as the mascot rather than  working another job. By compensating the mascots you allow them to feel  like professionals and foster an attitude of responsibility. A mascot that  may loose his/her scholarship for poor decision making will be more likely to think before  they act.
  • Offer  perks allowed to athletes.  Priority registration, out of state tuition waivers, trips to road games, etc. This adds value to being the      school mascot. A student who receives these benefits is more likely to  work to keep these perks.
  • Send your performers to mascot camp. Going to a college mascot camp is a fun and unforgettable experience. Your performers will learn the basics of  performance while meeting a network of college mascot performers. The  Universal Cheerleading Association offers multiple college camps. Amazing!! Mascots  offers  mascot camps which can be held on campus.
  • Allow your mascots to participate in national competitions. The UCA College mascot Nationals and the  Capital One Mascot challenge are two of the biggest college mascot  competitions.

Many schools run an audition process similar to a high school audition. They solicit applicants and invite them to an audition. Auditions usually consist of:

  • 2-5 minute prepared skit with props and music
  • Dancing to multiple music selections
  • Prop use
  • Demonstration of emotions/character
  • Demonstration of school cheers/fight songs/traditions
  • Demonstration of physical fitness (pushups are common)
  • Q and A session. “What would you do in ______ situation?”
  • Out of costume charades/dancing
  • Walking/acting in the personality of the character

They also interview the candidates and sometimes require a written essay and references. Again, schools that offer scholarships or stipends attract a higher quality applicant pool.  

You can read all about a major college mascot program by clicking here.

Sports Teams    

Rays mascot Raymond

Rays mascot Raymond

Professional sports teams at all levels post job openings on Teamwork Online, Work in Sports, and Gameops.com.  The pay rate depends on the team and the value they place on their mascot. Some organizations employ multiple full time staff members to run their mascot program, and others get by with part time performers. Full time salaries range from $30,000-$70,000 with some teams offering six figure compensation. Additional salary is made through commission on paid appearances (Birthday parties, seat visits, deliveries, etc.) Part time salaries range from $25-$200 an hour and $50-$500 a game.

Teams can use any of the previously mentioned methods to locate a performer. It is advisable to hire/contract a mascot company or performer to help select a suitable candidate.  Local professional sports mascots are usually available to consult for a fee. They will be an insightful judge to help screen potential hires.

At the professional level, the interview process should be more involved. Applicants should demonstrate skills such as event coordination, budgeting, marketing, and sales.

Teams generally announce the opening, accept resumes/highlight tapes, do phone interviews, then select a 3-6 candidates to audition.

If you’d like to know more about finding a mascot performer, feel free to contact us at AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc.

~Stay fuzzy my friends.

Welcome to this AMAZING!! blog

Welcome to the latest and greatest blog about mascots and how to be a mascot performer. I have been peforming as a mascot for over a decade and have been designing/producing costumes for just as long. When I first started as a performer, there was very little information available for me to learn from. I started this blog to help aspiring and current mascot performers and administrators learn about the art of “mascotting.”

You may be thinking “The ‘art?’ Really? Isn’t it just some idiot jumping around in a fuzzy jumpsuit?” And that’s probably why your mascot currently sucks.

A mascot is a living breathing extension of your brand. It’s the huggable, interactive, high fiving advertisement for your organization. It is important to make sure your performer is well trained, the costume is maintained, and your “mascot marketing” has a solid plan behind it.

This blog will help your mascot grow. Keep checking back to read the latest entries. Until then, please enjoy my highlight reel:

http://youtu.be/wPwdiw25ieM

Stay fuzzy my friends. ~ Kelly