Every industry has its own technical terms and the costumed character business is no different. Learn to talk the mascot talk and gain insight into some of the lingo we mascot-makers speak with our no-nonsense jargon-busting list:
This corresponds to the body of the mascot. A full fur body is effectively a mascot without clothes covered head to toe in, you’ve guessed it, fur. This gives a more realistic animal look and is great for re-creating a traditional Teddy Bear for example. After all, how many real animals have you seen wearing a t-shirt and shorts (no need to answer the question as I’m sure some of you will have experienced the wonderment that is a dog in clothes).
Full-fur costumes are a little hotter to wear and are less flexible than their half-fur counterpart when it comes to changing branding for example. Warning, adding clothing to a full fur mascot can cause wearers to overheat so for most cases, we recommend a half-fur suit if your character is wearing clothes
As with full-fur, this corresponds to the body of the mascot and is a lighter weight alternative for characters in clothes. In this instance, the body comprises of fur arm gloves and fur legs attached to a mesh adjustable vest that sits over the padding and under the costume clothing.
This option is a versatile choice in many ways; Firstly, the costume can accommodate a number of different wearer heights thanks to the adjustable vest. Full fur costumes usually have a limited height range for wearers (5ft 7″ – 5ft 9″ for example) whereas half-fur is much more flexible. Secondly, half-fur is great for those people who change branding regularly as it is much easier and more cost effective to refresh a range of clothes than it is to replace a full mascot to match your new brand colours.
One of the many materials used by mascot makers to create shaped body parts and heads, plastazote (or plas as it is sometimes referred to) is a polyethylene foam that is tough but light and easy to cut. Plas is used for packaging, sports padding, swimming floats and many other household items as well as creating amazing mascots.
Here we use it because of its strong yet malleable composition and also because it reacts well to heating and gluing, allowing you to create complex shapes with a sturdy structure. One downside to this material is that it isn’t very breathable so we try to make sure that each plas head or body shape is well ventilated using a combination of coolmax suits and fans and mesh openings.
To give it its proper name, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (now you see why we call it ABS) is an engineering plastic that is impact resistant, strong, stiff and can be moulded into practically any shape using a cast due to its flexibility when heated and to approximately 105 degrees celsius. This makes it perfect for creating mascot heads when identical multiples of the same shape are required.
Vac forming is the process of creating a template of your design in wood, fibreglass or plastazote, then heating and moulding the ABS plastic to that shape. This facilitates the creation of identical items when making a run of costumes. ABS is lightweight, easy to machine and can be painted on and glued to with no issues, making it the perfect material when creating amazing mascot heads.
This is the term we give to a mascot costume that has no moving parts and is based around an object rather than an animal or a human. For example, a jigsaw piece, a building or an item of food could be classed as an inanimate costume. These usually have a rigid structure made of plastazote for the main body, with leg and arm holes so the character can move around and interact with their audience.
Almost any shape is possible and we are lucky to have a specialist team that can work wonders with any design you may have for your character.
This sounds like something you’d expect to see on Star Trek but it’s a bit more varied than just cyborgs and aliens. Humanoid is the term we give to a mascot that has a traditionally more human shape than the animal or inanimate mascots regularly seen promoting brands.
Humanoids tend to have larger than life human characteristics and are cartoon like in appearance. Noddy or Thames Valley Paramedic Bob for example would be humanoid characters as they appear human in form but caricature like in their design.
The underbody of a costume character is what gives it a shape. This is usually a separate garment that is put on before the main body of the mascot and can include padding or hoops to give form to the torso area of the mascot.
Whether it be a tubby tummy for a cuddly bear or the six pack on a cyber-human, this padding can really make a difference to the aesthetics of the outfit. However, all this additional padding can create a lot of warmth for your wearer and there are things that can be done to lessen the discomfort if performing for a lengthy time. These will be discussed further below.
Coolmax is a moisture wicking technical fabric that we offer to keep costume wearers dry and comfortable during long shows. It draws sweat and moisture away from the body and down the fabric fibres to the outside of the garment where it dissipates into the environment.
Used by major sports and clothing brands around the world, it is much more breathable than standard cotton and can be woven into other materials to increase their breathability. Here we use Coolmax Lycra to create a thin and breathable layer for maximum comfort.
Used to circulate the air inside larger mascot heads, these small fans are an optional extra that can increase the length of time a wearer is able to perform in their costume. Physically attached to the mascot head, the battery-powered fan is lightweight and discreet, allowing your wearer to entertain the audience in comfort without cumbersome electronics poking out of their costume.
For the most part, vests aren’t cool. Picture Rab C Nesbitt in his string number and you’ll see what I mean…. Our vests however are cool, or more accurately cooling. The Cool Vest is worn under the body of the mascot and has a number of ice packs inserted into pockets around the garment that keep the wearer chilled to perfection inside the hot costume.
Re-useable and very effective, the Cool Vest is one of our more popular optional accessories, especially for characters in hotter climates, such as the UAE or America where the temperature can soar above the dizzying 10 degrees celsius we experience here in the UK…
This list is by no means definitive but should give you a basic understanding of what to expect when mascot makers come back to you with design suggestions. It will give you the knowledge to make a well-educated decision on whether or not something is right for you and possibly even some ideas that you may not have had.
If you are ready to turn your ideas into a plastazote inanimate or half-fur humanoid, then head on over to our quotes page.
After reading this article you should know exactly what I mean….