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Critters with Character!

How can you entertain your audience with a smaller entertainment team, and how can you ensure your team are able to provide vibrant, attention-grabbing shows whilst maintaining a social distance from the audience and each other?


Social distancing measures are presenting performers and promoters with some challenging issues.
Venues are having to think of clever workarounds to entertain their audience while keeping their staff safe. In the recently re-opened Disney Resort in Shanghai the much-loved Disney parade and “meet and greet” opportunities have been cancelled, with the characters instead waving at guests from afar upon their arrival at the park.

CWC is here to help! Our new range of “Critters with Character” puppets offer a perfect solution, allowing you to entertain your audience from a safe distance with a single operator.

Puppets have always been a favourite in the entertainment industry, from Punch and Judy to Kermit the Frog, puppets have thrilled and delighted audiences on the seafront, stage and screen.

In recent years at CWC, we have seen a steady increase of the use of puppets during live shows and events, both in the UK and further afield. Holiday parks, hotels and cruise ships use them for smaller, more intimate shows with their younger guests and families. Theatrical and live performance venues use them to add an extra something special to their show or bring together a concept that wouldn’t quite work as a costume or prop, theme parks use them as part of their walkabout entertainment or as an interactive addition to their scenery.

Over the years we’ve made puppets large and small: simple hand puppets, larger characters that need two hands to operate, costumes with puppet elements (such as a moving mouth or blinking eyes), and giant puppets needing a harness for the wearer to operate them.


Puppet replicas of your existing characters are a great way to introduce them to younger guests, bringing their larger-than-life personality to them without the larger than life costume, which can sometimes be intimidating for smaller guests
(We have plenty of pointers on addressing and avoiding this in our “How to be a Costume Character” tips provided with each costume).

Entertain your audience with a bespoke CWC puppet!

Our puppets are safe and hygienic for your staff. They are supplied with washable gloves which are quick to dry and can be easily maintained between uses, or each operator can have their own gloves. They also come with a stand and a waterproof tour and storage bag, so you can keep them safe and looking pristine when not in use.

We’ve introduced our first Critter and will be adding more furry friends to the gang soon. Keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest additions!
Contact us today If you would like a quote for a bespoke puppet, or want to know a little more about the “Critters With Character” range

Call us: 0161 442 8740

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Costumes with hygiene

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, personal hygiene has become a focus. Frequent handwashing is being encouraged and masks are becoming more commonplace in day- to-day life.

Everyone has been staying at home where possible, and many of our customers have taken to the internet to engage and promote their characters and bring a smile to their customers’ faces whilst in lockdown.
As we slowly move towards the new normal, with theme parks in several countries beginning to re-open, what does this mean for your mascots?

For the time being, we would recommend limiting your character use to one specific wearer per costume and maintaining social distancing while you are in costume.
Your character “wear and care” instructions have full details about the best maintenance methods for your costume. We have copies of these available so please get in touch if you need a new copy or have any maintenance questions.
If you would prefer to have your character professionally cleaned and sanitised, our refurb team are here to help. Contact to book your character in for a full spa treatment, anti-bacterial scrub and soothing massage before they get back to work!
No one wants to put their wearers’ health at risk and here at CWC we care about your wearers’ safety.
We use top quality materials and quick-to-dry foam in our character bodies. As many elements as possible are machine-washable for easy maintenance at home, with minimal downtime.

Our preferred material for character heads is ABS plastic, which is unique to CWC in the UK.

It is the most hygienic style of character head and it’s easy to see why it is the go-to for much-loved companies like Disney.
The plastic is vacuum-formed over a sculpted fibreglass tool and the two halves are prepared by our skilled props team, who adapt the shape by cutting areas of vision and ventilation away, adding sculpted builds to the form to match your design. All edges are sanded down with 2-3 grades of sandpaper to ensure everything is smooth and safe for your wearer.

As ABS is plastic, it is not porous. Many mascot makers use cheap foams or even wadding fabric to produce their character heads.

Foam heads can be laser cut, making them quick and cheap to produce, but then the pieces have to be glued together. This is not only a lot warmer than a ventilated, plastic head but also absorbs moisture from your wearer. After a few wears this can become unpleasant and begin to smell.
In contrast, a CWC ABS head can be wiped clean with anti-bacterial spray or wipes after every use so you can be sure your wearer is working in a clean and sanitised environment.

With hygiene being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, our ABS heads really are the best and most hygienic choice for your character costume.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements; big or small, furry or smooth – we’re here to help bring your ideas to life.


Call us: 0161 442 8740

P.S Did you know we also sell puppets? Keep an eye out for our forthcoming puppet blog for more information about how puppetry in the entertainment industry is really taking off!

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Don’t furlough your mascot!

Five ways to keep your mascot working hard for you during lockdown

With our 6th week of lockdown in the UK just beginning, many mascots have been put to one side temporarily. However, this doesn’t have to be the case!

Mascots are a fantastic marketing tool, and social media platforms are providing the perfect solution to the issue of not being able to interact in person (or costume) with your target market.

Don’t be forgotten! Keep your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds and ensure your business is ready to hit the ground running when the UK economy starts to re-awaken.

Here are five ways to help you to get the most out of your costume during lockdown.


1

Tik Tok: this video sharing app is the fastest growing social media platform in the world, with many people taking to the internet to showcase their dancing skills.

Polish up your dancing paws and give the “Oh na na na” challenge a try!


2

Instagram: this is a great platform to really promote the visual side of your brand.

Brand colours, photo montages, short videos and teasers leading up to announcements or events such as giveaways are a great way to build up excitement about your company and control your target audience’s impression of your brand. Don’t forget to use a hash tag or two to help your posts to reach your ideal customers!


3

Facebook

Frequently used to quickly communicate with and encourage engagement directly with your followers, many of our customers have taken the opportunity to create a Facebook page for their character, giving the furry face of their brand a voice with which to engage customers. The great thing about this platform is that you can post statuses, polls, photos, videos and you can share or like other people’s posts, increasing your reach.


4

Out and about (safely)

We’ve heard about several of our customers wearing their characters out in the streets to boost the morale of their local communities and raise money for good causes. We’ve seen wonderful feedback on their social media pages about this and it’s so heart-warming to see character costumes helping to give so much back to those in need during these challenging times.


5

Take the chance to pause and give your character the day off.

We are always so busy and often character maintenance is at the bottom of the “to do” list.
We have a skilled team on hand to professionally clean and repair your costumes, provide replacement parts and get the ball rolling on new designs or costume elements to help you to plan ahead and give you the edge over your competitors.

If using your character for promotions during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, to minimise any risks, we would strongly recommend that your costume is worn by one person only. We have the “wear and care” instructions for all of our character costumes on file, so please get in touch if you need a copy.
The majority of our characters can be machine-washed, and our ABS vac formed heads can be wiped down with disinfectant.

 

Stay safe and do keep in touch and let us know what your characters have been up to!

 
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Costumes With Character now an employee-owned trust

Foreword by Liz Milnes, Managing Director

Liz MilnesWhen you create, manage and grow a business, the last thing you think about is your exit strategy, and this for me has been one of the most difficult challenges.

Almost 35 years on, both of my companies, Costumes with Character and Auscoz are considered to be two of the most successful mascot manufacturers in the world, providing mascots and characters for many of the most high-profile companies and character creators on the planet.

But the thing I am most proud about isn’t having founded and grown these two companies, it is having created jobs; interesting, creative and enjoyable work, in a great environment, for so many people, for so many years.

This is why succession planning to ensure the jobs were protected and company continued to grow was so important to me.

I am grateful to Postlethwaites Solicitors who introduced me to the concept of EOTS and created the Trust and structure for CWC.

Liz Milnes

CWC Management Team Costumes With Character EOT Management team: Debbie Aylward, Alison Hilton, Marie Harrison, Amanda Pritchard, Michelle Barton and Clare Kinross

After 34 years of producing high quality, practical and affordable character costumes, founder and MD of Costumes With Character Ltd Liz Milnes has transferred 100% of her company shares in to the Costumes With Character Employee Ownership Trust, which will hold them on behalf of the company’s staff.
Lego
Under the guidance of Postlethwaite Solicitors, Costumes With Character became an employee-owned company. This move is a way of preparing the company for the future by ensuring Costumes With Character remains an independent company, and the job security of the loyal staff (who have invested so much time, talent and effort in to making Costumes With Character the world class brand it is today) is safeguarded.

The success of Costumes With Character is dependent upon the skills
and attitude of the team; selling the company would put it at risk but
transferring its ownership to the staff would secure the company
long-term and preserve its current working culture for the future.

Besides ensuring the company will continue to thrive beyond her
retirement, Liz wanted the staff to see real rewards for their hard
work. This company structure means that the staff can see the
benefits of their hard work by receiving a share of the company’s
profits each year, and also have a say in business decisions.
Costumes with Character EOT Trustees L-R: Alison Dermott, Liz Milnes, Emma Stanton
The senior management team will remain in their existing roles, with
Liz acting as the MD in the transitional period, business decisions
will be made by the management team as a whole, with the trustees (who
are a combination of directors, employees and others with no
commercial stake in the business) ensuring the management team are
acting in the company’s best interests.

Employee Owned Trusts are a fast-growing business structure option in
the UK. Recently there has been growth in employee ownership as a
succession option for small and medium sized businesses and family
businesses.

“…The creation of an employee trust, is the best solution we have
found for keeping Aardman doing what it does best, keeping the teams
in place and providing continuity for our highly creative culture. And
of course, those that create value in the company will continue to
benefit directly from the value they create”.

Peter Lord and David Sproxton – Aardman

“To me, the decision to sell the company to my colleagues was an
obvious one. Nobody knew my business better than the people in it and
we’d created a culture together”

Julian Richer – Richer Sounds

Nickelodeon

Liz Milnes founded and created “Costumes With Character”, Initially called “Situation Clothing”, in 1986. Her background as a costume designer for screen and stage led her to identify a need for high quality, practical, comfortable character costumes. Liz wanted to produce costumes, which not only looked great but also carefully considered the wearer’s requirements and the practicalities needed for costume maintenance, such as ensuring the costumes were washable and individual parts were easily replaceable.

Liz relocated to Australia a number of years ago, after receiving orders from several Australian companies and seizing the opportunity to grow the business in another hemisphere. She set up Costumes With Character’s sister company “Aus Coz” in Currumbin, Queensland and has experienced great success there too, working with Dream World, The Wiggles, The Commonwealth Games 2018, The Invictus Games and The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary among many others.
Aardman Animations
The move provided CWC staff with the opportunity to work in Australia and increased our understanding of the construction materials and methods required to produce costumes that are suitable for warmer climates.
The challenges faced in warmer countries included heat, UV fading and costume elements requiring glues more resilient to temperature than UK costumes. A base in Australia also opened up the possibility of sourcing different materials and technologies that weren’t yet commonplace in the UK.

Liz was actively involved in both businesses on a daily basis and returned to the UK for 3 months every year.

Some of the staff have been with the company from the very beginning and have seen it go from strength to strength.
 


Costumes With Character now produce over 400 costumes and puppets every year for a range of industries and household names including:

Tourism

Tui, Thomas Cook, Bourne Leisure, Parkdean Resorts, Away Resorts, Greenbank Holidays, Pontins

Sports

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC, Leeds United

Leisure

LEGO, Aardman, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Sealife, Nando’s, Hollywood Bowl, SPI leisure

Charity

BBC Children in Need, Macmillan, The Christie, Cancer Research

Retail

Early Learning Centre, Marks and Spencer, Silent Night, Unilever, Slush Puppie, Kellogg’s


See full commentary by Liz Milnes
 


See our Work

Read more about employee ownership at Postlethwaits Solicitors: https://postlethwaiteco.comwww.employeeownership.co.uk

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Charities

It is so important for charities to increase awareness of the cause they support and many assume that a professional, high-quality mascot is beyond their budget.

We understand that mascots are a vital, eye-catching tool, which help to raise the profile of a charity, encourage fundraising and help them to stand out at a busy event.  Mascots provide an instantly recognisable face for your brand, and help you to be instantly recognisable at events.  We want every charity to have this opportunity and this is why we are keen to regularly support charity with a yearly costume donation to the charity of our choice, and special discounted rates, no matter the size of the organisation.


BBC Children In Need’s Pudsey and Blush, Millies Trust’s Geoffrey and Georgie (right)

 
Charities we work with include: BBC Children in Need, Macmillan, Millie’s Trust, Soi Dog Foundation, Merlin’s Magic Wand, Cancer Research UK, Claire House Hospice, Francis House, Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, The Christie and Zoe’s place to name a few.

We recently donated a character to Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, Huddersfield, just in time for Christmas.

 

Fundraiser Lynsey Marshall reached out to us via our website:

“…As a local charity relying heavily on charitable donations from the community – income generation is our number one focus outside of the care delivery aspect. 

 Building awareness and engagement at our events across West Yorkshire is of upmost importance and the one thing we hugely lack in comparison to other charities is a mascot…Being a small charity with an equally small budget – I wondered if this is something you might be able to help us with …”

Forget me not children’s hospice is based at Russell House in Huddersfield.  The hospice provides respite for patients, carers and siblings as well as offering support for families in their own home.

“Our vision is for a world in which children and young people no longer face life-shortening conditions. And until that day comes, our mission will always be to offer them, and their families, as much support, love and laughter as they can handle.

Time after time, people who meet us tell us they’re astonished that a children’s hospice could be so happy. The day we stop surprising people like this will be the day we put our coats on and go home. We believe in creating joy, holding onto it, and spreading it – and yes, you can do that in a children’s hospice.” 

As with many charities the majority of their support comes from donations.  They only receive 3.3% of their income from the government. As such they frequently hold fundraising events to enable them to raise the funds they need to continue to provide the Yorkshire area with outstanding support.    We set about designing an eye-catching character, based on the charity’s logo – a flower.  We also noticed that they sold a small bear online and produced two further designs, one with a branded T-shirt and one with their signature branded purple hoodie.  The designs and fabric samples were sent over to Lynsey and the families at the hospice picked their favourite.

 

Meet Russell The Bear!

Russell is ready in time for Christmas and was launched at the charity’s annual “Little Lights” Christmas event on 2nd December.  This is an event that brings together bereaved families to celebrate, remember and reflect upon their loved ones’ lives. The feedback we received from the charity, patients and supporters was wonderful, with many taking to social media to comment on the charity’s new, cuddly mascot.  He was the star of the show, with Lynsey telling us:

“He was amazing, he went down an absolute storm…as soon as he came out the event came to life!” 

 

The charity plan to feature Russell at upcoming fundraising opportunities and events such as bag packing, their Santa’s grotto at Trinity Walk Shopping Centre and their annual Huddersfield Colour Run.   You can support the valuable work Forget Me Not children’s hospice does, read more about their events and keep up with Russell’s appearances on their website.

Facebook @forgetmenotchildrenshospice

Twitter: @ForgetMNotchild

We were delighted to work with Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and know that Russell will work hard throughout the community to encourage many donations.
 
If you need a character for your charity we’re here to help.  Call us on 0161 442 8740 or email  to really get your brand noticed at an affordable rate.  If you already have a CWC charity costume who is in need of a refresh, take advantage of our refurbishment service.  We offer a special discounted rate for returning CWC-made charity costumes. Our team will fully clean and repair your character costume, bringing it back to an excellent standard ready to fundraise for you again.

Contact  to book your character’s place.
 

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Dames, cows and slapstick: the history of pantomime

It’s Panto Season!

Pantomime has for a long time been a seasonal British institution. A pilgrimage of tradition for many families in the UK. Love it or hate it, panto brings out the child in us all.

Shouts of ‘it’s behind you’ and ‘oh no it isn’t’ boom around the theatre hall. Cast members goading the audience to participate as they search high and low for the culprit who hides in plain sight. Pantomime, for those who haven’t been, is jolly good fun!

During our 30+ years of existence, we’ve had the pleasure of constructing numerous costume items and animals (most notably horses and cows) for this fabulous form of theatre so I thought I would share a little bit of panto history with you. It is, after all, the time of year they call… panto season.

Where it all started

Commedia_dellarteMany people will be surprised to learn that pantomime didn’t originate in the UK and holds many of its roots in a style of classical theatre called Commedia Dell ‘Arte, popular in Italy throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries. This style of sketch based theatre brought about the notion of ‘stock’ characters. Stock characters were made to represent stereotypical social types, such as the servant, the clown and the lovers to name a few.

Performing in small groups, the typical Commedia troupe was usually mobile. They would travel between towns, performing outside in the main square or at court for the towns folk to enjoy. Often masked, the troupe would play out conventional plot lines, drawing inspiration from current events or re-enacting historical performances with an improvisational twist and well-used jokes of the time. Since a lot of the performance is improvised, this allowed the actors to adapt plots to highlight local news or scandal, keeping the performances current and relevant to the localised area.

Character Development

With the evolution of Commedia Dell’ Arte, each ‘stock’ character developed a distinct set of characteristics. Speech, props and costume became signature styles, synonymous with particular characters. With most of the actors wearing masks, dialect and gesticulation was exaggerated. This emphasised the differences between the characters and added to the comedy element of the performance. This style of theatre became popular across Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries thanks to the mobile nature of the performers, slowly making its way towards England during the early 17th century.

Adaptations of the original Commedia characters became commonplace in English theatre. Slowly adapting the stories over time which brought about the development of the English Harlequinade. This put the character Harlequin (Commedia Dell ‘Arte’s Arlecchio character) front and centre. Harlequin had what was known as a ‘Slapstick’ that he would use to hit pieces of scenery to initiate their change. Over time, this character developed from servant to magician. By the late 1700’s, Harlequin, as a character, had become so popular that more elaborate plots and scenery were devised to incorporate his success. Along with it, came the birth of ‘Slapstick Comedy.’

Modern Pantomime

By the Victorian era, pantomime had become a regular festive event. Classic tales were adapted and revised to work on stage. The introduction of the principle boy (usually a female lead role) showed that pantomime could adapt and stay current with the flavour of the time. Well-known variety stars of the day began to cross over and star in popular pantomimes. This brought about a change in the cast, and with it new characters. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that radio and television stars became a commonplace attraction in pantomimes. This has since become a tradition still held in modern-day pantomimes.

A horse, of course (or a cow, or a cat, or goose)

Be it Daisy the Cow in Jack and the Beanstalk, Tom the Cat in Dick Whittington or Mother Goose’s Fowl. The role of the animal companion in pantomime has long since been a staple part of the performance. Skilled animal actors would don the costume (often in pairs for front and back legs) and perform alongside the high-profile actors of the day, wowing audiences into believing they were the real thing… with a little bit of imagination of course. Here at CWC we have made many pantomime and theatre animals from cows to kangaroos and horses. Interestingly, when one thinks of pantomime animals, cows and horses come to the forefront of the mind. However, horses are relatively rare in panto performance and feature far less than cows, cats and geese.

Dames and Drag

Part of pantomime since the mid to late 1800’s, the Dame is a well-known character in many of the staple seasonal favourites. Widow Twankey, Mother Goose and the Queen from Puss in Boots are all popular examples of the pantomime dame. They all have one thing in common. They are played by a male actor. The dame flips the script and plays on the comedy of flamboyant costume and cheeky innuendo in a way that only a drag act can. Most pantomime dames have a voluptuous shape. This calls for padding in all the right places and sometimes even a full body suit. This creates the illusion of an exaggerated feminine figure and helps to bring the magic to life.

If you’re planning a pantomime and need help with body suits, cows, horses or even geese then don’t hesitate to contact us with your requirements.

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Five weird and wonderful Easter characters from around the world

Easter Bunny

Easter is on its way, and for millions of kids this means that both chocolate eggs and the legendary Easter Bunny are on their way – however, not everyone around the world anticipates a bounding, big-eared egg bandit visiting them each spring!

  This important Christian holiday is celebrated in various countries with the help of some truly curious critters and creatures you may never have even heard of – and we think they’d make for some truly alternative Easter mascot designs!  Here’s our pick of some of the most interesting Easter characters and traditions loved in other cultures.

The Easter Bells (France)

easter-bellWhile not a creature or a critter, bells are hugely symbolic in France at Easter time– it’s thought that all the church bells across the land spring from their towers and fly to Rome, where they not only rub shoulders with the Pope, but also make sure they load up on traditional Easter sweets and goodies to share back home.  Keep an eye on any church bells you might spy the next time you’re France-bound – they’re all hiding secret pairs of wings!

The Easter Bilby (Australia)

easter-bilby
Australia has a magnificently wild and wonderful culture, and their Easter celebrations fit in rather nicely with this trend.  While the Easter Bunny may have found his way into the hearts of children across the West, the Easter Bilby is celebrated as a local cousin down under.  The character was first brought into the public eye in 1991, as environmental campaigner Nicholas Newland wished to raise awareness of the damage that rabbits caused to Australian flora.  The Easter Bilby was born, therefore, as a fitting symbol of local wildlife without the negative connotations!

The Easter Witch (Sweden)

easter-witchIf you thought witches hid away until Halloween each year, you’ve clearly never made your way to mainland Europe during the spring!  Easter Witches are commonly found across Sweden and Finland  – in the form of children dressing up and gifting handmade postcards/drawing to their neighbours. In return, the children receive a few pennies or Easter sweets for their efforts. Sounds fairly similar to trick-or-treating in the US – but beyond this, it’s not uncommon to see images of witches riding broomsticks and carrying a cauldron of goodies around Easter time in Scandinavia.

The Easter Cuckoo (Switzerland)

easter-cuckooWhen you think of cuckoos, you generally think of those odd little clocks – and where do they come from?  Switzerland!  The Swiss really take cuckoos to heart around Easter, too – as their traditional egg-carrier is not a rabbit but a native bird.  The Easter Cuckoo is brightly coloured and high-spirited, and particularly lucky children may even be able to snatch a few chocolate cuckoos of their own!

The Easter Fox (Germany)

easter-foxWho would have thought that the bunny’s natural foe – the fox – would be the one delivering the treats and the goodies out in mainland Europe?  Germany is another country rich in curious heritage, and it’s thought that both the Germans and the Dutch helped to spread the tradition of the Easter Bunny across the West.  The Easter Fox is perhaps less common these days as the Bunny has largely taken centre stage, but it’s nice to see that he still has a role in some parts of Germany!

There you have it – no one seems to celebrate Easter in quite the same way wherever you look – though awaiting chocolates and treats is fairly universal!  No matter who brings the kids their eggs and goodies this year, why not treat them to an Easter character with a bit of added history?  Give the Easter Bunny the year off – you must surely agree he deserves it!

easter-eggs

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Five popular animal mascot shapes and what they represent

Animal Mascot Costumes

Here at Costumes with Character, we’re used to seeing a whole host of fuzzy, funny faces – and we’re proud to be able to offer a wide range of creative mascots and delightful characters to help entertain families and crowds alike – up and down the country.

We think, over the years, our animal mascot shapes have grown to be some of the most popular. What is it about our fantastic beasts – and why do we think so many firms and events snatch them up more than any other?  Let’s have a look at our five most popular animal mascot shapes, and why we think they’re the bee’s knees… and the bear’s, the mouse’s and the lion’s various body parts, too!

Bear Mascots

brown-bear-mascotBig, boisterous and cuddly, these family favourites are great for anyone looking to offer the crowds a big soft cuddle or two. Bears are of course already famous with young children thanks to the universal appeal of teddies.  Bears are famously family animals – warm, fuzzy and the image of many a children’s toy, our mascot characters are life-size teddies built for any occasion – and while we’d certainly never advise approaching a real bear in person, always give our bear mascots a big old hug whenever you see them!

Mouse Mascots

mouse-mascot-costumeOften thought to be quiet, mischievous creatures that are rarely seen but are often heard, our mouse mascots are large and in charge – and will never scurry away from a crowd!  Cheeky, nibbling characters make for fantastic family entertainment. Among all of our popular animal characters and mascots, mice are some of the most characterful. The right design and the right performance can bring a mischief-making nibbler come to life.  Paired up with a cat mascot, you’re guaranteed some fun – but mice are worth their weight in cheese with or without a chase!

Rabbit Mascots

grey-rabbit-costumeRabbits are iconic – Bugs Bunny, the White Rabbit, a certain bunny advertising chocolate milk drinks – they’re everywhere in the world of mascots.  Bunnies and rabbits are bouncy, fun-loving, free-spirited and best of all, absolutely barmy!  This makes them the perfect fit and addition to any family event, particularly when kids are involved – you never know quite what you’re going to get from a rabbit character, meaning that safe, quirky fun is always guaranteed.  You’ll find a rabbit mascot’s energy infectious – and even better, they can be themed to attend Easter events and more.

Lion Mascots

lion-mascot-costumeThe king of the jungle – fierce, imposing, regal and awe-inspiring, the lion is another family animal that may be dangerous in the wild but a big old softie on the mascot scene.  Lions are famously used to represent sports teams and are considered symbols to look up to. What’s more, they really are a sight to see! Lions come in all shapes and sizes, but a mascot with full mane and all the regal glamour will add a touch of class and fun to any event – an absolute must for sports days and events.

Dog Mascots

brown-dog-costumeDogs are loveable, big or small – and with so many breeds to pick from, there’s little wonder that so many of us welcome those happy, wagging fuzzballs into our homes.  As far as mascot characters go, dogs are happy-go-lucky, playful and always eager to please!  Anyone playing a dog character will really get their teeth into the role. Playing games, chasing their tail and more besides.  They may be goofy, but they’re loyal, they’re happy and they’re fun – a great fit for any event, and one you may want to consider above the rest of our curious critters!

So there we have our 5 top animal mascot shapes. If you don’t see the animal that you would like on our list then mosey on over to our costumes pages to get some inspiration on other classic shapes. The beautiful thing about character costumes are that they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

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Dye sublimation printing – the basics

What is dye sublimation printing?

dye sublimation t-shirt bear
Dye sublimation printing is a relatively new form of technology that uses specially-formulated inks, transfer paper, a printer and heat press to create eye-catching and vibrant prints on polyester based fabrics. One of the main advantages of using dye sublimation is that during the process, the special ink fuses directly to the fabric fibres creating a permanent image that is bold, colour fast and washable.

 
It’s something that we’ve used at CWC for some time to create intricate patterns and colour-matched fabrics for mascot clothing but its uses don’t stop there. Almost all polyester fabrics can be dye-sublimated, making it a fantastic choice for printing flags, banners, table cloths, canvas prints, cushions and clothing for example.

The process of dye sublimation printing requires 3 key elements to be successful. These are heat, time and pressure. The combination of all 3 turns the inks from a solid to a gaseous state, which then penetrate the fabric fibres whilst under pressure. This creates a permanent bond between the ink and the fabric. Temperatures must be more than 180 (approx.) degrees centigrade (356 degrees Fahrenheit) to successfully transfer and bond the ink to the polyester fabric.

Natural vs polyester

A question we often get asked is ‘Does your fabric have to be polyester for dye sublimation printing to work?’ In short, the answer is yes. Natural fibres such as cotton do not hold the correct characteristics to be successfully sublimated and will cause a dull and washed out print if attempted. Poly cotton blends of around 60% polyester 40% Cotton can be used successfully but the higher the polyester content of the fabric, the more vivid the final transfer will be. This is due to the construction of the polyester fibres or polymer cells within these fibres to be precise. Heating causes these cells to open, capturing the gaseous inks within their structure. As they cool they close again, effectively sealing the colour directly into the fibre. The more polymer cells, the more colour can be trapped in the material and the brighter the final image.

The printing process

roland texart sublimation printerPrinting – Once you have finalised your design, it will need to be uploaded into the dedicated software on your computer to be processed. RIP software (stands for Raster Image Processing) is effectively an advanced printer driver designed to get optimal results from your machine. From within you can edit the image, resize and format it to the desired profile for your printer. The RIP software stores all the colour profiles required to faithfully recreate the original design. Once your design is ready to print, it is sent by the RIP software to the dedicated printer and is printed out onto special transfer paper. Dye-Sublimation printers can come in a range of sizes. Ours at CWC HQ is just over 1.5m wide, making it useful for a whole range of sublimation tasks.

Pressing – Once you’ve printed your design, you’re ready to press your image into the fabric using one of several different heat presses: Small format, calendar, flatbed and 3D vacuum. As we deal mainly in the sublimation of inks into the fabric, we have both a small format and a calendar heat press. A 3D vacuum heat press is useful for mugs and mobile phone cases but is not something we would use very often

All heat transfer presses fundamentally work in the same way; set the temperature, prepare the material and press the image onto the material with heat and pressure for a set time. This creates a permanent, clear and vibrant image has now been added to your material. A calendar press works like this but facilitates longer print lengths by moving the fabric through heated rollers.

Variable factors

klieverik calendar pressThe dye sublimation printing process sounds relatively simple, right? In theory at least but in practice, there are several variable factors that can affect the final results. The right heat, time, pressure and humidity are all concerns when striving for the perfect print. Some fabrics sublimate better at higher temperatures, and some at lower. Some fabrics flatten under high pressure, some require more pressure for the ink to embed itself. As you can see it’s a fine balance between all these factors to ensure your print comes out looking its best.

It’s nice to pick a topic that gives us the opportunity to tell you about the processes involved with making a costume. As you can see with dye sublimation printing, not only is it a fundamental part of our costume business, it also opens a whole world of opportunities to expand our offering and give the same care and attention to another branch of our business. If you want to learn more about the sublimation services we offer then mosey on over to our printing page or contact us on this form.

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The CWC guide to Facebook success: creating a mascot character profile

Costume Characters are a great way to promote your business, charity, sports club, products, services, the list is endless. Where there is a mascot there is usually a buzz of excitement, people taking photographs and generally getting giddy about interacting with your oversized ambassador.

Walnuts Lights
This type of live event creates a memorable occasion for those lucky enough to be there and leaves a positive lasting impression that means hopefully, the next time someone requires what you can offer, you’ll be at the forefront of their minds. But what about all those people that can’t get to the event or live in a different country that would love to know more about your services? It would seem a shame to allow your brand ambassador to live only for their events, especially when the modern world is such a small place.

Thanks to the miracles of technology, no longer are your mascots destined only to be local heroes. From the platform of the internet, your character can shoot for the moon and reach the stars; or potential customers, right across the globe with a little bit of creative thinking.

If you haven’t thought about creating a social media page for your character, then now is a good time to start. Facebook is still at the top of the social media pile with over 1 billion views a day and approx. 2 billion unique sessions a month. It’s a medium for exposure that shouldn’t be overlooked and is a great place to start your mascot’s journey into online personable interaction with your audience.

As well as individual profiles, there are also over 60 million ‘Business’ pages that have been created, such as ours, giving you easily accessible information and keeping you up to date with the latest goings on from company HQ. With all the various page types to choose from, this brings us nicely to our first consideration.

Profile vs Pages

Character PageWhen setting up a page for your character, you’ll be hit with choices right off the bat. The first choice you will have to make is whether you want to create a profile or a page for your mascot. There are differences in the two which will change the way you interact with your audience:

Profile

This is the typical individual profile like the one you would set up for yourself. With a profile page, only those who you invite or accept as a friend will be able to see your content and in a profile, advertising/paid promotion isn’t available. Only one of these pages can be created with one login and password.

Pages

Much more suited to business, pages are a great way to showcase your product, brand, event and you’ve guessed it, mascot. With pages, content is available for everyone to see and instead of inviting friends you invite people to like your page. Pages allow for paid advertising and promotion, so once you’re all set up and happy with the details you can start to put some premium promotion behind your character should you so choose.

Facebook PageBecause the Character you want to be promoting is your brand ambassador, I would suggest choosing to create a Page rather than a profile as this will give you the most amount of flexibility with your account.

What type of page should I use?

Once you have made your decision to start and have clicked the pages button, you will be presented with a list of options as to what you would like your page to be. There are 6 options to choose from, but only one that I would recommend for your brand ambassador:

Artist, Band or Public figure – Used to be called a fan page back in the day, this would be the right Public Figure Logochoice for a fully dedicated page all about your mascot. With this category, you can be a little more personable with the tone of your message as people will be interacting with a character that has its own personality, opinions etc. without the usual corporate undertones you would expect on a dedicated business page. The idea is to build brand association between your products/services and your mascot. People are much better at remembering faces than they are business names so it’s a great way to keep at the forefront of your potential customer’s mind.

If you find that you have chosen a type of page that on reflection isn’t suited to your character, you can always go into your settings to change the page type later.

What next?

So now you’ve made your decision and you are ready to start building the content for your mascot showcase; what kind of information do you need to create a successful page? Below I’ll discuss 5 important points to consider when constructing your character profile.

Back story

Sid BioEveryone has a back story; a place of origin, likes and dislikes, annoying character traits (we all have them) and a distinct personality. It’s what makes us all so unique and if it wasn’t for these differences, the world would be such a boring place. Real or fictional, a back story is a great way to bring your character to life.

When thinking about your character’s back story, think about where they were born, where they grew up, if they have any family, a romantic interest, favourite hobby, funny story surrounding a calamitous event, how they came to your employment, it can be as elaborate as you want it to be! The aim is to make your mascot more relatable by giving it a history and turning it into a ‘real’ character. If people grow an affinity towards your mascot then there’s a good chance they’ll come to you next time they need your services.

Photos and videos

Essential to any social media page, photos and videos are what your potential Wolfie Photosclients will interact with most often. These tend to stand out against status updates, post links, and text-based content because our brains can process imagery faster than it can decipher the text.

Over 90% of human interaction is visual so it makes sense to follow this thinking when it comes to social media. Think about the kind of things you look at on social media. I’m guessing that most of the memorable posts you have engaged with recently contain either photos, videos or cats…. far more cats than you would want to admit to but probably in one of the two formats discussed. So logically, the answer is to get a cat mascot costume and to take lots of photos of it.

I jest but having some great promo shots of your character and making sure you travel with a camera to all events will ensure you get some fantastic and interesting snaps to share with your fans, who in turn will share with their friends, and the chain grows longer, expanding your reach far beyond the physical boundaries of a local event.

Other content

Once your character page is up and running; you’ve fabricated your biography and have taken lots of great photos of your mascot, it’s time to start looking at building and planning regular content to keep your potential customers engaged.

Whether it be linking through to an interesting article or playing fill in the blanks, content should be varied and promote interaction between your Brand Ambassador and your page fans. A great tip is to have a look at your potential customer base and to do a bit of research to see what matters to them and what they generally find interesting. If you can tap into this when looking at content for your page, you will find the interaction levels increase when a fan is genuinely interested in a topic.

It’s well known that the hard sell isn’t an effective method when it comes to Facebook, so even though your customer is potentially interested in your product, a direct sales message (unless heavily promoting a significant discount) will be skipped past by most people, so keep it light-hearted.Word Morph

Another great way to engage fans is to pose questions. Think about finishing off some of your posts with a discussion point or ask for an opinion. We all like to give our 2 cents worth and if it’s a topic close to your customers’ hearts, not only will you get the opportunity to engage, but you’ll also learn some valuable insights into their likes/dislikes so you can further tailor your offer or content down the line.

Competitions can also get your fans engaging with your content. Something like a caption contest or a small sweepstake is all that is needed to start the likes and shares flowing, creating a buzz around your character and their page.

It’s important to remember that the prize on offer should reflect the amount of effort required to enter the competition. If it’s a big prize, then make your fans work a little harder for it by submitting an entry. If it’s information you are after, keep the prize small and make it a simple comment below type of contest. A competition is a great way to gain valuable information and stats from your customers that can be used later. For example, to enter a sweepstake, fans may have to like and share the post and then tell you what their favourite flavour of ice cream is in the comments below. This information could allow you to introduce a new flavour down the line that you know will be a popular choice because you’ve heard it right from the horse’s mouth.

With all content, it is important to remember to promote the core values of your company in the way you present, write and perform with your character both online and offline. If your character is about promoting healthy living, then try not to offer unhealthy prizes, or give information contradicting the beliefs of the company. This can lead to you sending a confusing message to your customers that can de-value the hard work you have put in to building your brand.

Above all, keep your content interesting. It’s better to have 2-3 relevant and engaging posts a week than to fill up your wall with low-quality daily content for the sake of posting.

Account linking

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Account Linking is the act of joining two or more social media platforms so that if you post on one, it automatically posts on the other and vice versa. This may sound like a great idea at first; meaning that you can reach out to all your networks in one go but people use Facebook and Twitter (which we’ll use for this example) in very different ways. For example, Twitter posts are limited to a set number of characters (140 characters, not including Twitter handles – the @username) whereas Facebook will allow up to 5000 characters per comment or status update, allowing for longer posts and in-depth discussion right on the site.

Sharing your Facebook update with Twitter can end up cutting out a lot of the comment and can leave your Twitter account looking messy with lots of seemingly unfinished comments. There’s also the issue around replying to fans and potential customers. When linking, there are no notifications that let you know when someone has replied or commented on a thread via the other platform, so unless you log in regularly to either account, your Character might unintentionally ignore your customer base who may search elsewhere.

The best advice I can give you on this is to start with one platform, and only open your character up to more social media avenues when you feel ready to handle them individually. Products like Hootsuite enable you to choose which posts go to which social site, so if you do feel the content is relevant on both, you get the option to share it.

Invitation and promotion

Boost PostTo get your page started, there are two ways to gain a following. One is through invitations, and the other method is through sponsored advertising.

Facebook offers several paid avenues to promote your character’s page, ranging from boosting posts to advertising in your local area. Both are relevant but depending on your end goals, these promotions can work out quite costly. The trick is to fine tune your advert audience interests to only include relevant topics and hobbies to ensure you maximise the spend.

Inviting people to like your page, on the other hand, is free but you can only invite people you either already know personally or have the email address for, which you can upload to Facebook so that it can send out the invites. Some people are happy to receive invites to their inbox, others can be a little wary as they can feel a little impersonal.

Wrapping up

You’ll hopefully find that if you follow our guidelines and post regular and relevant content a few times a week, your fan base should start to grow and your mascot will become more recognisable across the globe and not just locally.  The information above should get you started but don’t be afraid of trying new things as audience interaction is always evolving, especially in the fast-paced field of social media.

If I can leave you with one thing from this article to ensure a successful character page, it should be this short and simple message:

Don’t Market, Connect.

If you feel you need any help or advice on how to set up your costumed character’s page or just want a chat about creating your brand ambassador then send us a message via this form.