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Tapping Their Potential!

This section of our website is intended as more of a “reference resource” for you, especially after you have your mascot “in-hand” and are exploring different ways to use him. You can therefore skip this section for now and come back later if you wish…but if you’re feeling scholarly at the moment and want to thoroughly understand the inner and outer workings of the mascot costume and his limitless potential as a powerful promotional tool, please keep reading.  

Your mascot is much more than a costume. He’s a multifaceted promotions and public relations venue that has a powerful emotional impact on those who see and come into contact with him. A clear & thorough understanding of all aspects of your mascot- both physical and psychological- including how he operates as a costume and the many specialized ways he can communicate your organization’s message & philosophies to the general public- will allow you to receive the maximum benefits from your mascot program (as well as receive the maximum return on your mascot investment).



To help you along on this journey of
“mascot enlightenment, w
e’ve put together answers for you to the most frequently asked questions about mascot costumes…and then we’ll show you examples of specific ways that your mascot can be used to enhance & promote your business or organization. Keep in mind, though, that these examples are just the starting point- the real adventure begins with you! For your mascot’s potential is limited only by your imagination- you’ll always find new & different ways to use him. And don’t forget that we’re always here to answer your questions and help you “maximize your mascot” at any time with ideas, suggestions, technical support, you name it…we enjoy being of service!     

Mascot F.A.Q.

The mascot industry is an ever evolving universe; new questions are always arising as new mascot  materials, technologies, and procedures are researched and become available. Remember that we are always here to answer your questions at any time; our clients are our best source of research, and your ongoing feedback is very much appreciated and valued, so please don’t hesitate to call/email us for questions about anything (And, of course, we just like hearing from you).

In the meantime, we’ve dug deep into our mascot archives and assembled the most frequently asked questions we’ve received during our nearly 40 years designing and building mascots; these excellent client questions (and the accompanying answers) are presented here for your edification and enjoyment.


Q: IF YOUR COMPANY DESIGNS MY MASCOT FOR ME, HOW MUCH DOES THAT COST AND DO I OWN THE DESIGN?

A: Good news on both counts! In most cases, we don’t charge for preparing drawings/renderings for you, and yes, once you approve a design that you like and we begin building your mascot, both the finished costume and the design which served as it’s blueprint belong exclusively to you to copyright, trademark, etc., as you see fit. 

Q: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN DESIGNING MY MASCOT MYSELF- OR HAVING HIM DESIGNED?

A:
There are many important physical & aesthetic elements that make up a good mascot, of course,  but we feel that the most important is branding;  the skillful incorporation of your company/organization’s colors, logo, and image into the overall design of the costume so that the public will know- at a moments glance- who he is and who he represents.




Q: HOW COMFORTABLE IS THE MASCOT TO WEAR?

A: We make performer comfort our #1 concern, before, during, and after the creation of your mascot! Kincaid Karacter Mascots feature lightweight, breathable materials in their construction, and have ventilation holes placed at strategic spots on the costume.  Most Kincaid Karacter Mascots feature battery powered ventilation systems as standard equipment.

Any Mascot costume, though no matter how well designed, will still have certain comfort limitations.  It is vital that the costume performer realizes this and practices with his costume in order to minimize & overcome this limitation. All mascot costumes may feel heavy, bulky, etc., at first. But the beginning mascot performer should not be discouraged; with time and practice, the character performer will be moving around with ease. The key words to remember here are practice and perseverance.

It would be worthwhile to mention an interesting "CCC" (character costume characteristic) that we've noted throughout the years. While a particular costume can be worn comfortably by a young man, a young lady will often experience discomfort with the same costume, especially with the added weight on the shoulders. Not that ladies don’t make great character performers- they do! But some costumes seem to work better if the guys wear them, especially large “body shell” style characters that rest on the shoulders. Males naturally have wider, more muscular shoulders than females, and the extra weight seems a little easier for them to support.



Q:
HOW HOT DOES A MASCOT COSTUME GET?


A: The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the individual wearing the costume, the type of materials used in the costume, and the temperature on the particular day the costume is worn. Kincaid Karacter Mascots are designed with as much open space on the inside as possible and ventilation holes and openings are strategically  placed to facilitate air flow.  

We are often asked if “air conditioning” systems- like the type used by astronauts & firefighters- are available for mascots. The answer is yes but we don’t generally recommend them because benefits of such systems are far outweighed by their cost, weight, and complexity. And even the best systems won’t prevent a costume from feeling warm if the weather is hot. A performer wearing a Mascot on a hot, sunny, humid day is going to experience some discomfort, and nothing is going to prevent that.  If you happen to perform in costume on a hot day, and you probably will sooner or later, make sure to drink plenty of cold liquids before, during, and after performing (no alcoholic beverages, though-sorry, you college Mascots!) Also, try to schedule more break time between appearances on hot days.

Undoubtedly, the greatest variable when speaking of costume comfort/discomfort is the individual physiology of the person who wears the costume.  Some people are more sensitive to heat than others; some people are more claustrophobic than others and may not like being "closed up" in a costume; and remember that almost all beginning mascot performers- and many veteran performers- will complain about the heat of the costume on a hot day. Mascots will always feel hot on a hot day; it just comes with the territory. As a mascot owner, experiment with different performers for your costume to see who’s best equipped to deal with the heat.  
And a helpful tip to all you performers- if you’ll acclimate (gradually adjust yourself) to hot conditions, you’ll have an easier time in costume.  Spend time outdoors in the summer, drive around without the car’s AC on all the time.  If you so this, your body will have an easier time in costume. 


Q: WILL IT BE EASY TO SEE OUT OF THE MASCOT? HOW RESTRICTED WILL THE VISION BE?


A: The nature of mascots is that normal vision will inevitably be somewhat restricted (they are, after all, basically giant costumes & giant masks). Every effort is made during the design & creation of your mascot to create & maintain the best possible sight-lines and vision (making eyes as big as possible, seeing through the mouth, vision holes in the hat, etc.). Obviously, due to widely differing designs, some mascots will have better vision than others; during the design phase especially, as your mascot vendor we will work closely with you and make recommendations about implementing design elements that will insure the best possible vision on the finished mascot. The best way to overcome restricted vision in a mascot is by allowing plenty of practice time for the performer with the costume before any public appearances are made.    



Q: WILL IT BE HARD TO WALK AROUND IN THESE BIG FEET..AND PASS OUT THINGS WITH THESE BIG HANDS?


A:  Although over-sized feet and hands are not a necessity on mascot costumes, most mascots feature them because the over all character looks “cuter” and more appealing with these design elements (and more cartoon-like, thus attracting more attention!). As discussed previously with overcoming vision limitations,  the best way to compensate for big feet and hands is by allowing plenty of practice time for the performer with the costume before any public appearances are made. With patience and practice, diligent mascot performers can dance, run, pass out brochures, etc., with no problems at all. Having said all this, we can, of course, make your mascot’s hands & feet any size you want (but we’ll strongly encourage you to go with the exaggerated features for the best possible mascot appearance!).   


Q:
WHAT SIZE PERSON WILL BE ABLE TO WEAR MY MASCOT?

A:  We assume that everybody and everyone is going to want to wear your Kincaid Karacter Mascot, and try to size him accordingly.  It should be noted, though, that most of our Kincaid Karacter Mascots are designed for normal adult use  (for safety and liability reasons, we do not recommend that children perform in professional mascot costumes). As to height requirements and limitations, with most of our mascots the performer must be at least 5 feet tall, and no taller than 6’2. With most mascot costumes in general, performers who are 5’2 to 5’10 seem to look & work best.


Q: WHY DO MASCOT HANDS ONLY HAVE FOUR FINGERS?


A: No practical reason other than style and tradition.  Animated cartoon characters, from the very early days, always had four fingers instead of five because- legend has it- it took the animators less time to draw that way and was thus much easier & faster to animate. Since many early commercial mascots (in particular the 1950’s Disneyland Mascots) were created as three dimensional versions of their animated cartoon counterparts, the tradition was naturally carried over into mascot design (besides, those big hands look “cuter” with four fingers, don’t you think?).




Q:
IS IT OK TO TALK WHILE IN COSTUME?


A: Is it ok? Of course- he’s your mascot and you’re the boss! Does it sound good? No. And a muffled voice emanating from a face where the lips aren't moving breaks the “illusion” of a good mascot and reinforces the fact that “this is just a costume and there‘s a person in here”,  so 99% of professional mascots don’t speak and rely strictly on pantomime, which gives mascots a certain “charm” all their own. Another good reason to remain silent- and enforce a “no talking while in costume” policy for your performers- is that you’ll never have to worry about your performers getting you in trouble for saying something inappropriate or off color while representing you (come to think of it, that’s not a bad policy for employees to embrace when not in costume, either).  

Q:
WHEN I TAKE MY MASCOT “OUT ON THE ROAD”, WHAT ARE THE  BEST SUPPLIES TO BRING WITH ME?

A: Wow..sounds a bit like Robinson Crusoe! But a good book and the ability to make fire won’t be of much use on a mascot promotion. On the other hand, ourKincaid Karacter Mascot Survival Kit”, which is designed specifically for mascot promotions, works extremely well and actually comes complete with about 25 useful items that all come in handy! But if we had to name just 5, they would be, in order of importance:

1. Safety pins & roll of duct tape (No explanation needed- with these you can fix just about anything).

2. A headband/sweatband/bandanna (to keep sweat out of your eyes while wearing that big head).

3. Several small white towels (can be used for shoulder padding, head padding, or soaked in ice water and placed on the back of the neck to help you cool down quickly). 

4. Extra socks, shorts, and T-Shirts
(feels good to be able to change out of sweaty clothes into dry clothes after each appearance- very good for morale).

5. A ‘fanny pack” that zips up & straps around your waist
(so that you can keep your wallet, money, keys, and valuables with you at all times, even in costume, without having to leave them in an unguarded dressing area). 

(NOTE- We didn't mention bringing water, ice, cooler, etc., because, unless you are making a mascot appearance in the middle of Death Valley, you can usually obtain these things relatively easy on location wherever you are- and so therefore why lug them all the way from home?).


Q: HOW DO I DEAL WITH UNRULY PEOPLE?


A: Always bring a mascot “lead”
with you (someone to lead you around while in costume and watch your back, etc.). If you have to appear alone, back yourself into a corner or up against a wall where people cannot come up behind you; if someone decides to hit, punch, or otherwise molest you, chances are they’ll do it by coming up behind you, where you can’t see them. When shaking hands while moving- especially in parades- curl your mascot hand fingers in towards your palm and let folks shake the balled, top portion of your hand (otherwise, troublemakers have a tendency to grab your individual fingers with the intention of pulling your hands/gloves off).
DANGER

Speci
al groups to watch out for
 
(and avoid at all costs if possible while in mascot costume, especially if you are appearing alone and unaccompanied by a mascot "lead" or escort):

1Young boys from age 8-13 (Cub Scout Age) who are unaccompanied by adults;

2. Teenagers from age 13-18, who are unaccompanied by adults
(the exception being teenage girls- just girls by themselves- who are usually safe & sweet to approach in costume at any age.)  Teenage boys at this age, however- in a group with just other boys- are bad news for mascots, as are teenage boys in the company of teenage girls (they are going to show off for/ impress those girls by beating up on you).

3. Anybody of any age or sex that has a beer bottle/alcoholic drink in hand                  and/or smells strongly of alcohol.

Q: IS IT POSSIBLE TO ADD ACCESSORIES TO MY MASCOT TO "THEME" HIM TO DIFFERENT HOLIDAYS AND EVENTS?


A: Yes, absolutely, a great idea, and something that all companies with great mascot programs- like Disney and Universal Studios- use to great success. Check out our “Mascot Accessories” category in our “Kincaid Karacter Mascot Store” for great ideas & accessories.



Q: ARE YOU AVAILABLE TO HELP TRAIN MY STAFF IN USING OUR MASCOT?


A: Yes- we offer a wide variety of mascot training materials and programs, everything from safety & training manuals  to one-on-one consultation to mascot training seminars, workshops, and retreats. And we can assist you not only with mascot safety, training, and performance but also with consultation on mascot marketing & promotions as well. For more information, please contact us.

Q: HOW DO I CLEAN MY MASCOT?

A: Complete cleaning instructions are included with all Kincaid Karacter Mascots, and, for your convenience, our mascots are designed to be 95% machine washable. We also offer extensive professional mascot cleaning services, both for our own products and for mascots made by other people, so we‘re always happy to do it for you!  WARNING-  Always avoid dry cleaning any type of  mascot costume!  Contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning is about the harshest way to clean mascots and the dry cleaning chemicals can easily damage character fabrics and adhesives, especially synthetic fur.

Q: HOW DO I REPAIR MY MASCOT?

A: Theme Park Style Kincaid Karacter Mascots feature comprehensive maintenance programs automatically; we also offer them separately at a nominal cost.  If your Kincaid Karacter Mascot- or any mascot- requires repair,  your best course of action is to consult an experienced mascot costume vendor.  Never let an unqualified individual attempt to perform extensive repairs on your mascot!  Mascot costumes are not like ordinary costumes- they can be far more complicated than they look, and haphazard repairs can quickly turn small problems into large problems.

If you must make emergency “in the field” repairs (which sometimes happens), try to use “temporary”
materials the will hold things together for the time being until such time as you can get your mascot into a professional mascot shop for proper refurbishment.  By “temporary materials“, we mean things like safety pins, duct tape, needle and thread, wire ties, self-stick Velcro, etc.- things that can be easily removed later when it’s time for professional repairs. Avoid using things like hot glue, contact cement, expanding foam, etc.- materials that will be next to impossible to remove once they’re attached. And avoid using staples or steel wire for temporary repairs! These materials have sharp edges which can easily scratch or cut your performers.

Q: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO TRANSPORT/SHIP/STORE MY MASCOT?



A: With respect to local site-to-site transportation, soft bags are adequate, and sometimes are easier to maneuver in & out of small vehicles, but offer less overall protection for your mascot (especially if the person handling the costume isn't being particularly careful), so we recommend rigid cases whenever possible. When transporting your mascot, never stuff the shoes inside the head (unsanitary) to save space, and always place the head in the case last, on top. With respect to shipping, cardboard boxes (padded well in the inside) are adequate for shipping once or twice, but they quickly wear out, and so if you’re going to be shipping your mascot on a regular basis, we recommend a well constructed rigid shipping case.



When considering the topic of mascot storage, it’s always better to store your mascot in a cool, dry, well ventilated area, off the floor, out of the box, and on a stand if possible, so that fresh air can move in and around the costume. If your mascot has a battery powered ventilation system, remove the batteries if you’re storing him for an extended period of time, and never place a costume that‘s still wet from perspiration inside a box and into storage for an extended period of time- dry him out first.


We offer a wide variety of excellent carrying/shipping bags & cases in our Kincaid Karacter Mascot Store, as well as a wide array of display stand & storage stand options. For more information on which mascot transportation/shipping/storage options will work best for you, visit our store or contact our office and we’ll be happy to assist you! 


"Making Mascots...Making Memories!"  

See How Your Mascot Connects with People

Mascots are special because, unlike many other forms of marketing & promotion you might choose, they create a powerful- and long lasting- emotional connection between the public and you; a smile brought to a sad face, the warmth of a hug to a lonely person, the attention bestowed upon a needy person- mascots appeal to the child in all of us and leave an warm & positive impression of your organization in the hearts of the public long after the initial encounter is but a fond memory. Especially effective for you from a promotional standpoint are the photographs- your mascot is your own “personal celebrity”; people will gather around and stand in line to be photographed with your mascot, and these happy images- along with the warm & positive feelings about your organization that were created at the same time as the photo- will be kept & cherished for years to come.

It's a fact...Mascots Make Memories!-that last a lifetime.
     





 





 "Making Mascots...Making a Difference!" 
 


See How Y
our Mascot Helps People!

Just like puppies, mascots are instantly loved and warmly received by human beings; this, coupled with the fact that they are one of the few (if not the only) promotional & marketing tools at your disposal that can actually walk up to, “hug” and otherwise physically interact directly with people, makes them extremely effective in applications & situations where human motivation, interaction, attention, and one-on-one assistance are critical to a successful outcome.

Skillfully and creatively utilized by our endlessly resourceful clients, Kincaid Karacter Mascots have taught children how to read, write, learn respect & good manners, and handle personal finances; likewise, our fitness & healthcare clients have used their Kincaid Karacter Mascots to help kids & adults remain physically fit, eat properly, practice safety and good hygiene, and effectively assisted mentally & physically handicapped/injured individuals to successfully complete challenging physical therapy training & programs. The “magic” of mascots adds an important element of cheerfulness and fun to a process that otherwise might be dull & arduous.

 It’s a fact..Mascots Make a Difference!- in the lives of everyone they meet.   

 
              
(Left) "Fred The Frugal Eagle" teaches children important financial skills
(Right) "Kardio-Kangaroo" helps underprivileged children learn the benefits of health and physical safety



"Making Mascots...Marketing a Message!" 


See
How Your Mascot Shows You Care

Think of your mascot as a walking banner or billboard. But, unlike a stationary sign, your mascot has legs..he’s mobile! And not only can he move around, bi-pedal locomotion gives him the ability to do more than just appear at an event & promote you (like a sign or banner does). Two legs (and two hands) gives him the ability to actually participate, intermingle, and join in the fun! That makes him an ideal promotional vehicle for such things as charity walks, runs, festivals, and, of course, parades- events where his colorful design and appearance will effectively grab & hold the public‘s attention, and where his two legs will carry him right along with the action!

Is your marketing message recycling? Then the public can actually see your mascot putting cans in your recycling bin. Is your message smoke detector safety? Then a “smoke detective” mascot- shaped like a smoke detector!- can actually demonstrate with his own hands how to install & change the batteries in these all important devices. Is your message that your company cares deeply about your community…and them? Then when the public sees your mascot participating in an event right alongside them, they’ll know that’s true.

 It’s a fact…Mascots Market Messages! that people notice..and remember.

   
(Left) "Huey The Paper Retriever" promotes Recycling
(Middle) "The First Alert Smoke Detective" promotes smoke detector Safety
(Right) The Elks Organization's "Elroy T. Elk" promotes Hugs not Drugs

                                                                
(Right) "The F.O.D. (Foreign Object Debris) Monster"  helps train Boeing and Northrop mechanics in the art of aircraft safety and maintenance

(Left) The Small Business Administration's "Shrinkage Beast" in training retail managers how to avoid losses from shoplifting and employee theft


   "Making Mascots...Marketing a Product!"  
 
           
 See How Your Mascot Promotes & Sells Your Product /Service

Salespeople are effective when it comes to promoting your product or service, but, regardless of how skilled they are, or how well they dress, or even how well-spoken or attractive they are, they all share one major limitation that can never be overcome- they have to stay human.  Mascots, on the other hand- right from the start- have a major advantage over everyone else- they can not only promote your product or service, they can actually be your product or service, thus reinforcing the image of your product or service in the public‘s mind in an indelible, larger-than-life way.

Do you make the city’s best cupcakes? Then a giant walking version of your yummiest cupcake is your best representative. Does your stable provide the best trail riding experience in town? Then a huggable horse mascot is your ideal ambassador. Does your company manufacture the world’s best carpet cleaning machine? Then a large, friendly version of that machine- in mascot form- is the best salesperson you could choose.  Everybody- regardless of age, race, background, etc. - pays attention to mascots…and remembers them. And when your mascot is your product, they’ll not only pay attention. They’ll remember you and what you’re selling (and have a happy, positive feeling when they do it).

It’s a fact… Mascots Market Products & Services! better than anyone else


          

(Left) 
"Lucky" the race horse promotes fun for the whole family at the Santa Fe Race Track

           (Middle) "Mr. Cupcakes"  shows his fans why he is New York's yummiest and best selling pastry

           (Right) "Steamy" demonstrates his many exclusive product features that make him America's              favorite rug cleaning machine

                       

(Left) "Lady Fresh" personifies the convenience of Fresh Express prepackaged salads

(Right) "Silvester" puts the variety and tastiness of Vess soda on two legs... and on the public's grocery shopping list

    
   

(Above) "Mr. Happy Crack" of The Crack Team demonstrates the hazards of deteriorating basement foundations... and how to fix them

"Making Mascots...Making Great Media!" 


The PR Power of Your Mascot!

One of the world’s most effective sales & promotional tools is celebrity endorsement. Hiring a colorful celebrity to represent & promote your product, service, or message not only grabs the public’s attention- it catches the media’s eye, too, and puts your product/service/message- along with the celebrity- on magazine covers, in the newspaper, on TV, and, of course, all over the all-important Internet.

Celebrity endorsement is great- and it works great. The downside is that it’s expensive, and that expense is open ended. To quote an old expression, “you have to keep paying if you want to keep playing”. But there is an alternative, one that provides you with all the benefits of celebrity endorsement- including the instant overwhelming public & media attention you desire for your organization- without the overwhelming cost of hiring Tiger Woods or Lady Gaga. Don’t hire a celebrity…create a celebrity- by creating your own mascot.



 Mascots, by their very nature, are instant celebrities. Celebrities that work 365 days a year exclusively for you. The public adores them. They’re mobbed wherever they go, and people wait in line just to have their picture taken with them. Representing your business, organization, product, service, or
message, mascots have the unique ability to turn total strangers into instant friends..and those new friends will come away with a warm and friendly feeling, not only about the mascot but about you and your organization. Even better, unlike ordinary people
mascots are always newsworthy and magically photogenic. People- especially news people- find them irresistible.  Mascots have an uncanny ability to instantly grab & hold the media’s attention- no matter where or when they appear- and will put you, your logo, and a positive image of your organization, product, or service into magazines, newspapers, TV, and all over the Web. When it comes to press conferences, grand openings, ground breaking's, etc., no one gets more attention-or garners better press for you- than your mascot.

And no one enhances the value of your printed materials…especially your company/organization’s products & merchandise!- like your mascot. Featured in ads, brochures,  stand up displays, and company publications, the image of your mascot reinforces a unifying atmosphere of “corporate culture” within your organization…and increases brand recognition with the general public. Featured directly on your company’s products & packaging- and especially on your organization’s merchandise & apparel such as T-Shirts and drink coasters- your mascot’s image puts a “friendly face” on your organization…and greatly increases the appeal & marketability of those items.

The power, appeal, and effectiveness of mascots with respect to media attention is not lost on the highly successful & much beloved Walt Disney Company. Next time you see a Disney Theme Park advertisement/promotion of any kind- be it print, television, Internet, live appearance- and especially merchandise- - pay close attention to which park asset they promote first and foremost. With spectacular state-of-the-art technical resources and millions of dollars at their disposal, what one Disney Theme Park element do they feature more than anything else? You guessed it…their mascots, the beloved Disney characters, costumes that represent a minuscule portion of their total budget yet overwhelmingly dominate everything else. Disney knows that the public…and especially the media…values, recognizes, and cherishes them more than anything else.

It’s a fact…Mascots Make Great Media!

Here are some great examples of our clients implementing this concept!