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050_04 - Your Own Mascot Suit
Along with doing professional costume (or mascot) gigs, I enjoy performing for fun. To do this, one often needs to build ones own suits. The lower image shows me in "ToyFox" and Rachel in "Dane". The photo was taken as we prepared to perform in the world-famous Pasadena Doo-Dah parade. Rachel and I have used our own suits at conventions, parades, dog shows and even local amusement parks.

A question I often get is "how do you build a suit?" My response is, "Anyway that creates the suit you want." I endorse the experimental aspect of suit building.

For example, the top image shows a friend in the midst of suit building. He is using tape and plastic bags to create an underbody in which to attach his fur to. Others might use off the rack bodysuits such as wetsuits or jumpsuits. Some simply start from scratch with the fur and sew it as one would sew shirts and pants. They might even cut apart a shirt and a pair of pants to get the necessary pattern. Others might build a body shape out of foam to imitate the shapes of actual animals.

Like a magic trick, you simply think of the image you want and begin to figure how to make it work. Some of the first mascot builders emulated the early Disneyland suits with fiberglass heads. Then one who made plush animals out of foam thought he could do the same with mascot heads and began using foam to create lighter heads. Early eyes were made of a hard-sculptured materials until someone tried the idea of cutting them from plastic bowls which gave a smooth, white rounded surface, and again reduced the weight of a head. ToyFox uses white felt to enhance the toylike look.

It is all about seeing one thing and imagining it as something else. At hardware stores they sell a liquid rubber that one is to dip tools of handles in to make the handles easier to grip and water-resistant. Suddenly it became a source for softer noses on heads and soft claws for paws. I even utilized it to create a pierced nipple effect on one of my early suits.

For those who don't have the time to start from scratch, there is always the option to accessorize an existing suit. The least expensive way might be to grab a Halloween mask and add some nifty gloves and boots. Another is to purchase a full costume off the rack (mascot suits can be bought off the web starting at around $300.) With some added hair, clothes, and other touches you can create a unique looking character.

A professional mascot organization recently looked at my Cannon the Party Pony. They commented it looked like a suit sold by Marylen, a costume company, but that Cannon had a nicer head. Actually, Cannon is a Marylen suit. Rachel spent a few hours adding additional hair to the mane, enhancing the eyes and creating the bridle. Suddenly a standard suit had a personality and look of its own.

With your own mascot suit you can be a hit at Halloween parties. You can join the crowds of Klingons, Spider-mans, and knights at conventions and renaissance faires. You can volunteer to appear at local hospitals to visit children. Or you can even start your own business. I know several folks who have gone on to becoming popular local characters for parties and events. Some have even gotten gigs in commercials and TV series.

The real key to a personal costume is just to have some fun.

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