Sunday, April 29, 2012
Shortly after the Season Ticket Open House event last week, the Orlando Solar Bears released their new 30-second spot on YouTube. I got scared for a bit that there was going to be no sunglasses, but it was all good. The polar bear animation was okay, and the sunglasses looked liked they were bought at a convenience store, but all in all, it was a pretty decent commercial. What do you think? Have any of you seen it on air so far?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Ever since news that the Solar Bears were coming back, one of my most anticipated moments was the return of Shades. Seeing how cool he looked back in the day, I became ecstatic when I read that he was going to make his first appearance since the end of the hibernation at the Open House yesterday. I literally tasted rainbows, or maybe it was because I happened to be eating Skittles at the time.
Mascots are one of my favorite experiences when it comes to sporting events. If you got a good one, it'll become the tradition of any team. If the mascot is great, it becomes the legend.
Anytime the Solar Bears are mentioned, one of the first things a fan's mind thinks of is Shades. Just look at how the new management is marketing and describing the Solar Bears, for example the logo, it's Shades holding a hockey stick behind him, not just the mascot, or, a "polar bear" or even a "solar bear." When you read some of their posts on the Solar Bear's Facebook and Twitter they close each message with Shades. Shades is the legend of the Orlando Solar Bears.
Now that we've gotten a little background and history of one of the most beloved mascots of all time, let's assess the new look that Shades has undertaken. My biggest fear is taking a good-looking mascot and give it a makeover, that usually doesn't end well. However in Shades case, the costume used above has been brainwashed and can currently be seen skating around the RDV Ice Den under the presumed identity of Shivers, not the most clever renaming scheme, I will still call him Shades for the lulz. Therefore, the costume can no longer be used and something new must be created. When I saw the new Shades, my first impression was to go back to my car to see if my spare tire was still in the trunk. Did they put some weight on him or what? See, I don't mind the fatness or the pudginess of a mascot, but they have to have the rest of the body equally proportionate. There are, what I call, "big-boned" mascots and just plain fat mascots. Let's take a look to see what I mean:
|Don't you just want to poke his belly?|
|Yeah, I know it's a little slanted, but I had about a split second before he left to take a break. At least when I took this picture, he kind of slanted with my camera to make it look like he was upright.|
|New Shades coming back for some more photos. By looking at the hula hoop support, he just came back after eating some more oatmeal cream pies.|
Aside from the gargantuan waistband, the costume itself is pretty good. The head seems to fit the logo pretty well, and with it being smaller, it won't weigh as much to the performer. The fur also seems of a higher quality, though I didn't get to shake his paw or take a picture with him, but from the looks of it, I could imagine how soft it would feel. There was also a nice touch if you were to see his paw pads, sporting the same color pattern you see on his shades. He unfortunately no longer wears #95 as you saw there. The stockings and mascot shoes are usually fine, but with the belly, it shows the fatness that much more.
While looking through the pictures I took and my own observations, I noticed something that would lead me to this question, and you might think I'm crazy, but hear me out, you are a great reader if you got this far and for that, I thank you. Is the costume complete? "Well duh mr. bloger, are you blind? He was there, of course it's completed. Geez dumbass, what other questions might you have? Is a polar bear's skin white?" (No, a polar bear's skin is actually black, derp) The reason I came to this question is that, if you look closely, it looks as though his shoulders thin out significantly compared to the forearms and hands as if there is no costume padding on the shoulders. If you were to remove the fat pouch, which is removable for the costume and shouldn't be on in the first place by the way, he would now look extremely thin. Then if my theory is right, the costume would only consist of the head, paws and shoes; there would be no body. This actually might bring hope to the new Shades, because it could give the chance to have the body done and get rid of the fat suit by the time they hire the real performer. Yes everyone, Shades was given life by a stand-in.
Nevertheless, as you might recall at the beginning of this novel: Shade is, and will always be, the legend of the Orlando Solar Bears.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
|Fans mingling in the rink, participating in photo ops, the slapshot game and locker room tours. Note: this is a shot of the exact spot where I could be sitting throughout the season.|
Driving up into the parking garage looking for a spot, the Orlando Solar Bears were about to kick off their Select-a-Seat Open House from the 5th floor of the garage into the tunnel that leads into the Amway Center. If you were able to come to the event, you would see that, well... we weren't the only ones who put in a deposit for season tickets. (Obviously) About 1/4 of the entire 5th floor was filled with people who were waiting to see what their dream seats could look like, with more people still to come. Upon entry, I immediately went straight to the seat that I want to put down for the season so I can confirm my choice, and they were nice, and as with nice, there are other people who were eying the same area as I. What was special about the particular section I want is that if you looked at the picture above before reading, that is a shot from one of seats I want, the two or three rows ahead of me cost another $800 for the same type of seat, a nice comfortable leather chair. For the event, it's just a showroom, nobody was going to be able to claim their seats officially that day, and siting on them for long periods won't kill the hopes of others who want that same exact seat. Instead you were given a wishlist where you wrote down which seats you wanted. But, and this is a big BUT, they would only be preferences, because, there is already a set order on who would claim their seats first. The way they are doing it is that starting this Tuesday, account reps will be calling in order by which those who put in their deposits early to claim and pay for their seats. So, the sooner you deposited, the earlier your window would be, meaning the better chance you have of claiming your first choice. Hopefully when I get the phone call later this week, one of these two prime seats will still be available.
Anyway, now back to our regular scheduled reading. I spent most of the time wandering around and observing people out and about. I did meet a few people who did took a liking to my Sealvester jersey, which was nice. What I thought that only a couple hundred turned out to be nearly a thousand, maybe even more. The crowd seem to have a good time, some getting to know each other, playing with the slapshot cage, meeting with Bob-O and Company, and the one of the more anticipated debuts yet, meeting the new Shades.
I was able to meet up with Don Money among other familiar faces. We spoke mainly about what we had written about on the Solar Bears Forum and being able to finally meet face-to-face.
Not really much to write about, except Shades, but that will be later. Overall, the event was successful. People seem really pleased that they were able to face those in charge in person. Not many other organizations would have the owners mingle with the fans face-to-face. The only thing that would've made it better and something Don mentioned is that they could've and most certainly should've had merchandise for sale. Yeah, if you're like me and already ordered something from the online store, you would probably be like "damn" it would've definitely saved us all $9 in shipping and not have to wait 4-6 weeks. But, we'll see.
Being able to come to this event and seeing everyone who went be very excited about the Solar Bears playing again after over 10 years really shows that this city; this community never deserved to lose such a unique icon, and will support themselves to the death for it so that it'll not happen again.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
|The Orlando Solar Bears released the game sweaters on April 10th.|
As we draw closer to October, where the Orlando Solar Bears will take the ice for the first time since 2001, people are starting to see the hype as team management is getting into an ad campaigning blitz with their recent one featuring the winner and their finalists of their "I'm A Solar Bear" star search posing in their recently released jerseys (but I will be proper and call them sweaters) and hockey gloves while holding a hockey stick over their shoulders. You'll see them on billboards while driving through I-4, the Orlando Sentinel, and the winner, Jayden, will be featured in Orlando Magazine and is already a local celebrity in the Solar Bears community. Local radio stations are also now holding contests for tickets and other Solar Bears prizes.
|With the way the Magic have been playing recently, it's good to see Ryan Anderson wear the team of champions.|
Then one day, the team finally announced something in which fans can take part of, the "Out of Hibernation" bus tour. It offered fans who placed a deposit for season tickets a chance to take ride to Estero, Florida by Ft. Meyers and watch two future-divisional rivals go against each other and recall past stories with one another of the Solar Bears past. I was speaking with one fan while over there and she mentioned that when she hears the words "solar bears" her head goes up and tries to find and talk to that person. Overall, everyone who went had a good time, but there was still one problem, there had been almost no updates on the progression of the team.
Don Money, who is a writer at ProHockeyNews.com and a forum contributor, along with Monique Griffin, spoke with Managing Partners, Bob Ohrablo and Jason Siegel about the concerns of fans wanting to know how everything is coming together. As you read his article you'll find that they want be absolutely, 100% sure that any news or update that is released will be perfect. They want any projects to be 100% complete before rolling it out. This means that they have been working hard, trying to take every step carefully, do their due diligence, make sure that season ticket accounts are handled carefully. This is kind of like diffusing a bomb, if they promise something they can't deliver or was looked at carefully, they run the risk of cutting the wrong wire and having that bomb explode.
So all in all, everything they have rolled out, the facebook contest, the bus tour, the ad auditions, the sweater (or jersey if you want to keep calling it that) release and the new online team shop, has been met with success so far, with local news starting to take notice. There are still things that need people want to know, like team schedules, NHL/AHL affiliates, when I can be Shades assistant, etc. but those things still won't happen yet until after the Florida Everblades hoist the ECHL's Kelly Cup at the end of this season. (Because it's the last chance they are allowed to.)
My point is now, be patient, the Orlando Seals floored it and look what happened, they got kicked out after two seasons and their mascot, Sealvester, is in mascot limbo. Everything will come into place when it is 100% ready, and it will be by the start of the 2012-2013 ECHL season. So in Don Money's words, hurry up and wait.