He’s a stout marshmallow hoisted between graham crackers. He’s supported by surprisingly muscular legs, flashes an off-centered smile and, as a conveyor of “good vibes,” his right hand perpetually displays two fingers in a sign of peace.
On his head sits free-flowing flames, or at least fabric to give the impression that he’s roasting.
This is Toasty, the new mascot for Minor League Baseball in Colorado Springs. And if you missed him at his unveiling as part of Kids Day at the new YMCA facility at First & Main on Saturday morning, fear not, he’s coming to something near you.
“You’re going to see him out at any and everything over the next few weeks to introduce him to the community,” Rocky Mountain Vibes general manager Chris Phillips said. “Our goal over the next few weeks is to get him out everywhere.”
Toasty will appear at schools and functions with children, but he might also pop into the occasional happy hour and buy a round. Phillips can imagine the traction such a pub appearance could bring, as patrons can’t help but snap pictures with the s’more and “it becomes this Instagram-able thing.”
Phillips noted that he doesn’t have children, but Toasty has become the baby whose pictures he proudly shows off to friends and manages to work into every conversation.
And who can blame him? Since taking over as general manager midseason last year, Phillips has been tasked with guiding the local team through a series of moves that have been met with public pushback, particularly on social media.
The Triple-A team left for San Antonio. In its place is coming a short-season Rookie League team from Helena, Mont. Then came the total rebrand, swapping the Sky Sox moniker for the Vibes.
The drop in classification was a decision made between the Milwaukee Brewers and the team’s ownership, the Elmore Sports Group, and beyond the influence of the local operators of the team. But the rebrand fell on Phillips and his staff, and he knew from the trend in Minor League Baseball that any changes would likely be met with ire, as even the most successful rebrands had followed that path of resistance before being embraced.
“It was a very old school, traditional, classic look, which is what most Major League teams go for,” he said of the Sky Sox brand and look. “But that is the opposite of what Minor League Baseball is all about. … This was our opportunity to start everything with a blank slate. To see the staff energized and people coming to work every day with these new ideas, that just wasn’t happening over the past few years.”
Facebook comments aside, the transition has been effective. Phillips said the team has already matched its merchandise sales from all of last season, and that’s before game day foot traffic into the team’s shop. The most popular items have been hats and T-shirts featuring Toasty — a name coined by promotions director Abragail Kappel when team officials first saw an iteration of the s’more mascot from the marketing company Brandiose, which handled the design throughout the rebrand process.
It should be noted that Sox the Fox is not leaving. He was on hand at the YMCA to welcome his new friend, Toasty. Both mascots will appear at the Vibes’ 38 home games this year, starting with the home opener June 21.
Staples on the schedule like Friday Night Fireworks and $2 Tuesdays remain. A Toasty bobblehead giveaway is slated for June 23.
Work is underway throughout the stadium, some of it already visible in the form of large murals depicting mountain and camping scenes on walls that previously featured bare cinder blocks. There will be spots on the concourse to roast marshmallows during the games, the concession areas are being reworked and will offer new options and the beer menu landscape will expand to include local brewers for the first time.
Phillips wanted an infusion of colors and sights everywhere, as well as new names to tie in with a central theme. For example, the kids club will be called the “Mini Mallows.” His goal is to infuse “magic” into the ballpark experience.
But the manifestation of all that is new is Toasty. He will be paraded through the town to show off the $18,000 costume that was created by California-based Custom Characters, which features a client list that includes The Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios, Dreamworks and a host of professional sports teams.
The challenges of turning Toasty the logo into a living, breathing mascot were many. The logo depicted him wider than tall, a proposition that would have made it difficult for the performer inside to move his arms. There was great relief when word came that the mascot could clap and bring his hands together over his head. Complications also arose with the material that made up the fire atop Toasty. That was the final fix made before the large box bearing Toasty arrived a week ago. Aside from those issues, the process was largely handled internally by Custom Characters while Phillips and his staff were left to await the results.
“There wasn’t a lot of back-and-forth, which was kind of nerve-wracking,” Phillips said. “They were like, ‘You’ve just to trust us to do our thing.’”
And Phillips believes it worked.
“The attention to detail is amazing,” Phillips said. “He looks like he should have his own cartoon show, ‘The Adventures of Toasty.’”