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3/20/2013 9:19:27 AM

Posts: 1048
The Republic | Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:17 AM

The new Sparky is out already. Instead, Arizona State University’s costumed mascot will get a Mr. Potato Head-style makeover.

An online program is being developed to allow fans to choose features for the new Sparky head and face. They will be able to pick from a variety of eyes, face shapes, mustaches and goatees. They will get to select maroon or black horns.

Then, they can see how the individual features mesh — just like kids have done for generations with the popular toy.

ASU plans to tally the votes and reveal the winning costume at the first football game of the season on Sept. 5.

The decision to scrap the new costumed mascot and use an online vote instead comes less than a month after ASU unveiled a modern version of Sparky. The backlash began immediately over the bulging eyes and beefed-up muscles. Some compared him to the Honey Nut Cheerios bee crossed with Buzz Lightyear.

Students and alumni unleashed a stream of criticism on Facebook, Twitter and through e-mails to ASU administrators. Two Facebook pages, a student-generated YouTube video and an online petition surfaced, demanding that ASU get rid of the new Sparky that was designed in partnership with Walt Disney Co. Some alumni threatened to stop donating to the university.

On Tuesday, ASU announced plans for the online vote.

Will the existing Sparky, beloved by fans, as well as the new one scrapped by the university be part of the online vote?

ASU officials say all the features offered for the vote will be “consistent with Sparky’s identity.” They said they are still working on the options and should have more information next week.

Students were glad they will have a say in what their mascot looks like.

Mark Naufel, undergraduate student-body president at the Tempe campus, said people were freaked out by the drastic makeover. He isn’t opposed to a few changes to the old Sparky.

“His face and outfit might need a little updating,” he said. “A lot of people say it looks like he is wearing pajamas.”

Earlier this month, ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution seeking to ban the new costumed mascot from sporting events. The criticism reached such a level that ASU President Michael Crow directed a high-ranking university official to meet with student leaders.

Naufel said he was part of a telephone conference over spring break in which ASU officials admitted they hadn’t used the best process and should have involved student leaders.

In response to criticism over the redesign, officials say Sparky is one of the best-loved college mascots. They’re proud people are passionate about him.

“We have listened, and now, we want to give members of the Sun Devil nation the opportunity to provide their input on some of the costume’s features,” Rocky Harris, senior associate athletic director for external relations, said in a statement Tuesday.

The official image of Sparky, the iconic 1946 drawing, will not change and will continue to be available on ASU merchandise. A contemporary Sparky, unveiled along with the new costumed mascot earlier this month, will also be offered as part of a marketing effort aimed at children.

Fans will now get a say, though, in the costumed mascot that appears at sports and community events.

ASU officials say the Sparky redesign didn’t cost the university any money. ASU already has a partnership with Disney in which students give input on new product designs.
edited by ASU74 on 3/20/2013

Go Devils !!
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3/20/2013 6:10:48 PM

Dodger Matt
Dodger Matt
Posts: 2424
The "new" Sparky (why they would call him that) gave me the creeps. Looked more like Spanky the Demonic Child Molester to me. Glad they have s#1tcanned him.
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3/21/2013 8:12:42 AM

Posts: 200
Well... at OSU, we are no stranger to change. We are just forgetful of it.

We used an OAC logo from the late 1890s until the early 1900s, when we changed to a new OAC logo. We then used an updated OAC logo until around 1926 when our acronym changed from OAC to OSAC, at which point OAC and OSC both were colloquially used. After we changed from SAC to OAC in the late 1890s (ok, only officially in the early 1900s), we also adopted the "Bock O." Our track team (a regional powerhouse), instead of OAC, had an "A" with wings. Flying Aggies!

At this point we were the Aggies, but by 1908 we began a very slow transition to also unofficially be the Beavers, not fully used until the late 1920s. During this time, our mascots were a coyote and a minister, while the wrestling team also unofficially included a bulldog, and later a smaller breed instead. In the early 1920s, we had our first live Beaver, "Bevo," but he was stolen for his fir, as well as a 700 lb. bronze statue of a beaver.

In the early 1930s, some students rescued Billy Beaver, a small pup, from an eddy in the St. Mary's river. While Billy died a couple years later, he inspired Beaver caricatures. At this time, formally OSC, we only used the Block O logo, but Billy Beaver's caricature was EVERYWHERE in school literature.

In 1945ish, Benny Beaver made his debut in the form of a plaster of paris replica of the 1920s statue. In 1951, Arthur C. Evans, former Disney artist, make the classic Benny Beaver logo, and in 1952, Benny appeared for the first time in costume.

Strictly speaking of live mascots, the Benny costume got complete makeovers in 1957, early 1960s, 1974 (with some subsequent tweaks), early-mid 1980s, 1999, 2000, and 2003-2006ish (can't remember when the current one debuted.)

In 1998, a shop in Albany make the "Angry Beaver" (Florida Beaver's avatar), and silently also released "Classic Benny" (my avatar), in which they took Evans' 1951 logo and put it into the 1998 logo's feel and style. In 2007? the Morrow Group debuted the OS. In 2013, Nike released the current logos.

So anyways, my point is that logos and mascots are not steadfast and changeless. At OSU, it took us 52 years after the dawn of athletics to even create Benny, and 59 years before he was in a costume. He has had 7 vastly different looks and numerous tweaks. You would not recognize at least half of them, if not more, when I get the impression most fans think the chubby Benny is the only one we've ever had, except for maybe the first one. As for logos, the letter logo has seen 4 major changes.

As for the all-sacred Beaver logo, it was not even created for our first 58 years with athletics, and the current logo (my avatar) that many fans wish we would use was only created in 1998.

When you step back and look at the bigger picture, the only real tradition is that we have change, change that is, in almost every single situation, unpopular for the first few years. Did you know when the first Benny costume came out, the Barometer asked what clown was ruining the university's reputation? The Barometer hated the idea! I repeat: the only TRUE tradition is that traditions that don't remake themselves have always had a short shelf-life.

All that said, I think it is incredibly awesome what they are doing at ASU to fix this problem. Besides getting rid of the creepy anime eyes, it is great how they are using fan feedback in technology previous unavailable.
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