The costume is only half the package, people in the mascot business say.

To deploy a successful mascot, there must be top talent inside the suit and a top-notch plan about how to use it.

Some teams have staff dedicated to managing the mascot.

In other cases, the mascot talent - the person inside the suit - may be responsible for every aspect of the mascot's style, behaviour and event booking.

Brennan Anderson, who played the role of Ace for the Toronto Blue Jays for five years, got the role because of his strengths as a competitive gymnast - and his background in media.

(Many mascots come from careers in gymnastics, acrobatics or physical comedy, are predominantly male and are generally not too tall - so as not to tower over the kids, their biggest fans.)

Allowing an actor control over a character is beneficial, Anderson says.

"What it comes down to is, if you have someone who is full-time run their mascot program, this person can make a complete commitment to handling all the responsibilities for their team to achieve," he says.

"But if you have a person who's part-time, they'll handle it as a performance gig and not take it as seriously."

Anderson is enthusiastic about the opportunities for mascots to drive sales and brand recognition. A good mascot, he says, can easily generate $100,000 in revenue for its team by appearing at appropriate events during the season and the offseason.

Despite the NHL lockout, the Maple Leafs' Carlton the Bear has remained publicly active.

"Carlton has actually made more appearances in the community this year than any other season in 10 years. He loves going out in the community," says a spokesman for Carlton, who is not allowed to be quoted outside of the fuzzy suit.

Such anonymity is the trade-off of being a mascot actor, says Anderson, who adds that mascot talent are people "who like to have fun and can put up with being sweaty and grubby and not getting any recognition, because of course, no one knows who you are."