Frankie and Michael (our production manager) were recently featured in the news as the creators of the first-ever Youth Olympic Games mascots: Lyo and Merly. Although much of our production process was kept under wraps due to the nature of the project, the mascots were recently unveiled at a press conference at the Singapore Youth Olympic Games headquarters.
Amanda Zhang from youth-oriented WhyOhGee (pronounced Y-O-G) website interviewed Frankie and wrote a great article about the creation of the mascots. I’ve reproduced it here for your convenience, or you can also CLICK HERE to read the article on its actual website.
The creators of Lyo & Merly
By Amanda Zhang
23 November 2009
It’s official, the mascots of the first Youth Olympic Games are here to take over the world.
Lyo the lion cub, and Merly the merlion cub, with their big, innocent eyes, funky hairdos and oh-so-huggable bodies are definite crowd pleasers.
At the mascot launch held over the weekend, the crowd went gaga when Lyo and Merly went public for the first time. There was an endless stream of people waiting to take photographs with the two new faces of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
Like Pinnochio, Lyo and Merly needed a pair of loving hands to craft them to become the iconic creatures they are today.
Back from left: Mr. Michael Chong (Mascots and Puppets Specialists), Ms. Bee GOH (Cubix, COO), Mr. Stanley TOH (Cubix, Creative and Account Director) Ms. Weena LEE (Cubix, Art Director) Front from left: Mr. Frankie Yeo (Mascots and Puppets Specialists),Ms. Dawn WONG (Cubix, Account Manager)
The creative brains behind Lyo and Merly are the good people from Cubix International.
Cubix’s proposal was one of seven shortlisted mascot design proposals submitted earlier this year. With their unique and youthful twist on two iconic Singapore creatures, Cubix’s design was chosen.
For one, Lyo is a lion cub and does not have a shaggy mane. Instead of unkempt facial hair, Lyo keeps a burst of wavy, stylish red hair presumably kept in place with some gel or wax.
As for Merly, she is a merlion cub who does not have a fish’s tail. What remains of her merlion heritage though is a set of tiered scales on her arms and legs which adds to her demure and sweet appearance (think tiered wedding cakes and dresses).
Cubix, which specializes in branding, animation and character development, took great effort to research on Olympic mascots from previous Games.
Their research led them to move away from another set of designs which they were working on – robots. The robot theme was initially developed to showcase Singapore as a technologically advanced country. Through their research however, Cubix realized that mascot animals have always been a success and they wisely decided to stick to the theme of a lion and a merlion.
Image illustrations owned by Cubix International. Robots, durians and bad hair days were byproducts of Cubix’s development of the mascots.
Character development was what really brought the mascots to life. Cubix wanted to create a pair of mascots who had contrasting yet complementary personalities.
Lyo is ambitious, fiery and fun-loving. A typical boy-next-door, he dreams of winning basketball medals. Merly, on the other hand, is soft and demure. She is a vegeterian and loves the environment. Her harmless hobbies? Swimming and singing.
Born and bred in Singapore, Lyo and Merly’s diet include the local delights. With his fiery personality, Lyo loves chili crab and chicken rice with lots of chilli. One wonders how Lyo uses his paws to eat crabs though.
Merly prefers desserts and enjoys ice kachang, a local dessert of shaved ice drenched in condensed milk and colourful sweet syrup. Brain freeze!
From 2D to 3D
The hands that built the life-sized mascot suits were the team from Mascots and Puppets Specialists, led by Frankie Yeo.
One of the challenges they faced was transforming the mascots from two-dimensional to three-dimensional creatures. Choosing the right material and texture for the body and hair were crucial decisions Frankie’s team had to make.
The main material chosen to make the life-sized suits was eventually foam. It was not only light, it was also able to retain its shape even if Lyo had to squeeze through a door.
Mascot wearers have a heavy weight on their shoulders – literally. The heads turned out to be considerably heavy with Lyo’s head weighing a whopping 8 kilograms and Merly’s head weighing 6 kilograms.
To prevent heads from rolling (pun intended), the huge heads are strapped onto a harness donned by the mascot wearer. Lastly, to keep the mascot wearer from overheating, there is an inbuilt fan in the suit and optional vests lined with cool packs to keep the poor ladmascot wearer nice and cool.
Lyo and Merly were conceived and brought to life through the meeting of creative minds and a common passion for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
We warmly welcome Lyo and Merly to the Singapore 2010 family!