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Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

Before we examine the 2015 decal (which we started in Phase I here) we need to look back at the evolution of the Michigan Football helmet decals. 

1969-1974 Version #1 – When Bo introduced the helmet stickers at Michigan in 1969 (Version 1), they were solid, maize-colored, crudely shaped footballs. These were used through the 1974 season.  Here’s Don Moorhead’s helmet as featured on HelmetHut.com:

moorhead3

1975-1982  Version #2 – The decal shape became more oval and the snarling wolverine head was added.   There was now a left-facing version, and a right-facing version.  Here is a good look at them from one of Jim Dack’s helmets (find more info on Jim’s collection at wolverinehelmet.com):

Photo Sep 13, 8 34 56 AM

The other distinction with this version was that the wolverine image was actually clear, thus allowing the blue helmet paint to make the wolverine appear blue:

sticker_thumb 
Because the design was made 40 years ago, there was no high-end computer program like Photoshop that was used to create the snarling Wolverine head graphic.  It was probably created using Line Art.  Notice the level of detail on the hair, teeth and nose of the wolverine. The more you zoom in, the more detail you will see.

1983-1984  No Helmet Stickers.  The mystery of this two-year stretch discussed here.

1985-1994 Version 3 – After a two year absence, the decals returned in 1985 (Version 3) with a few modifications.

clip_image004

The shape was now more spheroid in nature. The snarling wolverine is no longer a clear image – it is distinctly colored blue.  The wolverine head was centered in the decal laces were now added to the top of the shape giving it more of a football feel, and the color was a little brighter yellow.  Before Saturday, we hadn’t seen decals on the Michigan helmets since the Wolverines defeated Colorado State in the 1994 Holiday Bowl.

2015- – Version 4 – So we learned on Labor Day that the decals would be returning.  Here’s another look:

decal Upon further review, a few things are apparent:

  • Size – The overall size is the same as the Version 3 (1985) decal with one distinction- the wolverine logo is actually slightly smaller, 1/16” (from blue tip edge to blue tip edge).
  • Color – It clearly has a darker tone of maize and blue color to it so that it matches the 2015 uniform, including the helmet wings and stripes.
  • Design – Overall design is basically the same as Version 3, with the laces and wolverine head are the same as Version 3, but now there is blue trim to it.

When looking closer at the image, I noticed a few things that were different from the 1985 decal, specifically with the quality of the wolverine:
 image

  • (1) Teeth – there is less white area in teeth of this year’s decal.
  • (2) Nose – there is less white area on the nose, as well.
  • (3) Hair – the hair length around the neck and back of head has now been “smoothed.”
  • (4) Outline – the blue trim becomes jagged when zooming in on the decal.

I think all these differences are the result of scanning the 1985 version vs. scanning the 1975 version.   So, here’s the deal: the 1975 version was the original, and the 1985 decal was created from a scan of the 1975 decal.  When it came time to create the 2015 decal, hardly any of the 1975 stickers were in good enough condition to re-scan, so the only option was to scan a 1985 decal.  What you ended up with was a scan of a scan to make the 2015 version.  When you do that, there is a loss of image quality and that is why the hair appears to be smoothed, and there is less (white) detail in the nose, teeth and elsewhere.

Is anyone going to notice this from their seats in Michigan Stadium?  No.
Will I? Yes.
Am I ok with it?  Yep.  I’m thrilled that the helmet stickers are back!

Just maybe next time a tweak is being considered for the decals, maybe Dr. Sap can be consulted?

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More from Oregon State game here:

 

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4 Comments

  1. My uniform take:

    I was one of those people that was not happy about helmet stickers (don’t like cluttering up the winged helmet), but they looked OK out there. I’m wondering though, what happens when players earn more stickers than there’s enough room on the helmet?

    I like the darker tone maize but I’m not sure about the darker blue. It almost looked purple on TV.

    Until I actually looked at some detailed flickr photos, the Block-M thigh pads were not noticeable at all.

  2. HAHAHA LOVE the minutia on the 4 points of difference on the helmet stickers! Keep it up!

  3. I agree, looks like a scan job to me as well. I also wish they were smaller. The stickers Stanford uses are small axe blades and they can fit a bunch on there without getting too cluttered lookng. I really liked the block M mock up someone photoshopped a while back. But it looks like Harbaugh said “I want the same ones we had when I was here.”

  4. I like the snarling wolverine because it’s original. Using a block M would not like right IMO.

    Most important… the proper color of maize is finally back!