Apparently plush toys of Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, are already in the bargain bin at a steep discount. It just isn’t so easy to warm up to Cyclopean beings who have been described as the progeny of ”a drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek.”
Harrison Mooney goes a bit further in the Guardian:
These phallic bugbears fitted out in foppish puffery are by far the worst mascots of any Olympics, and I say this while trying to suppress my memories of Atlanta’s amorphous blob Whatzit (later renamed Izzy), which ushered in the trend of using no creative effort whatsoever on mascot design. Britain has brought this trend to its logical conclusion.
Now, mascots are a mere accessory of the Olympic Games, a cheap merchandising tactic, and they’re almost always terrible. … Britain has somehow managed to take a relatively unimportant aspect of the Olympic Games and turn it into an unforgettable and indelible full-scale embarrassment. The release of these creatures on its own should have been enough to know Britain is unfit to host the Games.
Or as Mark Sinclair, deputy editor of London design magazine, Creative Review, told CNN, the mascots are “kind of severe looking” and “missing a little bit of soul.”
Michael Mopurgo, author of War Horse, was brought in to create a story behind Wenlock and Mandeville. As this goes, the pair were made from the last drops of steel from the last support girder made for the Olympic stadium and are named for Much Wenlock, a village whose 19th century Wenlock games were an inspiration for the modern Olympics and Stoke Mandeville, where there was a hospital that treated soldiers with spinal cord injuries.
Wenlock’s and Mandeville’s eyes are supposed to enable them to “record everything.” They also sport taxi lights and particular head-shapes to refer to the shape of the Olympic medals and a helmet. All very well, but all the thought the Iris agency (which designed the mascots) mustered has produced some things with limited (if any) appeal for the target audience, children.
Murray recalls that British literature has given us Paddington, Winnie and other beloved, cuddly, icons. Instead, the London Olympics has anthropomorphic “walking, talking shard[s] of metal” that, writes Angus Hyland on Computer Arts, ”appear thoroughly dehumanised,” a real “shame considering the Olympics is supposed to represent the best in human endeavour and character.”
LOCOG, the private organization running the Olympics, was hoping to make £70 million from merchandising these?
To put Wenlock and Mandeville into a bit of context, here are seven other curious, maybe cute and possibly creepy mascots.
Photo by kavitakapoor
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