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In our continuing exploration of the uneasy world of mascots, it’s time to meet Wenlock and Mandeville, mascots for the 2012 London Olympics. Hmm, oh dear… They each have a camera for an eye, which seems eerily appropriate given England’s dystopian fascination with Orwellian surveillance equipment. They do not have mouths, probably so that they are unable to scream. Understanding their back story makes them no less disquieting: according to their creators, they are steel nuggets handicrafted by an eccentric grandfather and then given life by children’s love for sports.
“The mascot will help us engage with children which is what I believe passionately in,” London organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe told Reuters.
“The message we were getting was that children didn’t want fluffy toys, they didn’t want them to be human but they did want them rooted in an interesting story. “By linking young people to the values of sport, Wenlock and Mandeville will help inspire kids to strive to be the best they can be.”
Um, what? Toy designers know how easily children can be (mis)lead during marketing research. You have to watch their hands and eyes in order to find out their real answers. Or maybe I’m wrong and English children really do like mouthless, handless, soulless one-eyed robot-monsters.
Come on English designers! Just slap a bearskin on a bulldog and head for the pub. Everyone would be happy and you would have an enduring winner instead of the travesties which Wenlock and Mandeville so clearly are. As an added bonus, here are some alternate ideas for 2012 London Olympics mascots: