July 05, 2012
The Olympic mascot Wenlock, left, and the Paralympic mascot Mandeville pose for photographs as they are unveiled to the media. Source: AP
THEY were meant to inspire young people to engage with sport, but the London Olympic mascots have been branded too creepy for children.
The one-eyed Wenlock and Mandeville - who were apparently born from the "last drops of steel" from the Olympic Stadium - were the product of an 18-month creative process using more than 40 focus groups.
Scores of giant statues of the creatures are about to be unveiled across London as part of a $48.5 million (STG 32m) makeover to drum up enthusiasm in the run-up to the Games.
But the Cyclops-like cartoon characters have faced a barrage of criticism online.
In merchandise reviews for the mascots on Internet shopping site Amazon, buyers have called the creatures "menacing" and "terrifying".
"Like a nightmare, this evil eyed monster stares straight into your soul looking for the slightest weakness," reviewer Mr Nicholas Shearer wrote.
Another reviewer Zeno added: "This is a very frightening, disturbing thing... Do not give a thing like this to children unless you want them to wake up crying for the next five years.
"On the streets of London, parents and children also shared their verdict.
While her father branded them a waste of money, Chiara Rice, 9, from North Melbourne and on holiday in the English capital, called the mascots "weird but interesting".
Kelly McLellan, 34, of Vancouver, Canada, said she would not buy any of the mascot merchandise for her two-year-old daughter Madison.
"They're not very child appropriate and they're not very cute," she said.
William Ward, 9, on holiday from Palmerston North, New Zealand, said: "They look futuristic and I think kids my age would like them, but younger kids not so much."
His mother Katherine Ward, 38, said Wenlock and Mandeville were "too boyish" and disconnected from the Games.
"They need to be meaningful, not some alien looking animal," she said.
Canadian tourist Adeline Letendre, 40, said her daughter Mary Rose, 6, confused the mascots with the London Eye.
"I had to tell her no, the London Eye is something else, but she was convinced," she said.
Olympic organisers rejected mascot designs, including animated teapots, fluffy lions, Trafalgar Square pigeons and a Big Ben with arms and legs, for the striking one-eyed beings.
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic games, defended the mascots, saying they were created for children.
"By linking young people to the values of sport, Wenlock andMandeville will help inspire kids to strive to be the best they canbe," he said at their launch in 2010.