London 2012 Olympics Short London 2012 Olympics Short

London 2012 Olympics Short

The recently unveiled 2012 London Olympic mascots, which are somehow supposed to evoke the spirit of the games, now have their very own animated short. Frankly, the cartoon isn’t as bad as it should be, but to understand why the Olympics chose to represent itself with hideously phallic blobs, listen to what this Olympic official has to say: “The one thing that came out of our research with children is they weren’t looking for a cuddly toy or something human, but for something rooted in a very good story.” If ever there was proof needed that focus-testing and researching cartoon characters is a fool’s errand, look no further.

UPDATE: Received word that the director of the animated short was Mario Cavalli and the backgrounds are by Neil Campbell Ross.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    They remind me way too much of the Binomes from “Reboot.”

  • Samus

    Why oh God why? How come every Olympics mascot ever look so repulsive, so terrible?

  • Peter

    These two are hideous, but don’t say all mascots are. I think the Vancouver mascots were great. Barcelona’s Cobi was cute too.

  • Trust me, us londoners aren’t too thrilled with them either.

  • Tedzey

    I don’t get it. Recently the mascot have represented something about the culture. Beijing had the mascot represented by chinese caligraphy, and vancouver had the native totem thing. Personally I expected some sort of Robin Hood or King Arthur type… a knight defender of the people, but thats just an opinion. You can’t please everybody, so i wouldn’t be surprised if alot of people like it.

  • Scott

    Kang and Kodos.

  • Steve Gattuso

    I thought the ones from this year’s Winter Olympics were cute. But DAYMN, do these guys look fugly.


    You know what really helps when playing sports? DEPTH PERCEPTION. -_o

  • VinceP

    Yeah, I liked the Vancouver mascots, they were cute and had a bit of relevance. These are pretty unappealing, and I have no idea what they’re trying to say. What are they supposed to be, anyway? Is steel-working somehow ingrained in English culture? Where do the rainbows come in? Why did that retired guy make steel dolls for his grandkids? Isn’t that a bit dangerous? Why are the dolls so enchanted by the olympics?

    I don’t think the animation itself is all that bad, but the subject matter is bizarre. They say they prefer to put emphasis on story, but the story they made makes no sense!

  • Just comparing this short alone against Jamie Hewlett’s awesome BBC short for the Chinese Olympics makes this even more atrocious.

    People need to stop “researching” for answers. Children are not lab rats and this is animation and design, not cancer. Besides…why research children? Isn’t the Olympics watched by, oh I dunno, EVERYONE? Loving all the comments over at the Times, tho!

  • lampshade

    The biggest rationale is that it’s meant to represent the “digital age”, but in reality, it doesn’t represent anything at all.

    I definitely do prefer cuddly animal mascots.

  • Lee

    Urgh, I heard about this on the radio this morning and its even worse than I thought. If those are appealing to children I’ll eat my hat. You’re right though Amid, the actual short isn’t terrible itself.

  • They are but the animated harbingers of the solemn truth, mankind’s technology will completly fail on Dec 21st of 2012. The art of animation will be lost…


  • I dunno, if the focus group said that kids were looking for characters with a good story, it’s not bad advice.

    Problem is, this really isn’t a good story, and they aren’t really characters given they have no personality. So the problem is they didn’t follow the focus group’s advice.

  • I think kids are going to want a stuffed animal of that little black dog….

  • OK crass negativity asside…They remind me of something from “Boobah” lightly mixed with a chess peice/ Lewis Carrol/ England theme rendered in the stereotypical European 3D CGI.

    As for their appealing nature, in all honesty I can’t judge, evryone digs diffrent things… I liked the carebears when i was growing up but forced myself to watch he man to keep up apperances in preschool social circles.

    By my personal standards, it’s yet another concept failure (though the animation is not too terrible). Now for the next set of games we get in the U.S. in all honesty can you picture USA comming up with a water tight character that can embody all our schizophrenic values as well as the spirit of the games that the whole world will love?

    For a character concept, a character embodying the spirit of a nation to be represented to a world audience is probally one of the most challenging tasks an animator can get.

    No doubt the USIOC will hold an animation contest when it’s our turn again…

  • Amber

    /opens mouth

    And then repeat 10-20 times to recreate this commercial.

  • The first guy said it. 90s tv characters to go with a Nu Rave logo.

    I want EXCUSES and I want them now. Who made it, how long did they have etc? It would clearly have been picked to death by commitee, but the end result looks like student-grade modeling and animation. Was this rushed out by some poor oppressed animator on a criminal wage, or did an agency labour over it for months, hemorrhaging money? The British people deserve an answer!
    The other thing it reminds me of this that Sweet Like Chocolate video, that still makes angry like 10 years later.

  • ted


    effing awful.

  • What would mascots for a London Olympics look like? An Industrial Revolution factory waif? Upper-Class Twits?

    A seven-foot tall Queen Victoria wandering around the venue might be just the thing.

  • >> “research”


    Comedy aside, look at specifically what he said. Good story? Okay. Yet no mention of what looks good or what visually works in that “research”. So they hobbled together a poor man’s Gloop and Gleep without the urine-stain yellow. (And everyone knows Gloop and Gleep is a poor man’s Gloop and Gleep.)

  • Tanya Scott

    From a Londoner’s point of view, there are two plus sides to this: 1) they won’t be giving anyone epileptic fits unlike the logo
    2) they remind me of chavs. Therefore, they might very well be good representation for the London games.

    Although, as a Brit, I have to say this is once again something which does not show British culture and art in it’s true light. We have some of the best animation in the world (in my opinion) and this is what they finance/commission?

  • Michael F.

    Cobi the Cubist Dog was my favorite too. The World Cup has had a few good mascots too like Footix the French rooster and Striker the American dog.

    Also, while I do understand the reasoning about the use of these mascots I do think that the Teletubbies comparisons are going to be hard for them to shake off.

  • You have to ask yourself why are they so unappealing to me? They kind of remind me of the cyclops character from Yo gabba gabba but he has appeal in spades.

    The one thing to me that stands out as unappealing is that the characters eyes are just poorly designed. One character always looks like hes angry and the other always looks upset because of the position of the upper…eyebrow?…eyelid?.
    Anybody with the least bit of character design experience knows how important friendly eyes are to a friendly character. The face and eyes is where everyone (children included) look first! I just feel uncomfortable when I see a character that looks so pissed/physically ill and the lack of a mouth to express any kind of emotion makes it even WORSE.

    Its just an all around bad design for adults or kids.

  • Paul Dini

    Gotta agree, these are the ugliest mascots ever. By focus groups trying to appeal to everyone, they appeal to no one. Reminds me of an old Freak Bros. comic where the threesome make a vow to agree on everything they buy at the grocery store. To their eventual disgust, the only food item they can’t find fault with is a bag of brown rice. That’s what we have here, the creative equivalent of brown rice.

  • Matthew

    robcat2075 has a chip on his shoulder about the British. I’ve noticed his comments before.

  • Grahaeme

    Firstly, if a good story is the focus maybe they should have spent more time on that. The visuals of this are brutal and the story telling is heavy handed. I don’t think you look any further than the BBC commissioned Hewlitt short for the Beijing games or RKCR’s for the Winters last year.

    The bit where the reboot characters were performing to the posters, that was lazy story writing. There are much more simple ways to convey the link between the mascots and the games. They could have been performing mimicry of the olympic sports whlist making their way to the London arena. Lazy lazy lazy.

    This short lacks subtlety and intelligent story writing, characters lack appeal and the colours (except for the sunset) are god awful.

  • FP

    I liked these things immediately, even before I knew they were Olympic mascots. It’s the kind of character I enjoy seeing: some Rick Grimes, some REBOOT, some limited-edition vinyl collector’s toy. I don’t pay much attention to the Olympics, but these things are cool. From the front, the yellow one’s head looks like a little pyramid with an extra eyeball stuck on it.

  • Nadav

    Am I the only one that got freaked when the rainbow flew towards them?
    If a rainbow would suddenly break into my house I’d probably wet myself. The dog was the only one who reacted normally to the situation.

  • Rat

    Nick Park wasn’t available?

    I mean, seriously.

  • It’s god awful! Everything about it is yuck! I hate to think what the budget was!

  • Is the grandpa Steve Jobs ?

  • Tim Hodge

    Seems the Brits aren’t all that fond of them either:

    (Yes, I realize that the Daily Mail doesn’t speak for all Britons any more than the NY Post speaks for me.)

  • and…
    where is good story?

  • David Breneman

    I haven’t seen digital animation that good since the 1980s.

    Oh, wait… did I say “good”?

  • I’m willing to bet that at least part of the reason they ended up with this was because every halfway decent idea they had, that really tried to reflect British culture or the say anything about the spirit of the Olympics – whatever that is – was in danger of offending someone or appearing somehow exclusive. A Robin Hood character for instance might be taken as a political statement about funding. Cuddly cartoon characters? Patronising. Athletic figures? Fascist. The only safe thing is to make them look like nothing and say nothing.

  • Lloyd Carter

    I’m putting in my two cents that in some ways it reminds me of the 1996 Olympics mascot, Izzy.
    (from one who actually liked the blue guy, uh gal, whatever…)

  • Another waste of my taxpayer money…..Are the backgrounds designed by Alberto Mielgo?

  • amid

    Oscar: My first thought too was that Alberto had designed the bgs, but no confirmation on that. If anybody has credits for the animation, please send them over.

  • Stick to the factory, grandpa, and leave toymaking character design to experts.
    Apparently these design took 40 focus groups to come up with (says Vancouver Sun). It does indeed look like the result of a comittee who knows nothing about character design and appeal. I can imagine the artists just having to do what the “experts” told them to do and get their paychecks and run.

    There is no way on earth I can see these mascots warming their way into anybody’s heart.

    I think they really over-thought this too much. One eye each…and one looks like it pissed itself.

    I really liked the Vancouver logo and Mascots from the begining. The worse anyone really could say about them was that they were unsure and it looked like Hello Kitty influenced but people eventually fell in love with them, or at least thought their kids would enjoy the souvenirs.

  • If you’re going to market new characters to children, don’t make them look angry.

    Not only does Wenlock look angry, but he also appears to have devil horns on his head. I hope Pat Robertson never sees this.

  • matt

    I’m not sure if I prefer the gay cowboy with the bangles and hat, or the swishy toothpaste tube. And I say this having designed mediocre (didn’t start that way) Olympic Mascots myself and therefore full sympathy for being ground underfoot by the suits.

    I liked the snowlets.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “I definitely do prefer cuddly animal mascots.”

    Lord knows I miss the days of Misha, Sam, Vucko, Hodori and Cobi. It’s as if we’ve gotten out of the appealing animal designs and opt for something a bit more abstract or far more non-objective. They’re not very appealing character-wise, yet it’s interesting they’ll continue going down this road anyway. Hope these new guys don’t get an animated special soon!

  • cowza
  • Reminds me “Pit-Pat” from the Mr. Show Sketch – “A magical, pan-sexual non-threatening spokes-thing!”

  • Juan alfonso

    It’s Plankton’s relatives!(from Spongebob Squarepants)

  • AnthonyA

    Interesting, though, that no one has commented on the presented story, that it looks like it’s a family that’s got the grandparents raising the grandkids.

  • Best comment about these two came from LiveJournal friend, along the lines of “It’s quintenssentially British. They look like CCTV cameras.”

  • JG

    The whole London 2012 olympics marketing campaign has been a series of hideous design disasters in a row… That’s how they got their publicity. (They even managed to induce actual seizures with the video ad they made, it was taken down afterwards as a result.)

    I can’t remember what ad agency is behind this, but they are known to charge shitloads for things that are horrible from a design perspective and dare to call it cutting-edge. They’re the same guys who redesigned Wacom’s website and logo to look like something a high-school student would do. Thankfully the site was tweaked by some actual designer afterwards to look less barf-inducing and they decided to still use the old logo without the floating amoebous five-cone sloppy-gradient random-color something…

    Good design and post-modern aesthetics don’t mix. Stop doing that!

  • Steve Gattuso

    Two better interpretations of these mascots:


    That last one ought to please Royce…

  • To quote Bugs Bunny – “Agony! Agg – ooh – knee!!!”

  • Didn’t these guys go up against Ultraman back in the day?

  • chipper

    I like the little dog. Why don’t they make him a mascot?

  • A friendly-looking Corgi would have been better.

  • red pill junkie

    Anthropomorphized dolmens from Stonehenge would have been cuter, and more to the point.