Wenlock and Mandeville, official mascots for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively
Anthropomorphic steel slablets born from the girders of London’s Olympic stadium. Monikers that hint at mischief and Savile Row. A flair for the digital. It all sounds like a promising recipe for Olympic mascots, those eccentric, nationalistic, and frequently controversial creatures that rise to prominence for a couple of months every couple of years. “Our original brief asked us to create a mascot which would actually engage and kind of get young people across the United Kingdom. into sports,” said Grant Hunter of Iris. He and his colleagues responded with Wenlock and Mandeville, two aerodynamic cyclopses who watch your every move through giant, all-seeing eyes. Unfortunately, nothing kills the cuddly quotient faster than steel—and vaguely menacing monocular vision.
“The eye is actually a camera,” explained Hunter. “So it allows them to examine and record things on their journey.” The chromium pair, whose head shapes reference the distinctive roof of the London Olympic stadium, are also crowned with headlights of the sort found on the city’s black taxis. Wenlock, who will do the heavy lifting as the Olympic mascot, wears the Olympic rings as bangle bracelets (“friendship bands”). According to his last tweet, he is currently stuck in an elevator. Meanwhile, Mandeville’s a booster for the Paralympics, born in 1948 as a competition for World War II soldiers with spinal injuries and inaugurated in the Buckinghamshire town of Stoke Mandeville. Although he’s slightly behind Wenlock in Twitter followers, Mandeville is keeping it positive. “I’ll be honest—I’m on a mission,” he confides to readers of the official mascots’ website. “On a mission to be the best I can possibly be. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?” Funny, we could swear we heard Jeff Koons say the same thing just the other day. Maybe it’s something in the steel?