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2012 Summer Olympics mascot: Really, London ... Really?

Photo by Matt Dunham

Photo by Matt Dunham

They could have gone with one of Paddington Bear's pals.

Or a fuzzy, red double-decker bus.

Or a smiling, chiming Big Ben.

But noooo.

The London 2012 organizers unveiled their Olympic mascots Wednesday and they look like they were plucked from a bad modern art museum catalog.

Just when you thought nothing could top Atlanta's Izzy when it came to weirdness, meet Wenlock and Mandeville, a pair of one-eyed, amoeba-ish, goofy-looking ... oh, I don't even know what they are. Certainly not what you want hanging around your house for the next two years.

Kids don't want "cuddly toys," said Sebastian Coe, head of the organizing committee.

Really? Been around a 2-year-old lately?

There's a reason why kids -- let's be honest, some adults, too -- are gaga for stuffed animals. They're soft, squishy and irresistible. The best mascots, what few there are, followed that model.

Wenlock and Mandeville are supposed to be "interactive." More like rejects from the "Yo Gabba Gabba!" show on Nick Jr. The mascots' eye is actually a camera lens, to record all their adventures during the next two years.

Wenlock is sporting friendship bracelets in the colors of the Olympic rings and Mandeville's bicycle-helmet-shaped head is aerodynamic because it's a "spirit in motion." Cute.

Actually, Olympic fans may not even flinch when they pick up one of these things, so long have they been subjected to creepy mascots.

It started at the 1992 Barcelona Games with that wacky dog, Cobi, who looked like a cross between an abstract painting and an optical illusion puzzle with its nose on the side.

(The designer later copped to being stoned when he came up with it.)

Then came poor Izzy, who turned out to be as discombobulated as the 1996 Atlanta Games themselves. At least organizers there had the sense not to parade the guy around. Seriously, can you think of anyone who actually saw an Izzy, let alone bought an Izzy?

Nagano had the Snowlets, which were, to be fair, quite adorable. But so few were made nobody could find any for souvenirs. By the second week of the games, the mere whisper of "Snowlets" was enough to start a frenzy on the street.

Phevos and Athena, Athens' offerings in 2004, were named for Greek gods and were an affront to design, new and old. Their little heads sat atop dinosaur-long necks, and their feet resembled flippers -- really, really big flippers. Think they were wearing togas? Think again. Footie pajamas are one thing, but there's really no need for mitten shirts, especially in the Mediterranean.

Turin's Neve and Gliz were harmless, though they did make me think of a marshmallow roast every time I saw them. Beijing's Fuwa -- a set of five dolls -- were probably the best of the recent bunch. Vancouver did OK, too, though its best one, Mukmuk, wasn't even a full mascot.

London is giving Wenlock and Mandeville the royal treatment, creating their own Web site, planning school visits, introducing them nationally on BBC television. They've even been set up with their own Twitter accounts.

Let's hope they don't know what trending topics are, or their feelings are sure to be hurt.