(ATR) Olympics connoisseur Everen Brown will attend his 12th Games this summer in search of his next prized souvenir.
As Olympic organizing committees scrutinize potential licensees, someone has got to be asking these questions: Will anyone really buy this stuff? And what makes a great Olympic souvenir? Once you see my list below, you might think that "someone" forgot to answer these pressing questions.
I have attended 11 Olympiads to date – London will be my 12th set of Games. Along the way I have picked up my fair share of souvenirs. While many collectors look for that "perfect" item, I have found it much more interesting to search out the unusual and bizarre. These crazy items are much more appealing to me than the usual stuff everyone else will buy.
My background is in promotional products – stuff with logos on it! So I know how these items are designed and created, and my heart is with the dreamers. Those folks who want to sell a crazy item, work to get it past the Olympic gatekeepers and onto the shelf.
In a stroll down my memory lane (Olympics I have personally attended), here are my top 12 Crazy Olympic Souvenirs:
1. Los Angeles 1984 – The Music of the Games Picture Disc aka a "record." Remember those long playing LP’s? This one featured Olympic themed music. Often referred to as "vinyl," records disappeared and are slowly making a comeback. As with any good picture disc you would not want to run the risk of scratching it and defacing the logo, so I just assume it will play - if put to the test.
2. Calgary 1988 – Shell Oil Lapel Pins – Calgary was pretty short on souvenirs. This set of plain looking lapel pins from your neighborhood Shell Oil dealer was the best of the "worst" I could find.
3. Barcelona 1992 – Cobi Bouncing Ball – Yes, it is our beloved Cobi trapped inside a rubber ball. Who would have had the heart to encapsulate this wonderful mascot inside this rubber goo? I can almost hear Cobi screaming to be let free!
4. Atlanta 1996 – Izzy or Whatizit Doll? This quickly orphaned mascot had its name changed again but was still unpopular. It was banished and is now in the witness protection program. I thought it was one of the more interesting and creatively designed mascots in years.
5. Nagano 1998 – The Snowlets were very popular in Japan and just about anything imprinted with them on it - sold out, even this lame imitation of a ski!
6. Sydney 2000 – Die Cut Paper Sunglasses – found inside the Opening Ceremony gift "suitcase" left on spectators’ seats. Did anyone wear these for more than 10 seconds?
7. Salt Lake 2002 – Kleenex Box with Olympic Pictograms from the Olympic Village. I had to rely on insiders to score this mint – unopened package!
8. Athens 2004 – Athens Olympic Hat - Who let the court jester loose? This souvenir hat complete with bouncing bells, put a smile on the face of everyone who saw me wearing it during the games.
9. Torino 2006 – Olympic Rings "Dessert" Poster - I enjoy seeing creative uses of the Olympic rings, officially and unofficially. Torino’s famous and fabulous desserts were depicted in this five ringed Benedicenti realist print.
10. Beijing 2008 – Giant FUWA Pencils – Every kid needs a pencil so big they need two hands to hold it! Add four more for good luck and you have this complete set of China’s mascots. Thankfully they give you an extra large pencil sharpener so you don’t have to use a machete to sharpen these giants.
11. Vancouver 2010 – Giant Ceramic Piggy Bank – With event prices so high they sold giant banks so you could save enough money to get a ticket.
12. London 2012 - ??? You can bet I will start my search as soon as the plane lands at Heathrow…
Seriously, my favorite overall Olympic souvenirs are my "used" ticket stubs. They remind me of the great times I have had at the games and the sporting history I have witnessed. After all, nothing beats being there! Now, if I could just find a reasonably priced Opening Ceremony ticket in London…
Everen T. Brown is aconnoisseur and collector of all things Olympic.
Visit the ATR Pin Points - London Collectibles webpage, dedicated to London 2012 pins.
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