McDonald's Olympics souvenirs

We are back in the US after 5 weeks in the UK, and all month long I've been blogging about how pervasive the Olympics have become in everyday British life. That's definitely not the case here in the US; in fact, one of the first things 3Po said to me after our plane landed at SFO and we were walking through the airport was, "Mama, don't they know there's an Olympics going on?  Why aren't there any Olympics posters?".  Obviously, as the host country, the Olympics was bound to get much more coverage, but I'm still a bit surprised at the extent of Olympics awareness here in the US.

Case in point:  McDonald's, a major Olympics sponsor.  The current Happy Meal toy range in US restaurants is Spongebob Squarepants figures, each one playing a different sport.  They're cute, and I guess they're sort of Olympics themed, in an indirect sort of way.

In contrast, the current Happy Meal toys in UK restaurants -- as well as in restaurants around Europe -- are the Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, competing in wrestling, archery, diving, weightlifting, fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, canoeing, sailing, goalball and wheelchair racing.

I wonder why McDonald's did not feature the same toys here in the US?  Did they think the mascots would not be recognized and appreciated by American kids?  I think these Olympics Happy Meal toys are adorable, and a wonderful (and inexpensive!) way to remember London 2012!

Fortunately, we were in the UK and Europe while the Olympics was going on, so the kids were able to get their hands on a few of the Olympics Happy Meal toys:

The Wenlock fencer figure has a lever on his back that makes his fencing hand go up and down.  He also came with a cardboard sparring partner (we were able to collect two of these figures so we didn't need the cardboard Wenlock fencers!).

The Wenlock weightlifter figure comes with a plastic set of weights that clip onto a stand or on his hands.  He also has a lever on his back that lets him lift and lower his arms (and the weight).

The Mandeville goalball figure also has a lever on his back that lets him swat his hand back and forth.  He comes with a cardboard goal and a blue ball that rattles when it rolls (similar to the real goalball).  Like all goalball players, Mandeville is wearing blackout goggles, since goalball players have some form of visual disability, and the goggles work to level the playing field.

The Mandeville sailor sits inside a sailboat with small rollers on the bottom, so kids can roll the boat on the floor.  The toy also comes with cardboard buoys to sail around.

McDonald's also gave the grownups a chance to take home an Olympic souvenir.  They had a great promo where you could get a free Olympic Coca-Cola glass and colored wristband with the purchase of a large meal or a salad (you could also buy the glass without the salad or meal for £1.79).   There were 5 wristband colors -- black, green, blue, red or yellow, the colors of the Olympic rings -- but we were only able to collect the green and the black.  We've got 5 of these glasses, one for every member of the family.  

I'd say McDonald's wins the gold medal for inexpensive souvenirs -- given the prices of official London 2012 souvenirs, these McDonald's Olympics merchandise was a GREAT option for families looking for souvenirs to remember the Olympics without spending a lot of money!

We're lucky we were able to collect these McDonald's souvenirs, and I'm sad that other American kids weren't able to get that chance.  I know that most American kids did not get the chance to attend any Olympic event or experience the Olympics the way British kids did, but I still think kids all over the world would like a memento of the 2012 Olympics.  In 1984, when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, my aunt visited the US and brought us a bunch of LA '84 souvenirs: notebooks, pencils, pens.  I remember treasuring those little tchotchkes and proudly showing them off to my friends at school.  They helped spark my interest in the Olympics -- and surely, getting kids interested in friendly international competition is a good thing!

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