Established in 1911, the Russian Olympic Committee is, as its name implies, the National Olympic Committee representing Russia and since 2015 has overseen the Team Russia project, which unites athletes in all sports representing Russia at international competitions. Additionally, its mission is to “popularize the fundamental principles and values of the Olympic movement and sports among young people and the younger generation” with the goal to “form a wide active community of fans and athletes under the single national brand ‘Team of Russia’.” Earlier this month, Team Russia introduced two mascots, designed by Moscow-based Art. Lebedev Studio.
The mascots of Team Russia are designed to support Russian athletes at international competitions, to unite and inspire fans, and to urge Russians to lead a healthy lifestyle and go in for sports.
As a final result, two characters ended up as winners - a fluffy white cat in the form of an ushanka and a roly-poly toy bear who also doubles up as a matroshka. They were designed by the Art. Lebedev Studio. The mascots have embodied the traditional ideas about Russian character and bravery, the adorable and amusing features of animals loved all over Russia, as well as an innovative image and design.
As far as I can remember I have never “reviewed” mascots and even most Olympic mascot coverage I do through the Linked section but these two mascots, and its applications, are the most interesting I have come across.
The best reason I have for giving these mascots so much attention is that one of them is a white, rainbow-spotted, two-legged, grumpy cat modeled after the classic Russian fur hat, an ushanka, and it is awesome. There is no rational reason something like it should exist, much less represent a nation’s group of athletes, but here it is, loose tying strings and all.
The bear is the more optimistic of the two and it is modeled after “Nevalyashka” toys (which translates to “One that never lies down”), that came in different characters but typically had spherical limbs to match their round bottom. Its fuzzy, furry white snout graphic representation and small eyes make it super endearing.
Beyond being quirky and adorable, the mascots are not single-note, meaning they don’t just exist as 3D models or in one particular aesthetic or execution but, rather, they can be whatever they want to be, from flat icons like the bear above to something closer to anime like the cat animations below.
To boot, the mascots can turn into awesome swag, making for great t-shirt graphics and an endless range of pins and patches that take ample liberty in how the two are represented. The hat below is a render but I seriously hope they make them a reality.
Overall, what I like most about this, is the brand-ification and identity-ification of the mascots into a system that makes them widely adaptable and endlessly fun.
Thanks to Тарас Мукин for the tip.