FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
June 2, 2013 posted by Fred Patten

Olympic Mascots Animation – Part 1

mischa_costumes

My topic this week: The mascots of the Summer Olympic Games, and any animation associated with them.

I cannot find that anyone else has written about this, so I might as well. Doubtlessly I will get comments telling me where this has already been covered.

The first Olympics to have a cartoon mascot as distinct from an emblem were the 1972 Summer games in Münich, although the 1968 Winter and Summer games both used a unique “proto-mascot” on their official stationery and press releases. The 1972 Münich mascot was Waldi, a multi-shaded blue dachshund in a gaudy sweater. However, Waldi didn’t do much more than exist as a mascot and Waldi plush dolls.

The 1976 Winter games in Innsbruck (Schneemann, an anthropomorphized snowball) and Summer games in Montréal (Amik, a beaver) took the concept of mascots further in merchandising with dolls, cloth patches, pins, etc., but these were still little more than one image used over and over.

It was with the 1980 Summer games in Moscow that the Olympic mascot was given a personality and really came alive. Probably everyone on Earth – well, everyone reading Cartoon Research – has seen Misha the bear cub. The Moscow Olympics Organizing Committee took special care to make him a genuine personality.

mischa_stadiumMisha was “born” in 1977 when the Moscow Olympics Organizing Committee held a contest to design the 1980 Summer games mascot. The contest was first conducted by a popular TV program, Animal World, and a magazine, Soviet Sport, to choose the type of mascot. The majority of the 45,000 letters recommended the Russian national symbol, the brown bear. The Committee next asked 60 artists recommended by the Artists’ Union of the U.S.S.R. to submit designs featuring a bear. The winning design was submitted by Victor Chizhikov, a popular illustrator of children’s books. It was of a smiling bear cub wearing a belt of the five colors of the Olympic rings (blue, black, yellow, green, and red), with an Olympic-rings golden buckle. It reportedly took Chizhikov six months to draw a hundred variations of Misha for use in all poses. Chizhikov’s flat drawings were developed into a three-dimensional model by another artist, Victor Ropov. Misha was given such an extensive backstory that the MOOC threw most of it out as superfluous, keeping only Misha’s full name — Mikhail Potapych Toptygin — and his birthday – December 19, 1977; actually the date that he was approved by the MOOC as the 1980 Summer games’ official mascot.

Misha was the first Olympics mascot to be merchandized in too many forms to list, and to be immortalized in many forms. There are still at least three Misha statues in Kiev, Ukraine. (Or Kyïv; now that it is independent, Ukraine is pushing to make everyone aware that Ukranian rather than Russian spellings are preferred.) Misha has also retained his popularity longer than any other Olympics mascot. There have continued to be Misha plush dolls in Russia, and when Sochi, Russia was chosen as the site of the 2014 Winter games, there was a huge demand throughout Russia to make Misha its mascot again. When a cartoon polar bear was chosen as one of three official mascots (White Misha the polar bear, Zaika the winter hare, and Leopard the snow leopard), he was officially declared to be Misha’s grandson. (This did not save him from an accusation of plagiarism by Misha’s creator, Victor Chizhikov. “It’s exactly the same as mine: the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the smile. I don’t like being robbed,” he has said publicly.)

Actually, this may be illegal. According to the by-laws of International Olympic Committee’s Rule 50 governing the use of mascots:

50.3. Any mascot created for the Olympic Games shall be considered to be an Olympic emblem, the design of which must be submitted by the OCOG to the IOC Executive Board for its approval. Such mascot may not be used for commercial purposes in the country of an NOC without the latter’s prior written approval.

50.4. The OCOG shall ensure the protection of the property of the emblem and the mascot of the Olympic Games for the benefit of the IOC, both nationally and internationally. However, the OCOG alone and, after the OCOG has been wound up, the NOC of the host country, may exploit such emblem and mascot, as well as other marks, designs, badges, posters, objects and documents connected with the Olympic Games during their preparation, during their holding and during a period terminating not later than the end of the calendar year during which such Olympic Games are held. Upon the expiry of this period, all rights in or relating to such emblem, mascot and other marks, designs, badges, posters, objects and documents shall thereafter belong entirely to the IOC. The OCOG and/or the NOC, as the case may be and to the extent necessary, shall act as trustees (in a fiduciary capacity) for the sole benefit of the IOC in this respect.

The mascot suits, animation production materials and prints, and any unsold merchandise is required to be destroyed, not sold. This is why the judges of the Russian nationwide design contest to select the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics mascot, held September 1 to December 5, 2010, rejected a majority favorite among the 24,000 designs submitted: Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. The judges explained during the February 7, 2011 announcement of the winners that, according to the IOC Rules, all Summer and Winter games mascots become the property of the IOC, and must be discontinued within the end of the calendar year after the completion of their games. Since Father Frost is a traditional Russian folkloric character, nobody would want to give him up to the IOC and have him discontinued after a year. Therefore, Misha should have been withdrawn after the end of 1980.

mischa1Misha was the first mascot to be massively merchandized, on hundreds of items from children’s baby bibs and toys to adults’ household utensils and cigarette lighters. But what we are interested in is the animation. Misha has also been animated more than any other mascot.

The first time was just before the 1980 games, in Baba Yaga Protiv! (Baba Yaga Protests!), a three-part 9-minute-each theatrical cartoon directed by Vladimir Pekar at Soyuzmultfilm, released during early 1980. Baba Yaga, the traditional Russian witch who lives in a forest in a walking hut on giant chicken’s legs, is jealous that Misha has been selected to be the Olympics mascot instead of her. She tries to kidnap him so she can replace him before he can light the Olympic torch, but her clumsy assistants, Gorynych the three-headed snake/dragon and Koschei the Deathless (two more folkloric villains), keep fouling up. Baba Yaga Protests! was shown throughout the Soviet Union and possibly Eastern Europe.

There were two other very short animated appearances of Misha in the Soviet Union. One was a walk-on appearance at the conclusion (8’32” of 9’18”) of Nu, Pogodi! #13, the popular series of the Wolf and the Hare that has been called the Russian equivalent of MGM’s Tom and Jerry. The title is the Wolf’s habitual signoff, which is usually translated as, “Just you wait!” or “I’ll get you next time!” In #13, the Wolf chases the Hare into the 1980 Olympics, and after the usual cartoon mishaps, both the Wolf and the Hare end up on the winners’ stand where Misha presents them each with an award. The other, titled Misha – Olympic Champion, is uncredited and only lasts 40 seconds. It may have been a TV commercial for the games.

But the animated Misha seen around the world was Japanese; a 26-episode TV series titled Koguma no Misha (Misha the Bear Cub), directed by Yoshimichi Nitta at Nippon Animation. It was broadcast on TV Asahi on Saturdays from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., from October 6, 1979 to March 29, 1980. Aside from using the Summer Olympics’ mascot design that Nippon Animation had licensed, the TV serial was developed with all Japanese writers and cinematographers – the character designer was Isamu Kumada — and bore no connection with the Olympic games in Moscow that summer.


The series is about young Misha and his parents, the Potapychs, who have just moved from a big city to the remote town (population: 99) of Himadabeya. Mr. Potapych is a former newspaperman who wants solitude to write a novel. Misha tries to adjust to a rural life and make new friends, but naturally there are problems with bullies and clannish adults who don’t like strangers. Misha gradually wins acceptance among the proud loners. One continuing situation is that among Misha’s first playmates are Nyago and Mirumiru, the son and daughter of Mr. Nekosuki the tapir inventor. Nyago becomes one of Misha’s best friends, but Mirumiru develops a crush on him and becomes insanely jealous of the bear girl Natasha. Misha has to figure out how to let Mirumiru down gently. The whole cast are funny animals; adult and juvenile tapirs, foxes, tigers, storks, cats, hippopotamuses, and others. The conductor and engineer of the little train that brings the Potapychs to Himadabeya are gorillas. The program was best-known for giving Misha a young girl friend, the polar bear Mayor’s daughter Natasha. Several reviewers commented that this was more than he’d been given in the Soviet Union.

Aside from being broadcast in Japan, Koguma no Misha was shown in France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. It was dubbed into Arabic and Farsi, and was reportedly popular throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

Photo below: a Misha statue in Kiev
misca_kiev


Sam_AM1980 advanced to 1984, and the Summer Olympic games were held in Los Angeles. Both the United States Olympic Committee and the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee agreed that there was only one man, or company, to design the 1984 mascot: Walt Disney Productions. Disney assigned one of its cartoonists to the job, C. Robert (Bob) Moore. While Moore was not quite ordered to make an American bald eagle the mascot, the vast majority of the organizers felt that the mascot should officially represent all America, not just Los Angeles or California. The only other choice seriously considered was the American bison (buffalo), and Moore pointed out that when a buffalo was anthropomorphized to stand on two legs, it looked topheavy. The eagle had its own problems; it looked too stern or martial, and it lacked hands. Moore was asked to design a child-friendly “cuddly, patriotic eagle”, and he successfully designed the wings so they could double as arms and hands. Sam the Olympic Eagle was unveiled to the public on August 4, 1980.

sam_mag2Sam the Olympic Eagle’s popularity from 1980 until Summer 1984 should not need repeating. If he was not merchandized more heavily than Misha, it is only because both were so heavily merchandized that the difference is inconsequential. A major problem that Sam never overcame was that his head of white feathers made him look like a senior citizen. He may have been cuddly, but he came across at best as a kindly old man. Whether Moore ever tried to design Sam as a child or an athletic youth is not known, but despite being shown as participating in all of the Summer Olympics sports, he was unmistakably an adult. Although he was designed by a Disney Artist, there was never any demand in America to animate him. Sam was withdrawn according to IOC rules within a year after the 1984 Summer games were over, and was soon forgotten.

But Sam did become a star of a weekly TV cartoon series – in Japan again: Eagle Sam, 51 weekly episodes directed by Hideo Nishimaki and Kenji Kodama, at Dax International; broadcast on Tokyo Broadcast System (TBS) on Thursdays from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., from April 7, 1983 to March 29, 1984.


Unlike Koguma no Misha, Eagle Sam never played outside Japan. Those who have seen it have wondered how it ever came to play IN Japan! The obvious answer, whether true or not, was that someone must have decided to get revenge against America for World War II.

sam_ani1Eagle Sam was a gun-waving private investigator. (Everyone knows that all Americans are gun-happy.) He had a human secretary, Canary Karina, who may or may not have been supposed to be pretty – with character designer Yoshio Kabashima’s art style it was hard to tell – but there was no doubt about the amount of cleavage she showed. Sam and Canary were always accompanied on their cases by Gosling, her slingshot-wielding kid brother. Sam was portrayed as the only one in Olympic City (a thinly-disguised stereotype of Hollywood) who could solve any crimes or catch any criminals, because the police were too busy eating doughnuts, playing golf, or beating up innocent people. The police uniform’s badge was a Star of David. Naturally, Chief Albatross and Officer Bogie (or Bogey) don’t like to be shown up, so they – with Albatross’s daughter Chichi – were always trying to sabotage Sam. Usually Albatross thought up the schemes and assigned Bogie to carry them out, but Bogie seldom got farther than being distracted by Canary’s cleavage. When Sam got into a tight spot, he would toss his Olympic Hat with the five glowing rings into the air, reach into it, and pull out whatever he needed. The one who gave Sam the most trouble was the disrespectful jive-talkin’, skateboarding, shades-wearing cockroach, Gokuro, who drove him crazy with his sassy but legal mockery. (Cockroach in Japanese is gokiburi.) Other characters were Mr. Pelican the hippie, and Thunderbird the weight-lifter.

A lot of anime fans do not believe this existed, but the opening credits are on YouTube (embed below) to prove it. Eagle Sam was for little children, and despite its unbelievable scenario, it was shallow and boring.


This column is running much longer than I had expected it to. I will cover the mascots and their animation from 1988 on, next week.


Photo Below: a Sam The Olympic Eagle frisbee at Walmart
sam_frisbee

33 Comments

  • Love that the Frisbee was “Hecho en Mexico”.

    • Well at least it wasn’t shipped out to Korea (yet). :-P

  • In 1984 I was contacted by two executives from Warner Bros. who hired me to develop a low budget script for an animated feature that starred Sam the Eagle. I had a ball making a parody of North by Northwest with the Eagle caught in a cross country race where enemy agents were out to stop the future mascot of the Olympics. The climax took place in Disneyland (“No problem,” they promised me.) Since there was only 11 months to actually make the film in time for the Olympics, they got nervous and pulled out at the last minute. I ended up making Dr. DeSoto instead and got an Oscar nomination.

    • At least it worked in your favor Mike. Though had they developed it much earlier I’m sure it would’ve came out.

  • And for those who want “Nu, Pogodi” #13:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXlROQNR5cM

    • Someone once posted a version of this cartoon dubbed in English, as the Soviet Union once had a film exportation unit that handled such ordeals for hard currency no doubt! I see though YouTube either took it down themselves or the user did, so I can’t amuse people with hearing how Wolf and Hare sound like in that dub!

    • The Wolf and Hare cartoons were designed to be as much in pantomime and with as little dialogue as possible, so that they could be enjoyed throughout the Soviet Union without the need to redub in the different republics.

      Based on my experiences with Streamline Pictures, I’ll bet that those English dubs of the “Nu, Pogodi!” cartoons had lots of English narration to “fill up all the dead spaces” where there was (deliberately) no dialogue.

    • “Based on my experiences with Streamline Pictures, I’ll bet that those English dubs of the “Nu, Pogodi!” cartoons had lots of English narration to “fill up all the dead spaces” where there was (deliberately) no dialogue.”

      That’s what happened in episode 9 I noticed, where Wolf tries to find Hare in a TV studio, as one person is heard voicing over what few things were said like Wolf’s familiar line or what TV programs were being heard behind the doors down the hall (the typical “Lector” approach), but after that episode, they switched to getting voice actors for the characters and relied of no narration at all from the two episodes I’ve seen there (10 and 13). Somehow a tape sold in the UK had those three episodes on it though it was released under the title “The Big Bad Wolf”.

  • For all his Disney design-ancestry involving bird characters (Jose Carioca being the most obvious), Sam is a pretty clunky looking bird, one which itself is top-heavy and oddly configured enough (with its eyes only being both simultaneously visible in full-frontal shots) that seeing an animated version isn’t even tantilizing. Even with a pre-determined set of characteristics for the design, one can’t help but feel that the end-result was the half-hearted product of one bored cartoonist rather than being the choice of executives from competitive submissions. Misha, on the other hand, begs to be animated as he was designed (rather than in the bizarre graceless anime style shown here), which is to say, quite charming.

    • To be fair, he was based on the Sam Eagle character from Marc Davis’ “America Sings” attraction at Disneyland.

      Speaking of Disney, I recall that Misha was still popular in the ’80′s and a walkaround of the character made an apperance during a Disney film festival at Moscow in honor of Mickey’s 60th birthday in 1988. Highlights of this event was shown a year later in a half hour Disney Channel documentary called “Mickey Goes to Moscow”.

    • As a Disney-obsessed kid, I perceived Sam the Eagle as 50% Uncle Scrooge and 50% José Carioca. It was predetermined that the character model would appeal to me.
      But that’s the problem; did Sam appeal to anyone beyond Disney’s existing audience? The overabundance of comfortable Disney design clichés seem to have blinded various parties to the fact that the character was too squat and chunky to pull off the athletic poses they were constantly required to put him in.

    • And yet the Japanese knew how to work around Sam’s ‘weaknesses’…
      http://p.twpl.jp/show/large/ZUQo9

  • Worth noting that Japan boycotted the Soviet Olympics, which makes the whole “Misha” anime thing even funnier.

    • That is the one funny part I still laugh about!

      Though unrelated to mascots, I’m reminded a Polish animation studio once did a series of cartoons featuring the characters “Bolek and Lolek” involved in a series of athletic events surrounding the 1984 Olympics though their country had to follow the USSR’s suit in boycotting the summer games anyway. 1980 and ’84 were real tough years at the Olympics.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L30ptzUxALw

  • I actually had a stuffed Sam the Eagle toy growing up I inherited from my cousin, as well as a mug. Also, is it me or does Misha somewhat resemble Cheburashka (another famous Soviet cartoon icon)?

    • Misha is a bear cub, and Cheburashka (a fantasy animal) looks as if he could be a bear cub with that childlike appearance, covered with red-brown fur. The main difference is Cheburashka’s huge, round ears; rather like Mickey Mouse’s with fur.

    • I can see how some people would be confused at that Fred if only based on those aesthetics. Of course Cheburashka and those film became very big over in Japan that I’m sure the little mouse character in Revolutionary Girl Utena was inspired by him.

  • The circumstances that led to Disney doing Sam the Eagle have apparently in 2013 been lost to time. The Los Angeles Times ran the ‘official’ L.A. Olympics mascot not too long after L.A. was announced as being the chosen host city for the 1984 games. The drawing was shockingly amateurish, to put it charitably. I don’t know who did it or submitted it, but it was the official choice until Disney stepped in and offered their Sam designs, on the grounds that Los Angeles, a world class city, deserved at the very least a professional mascot design. The original mascot design was then quickly and permanently forgotten. Someone needs to visit the L.A. Times archives to retrieve that visual monstrosity, just to set the historical record straight.

    • Yes! I had not known that Disney’s Sam, the Olympic Eagle was not the original design. The L.A. Times drawing needs to be retrieved for historical completeness.

    • Yeah, that’s new to me, too.

      It should be in the microfilm archive somewhere.

    • Too bad I don’t live in LA or I would be all over this!

  • “Therefore, Misha should have been withdrawn after the end of 1980.”

    And yet the USSR found ways to keep him around after 1980. When Roy E. Disney and “Mickey Mouse” came to Moscow around the end of the decade, Misha was there to greet them along!
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xtqwqf_mickey-goes-to-moscow-1989_travel

    One thing about the “Baba Yaga Protests!” shorts I find kinda amusing is in how the animators don’t try to draw Misha’s head in anything other than from the front. It’s like reading MAD Magazine and hoping for the day you saw Alfred E. Neuman’s head in a different view but fat chance on that! Of course the other Misha-related animations shown will prove this is not so.

    “The other, titled Misha – Olympic Champion, is uncredited and only lasts 40 seconds. It may have been a TV commercial for the games.”

    That’s not true Fred, there’s at least two other shorts produced starring Misha! I think this first video is where the embedded clip came from…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=KZFEKHr4AuI

    Roughly the same time, this other short came out featuring Misha in some musical-fantasy type schtick.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=LtwoqLyWc_s

    “The program was best-known for giving Misha a young girl friend, the polar bear Mayor’s daughter Natasha. Several reviewers commented that this was more than he’d been given in the Soviet Union.”

    Lord knows had the Soviet Union only knew what marketing capitalist style would be like!

    “Aside from being broadcast in Japan, Koguma no Misha was shown in France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. It was dubbed into Arabic and Farsi, and was reportedly popular throughout the Arabic-speaking world.”

    Because some Japanese cartoons are that UNIVERSAL! We Americans wished we knew that until it was too late.

    “A major problem that Sam never overcame was that his head of white feathers made him look like a senior citizen. He may have been cuddly, but he came across at best as a kindly old man.”

    That is definately true, but if America could giveaway Big Macs in Sam’s favor, let’s see what the Japanese do about him!

    “A lot of anime fans do not believe this existed, but the opening credits are on YouTube (embed below) to prove it. Eagle Sam was for little children, and despite its unbelievable scenario, it was shallow and boring.”

    I have a whole episode I saved on disc, does that count? :-P

    And yet I can’t help but dig the opening/ending songs performed by the flavor-of-the-month group simply called “Eagles”!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnBPLT96is0

    • The Soviet cartoons are delightful! And 1979, too; these must have been among the first wave of the big publicity push for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Thank you for adding these, Chris.

    • Misha is still around today, judging by all the commentary about the popular demand to make him the mascot of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and his being “ripped off” in the design of Whitey, the polar bear, one of the three official mascots along with Zaika, the hare and Leopard, the leopard. Vladimir Putin has gone on record as liking Leopard the best. (Is it just me, or do the two Paralympics mascots, Snowflake Girl and Light Ray Boy, look weird?)

      http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/02/28/is-russias-2014-olympic-mascot-a-copycat-of-the-1980-logo/

      http://masterrussian.com/blog/countdown-2014-winter-olympics-mascots/

      http://talisman.sochi2014.com

    • “The Soviet cartoons are delightful! And 1979, too; these must have been among the first wave of the big publicity push for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Thank you for adding these, Chris.”

      I’m glad to help out when I can, reminded of my days in tape-trading when I picked up a tape of the Moscow Olympics closing ceremony from an Australian TV broadcast with them playing a song as they let a giant Misha balloon fly out of the stadium, it was kinda fun to see what was otherwise unknown to us simply because of the boycott.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3G1vl5UAxU

      “Misha is still around today, judging by all the commentary about the popular demand to make him the mascot of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and his being “ripped off” in the design of Whitey, the polar bear, one of the three official mascots along with Zaika, the hare and Leopard, the leopard. Vladimir Putin has gone on record as liking Leopard the best. (Is it just me, or do the two Paralympics mascots, Snowflake Girl and Light Ray Boy, look weird?)”
      They don’t look too bad to me, hell they’re an improvement over the mascots we’ve been having for the past decade in my book (especially those animals, though it seems rather unoriginal to name the leopard “Leopard” to me, but whatever). Nice to at least get back to animals again.

      Speaking of winter games, I wonder if anything was made for Sarajevo’s “Vucko”? He seem like an appealing figure!

    • I have not found that there has been enough animation of any of the Winter games mascots to fill a column about all of them. Too bad, because some of them look designed for animation, such as Hidy and Howdy, the two bear twins for the 1988 Winter games in Calgary. The websites below call them polar bears, but I think they were officially a cross between polar bears and brown bears.

      http://www.canadiandesignresource.ca/officialgallery/olympics/1988-olympic-mascots-hidy-howdy/
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidy_and_Howdy

      Vučko, the mascot of the 1984 Winter games in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, was supposed to be a “cute wolf cub”
      (vučko is the diminutive of vuk, “wolf” in Serbian) and was extremely popular locally, but the general reaction internationally seems to have been that he was “too frightening”. The Sarajevans built a big 1984 Winter Olympics museum after the games to commemorate them, but it was destroyed in 1992 during the collapse of Yugoslavia.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEbL3i-AC80
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik14V4WWuKQ&feature=endscreen
      http://olympics.time.com/2010/05/21/those-loony-olympic-mascots/slide/vucko-sarajevo-1984/
      http://www.visitsarajevo.biz/sightseeing/arts-culture/museums/olympics-museum/

    • “Too bad, because some of them look designed for animation, such as Hidy and Howdy, the two bear twins for the 1988 Winter games in Calgary. The websites below call them polar bears, but I think they were officially a cross between polar bears and brown bears.”

      I was not a big fan of Hidy and Howdy, but I can see how their appeal would lend well to animation had Nelvana or another studio up there did something about it. There was one opportunity missed. Interesting checking out Wiki to see they had up signs of the guys for 20 years before the city decided to move ‘em.

      “Vučko, the mascot of the 1984 Winter games in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, was supposed to be a “cute wolf cub”
      (vučko is the diminutive of vuk, “wolf” in Serbian) and was extremely popular locally, but the general reaction internationally seems to have been that he was “too frightening”.

      I suppose giving him such a big head is what did it (especially those eyes). The design certainly lacks in that category though some of these short little bits they did with him showed some potential, there was some clever posters/postcard images I bothered to pin on my Pinterest page of Olympic mascots.
      http://pinterest.com/sobieniak/olympic-mascots/
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T4XceR6HkI
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBMUx3In3-4

      “The Sarajevans built a big 1984 Winter Olympics museum after the games to commemorate them, but it was destroyed in 1992 during the collapse of Yugoslavia.”

      It was a shame that happened at all. People simply couldn’t keep themselves united that long. And yet I noticed there are still a few vestiges of Sarajevo’s Olympic past in the city such as those signs with Vucko on them, so not everything was lost to history I suppose (as long as they can keep themselves from splitting further).

      But getting back on target, it is true the Winter Games mascots don’t get much flak as their Summer counterparts. Still it would be interesting if Moscow has something planned for their 2014 animals by next year in animated form (say a half-hour special).

  • For anyone interested in seeing more of “Eagle Sam”…
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10kd8w_eagle-sam_fun

  • Anybody else think Sam the Eagle would have looked right at home in Van Beuren’s “Parrotville” series?

  • Sorry I am so late in commenting. I loved this article.

    Chris, thanks for the link to that half hour episode of Eagle Sam but he sure didn’t seem like a gun totting private eye in those two segments. And can anyone explain why in the closing credits, Sam leaps to rip off Canary’s tiny mini-dress exposing her white panties? Is there something I am not understanding about the character or the series?

    Michael, thanks for that insight into the Sam the Eagle animated feature that never was…but everything happens for a reason and we got an Oscar nominated animated short from you in its place. Maybe you should consider on your excellent blog or here, talking about some of your animated projects that never were.

    Fred, outstanding article as always. While I think of you as the ultimate anime expert, you have expertise in so many other areas as well, especially science fiction and furry fandom. Your description of the series helped me to better understand the two segments I saw at Chris’s link in terms of who these characters are and what they are doing.

    Of course, with Sam the Eagle’s Disney connections, I have researched the character (but always wanted to know more about the Eagle Sam animated series). In fact, I have an upcoming column about Sam as a July 4th installment for another website I write for each week that concentrates on Disney.

    The Disney Company drew up preliminary plans for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 games just as they had for the 1960 Winter Olympics. Card Walker who was then Disney’s chairman of the board in 1980 was asked to serve on the LAOOC executive committee. So, it was no surprise that the Disney Company was selected from among three finalists to do the mascot design.

    “We even thought of oranges and palm trees,” stated Disney art director C. Robert Moore who came up with the final design. “We tried animated cactuses, snakes and turtles, but they were all symbolic of being slow, something the Olympics wanted to avoid. We considered a buffalo but decided on the eagle.”

    Disney did design a buffalo mascot, “Bison tennial Ben”, who combined the features of a buffalo and founding father Ben Franklin for the 1987 bicentennial celebration of the American Constitution by the California Bicentennial Association that lasted four years. He is little remembered today.

    By the way, Bob Moore (who retired from Disney in 1983 so Sam was his last official creation for Disney) was also responsible for the design of another Disney bird character for another organization. Moore designed the Orange Bird for the Florida Citrus Growers to be “the friendly face of Florida sunshine and fresh squeezed Florida orange juice”. Unfortunately, the Anita Bryant controversy (she was the live spokesperson for Florida orange juice” brought an untimely demise to the Orange Bird although he has recently been revived. (Dave Bennett worked on an educational animated short featuring the character.)

    Also, Moore’s design was not based on Marc Davis’ design of an eagle named Sam for “America Sings” who was taller, thinner, older. Even a casual glance will show significant differences. Moore tried his best to make Sam look cuter (with a curved bill for instance) and made him squatter to make him appear younger (smaller things are usually perceived as younger) and more accessible to kids. In fact, I heard Moore say (back when I was in L.A.) that he was trying to make Sam a “mascot for kids”.

    Not only did a costumed Mickey Mouse meet a costumed Misha but there was a special Russian magazine was also published at the time with stories, cartoons, photos or Mickey and Misha meeting…as part of Mickey’s 60th birthday. Also in Moscow, Roy E. Disney was given a copy of a special animated short that I love, “The Marathon”, made in Russia.

    Looking forward to future articles.

    • “Sorry I am so late in commenting. I loved this article.”

      What’s not to love!

      “Chris, thanks for the link to that half hour episode of Eagle Sam but he sure didn’t seem like a gun totting private eye in those two segments.

      Well the only two episodes I could find are probably the weakest of the series, I was hoping for a shot of Canary in the shower myself noticing a screengrab of that but fat chance unless someone else in Japan makes that episode available to the world somehow (remember, Nico Nico Douga is your friend)!

      “And can anyone explain why in the closing credits, Sam leaps to rip off Canary’s tiny mini-dress exposing her white panties? Is there something I am not understanding about the character or the series?”

      It’s the Japanese wanting to make Sam a letch and seeing no problem with it! That’s all I see here. Of course had they thought of Sam as a much older character than the voice they gave me sounds like, it would probably be the same way if they went after the “Dirty Old Man” routine like too many others!

      “Michael, thanks for that insight into the Sam the Eagle animated feature that never was…but everything happens for a reason and we got an Oscar nominated animated short from you in its place. Maybe you should consider on your excellent blog or here, talking about some of your animated projects that never were.

      “Your description of the series helped me to better understand the two segments I saw at Chris’s link in terms of who these characters are and what they are doing.”

      I tried my best here, you really do need to search real hard for these goodies.

      “Of course, with Sam the Eagle’s Disney connections, I have researched the character (but always wanted to know more about the Eagle Sam animated series). In fact, I have an upcoming column about Sam as a July 4th installment for another website I write for each week that concentrates on Disney.”

      Best I got was a cel of Sam the Eagle I picked up on eBay years back that was produced out of Pantomime Pictures in the 80′s for some project or whatever. I use to had a couple matted cels of these but I sent one to a pal of mine in Japan as a gift.

      “Disney did design a buffalo mascot, “Bison-tennial Ben”, who combined the features of a buffalo and founding father Ben Franklin for the 1987 bicentennial celebration of the American Constitution by the California Bicentennial Association that lasted four years. He is little remembered today.”

      That’s interesting.

      “By the way, Bob Moore (who retired from Disney in 1983 so Sam was his last official creation for Disney) was also responsible for the design of another Disney bird character for another organization. Moore designed the Orange Bird for the Florida Citrus Growers to be “the friendly face of Florida sunshine and fresh squeezed Florida orange juice”. Unfortunately, the Anita Bryant controversy (she was the live spokesperson for Florida orange juice” brought an untimely demise to the Orange Bird although he has recently been revived. (Dave Bennett worked on an educational animated short featuring the character.)”

      Remember listening to the song about that years back. Interesting the projects Bob Moore was involved here. I wonder what Moore’s thoughts on the “Eagle Sam” anime would be had he seen it? There’s a question I’d love to know, but I’m sure as the one behind the design, I’d probably find it quite weird and different from what I had in mind for this character. In all fareness, either Sam or Misha saw airings in their respective countries anyway.

      “Also, Moore’s design was not based on Marc Davis’ design of an eagle named Sam for “America Sings” who was taller, thinner, older. Even a casual glance will show significant differences. Moore tried his best to make Sam look cuter (with a curved bill for instance) and made him squatter to make him appear younger (smaller things are usually perceived as younger) and more accessible to kids. In fact, I heard Moore say (back when I was in L.A.) that he was trying to make Sam a “mascot for kids”.”

      I bet, yet the Japanese often have a thing for short grown men in gag manga all the time!

      “Not only did a costumed Mickey Mouse meet a costumed Misha but there was a special Russian magazine was also published at the time with stories, cartoons, photos or Mickey and Misha meeting…as part of Mickey’s 60th birthday. Also in Moscow, Roy E. Disney was given a copy of a special animated short that I love, “The Marathon”, made in Russia.”

      That was in the Disney Channel special I linked to above, pretty sweet to see Alexandr Petrov involved on it.

    • About panties …

      There is an anime OAV series titled “Agent Aika” that came out in Japan in 1997 and was released in America by Central Park Media’s U.S. Manga Corps in 2001. The background is that in the near future, most of the land on Earth has sunk into the ocean. Aika Sumeragi is a salvager whose father needs a lot of money, so Aika accepts high-paying, risky salvage jobs. The plot is that Aika is hired to find an especially valuable macguffin that everybody is out to get; everybody meaning mostly the evil super-rich Rudolf Hargen who has a private battleship crewed exclusively by pretty girls in mini-skirted sailor suits with automatic rifles, machine guns, and similar artillery. But Aika has a special bustier that, when activated, turns her into a super-woman.

      The 7-episode series, 30 minutes each, became notorious for the incredible number of panty shots it contained. A popular game at anime fan clubs was to count the number of panty shots in an episode.

      I was a professional anime reviewer for Animation World Magazine by 2001, so I got a lot of anime DVDs to review. The review DVD of the first “Agent Aika” episode came with an actual pair of women’s panties – either for a schoolgirl or for a Japanese-sized woman.

      “Agent Aika” still has its fans today, thanks to sporadic prequels and sequels. Here is its Wiki and its trailer, which may be NSFW.

      http://agentaika.wikia.com/wiki/Agent_Aika

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-d9xX406Xo&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DR-d9xX406Xo&has_verified=1

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