Can somebody please tell me where I can get a "real-looking" Oski plush toy for my five-year old Cal fan? Every Cal-adorned plush toy that I've seen for sale never resembles the real Oski. Is it too much for the best public university in the world to correctly license its own mascot to a company that doesn't just slap a Cal logo onto some generic-looking bear toy?
This is not Oski (although if your kid finds this particular "Oski" hidden at the Trader Joe's on University and MLK Jr., they get a little prize, like a piece of fruit leather):
My five-year old son has Cal football season tickets. At the age of four he sat on my shoulders chanting "You know it, you tell the story..." in the south tunnel after beating Stanfurd and reclaiming the axe in the 2008 Big Game at Memorial. He's been to men's and women's basketball games, women's volleyball games, a men's gymnastics meet and a rugby match. And that's just in the last year. Last Christmas, when we asked him what he was going to ask Santa for, he said a #4 Jahvid Best jersey (which Santa, of course, brought him) and get this, a Cal cape. So my mom made him a blue and gold Cal cape, which he wears to Cal Athletic events.
His favorite book? "Hello, Oski!", which, by the way, has a reasonable likeness to the real Oski.
This absurdity is not Oski (they can't even spell "Oski" correctly):
Neither is this (though marginally better than the previous):
Nor is this (not even close):
I thought I'd check out Bancroft Clothing, since they seem to have the largest collection of Cal-related gear in Berkeley, to see if they had any type of Oski stuffed toy that actually looks like Oski. The two pictures below show two entire shelves, full of every type of Cal bear imaginable (not to mention some dogs, monkeys and a duck too!), but not a single one that resembles our beloved Oski.
The closest thing that I've found (via the internet) to a plush toy that actually looks like the real Oski is this image from the Cal Women's Basketball team blog. OK, now we're talking. That looks like Oski. Where did it come from?
So I'm at Memorial one Sunday afternoon and I notice that the daughter of this couple that has season tickets near us is holding a small Oski doll that actually looks like Oski. Now this couple is hard-core. They brought their daughter to the "Joe Roth throwback" USC game in 2007 in the pouring rain when she was just an infant. They brought their son to the Maryland game in 2009 when he was 5 days old. I never got a chance to ask them where they got their Oski doll, until recently at the UC Davis game.
Sure enough they were in their seats and their daughter had her Oski doll with her. I came over and sat behind them and asked them where they got the Oski doll from. They told me that it was a give-away when they went to Dallas in 1996 to watch the 5th-seeded Golden Bears lose to 12th seeded Iowa State (74-64, ouch) in the first round of the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament. I looked at the tag of the Oski doll and it was made by the "Build-A-Bear" company based in St. Louis, MO. Here she is with her Oski doll (me, green with envy):
I've also found an image of this "secret Oski toy" on Oski's Facebook page. Man, that kid is starting his Cal fandom early! Most excellent job parents.
I think it might be the same plush Oski doll as the one the couple's daughter has and as the picture above from the Women's Basketball blog. Notice the yellow sweater with the large, blue "C" and "Oski" in blue script above it? I love the details of this Oski, down to the double blue stripe only on the sweater's left sleeve and the oversize white shoes. Now that is Oski.
I started to wonder if other universities have this problem as well, whether it is impossible to find a toy that actually looks like their actual mascot and it doesn't seem to be as much of a problem for some of the big-name schools such as Florida (Albert the Gator) or Ohio State (Brutus the Buckeye). Heck, you can even get a Wazzu Butch T. Cougar toy, even if it does play music.
Hey UC Berkeley/California Athletics/Oh-so-secretive Oski Committee, could you please get a decent licensing deal that honors the tradition and culture of the greatest public institution of higher education in the world and try and get a real Oski toy on the market? With a living alumni base of over 450,000 (as of June 2010), there could be a pretty good market for a high quality miniature Oski doll of some sort.
Oh and for your reference, this is what our beloved mascot Oski looks like: