a chubby panda dressed in an ice suit reminiscent of that of astronauts he has become a national sensation in China, with shoppers in Beijing lining up in sub-zero overnight temperatures for the chance to buy stuffed versions of the mascot of the Winter Olympics.
Those who do not want to queue are paying up to 17 times the retail price for panda toys Bing Dwen Dwen. Prices have risen so high on the black market (stuffed toys sell for more than $500 online) that Beijing police have issued public warnings against buying the mascot from resellers.
The start of Beijing 2022, which kicked off on February 4, has helped fuel the frenzy, as have social media memes of the mascot dancing at the opening ceremony and struggling to get through the gates of the media center. A clip of Chinese President Xi Jinping suggesting that Prince Albert II of Monaco take home two of the toys for his twin has further boosted Bing Dwen Dwen’s popularity.
The situation has been aggravated by a shortage of supplies. Because the opening ceremony was held in the middle of the Lunar New Year holidays this year, many of the factories that produce Bing Dwen Dwen toys were closed. just when the demand for the pet increased.
Zhao Weidong, a spokesman for the Winter Olympics, promised at a briefing on February 6 that officials were taking steps to remedy the situation. “Now we are making efforts to coordinate the production and supply of Bing Dwen Dwen,” he remarked.
Shares in Beijing Yuanlong Yato Culture Dissemination, one of several licensed makers of Olympic products, rose to the 10 percent daily limit for a third day in Shenzhen on Wednesday. The company, whose products include badges and fluffy products by Bing Dwen Dwen, has said that production is back in full swing. Shanghai-listed Cultural Investment Holdings, another licensed goods maker, has also seen its shares soar to the daily limit for three consecutive days.
But back in Beijing, Dong Yanxue, 54, stood in line outside the official Olympics souvenir shop in the city’s Wangfujing shopping district, stocked with a chair, food and beer. Dong says that before he had waited two nights in line to buy just one stuffed Bing Dwen Dwen for his niece. He returned to try his luck again Tuesday afternoon, even as a loudspeaker outside the store played a recorded message saying that his Bing Dwen Dwen toys were out of stock and he asked people not to wait in line.
“I’d rather have a few drinks at home at this time,” said Dong, but “Kids really love a Bing Dwen Dwen.”