The Good: Decent likeness of Emperor Palpatine, Perfectly balanced
The Bad: Expensive for the quality.
The Basics: I fall to the "leave it" camp ultimately for the well-sculpted but slightly inaccurate Emperor Palpatine ornament by Hallmark Keepsake.
It might be obvious from my reviews of the various Hallmark Keepsake ornaments that I have reviewed that I am quite a bit more of a Star Trek fan than a Star Wars one. Even so, I was given an Emperor Palpatine ornament and as I sit here contemplating my science fiction "tree," I find myself somewhat underwhelmed by this ornament.
For those unfamiliar with Emperor Palpatine, he was the overlord of the galaxy by the time Return Of The Jedi (click here for that review!) came up to cap off the original cinematic trilogy. Played with a lot of latex for aging by Ian McDiarmid, The Emperor was a menacing character who tempted Luke Skywalker, ordered about Darth Vader and gave children nightmares. Unfortunately, this incarnation of Emperor Palpatine is an average-at-best showing of the character.
The "Emperor Palpatine" ornament recreates the galactic warlord in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2008, is a decent sculpt as the Emperor lounges in his chair on the Second Death Star. Measuring three and three-eighths inches tall, three inches wide and just over three inches deep, the Emperor Palpatine ornament is a decent-enough representation of the evil leader, but nothing extraordinary. Hallmark insisted on something like $15.00 for the ornament originally and it is a tough sell at that price. Dressed in his dark robes and seated in his chair, the Emperor looks more relaxed than menacing. Still, it is easily recognizable as Emperor Palpatine.
The Hallmark "Emperor Palpatine" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the Emperor seated; his robes are colored appropriately black, though the clasp at the neck is hardly visible and not painted to accent it in any way. The face is appropriately wrinkled and the eyes are detailed well with the red bags below them. He is rightly wrinkled and dessicated-looking. The hands, however, are far less detailed and that is somewhat disappointing. Without fingernails, the ornament loses some sense of realism that is clearly within the detailing ability of Hallmark.
Emperor Palpatine is detailed adequately, in the body, and the chair. Star Wars fans tend to be a demanding bunch and most will be happy with it. However, the seated Emperor ought to have had Luke Skywalker's lightsaber on his armrest and considering the way the cloak drapes over the edge of the armrest it is clearly within the molding ability of Hallmark to do, though they chose not to detail it quite that much.
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Emperor Palpatine could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a low-cost (comparatively) option for those who might not want to shell out for the starship series of Star Wars ornaments. This is Emperor simply hangs.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Emperor Palpatine" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "Emperor Palpatine" seems like it would be essential. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the character's chair. From that hook, the Emperor Palpatine ornament hangs perfectly balanced. It is impressive and the ornament sways when rocked, but otherwise sits stable in the right position!
Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (click here for that review!). Since then, they have branched out into other popular franchises like Star Wars and The Wizard Of Oz. At this point in the Star Wars ornament collections, the primary characters have all been done and the popular secondary characters are being explored. Palpatine was mass-produced and he is able to be found pretty easily at discounted prices. While essential to the Star Wars story, the ornament did not appear to take off and it leaves a lot of fans with a "take-it-or-leave-it" feel. It will likely take quite some time before this one returns to its original issue price.
Fans of the Star Wars franchise, Ian McDiarmid and Emperor Palpatine are likely to be pleased by the Emperor Palpatine ornament, but it is a rather unremarkable ornament, especially for those of us who have been looking at a lot of exceptionally detailed ornaments with a lot of bells and whistles. Perfectly average.
For other Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2009 "A Deadly Duel" Ornament
2006 Imperial AT-AT And Snowspeeder Ornament
2010 Rebel Snowspeeder Hallmark Ornament
For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.