The Good: Good sculpt, Wonderful sound effect, Decent balance, Some of the coloring
The Bad: PRICE, Simplistic coloring on Obi-Wan
The Basics: The 2017 "A Duel To The Death" Hallmark ornament is a good idea, with a split execution, that makes it a harder sell than it otherwise could be.
Star Wars fans have a lot to love and hate about Hallmark. Hallmark goes out of their way to make more and more Star Wars themed ornaments each year, which is good for fans, but also very expensive for fans. This year, alongside the plethora of space ship and character ornaments, there is a single diorama ornament for Star Wars fans. The Star Wars diorama ornament for the year is the A Duel To The Death ornament and it keeps up the general trend for Hallmark's 2017 Star Wars ornaments of paying tribute to the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope (reviewed here!).
For those unfamiliar with the key moment, the A Duel To The Death ornament features the climactic battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Death Star hanger bay. The Hallmark recreation of that moment features a section of Death Star flooring, Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, and a background sticker of the hanger bay.
The "A Duel To The Death" is a diorama -style ornament from Hallmark, which recreates scenes from Star Wars both with a molded scene and special effects. The "A Duel To The Death" ornament features a sound effect, but no light effect. The 2017 "A Duel To The Death" is made of durable plastic and a sticker and includes a sound function emitted through a tiny speaker in the ornament. The 4 1/2" wide by 3 1/2" tall by 1 1/2" deep ornament faithfully recreates Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, facing one another with their lightsabers raised in battle, on the Death Star. The backdrop that shows the Hangar Bay and the Millennium Falcon there is a simple sticker, which finishes establishing the scene incredibly well.
The sculpting on the A Duel To The Death ornament is quite good. Darth Vader looks completely perfect for the character and the flooring for the Death Star is textured to look realistic. The Obi-Wan Kenobi figure on the ornament is sculpted to look recognizable, at the very least. Hallmark cheated Kenobi some by having the character's hood up. Between that and the smaller scale of the characters on the ornament, Hallmark did not have to make an exceptional amount of detailing for the people on the 2017 A Duel To The Death ornament.
The coloring on the A Duel To The Death ornament is part of the split decision on the quality of the ornament. Darth Vader is perfectly rendered in both sculpt and coloring. The lightsabers for the A Duel To The Death are made of translucent plastic, which is nice, but the coloring is hardly as vibrant as it ought to be for lightsabers. Unfortunately, the coloring for the deck plating and Obi-Wan Kenobi portions are painfully simple. Obi-Wan looks far more like an animated character than like a real representation of Sir Alec Guinness. The beard on Obi-Wan, especially, stands out as very much off.
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "A Duel To The Death" ornament features a sound effect, but not a light effect. Powered by a connection to a light strand, the "A Duel To The Death" has the dialogue from the climactic battle between Vader and Obi-Wan. The sound clip even includes the noise from the lightsabers and that is neat. When the button on the side of the ornament is pushed, it plays the sound clip which captures perfectly the moment the ornament portray and the volume was loud enough that it may be easily heard.
As an ornament, the "A Duel To The Death" is intended to be hung on a Christmas tree and for that purpose, the ornament is great. The "A Duel To The Death" features a steel loop protruding from the top of the backdrop portion of the ornament. The ornament might lean a little forward, but it is not a fatal flaw in the ornament. There are ways to arrange the ornament so it may actually hang perfectly level. From the hook loop, the ornament hangs remarkably stable. It does not tip in any direction, though it will twist if the tree or ornament is bumped.
The "A Duel To The Death" ornament was issued at $29.95, which is comparatively expensive, especially for the size and quality of the ornament. At that price, it is not terribly collectible and it is unlikely its value will appreciate significantly. This is one Star Wars ornament that has not yet sold out at any of the Hallmark stores I've been to. I suspect it will not be a fabulous investment piece.
The 2017 "A Duel To The Death" Hallmark ornament looks all right, is balanced well, but is very expensive, making it a much more erratic ornament than some of the other Star Wars ornaments this year.
For other Star Wars diorama ornaments, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
2016 Royal Or Rebel?
2015 There Is No Try
2014 Cantina Band
2013 At Jabba's Mercy
2012 Han Solo To The Rescue
2011 Showdown At The Cantina
2010 His Master's Bidding
2009 A Deadly Duel
For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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