The Good: Good sculpting, Neat sound effect, Interesting light effect
The Bad: Expensive, Unbalanced, Mediocre execution of light effect.
The Basics: An underperforming Star Wars ornament, “His Master's Bidding” does not quite live up to its potential.
I admire ambition. I like it in my peers and I like it in my collectibles. So, when I saw the "His Master's Bidding" ornament from the new Hallmark line, the Star Wars collection of which is devoted to the 30th Anniversary of the first movie I recall seeing in the movie theater, I instantly had to give Hallmark Keepsake a bit of credit for their ambition. The concept of "His Master's Bidding" is one that would be virtually impossible to replicate and present in a statue form, yet Hallmark made the attempt and for that they deserve some serious credit.
For those unfamiliar with such things, Hallmark Keepsake has a line of collectible ornaments from major franchises, like Star Wars and Star Trek. From the Star Wars line comes the "His Master's Bidding" ornament. Fans of the Star Wars films will recall the moment in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back (click here for my review of that film!) where Darth Vader must withdraw his Star Destroyer from the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon in order to contact the Emperor. From his meditation chamber, Darth Vader contacted the Emperor, who appeared as a hologram while Darth Vader was bent before him prostrate. It is Darth Vader conversing with the giant hologram that is the focus of this Star Wars ornament.
The "His Master's Bidding" ornament does the best possible job of recreating a section of Vader's sanctuary, Darth Vader and the Emperor hologram. And while the ornament looks terrible unlit, lit up it has the potential to look great, even if it falls short of that. Most of the molded details, though, are pretty impressive. The ornament, released in 2010, is a good idea where part of the ornament obscures the detailing. Standing three and one-half inches tall and almost four inches in diameter, Hallmark Keepsake easily got over $32.95 for the ornament, at least from those who bought based on how the ornament looked on the box. Now that they have been released (and they are being reviewed!) fans have a chance to make a much more educated buying choice.
The Hallmark "His Master's Bidding" ornament is made of a durable plastic, save the hologram of the Emperor, which is made of a translucent plastic that has a more rubbery texture to it. The backing of the ornament is a nicely detailed replication of the wall in Darth Vader's office and the floor is appropriately smooth black plastic. Darth Vader looks great, especially in his small scale. Kneeling as he is, he appears to be the proper supplicant to the Emperor and Hallmark coolly recreates the moment from the movie with the basics.
Unfortunately, with the light effect off, the Emperor Hologram looks like a big, translucent blob that looks terrible. Considering this is a battery-operated ornament, very few consumers will actually have this lit constantly.
In addition to the odd appearance of the unlit ornament, the "His Master's Bidding" ornament does not become fully illuminated with the light and a sound effect! On the base of the ornament, there is a button which – when pushed – lights up the hologram on the ornament. Unfortunately, the light is not terribly powerful (we went through two sets of batteries to prove that) and the Emperor's face is nowhere near as bright as it ought to be to give the full effect of the moment depicted on the ornament.
By contrast, the sound effect – emitted from speakers near Darth Vader – is pretty decent. The sound effect features two sets of dialog clips from the scene in The Empire Strikes Back. Including the exchange that begins with Darth Vader's line “What is thy bidding, my master?” and with the other one having Darth Vader suggesting Luke Skywalker be turned to the Dark Side of the Force instead of being killed, the sound clips are pretty nifty and they compliment the ornament exceptionally well.
The sound and light function is powered by 1.5V batteries (watch batteries), which are included. Given that even fresh ones do not fully illuminate the Emperor hologram, perhaps they ought to have given this more juice or allowed it to be plugged into a light strand!
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "His Master's Bidding" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "Imperial His Master's Bidding" ornament is a complete luxury piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the backing wall, which is the highest point on the ornament. Unfortunately, the ornament is back heavy as a result of the battery location and the center of gravity. Oddly, the ornament hangs angled slightly up at the front and no matter how I try to compensate with the hook, this seems to be the case. Fortunately, it is not the most extreme lack of balance and most fans ought to be happy with the ornament, even at a 20 degree z-axis tilt.
Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced, and the "His Master's Bidding" ornament appears to have been overproduced, though the first wave of them sold out locally during the Premiere Weekend. Still, after the restock, it is unlikely to sell wonderfully, especially with four other Star Wars ornaments on the market this year. It seems to be selling very modestly at the already-inflated on-line prices and I suspect that it will still be available after the season is over to get at decent discounts.
This is a well-detailed, somewhat poorly-balanced ornament with a great sound effect and an underwhelming visual effect. This is the definition of “average.” Ultimately, I opted for a “not recommend” (between the cointoss and reason) because for the price, fans deserve something better than average. If Hallmark offered a re-engineering of this (if the hologram were thinner and thus lit up better and more evenly), it would have been a strong “buy!” As it stands, it is only a slight disappointment.
For other Hallmark ornaments, please check out my review of the Twilight Edward And Bella ornament by clicking here!
For other holiday ornament reviews, please check out my index page!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.