Friday, October 1, 2010

A Little Expensive, “Welcome To Christmastown” Will Satisfy Most A Nightmare Before Christmas Fans.

The Good: Decent balance, Generally cute
The Bad: Light effect is pretty minimal, Seems expensive for what it is.
The Basics: “Welcome To Christmastown” immortalizes Jack Skellington’s arrival in Christmastown in an average ornament.

Unlike most geeks, I am not blindly in love with the works of Tim Burton. For sure, there are works of his that I enjoy, but I am not head over heels about everything he has ever produced. To wit, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was a clever concept, but honestly its execution was done in such a way that it does not surprise me at all that it became a cult classic; there is little else, in my estimation, it could have become. It has since been merchandised excessively and reissued as a 3-D film and the like, but the original is pretty mediocre as far as I’m concerned. Last year, though, fans of A Nightmare Before Christmas have the chance to add a little Tim Burton to their Christmas tree with the “Welcome To Christmastown” ornament.

For those unfamiliar with A Nightmare Before Christmas (click here for my full review of the movie!) Jack Skellington, a denizen of Halloweentown finds himself transported to Christmastown in a bizarre turn of events and there the spirit of Christmas (or, at least, an obsession with Santa Claus) reaches Jack and he tries to bring that back to Halloweentown. It is Jack at the gate to Christmastown, on the ground looking up at the gate that is the subject of "Welcome To Christmastown." To add extra value to this ornament, Hallmark provided the "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament with a simple blinking light effect.


The "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament recreates Jack Skellington in his perplexed pose, on his back looking up at the banner to Christmastown. The ornament includes the Jack, the archway to Christmastown and the little snow-covered knoll Jack is laying upon. The ornament, released in 2009, is as authentic as it can be considering it is based upon an animated work for the source material. Because everything in A Nightmare Before Christmas is colored in simple solid colors (without human shading or details), the ornament appropriately does not have any coloring depth or shading to it.

Still, Hallmark clearly made an effort on the "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament and almost everything about the ornament looks good and functions well. Jack Skellington has adequate detailing in his eyes and in his spindly legs and jacket. The snow even has glitter on it and below the banner is a wire and plastic wreath. Measuring eight centimeters long, seven centimeters wide and twelve centimeters tall, the "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament is one of the larger Hallmark ornaments this year, but even with the light feature, it seems a little pricier.

The Hallmark "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament is made of a durable plastic, but because it has very thin pieces, like Skellington’s legs and fingers, it seems a bit more brittle than other Hallmark ornaments. This ornament remains fairly easy to find at Hallmark stores, so there is no reason (yet) to look for it in the secondary market, despite the fact that A Nightmare Before Christmas is pretty popular. This ornament features a battery to power the light effect.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Welcome To Christmastown" has a light effect, but no sound effect. On the bottom of the snowmound with Jack Skellington, there is a well-concealed button. The button, when pressed, activates the light effect. The light effect is remarkably simple. There are green and red LEDs on the “Christmastown” sign and when one presses the button, they light up. The lights begin blinking in various patterns without any real sense of order for forty-two seconds. Then they blink off. That’s it. In a well-lit room, the effect is almost invisible, but on a Christmas tree, the effect is charming and lights up the snow well. Even so, this is a rather simplistic effect and because most fans of A Nightmare Before Christmas are younger, odds are they will want more from this ornament than just that.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Christmas Tree for A Nightmare Before Christmas, the "Welcome To Christmastown" ornament is a necessary addition and arguably one of the most appropriately Christmas-themed ornaments from the line. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the banner. This is fairly obvious and necessary for the ornament.

The placement of the loop makes this a perfectly balanced ornament, which is surprising given how tall it is and how complicated the figure on it looks.


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 my review!). Within a few years, virtually every major studio with a marketable property jumped on the bandwagon and began merchandising Christmas ornaments, including A Nightmare Before Christmas. "Welcome To Christmastown" was the only A Nightmare Before Christmas ornament released in 2009 and fans seemed to like it, though it is quite common. Even so, this ornament appears to be more than adequately produced and is not likely to be a great investment piece. The only other option for fans of Tim Burton’s works from 2009 is a Corpse Bride ornament.


Despite my antipathy toward the source material, the “Welcome To Christmastown” ornament is cute and fairly well-made (though the wreath may be easily bent). Anyone who likes a diverse Christmas tree may enjoy this and fans of A Nightmare Before Christmas are bound to love it.

For other Christmas ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
"The Menagerie" Star Trek Ornament
"Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" Peanuts Ornament
Limited Edition Lando Calrissian Star Wars Ornament


For other ornament reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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