Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mediocre Moment, Mediocre Ornament: "Harry! Happy Birthday!" Disappoints.

The Good: Good balance
The Bad: Light on details, No features, Expensive!
The Basics: With excellent balance and details that make the characters look more animated than lifelike, the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament is a real shelfwarmer from Hallmark!

As I continue to evaluate various holiday ornaments, I am once again left considering how few ornaments are actually holiday or Christmas related this year and in many prior years. I come to this while considering the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament because there is nothing remotely holiday-like about it. This might seem odd coming from me, who has so positively reviewed starship ornaments from Star Trek, but some of those even include cheesy sound chips that make them holiday-themed. In the case of last year's Harry Potter ornament, the ornament seems like just a capitalistic attempt to co-opt whatever holiday people are celebrating.

Truth be told, I'm not very much into the whole Harry Potter series. My wife is, but after watching the first six movies with her last year, I'm in no hurry to read the books. Even so, I can recognize the popularity of the books and I know all of the principle characters. The “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament is hardly an exciting one and even fans of the franchise seem to be leaving this one on the shelves.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Harry! Happy Birthday!” is a holiday ornament that features a moment from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (click here to read my review of the film!). Shortly after being taken from the Dursley household, Hagrid gives Harry an owl, Hedwig. The “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament immortalizes that moment.


The “Harry! Happy Birthday!” recreates the moment from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone features Harry, Hagrid, and Hedwig in his cage cast mostly in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2009, is a fair, if average work that is so light on detailing that it is more like the artwork associated with the novels than it is a replica of the characters as they appeared in the films. Measuring seven centimeters tall (to the top of Hagrid's head, there is about an additional half centimeter to the top of the ornament's metal hook), five centimeters wide and seven and a half centimeters deep, the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” seems to be selling remarkably slowly at the original issue price of $18.50.

The Hallmark “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the groundskeeper hunching down, coat splayed with Harry facing him. Because Hagrid is holding Hedwig’s cage and patting Harry on the back, all of the pieces of molded together, so there is nothing that will fall off on this ornament.

The ornament is very light on detailing, though. The skin tones are all monolithically tan and the eyes are little more than black dots in the sockets (or behind the glasses). While Hagrid’s shirt has molded buttons, the paintjob on them is erratic; two of the ornaments I looked at have widely different amounts of coloring to them. The better one had nicely-detailed brass-colored buttons, but the other was more sloppily painted and the coloring did not cover the entire button. Similarly, Hagrid’s belt buckle did not stand out as much on the ornament as it does in the pictures of it. The skintones are very monotonal and the detailing is so vague that the character's fingernails are not even molded into the ornament!

The cage that has Hedwig is finely detailed with very thin “wires” to create the cage. They, too are molded, but the coloring on the cage is flat and more gray than silver. As well, the hair on Hagrid’s head and face is molded in big, bushy black plastic and because it lacks any coloring highlight details, it looks more like a helmet than a head of hair. At least Hedwig looks good in his cage. The white owl looks like a downy white owl, even if the feathers are not particularly complex in their coloring.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “Harry! Happy Birthday!” could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament and the closest it has to a feature is the cage. Hedwig’s cage does not separate from the ornament, but it does swing in Hagrid’s hand. As a result, if there is a breeze, the cage shakes slightly and that looks good, but is not exactly a great selling point.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate fantasy Christmas Tree, the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament is a take-it or leave-it addition. The ornament has a brass hook loop that comes out of the top Hagrid’s head. This is remarkably stable (surprisingly) and the ornament only sways when it (or the tree) is bumped.

This may be the best possible selling point for the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament; it is exceptionally well-balanced.


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 delved into virtually every other collectible franchise in an attempt to cash in on every major license. The Harry Potter series has had several ornaments made for it, but none of them have truly exploded in value. Given how expensive the ornament is initially and how it has no light or sound functions, it is hard to believe this one will be appreciating any time soon.

In other words, this is not the best investment piece and even the collectors and fans seem to be pretty neutral to it.


Despite the excellent balance of the “Harry! Happy Birthday!” ornament, the expense of the ornament, especially given that it has no special light or sound functions, and the low level of detailing to the sculpt make it easy to let this one stay on the shelves, as opposed to the trees!

For other ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2009 "Just The Right Tree" Peanuts ornament
Syracuse Orangemen Blown Glass Helmet ornament
2010 Edward And Bella Twilight Ornament


For other ornament and toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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