Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Near-miss On Perfection, The Rebel Snowspeeder Ornament Largely Satisfies!

The Good: Great rendering, Cool light effect, Good balance
The Bad: Canopy, Price.
The Basics: Outside the price and an issue with the canopy color, the Rebel Snowspeeder is a real winner for Star Wars and science fiction ornament fans!

Hallmark Keepsake is clearly a company that learns from its mistakes. A few years ago, when the company released its The Scorpion Assault Shuttle in the Star Trek line, one of the reasonable critiques against it was the lack of realism in the tiny people inside the cockpit of the vehicle. Lacking the ability to make realistic figures in that scale, the company came up with an interesting solution for their new Rebel Snowspeeder in the Star Wars ornament line: to make the windows on the vehicle opaque. Unfortunately, this robs the ornament of perfection.

For those unfamiliar with the Rebel Snowspeeder, this is the squat vehicle seen on Hoth, the ice planet, in the film The Empire Strikes Back (click here for my review of the film!). The Rebel Snowspeeder is a little, heavily armored vehicle used on the frozen wastelands to try to stop the Imperial AT-ATs from crushing the Rebel hideaway there. Hallmark Keepsake does an amazing job of creating a detailed, well-colored ornament, enhancing an incredible sculpt with decent painted details and a pretty cool sound function.


The "Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament faithfully recreates the workhorse vehicle of the Rebellion in gray plastic. With sharp lines, the appropriate racing stripes and a light weathered coloring to it, the Rebel Snowspeeder looks armored and appropriately used. The ornament, released in 2010, is an impressive casting of the Rebel ship with an immaculate paint job and very cool sound feature. Measuring just under four inches long, 3 1/2” wide and 1” tall, the Rebel Snowspeeder ornament is a welcome addition to the Star Wars ornament line. This ornament is part of the 30th Anniversary celebration for The Empire Strikes Back and it garners a hefty $28.95 price.

The Hallmark "Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the now vehicle on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship and vehicle line of Star Wars ornaments. Unlike the previous Star Wars ornament releases, I was unable to find a date stamped onto this ornament. If it is molded on, it is very subtle and may just be the copyright date. This ornament includes the 1.5V LR41 batteries to power the ship for the sound effect.

The Rebel Snowspeeder is detailed incredibly, from the basic shape of the squat speeder, all the way through to the finer details of the cannons at the front of the vehicle. The cannons are thinner, in proportion to the rest of the ship and thus are breakable, but Hallmark did a pretty decent job of making it look exactly like the form of the ones seen in the film.

The coloring is as impressive as the molded details, save on the canopy where the windows are black instead of translucent. The orange stripes and the black lettering and symbols makes the Rebel Snowspeeder incredibly realistic and this is one of Hallmark's best efforts and executions on a Star Wars ornament.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Rebel Snowspeeder" has a sound function, no light one. This makes a lot of sense, as the Rebel Snowspeeder was not a vehicle that had much in the way of external lights (unlike the space ships). The vehicle is powered by 1.5V batteries which fit into the main body of the vehicle. There is a panel that requires a screwdriver to open. The ornament comes with the appropriate batteries and given Hallmark’s track record, it is easy to assume the one set will last at least one full holiday season.

After the batteries are installed and the battery compartment is closed, there is a button on the back which plays sound clips from the film. There is the dialogue clip from Mark Hammil as Luke Skywalker declaring that the "armor is too strong for blasters!" and then the attack run which culminates in Luke's snowspeeder getting hit! The dialogue from the film fits the vehicle perfectly is audible and is a great use of the sound function. I've hit the button fifty times now and still each of the clips comes out loud, clear and wonderful!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament is a great addition. This is one of the few Star Wars ornaments which actually is of a ship that was featured in a snowy/winter setting! The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the vehicle. From there, the snowspeeder hangs perfectly level with the ground and looks like it is ready to speed across the frozen Hoth wastelands!


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 review). Since then, they have made ornament replicas from properties like Star Wars, The Wizard Of Oz and Toy Story. The "Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament seems to be appropriately produced and my local Hallmark sold out of their allotment during the recent Preview Weekend. I suspect this will be an investment winner, despite the hefty initial pricetag.


Star Wars fans have a lot to be happy about with the Rebel Snowspeeder ornament, a vehicle from The Empire Strikes Back which looks just like the one from the film!

For other Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2009 "Welcome To Christmastown" The Nightmare Before Christmas Ornament
2009 "The Menagerie" Star Trek Ornament
2010 "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" Peanuts Ornament


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

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