The Good: Good sound effect
The Bad: Hardly holiday oriented, "Animated" look to characters, Terrible balance, Expensive
The Basics: Sound and light effect or not, I can't possible recommend this horribly balanced, poorly-detailed “A Deadly Duel” ornament!
Last year, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Star Wars Episode I, Hallmark released "A Deadly Duel." Regardless of one's feelings for the first prequel Star Wars film, this is hardly a fitting tribute and it is an ornament only saved from the lowest depths of rating by the fact that it does have a pretty impressive sound chip and the light effect is decent as well.
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 "A Deadly Duel" ornament. Fans of the Star Wars films will recall the climactic sequence to The Phantom Menace (click here for my review of the film!) where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn battled the Sith apprentice Darth Maul in the Naboo reactor chamber. There, Obi-Wan, separated from his mentor by a force field, watched as Qui-Gon was forced to take on Darth Maul on his own. It is Darth Maul engaged in a lightsaber battle with Qui-Gon while Obi-Wan is trapped on the other side of the barrier that is the focus of this Star Wars ornament.
The "A Deadly Duel" rather lamely recreates the final battle on Naboo between the Jedi and Sith with a set that looks immaculately detailed, but characters that look like (at best) animated versions of the characters they are supposed to be. The ornament, released in 2009, is an underdetailed piece with one sound and one light effect and characters that look utterly lame. Standing seven centimeters tall, eleven centimeters long and nine centimeters wide, this is essentially a bridge despite the quality, it is easy to see why Hallmark Keepsake thought they could get almost $30 for the ornament.
The Hallmark "A Deadly Duel" ornament is made of a durable plastic, save the lightsabers which have the potential to snap off if the ornament falls of the tree, and has Qui-Gon and Darth Maul battling in action poses while Obi-Wan looks on from behind the force field. The black and silver base looks like the corridor on Naboo where the action took place and it has the figures (which do not move), the battery compartment and the button to activate the sound chip for the ornament.
Unfortunately, outside the force field generator and the floor, none of the ornament is well-detailed. The characters have monotonal skin tones and because the characters are so very small the manufacturer could not get eye, skin or hair details. Darth Maul's facial tattoos are essentially a red blob covering his face! The uniforms are poorly painted as well; the lightsaber on my Qui-Gon had paint from the handle! In short, this is like a thumbnail sketch of the battle and it is entirely disappointing for fans of the film or the Saga.
In addition to the poorly detailed people, the "A Deadly Duel" ornament has the bonus feature of a light and a sound effect! At the center of the base of the ornament, there is a button which – when pushed – lights up the sides of the ornament to illuminate the force field blocking out Obi-Wan. The light effect is subtle and if one has the lights on, it is easy to miss the way the force field begins to shimmer.
But the sound effect – emitted from the bottom of the ornament – is unmistakable. The sound of lightsabers clashing comes out and the music from that scene is played. The ornament plays about thirty seconds of sound and music effects from the film. This is not the most impressive sound effect, nor the most memorable, but it is something that makes this better than a static ornament.
The sound function is powered by three small 1.5V batteries (watch batteries), which are included. The batteries seem to hold out for about forty presses of the button, which I figure is a season or two of entertainment from this ornament, unless one has fans who absolutely love The Phantom Menace.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "A Deadly Duel" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "A Deadly Duel" ornament is a complete luxury piece and one that stands out for its lack of quality amid other, better Star Wars ornaments. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the shield generator, which is the highest point on the ornament. Unfortunately, the ornament is essentially a big lever and the hook is at the fulcrum. On one side is Obi-Wan, close to the fulcrum and on the other are the two dueling warriors, who make this ornament sag at a 30 – 45 degree angle! This has terrible balance and it is impossible to get it to sit level unless one has the ornament resting on a branch or other surface.
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!). Within a few years, virtually every classic film franchise jumped on the bandwagon and began merchandising with Hallmark as well. Classic properties like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind have been made into Hallmark Keepsake Christmas ornaments.
Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced, and the "A Deadly Duel" ornament appears to have been drastically overproduced. As a result, this ornament, is looking to be a pegwarmer and most fans would do well to wait until after the holiday season to pick theirs up. If you insist on getting it, get it cheap, no doubt it will filter into the secondary market quite inexpensively.
This is a poorly detailed, poorly balanced ornament and it does no credit to the scene it is supposed to be glorifying. Not truly worth the time or money fans are likely to have to spend on it.
For other Star Wars Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2009 Luke's Landspeeder
1999 Max Rebo Band mini-ornament set
2006 Imperial AT-AT and Snowspeeder
For other ornament reviews, please check out my organized listing on the ornament index page by clicking here!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.