Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Wholesome Christmas Ornament: "Just The Right Tree" From The Peanuts Line Is A Success!

The Good: Good sound chip, Decent light effect, Good sculpt, Reasonable price
The Bad: Mild balance issue
The Basics: Close enough to a perfect ornament, the "Just The Right Tree" from the Peanuts line is a wholesome moment and a nice enduring collectible.

As I have opened the doors to getting Christmas ornaments reviewed, I decided I would diversify last year (in no small part because the prior year I reviewed virtually all of my Star Trek and Star Wars Hallmark ornaments before the holidays. Go figure!). As well, I thought it would be more useful for me to focus on contemporary ornaments. As such, I spent a bit of time (and money) at my local Hallmark store. Last year, I decided to take a look into something actually holiday-themed and I picked up the Peanuts "Just The Right Tree" ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, "Just The Right Tree" takes a moment from A Charlie Brown Christmas, much like this year's "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" ornament (click here for that review!) and immortalizes it as a Hallmark Keepsake ornament. When Charlie Brown is frustrated with how rehearsals for the Christmas pageant are going, he and Linus go to a lot with Christmas trees for sale and Charlie Brown picks out one that is little more than a stick. He and Linus talk about it and it is clear that Charlie empathizes with the tree and he feels the tree can be nurtured to be a great and classic Christmas tree.

It is Linus and Charlie Brown standing in the snow behind the somewhat pathetic tree that is the subject of the "Just The Right Tree" Hallmark Ornament. To add extra value to this one, Hallmark provided this ornament with a decent light-up function and a worthwhile sound chip.


The "Just The Right Tree" ornament recreates the moment Charlie Brown and Linus select the tree. It features both characters standing on a mound of snow behind the one-stick tree. As well, it features a half-dome background with a light strand that lights up. The ornament, released in 2009, is a near-perfect ornament in no small part because it looks good, has both a sound and light function and is fairly well balanced. Hallmark was able to get this one quite right because the characters in it are animated and as a result, do not require much in the way of shading detail. That said, Hallmark did a great job with adding value to "Just The Right Tree" by including the whole diorama feel to it.

Hallmark made a clear effort on "Just The Right Tree" by including glitter on the snowy ground and surprisingly bright LEDs embedded in the banner on the dome. Measuring seven and a half centimeters tall, ten centimeters wide and six and one half centimeters deep, "Just The Right Tree" ornament is one of the largest and most animated Peanuts ornaments. Hallmark has not been exploiting Peanuts fans much before this with elaborate sound and light ornaments, so while this is a little more expensive than some other ornaments this year, it still seems fairly reasonable in the $25 range.

The Hallmark "Just The Right Tree" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the two children facing the tree (on the diorama) and the person looking at the ornament. The snowball dome gives this ornament a very clear front and back. The snow and characters are colored properly, with the bright colors used on their clothing to offset the white of the snow and these look like little three-dimensional models of the two characters. Hallmark similarly gets away with not having proper flesh tones because this ornament is based upon a cartoon where the fleshtones are not realistic at all.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Just The Right Tree" has both a light effect and a sound effect. Plugging the cord into a light socket - removing a light bulb first to make this possible - on a non-blinking light strand on the dome above and behind the boys lights up with rotating blinking green and red lights. This is actually a pretty neat effect; the lights are bright enough that even in a dark room, this ornament becomes illuminated and one may read the banner and see both characters fairly clearly. The light effect is enhanced by the sparkles in the snow on the ground, which help reflect the light and light the characters from below.

The button to activate the effects - the lights stay on when the ornament is plugged in, but they do not rotate until the button is pushed - is right on the front of the ornament, so it is very easy for children to activate the ornament. When they press the button, Linus and Charlie Brown speak. They talk about choosing a Christmas tree and how the one in front of them is just the right tree. The sound chip plays a twenty-two second clip from the Christmas special and it is clear, even though the speaker is on the bottom of the ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Just The Right Tree" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Peanuts Christmas Tree, the "Just The Right Tree" ornament is a great addition. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the dome backdrop. This is fairly unobtrusive and necessary for the ornament. Hanging unplugged, the ornament is pretty well balanced.

Unfortunately, the stiffness of the power cord throws the balance off when the ornament is hanging and it is plugged in. The ornament pitches forward noticeably about thirty degrees. However, with enough wrangling, the ornament may be positioned so it is flat and stable, though doing that is likely to leave the ornament in such a fashion where it is not technically free-floating. Instead, I found the best way to make this level was to wrap the power cord around another branch, which anchors the ornament. This is a small price to pay for the stability and optimal display of the ornament.


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 made ornament replicas of virtually everything that has ever had collectibles associated with it (and some that Hallmark has pioneered). The "Just The Right Tree" ornament had very broad appeal as A Charlie Brown Christmas was almost universally popular from the first time it aired through contemporary times. As a result, it is probably quite adequately produced to meet demand, but unlikely to be much in the way of a collectible. In other words, this is a great ornament to purchase because one likes it and its functions as opposed to an ornament one hopes might appreciate in value.


Wonderfully embodying a classic moment from a television show most people have nothing but good memories associated with, Hallmark makes a winner with the Peanuts "Just The Right Tree" ornament. The sound function and lights will entertain people of all ages and it is one that anyone who likes Peanuts will appreciate.

For other holiday ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
Syracuse Orangemen blown glass helmet ornament
2009 Luke's Landspeeder Hallmark ornament
2009 "Welcome To Christmastown" The Nightmare Before Christmas ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page!

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