Monday, November 15, 2010

Odd Problems, Great Sculpt: The Raiders Of The Lost Ark "Retrieving The Idol" Ornament Fizzles!

The Good: Great sculpt, Good sound function, Comparatively inexpensive
The Bad: Heavy on tree, Poor balance, To optimally arrange for the sound, the button is obscured.
The Basics: Affordable with a cool sound chip, the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is poorly balanced and poorly detailed in the facial features.

With all of the Christmas ornaments on the market last year, it seemed Lucasfilm was raking it in in their attempt to corner the market with merchandising their properties. In addition to the usual line-up of Star Wars ornaments, last year Lucasfilm had a Raiders Of The Lost Ark ornament, the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament. While Lucasfilm is obviously out to make money, the level of care and quality put into this ornament is a real mixed bag. While no one expects an ornament from Lucasfilm, to be terribly Christmas-oriented, the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is a great concept with a problematic execution. In the end, it shall come down to a cointoss as to whether or not I recommend this one!

For those unfamiliar with the film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark (click here for my review of the film!) opens with the heroic Indiana Jones on a mission to try to recover an artifact, which is then stolen by his rival archaeologist. In order to try to keep the boobytraps from going off, Indiana Jones swaps a heavy bag of sand with the golden idol he is removing from a pedestal. Unfortunately for Indiana Jones, the traps still go off and he is left running for his life. It is a rousing scene which has become a classic scene, oft alluded to, in action-adventure cinema.

It is Indiana Jones, preparing to make the swap with the bag for the idol that is the subject of the "Retrieving The Idol" Hallmark Ornament. To add extra value to this one, Hallmark provided this ornament with a pretty decent sound chip.


The "Retrieving The Idol" ornament recreates the moment before Indiana Jones makes the switch with Indiana Jones hunched over the pedestal. The ornament includes the pedestal, Indiana Jones and a small patch of ground all cast in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2009, is a mixed bag as it has a very cool and accurate sculpt of the column and idol, but Indiana Jones is lacking in detailing and realistic shading.

Still, Hallmark clearly made an effort on Indiana Jones as he has decent detailing like the buckle on his hat and on his belt. Measuring nine centimeters tall, six and a half centimeters wide and nine centimeters deep, the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is one of the larger Hallmark ornaments this year and with the sound feature, it seems to be almost reasonable that Hallmark charges a little over twenty bucks for it.

The Hallmark "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has Indiana Jones about to grab the gold plastic idol off the center of the column. The ruins and the archaeologist are generally colored properly, with the muted browns and grays of Indiana Jones's outfit contrasting with the bright gold of the idol and the green moss on the pedestal.

However, the face is mediocre at best, with the ornament looking more like an animated version of Harrison Ford. The coloring for the eyes and cheeks is not quite right and the sculpt seems a bit rounder than Ford's more angular face. There is no realism to the flesh color and the eyes and this is baffling, given how detailed the rest of the ornament is. The pedestal and idol are detailed adequately, both in sculpt and color. 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 the scene and sound chip are pretty popular. This ornament features a battery to power the sound effects.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Retrieving The Idol" has a sound effect, but no light effect. On the back of the pedestal, there is a well-concealed button. This makes for the first problem with the ornament. To have the ideal view of Indiana Jones squaring off with the idol, the button ends up behind the viewer and it becomes hard to find by touch. As well, with the ornament oriented so that the button is obscured, the sound comes out muffled. And with the button at the front, Indiana Jones has his back to the consumer!

The button, when pressed, activates the sound chip. The sound chip actually contains a single sound clip from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Rather extraordinarily, the chip has several seconds of music from the scene the ornament is based upon. While this is not the most recognizable bit of music, the rousing theme is fun and it adds additional value to the ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate movie nostalgia Christmas Tree, the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament is a surprisingly affordable option that can only enhance the tree of those who like a lot of lights and sounds. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of Indiana Jones's hat This is fairly unobtrusive and necessary for the ornament. The first hanging problem with the "Retrieving The Idol" is that it is surprisingly heavy. This ornament requires a very strong branch to support it.

In addition to being quite heavy, the balance is off for the ornament. The pedestal is heavier than Indiana Jones and hung as it is, the ornament essentially acts as a lever and the pedestal weighs down the ornament, causing it to sag at a thirty to forty degree angle. This is a tough sell on balance and pressing the button only agitates the balance issue.


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, Lucasfilm jumped on the bandwagon and began merchandising Star Wars in the Christmas ornaments. "Retrieving The Idol" is one of only a few Indiana Jones ornaments on the market. Harrison Ford fans and fans of the Indiana Jones movies seem to be surprisingly lukewarm to the "Retrieving The Idol" ornament and it seems odd because the balance and weight problems are not entirely evident until one hangs the ornament up. One assumes that fans have been unimpressed by the sculpt and detailing of the ornament. Either way, this seems to be more than adequately produced and is not likely to be a great investment piece.


Fans of the Indiana Jones franchise, Harrison Ford, and Hallmark ornaments are likely to be split on this ornament. Ultimately, a cointoss led me to the "recommend," so this is a very weak recommend for a very average ornament!

For other Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2009 Just The Right Tree Peanuts Ornament
2009 "Welcome To Christmastown" The Nightmare Before Christmas ornament
2010 "The Pensieve" Harry Potter ornament


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