Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Pensieve" Harry Potter Ornament Is Good For Fans!

The Good: Good detailing on Dumbledore, table and pensieve, Decent balance
The Bad: More expensive for lacking a function, Harry looks rather animated.
The Basics: A good, but not great ornament, "The Pensieve" uncomfortably blends the styles of the film Harry Potter with the book artwork.

Harry Potter is an international book and film franchise that grosses billions each year. I mention that at the outset of my review of Hallmark's new "The Pensieve" ornament because: 1. There are so many fans of the Harry Potter franchise that one doubts my review will have an effect on the grosses for "The Pensieve" ornament and 2. those who license the Harry Potter name and likeness to companies like Hallmark hardly need more money. There is relevance to that: taller Hallmark ornaments which are from other, similar licenses and also lack a sound or light function are selling for about four dollars cheaper. Given that some of those are overpriced to begin with, the cost of "The Pensieve" is a big strike against it.

It is also one of the only strikes against this new Hallmark ornament. Hallmark produced "The Pensieve" with more diverse materials (I'm not willing to chip mine open for review purposes, but I swear the wooden table in this ornament is actual wood!) than most of its other ornaments and the ornament looks great. In fact, this is a step up from last year's "Happy Birthday, Harry!," though not quite as impressive as the limited edition, very hard-to-find Preview Weekend exclusive Harry Potter ornament "Gift For Dobby." While the license holder might not need more money from the Harry Potter franchise, they are likely to get it from "The Pensieve" and it seems like a lot of fans will give their hard-earned cash pretty freely for this bauble.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “The Pensieve” is a holiday ornament that features a moment from Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (click here for that review!). As the search for the truth surrounding Lord Voldemort and his experiences at Hogwarts continues, Dumbledore enlists Harry's aid using a magical device, the pensieve. With the ability to illustrate memories for the user, the pensieve is a powerful magical device which starts out looking essentially like a bowl of water. The “The Pensieve” ornament immortalizes the first moment Harry pours a memory into the device with Dumbledore's guidance.


“The Pensieve” recreates the moment from Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince by featuring Harry, Dumbledore, and the table with the pensieve upon it mostly in solid plastic, though the table is wood and I suspect the water in the bowl is resin. The ornament, released in 2010, is a pretty remarkable ornament that would have been perfect, were it not for the light detailing on Harry Potter himself. While Dumbledore and the table look just like they stepped right out of the cinematic rendition of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter looks more like the artwork associated with the novels. In other words, he looks animated. Measuring 3 3/8" tall, 2 1/4" wide and 2 3/8" deep, the “The Pensieve” seems to be selling remarkably slowly at the original issue price of $18.50.

The Hallmark “The Pensieve” ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the wizard Dumbledore standing beside Harry Potter while Harry pours a vial into the pensieve. Both characters are touching the table, so all of the pieces are molded together, so there is nothing that will fall off on this ornament.

The ornament is very light on detailing for Harry, heavy for the table and Dumbledore. While Dumbledore's robe, beard, hat and even eyes have realistic shades, toning and sculpting depth, Harry Potter is a different matter. His skin tones are all monolithically white and the eyes are little more than black dots in the sockets (behind the glasses). But even though Harry doesn't have molded on fingernails, "The Pensieve" makes up for it with the detailing on the actual magical device and the water vial in Harry's hand.

The Hallmark sculptors capture Harry in the act of pouring the water into the pensieve and the sense of time being frozen in the moment is wonderful! The pensieve itself is little more than a bowl, but Hallmark cleverly left the bowl half-filled with a blue-tinted translucent resin that makes it look like an actual fluid is inside! The table is ornately created and it looks both old and functional.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “The Pensieve” could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament that captures a moment from the film and freezes it so consumers may put it up on their tree.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “The Pensieve” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate fantasy Christmas Tree, the “The Pensieve” ornament is a great addition. The ornament has a brass hook loop that comes out of the top Dumbledore’s hat. This is remarkably stable (surprisingly) and the ornament only sways when it (or the tree) is bumped. “The Pensieve” ornament is exceptionally well-balanced.

I quickly discovered by doing my mock-up tree that the problem area of "The Pensieve" (Harry Potter) may be avoided by hanging the ornament so Dumbledore blocks Harry's face. One may still see the apprentice pouring the vial into the pensieve, but they are not plagued by the lack of synchronisity between Harry Potter and Dumbledore's detailing.


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 might not be the best investment piece, though it is one of the superlative Harry Potter ornaments. As a note to collectors, "The Pensieve" has the potential to explode in value in about twenty years if the table is actually made of real wood. I suggest this because if it is made of real wood, in about twenty years, lack of care (most people are probably not terribly attentive to how dry the air is and how dry the wood might become) for the wood is likely to see it splintering or becoming more brittle. Who knows where the Harry Potter franchise will be in twenty to fifty years? This is not a serious concern, but it could mean that those who take care of this ornament as an investment piece will truly be on to something. It also means that as the years go by, knowing the status of the wood and how the ornament was stored may be important information before buying this ornament. Such concerns are decades away, but as a serious collector, I thought I'd mention the possibilities!


With excellent balance and 2/3 of the ornament having amazing detailing, “The Pensieve” ornament is brought down a few notches for the lack of detailing on Harry Potter and the overall expense of the ornament. Still, my "recommend" is a strong one and this is one of Hallmark's better ornaments of the 2010 season!

For other genre ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2010 Twilight Edward And Bella ornament
2010 "Defender Of Justice" Iron Man 2 ornament
2010 Rebel Snowspeeder The Empire Strikes Back ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page, there you will find an organized listing of all the ornaments I've reviewed!

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