Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Somewhat Bulky, But Neat Nonetheless, Hallmark’s Tron: Legacy Lightcycle Ornament Is All Right.

The Good: Good sculpt, Neat light effect
The Bad: Light effect fades quickly, Frontheavy, Overproduced
The Basics: As part of their shilling for Disney, Hallmark Keepsake creates a Tron: Legacy ornament that does not quite live up to the expectations of fans.

Hallmark Keepsake is a pretty cool company, but they either have a lot of responsibility to the companies they license from or they are cash hungry. I mention this because in addition to this year’s odd choice of Disney ornaments, like the lead from the new film The Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, Hallmark dropped an ornament into the marketplace strategically designed to promote Disney’s Tron: Legacy. It might seem hypocritical of me, who reviews all sorts of merchandise from the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises to object to Disney’s relentless merchandising, but even now, every Hallmark store I have visited has been overstocked with Tron: Legacy Lightcycle ornaments. It is one thing to try to make a franchise; it is another to exploit it with the merchandising to try to get people so financially invested in it they feel compelled to enjoy the source work.

For those unfamiliar with the Lightcycle, this is a black, computer-generated vehicle from the 2010 film Tron: Legacy (reviewed here!). Given how it was overproduced, the enduring value of the Lightcycle is questionable for fans of Tron. But for fans of Hallmark ornaments, the Lightcycle fares no better as it has balance issues and its light effect seems to be one of the more serious battery hogs of the season.


The Lightcycle ornament faithfully recreates the black and glowing blue motorcycle that is computer code, not a physical prop. From the virtual world of the Grid comes a vehicle used to play gladiator sports in and in the film, the contest with the Lightcycles is exciting. As a physical ornament, the vehicle is somewhere between intriguing and baffling, as it has two wheels, but they do not turn. As a result, discerning collectors at the time waited and this was one of the few 2010 Hallmark ornaments to be bought en masse as part of after-Christmas sales. It was one of Hallmark Keepsake's gambles that has not yet paid off for the company.

The Hallmark Lightcycle ornament is made of a durable black and white plastic and has the sleek vehicle on its own, with a single driver, presumably Sam Flynn. This one does not have the date stamped or painted on it. Instead, it is faintly molded into the very bottom of the vehicle as part of the copyright information. This ornament is powered by very small watch batteries (included!) which allow the light effect to be activated.

The Lightcycle is lightly detailed, with the lines of the vehicle being sharp where appropriate, but mostly very futuristic looking curves and strong lines. There is empty space in the center of the two tires, mimicking the motorcycle driven by James Kirk in that last Star Trek. It is cast almost entirely in solid black plastic which has a beautiful glossy sheen to it, making it look dangerous and compelling.

As for the pilot, he is basically a mildly molded lump of black plastic. Hallmark did not strive for a lot of detail on the Lightcycle driver and while it has the appropriate helmet and armor of one of the Lightcycle drivers, the exposed parts of the man’s face and neck are not appropriately colored and looks goofy as a result.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the Lightcycle has a light function. Fans of the ornaments might be easily impressed by the light function initially, even if they might be dismayed that there is no audio effect. So long as the batteries are in, pressing a button on the Lightcycle causes the wheels to light up and a panel on the center of the Lightcycle to do the same. The lights are bright blue and they fit the theme for one of the “good” gladiators from Tron: Legacy or the cycle of Sam Flynn himself.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Lightcycle ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. For those creating the ultimate science fiction Christmas Tree, the Lightcycle ornament not at all an essential piece. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the driver’s back, which is the most stable point on the ornament. Unfortunately, because of the way the driver is leaning (and possibly other elements having to do with the internal weight of the ornament), the Lightcycle pitches forward when hung at an unfortunately abrupt angle.

The result is that no matter how I tried to hang the Lightcycle, it always looked like it was going down a twenty to thirty degree grade.


Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!). Since then, they have made ornament replicas from virtually every major franchise, including everything Disney. The Lightcycle ornament appears to be a colossal failure commercially. Owing largely to the overproduction and lack of a huge fan base for Tron merchandise, the mass public appears to have largely passed this one by. The result was that it was overproduced and they are readily available currently at severely deflated prices. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece!


Fans of the budding Tron franchise, Disney and Hallmark ornaments in general are likely to be largely unimpressed by the Scorpion ornament; it is a mediocre recreation of an obscure vehicle from a film that did not quite reach expectations in the theaters. The result is that the fans have all they want and need and those who were not interested to begin with are hardly likely to be bowled over by this ornament.

For other Hallmark ornaments from genre sources, please check out my reviews of:
2010 “The Pensieve” Harry Potter ornament
2005 Princess Leia As Jabba’s Prisoner ornament
1995 Star Trek Romulan Warbird ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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