Monday, July 25, 2011

So Close To Perfect, It Took A Second Look At The New Slave I Ornament To See How Good It Was!

The Good: Great rendering, Cool sound effect, Good balance
The Bad: Canopy, No back light.
The Basics: Boba Fett's Slave I makes for an incredible ship ornament from Hallmark that could have perfect for their 2011 release.

Sometimes, I think my standards are too high, but then I give myself a second look at something. During the Hallmark Ornament Preview Weekend, I was exceptionally excited to find the Star Wars ship ornament was Slave I. I was disappointed almost immediately by the lack of a translucent canopy and the button placement. When I went to activate the sound effect, I was bummed that the button to do that was under the turrets. But a second look at the ornament, in a second store, let me to further study and a discovery that the original, brand new and very stiff Slave I had not revealed for me: the turrets rotate! And while the more I consider this ornament, the further from perfect it seems to be - which is just the opposite of this year's limited edition, now sold-out Bossk ornament (reviewed here!) - this is the ornament that initially took my breath away most out of any of the 2011 Hallmark line is the one that I believe will appreciate based on the merits of the ornament itself.

For those unfamiliar with the Slave I, this is the ship flown by Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back (click here for my review of the film!). Well-aged from the Attack Of The Clones incarnation of Slave I, Boba Fett's Slave I is green and maroon, looking battleworn and rugged. Slave I follows the Millennium Falcon after the Imperial fleet dissipates and precedes the heroes to Bespin. It is Slave I that the heroes try firing at when Boba Fett takes the frozen Han Solo away from Cloud City at the climax of the film.


The "Slave I" ornament faithfully recreates the bounty hunter's starship in fine detail and truth be told - because I do not have it as a reference - this might well be a simple recoloring of the 2002 Slave I ornament, which is colored for Attack Of The Clones. Like Jango Fett's Slave I, Boba Fett's Slave I is molded to look armored and colored to look weathered, if not battle damaged. The ornament, released in 2011, is an impressive casting of the bounty hunter's ship with an immaculate paint job and very cool sound feature. Measuring four and a quarter inches tall, 4” wide and 1” deep, the Slave I ornament is a welcome addition to the Star Wars ornament line, especially for those who were fans of the Classic Trilogy as opposed to the prequels and wouldn't want the Attack Of The Clones version of this ship. This ornament is very much The Empire Strikes Back version of the ship and it garners a $29.95 price, which for some reason does not seem so high anymore. Perhaps that's because the quality of this ornament is pretty high.

The Hallmark "Slave I" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the ship on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship and vehicle line of Star Wars ornaments. Unlike the earliest Star Wars ornament releases, I was unable to find a date stamped onto this ornament. If it is molded on, it is very subtle and may just be the copyright date. This ornament includes the batteries to power the ship for the sound effect.

Slave I is detailed incredibly, from the basic shape, which is curved with a central stalk extending from the top and back and fins on either side of the main trunk. This gives it the general shape of a squid or a squash that has been impaled by paddles. There are cannons on the back stalk and they are thinner, in proportion to the rest of the ship and thus are breakable, but Hallmark did a pretty decent job of making it look exactly like the form of the ones seen in the film. The fins and cannons rotate, which make this a surprisingly action-oriented ship ornament!

The coloring is as impressive as the molded details, save on the canopy where the windows are black instead of translucent. Ideally, the canopy should be translucent with a Boba Fett inside that could be seen piloting the ship. Slave I is otherwise realistically colored, with the bulk of the ship being maroon, green and gray. The coloring looks good and none of the molded panels are particularly solid, which makes it look very realistic. Outside the canopy, this is one of Hallmark's best efforts and executions on a Star Wars ornament.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Slave I" has a sound function, no light one. This is one of the other aspects of the ornaments that lessened its quality the more I considered the ornament. The ship could have light-up engines on the backside, but it does not and that is disappointing. Because the three points on the underside of the ship where the engines are are colored differently, presumably they could have been molded to be LED pieces that lit when the button was pressed, adding a light function as well as a sound one. The vehicle is powered by two small watch batteries (which come with the ornament) which fit into the main body of the vehicle. There is a panel that requires a screwdriver to open. The ornament comes with the appropriate batteries and given Hallmark's track record, it is easy to assume the one set will last at least one full holiday season.

After the batteries are installed and the battery compartment is closed, there is a button on the back which plays sound clips from the film. There is the dialogue clip from Boba Fett as well as two different sound clips - liftoff and gunfire - which accent the ornament. I played with the ornament for quite a while and the volume did not fade, so this might be a more enduring soundclip. The button, which is very subtle on the top back of the ship's stalk is easily accessible when one rotates the cannon turrets to a perpendicular position. The sound feature is neat and uses the technology well. Unfortunately, the speakers are on the backside, so to hear the sound clips best, one has to turn the ornament and look at the lack of a light effect!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Slave I" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, one of the "Slave I" ornaments is a great addition. I tend to like this because The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films. This is the only Star Wars ornament of a non-Imperial villain's ship. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the vehicle, from its ascended flying position. From there, Slave I hangs perfectly perpendicular, regardless of how the side vanes are turned!


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 review). Since then, they have made ornament replicas from properties like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Tron. The "Slave I" ornament seems to be appropriately produced, though they did not sell out anywhere near me yet. I suspect this will be an investment winner, despite the hefty initial pricetag because the ship is so very popular.


Slave I is perfectly molded, perfectly colored and has amazing balance and a great sound effect. But it's not quite perfect and while there was an instinct for me to keep bumping the rating up on it, the lack of a light effect for the price and the canopy issue force me to academically rate it a little off perfect.

For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars ships, please check out my reviews of:
2006 Imperial AT-AT
2009 Luke's Landspeeder
2010 Rebel Snowspeeder


For other ornament reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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