Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The 2011 Clu's Lightcycle Hallmark Ornament Is Even Less Inspired Than Last Year's . . .

The Good: Good sculpt, Neat light effect
The Bad: Light effect fades quickly, Frontheavy, Overproduced
The Basics: Hallmark Keepsake repeats its lackluster Tron: Legacy ornament history in 2011 with the CLU’s Light Cycle ornament.

Last year, I felt a little bad for Hallmark. The company clearly banked on Tron: Legacy being a much bigger hit for Disney than it was and Hallmark produced the Light Cycle ornament (reviewed here!). Unfortunately, the movie was not all that big and the merchandising that surrounded it was an absolute bust. As such, I am still able to find the 2010 Lightcycle ornaments locally. It also makes it even more of an oddity that Hallmark would bother to produce the CLU’s Light Cycle ornament for 2011.

For those unfamiliar with CLU’s Lightcycle, this is a black, computer-generated vehicle from the 2010 film Tron: Legacy (reviewed here!). It was driven by the main villain of the film for a scene or two and it did not exactly pass into the collective consciousness.

Because it is virtually the same ornament – there is a slight difference to the sculpt of the back of the light cycle, it suffers from many of the same problems as the original lightcycle from 2010. Oddly, Hallmark seems to have overproduced CLU’s lightcycle as well, which is the one problem they could have avoided easy enough.


CLU's Lightcycle ornament faithfully recreates the black and glowing yellow 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 can easily wait and get this one after the Christmas season; it does not appear to be selling out anywhere.

The Hallmark CLU's Lightcycle ornament is made of a durable black and yellow plastic and has the sleek vehicle on its own, with a single driver, CLU. 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 result, we only know this is CLU by the product’s name.


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 a sickly yellow and make the lightcycle seem much more orange than yellow.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake CLU's Lightcycle ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. For those creating the ultimate science fiction Christmas Tree, the CLU's 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 LCLU's Lightcycle pitches forward when hung at an unfortunately abrupt angle.

The result is that no matter how I tried to hang the CLU's 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. CLU's 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 Tron franchise, Disney and Hallmark ornaments in general are likely to be largely unimpressed by the CLU's Lightcycle ornament; it is a mediocre recreation of an obscure vehicle from a film that did not quite reach expectations in the theaters. And, more than that, it is so common that the initial release price grossly overestimates interest in it. For those who want it, hold out; it will be cheaper after the holidays!

For other 2011 Hallmark genre ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2011 “Fleeing The Fiendfyre” Harry Potter ornament
2011 Green Lantern ornament
2011 Star Trek Limited Edition U.S.S. Defiant ornament


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

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