Friday, August 31, 2012

I’m Not Sure What Makes Him An “Apprentice” Here, But The 2012 Sith Apprentice Darth Maul Ornament Is All Right!

The Good: Decent coloring, Generally good sculpt, Good balance, Inexpensive enough
The Bad: Head is disproportionately large, Utterly unnecessary
The Basics: The 2012, Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament exploits Star Wars fans yet again for the holiday season!

I have to say that there is something nice about being a fan of a franchise in decline. In addition to owning a prop now from my favorite show of all time, I get to watch as my subculture within the science fiction geek subculture is no longer the most exploited. No, that honor certainly goes to Star Wars geeks now! For the last sixteen years, Hallmark has released a standard character ornament from the Star Wars franchise as part of their regular release. They also tend to have exclusives, like this year’s San Diego Comic Con two-pack of Zuckuss and 4-LOM and the limited edition Momaw Nadon ornament. But the other character ornament each year has, traditionally, been a standard release that has followed a regular numbering system (this year’s, #16 is General Grievous). But, as if to say they no longer care to be subtle about milking Star Wars fans of their hard-earned dollars, Hallmark is releasing yet another Star Wars character ornament. That is in addition to the exclusives, the standard character ornament, the yearly diorama ornament, and the yearly space ship ornament.

This year’s bonus, just for the hell of it, ornament is Sith Apprentice Darth Maul. Sith Apprentice Darth Maul is an utterly unnecessary ornament as the 2000 Darth Maul ornaments are still exceptionally easy to find and are virtually identical to the 2012 release. In fact, the fundamental difference in the two ornaments is that the new Darth Maul ornament has him holding his lightsaber in his right hand, as opposed to his left. The rest of his stance is virtually identical to the earlier (numbered) release. So, sorry, Star Wars fans: Hallmark sees your fat wallets and hopes you won’t notice.

Fans of the Star Wars Prequels will easily recall Darth Maul as the primary antagonist to the Jedi in The Phantom Menace (reviewed here!). The nasty looking alien Sith who cuts down one Jedi before being dispatched pretty easily has remained popular with fans for years.

It is Sith Apprentice Darth Maul, standing with his two-handed lightsaber at the ready that is the subject of the 2012 Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament!


The Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament recreates the tattooed and horned alien in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2012, features just the character with his trademark lightsaber. Sith Apprentice Darth Maul is cast in an action pose, his weapon at the ready and his outfit billowing behind him. This Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament is 3 1/2" tall, 5" wide and 2 5/8" deep. Hallmark charged $14.95 for the ornament originally and that makes it one of the most affordable Star Wars ornaments in recent years.

The Hallmark Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament is made of a durable plastic and has him holding his lightsaber. The ornament is molded with a decent amount of detailing. In addition to the usual cool molded details like the horns on his face, I was especially impressed by how much case sculptor Valerie Shanks put into the lightsaber. It is contoured and etched with precision to look entirely realistic. As well, details like molding on the boots exhibit a level of care and attention that is impressive. Oddly, though, the head seems slightly large in comparison to the shoulders and hands, making the overall ornament feel slightly off.

Conversely, the coloring details are immaculate. The red and black portions of the face are presented with perfect delineations and no color bleed. The outfit is a clean black and the boots are glossy, which offsets them nicely (and realistically), making them appear to be leather in contrast with the cloth appearance of the ornament’s tunic.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Sith Apprentice Darth Maul could have a sound chip or light effect, but he has neither. This is one of the basic ornament releases from Hallmark, without any frills.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, Sith Apprentice Darth Maul would have been essential, had it not already been done more than a decade ago! This ornament has a brass hook loop embedded on the back, center, between his shoulder blades. From there, this action-posed ornament hangs with exceptionally good balance.


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 my review of that one!). Since then, they have branched out into other popular franchises like Star Wars and The Wizard Of Oz. The Sith Apprentice Darth Maul ornament is not at all limited and has not appreciated in the secondary market yet, nor is there any good reason why it would; it truly is so close to the 2000 Darth Maul ornament that one has to seriously wonder how Hallmark expected Star Wars fans to overlook that! There should be plenty of this ornament available at clearance prices after the holiday!


Like most Star Wars ornaments, the Sith Apprentice Darth Maul has nothing to do with the Christmas holiday, but die-hard fans so far have been more neutral to this ornament. Objectively, it is a wonderful ornament on its own, but in context of the ornament franchise Hallmark has built, this is a stunning disappointment and an obvious cashgrab.

For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars characters, please check out my reviews of:
2012 General Grievous
2012 Momaw Nadon Limited Edition
2011 Jedi Master Yoda
2011 Bossk Limited Edition ornament
2010 Lando Calrissian Limited Edition ornament
2010 Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
2010 Boba Fett and Han Solo in Carbonite mini-ornament set
2009 Greedo Limited Edition ornament
2009 Han Solo As Stormtrooper
2008 Emperor Palpatine ornament
2005 Slave Leia ornament
1999 Max Rebo Band mini-ornament set


For other holiday ornaments, please check out the index page!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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