The Good: Looks like it is supposed to
The Bad: Overpriced, Ridiculous subject, Poor balance, Terrible collectible/investment value.
The Basics: For two years, Hallmark Keepsake has tried to sell of its stock of Lego Darth Vader ornaments, with decidedly mediocre results!
Even as someone who enjoyed the Lego Star Wars video game, I think some of the merchandising around it is ridiculous. After all, fans of Star Wars hardly need Star Wars Lego’s, though they have been quite the cash cow, as I understand it. But, it seemed pretty ridiculous to me when Hallmark Keepsake released the Lego Darth Vader ornament in 2011. It was even worse when they re-released it in 2012 . . . the exact same ornament. Having, before now, only reviewed the Lego Stormtrooper ornament (here!), I was somewhat unsurprised that the Lego Darth Vader ornament suffered from many of the same issues. Even worse; because it was so vastly overproduced and released for two years running, the Lego Darth Vader ornament has managed to decline in value because it could not hold its collectible value!
From the Star Wars line comes the Lego Darth Vader ornament, the first in the series of character ornaments from Lego Star Wars. Fans of the Star Wars Legos and, perhaps as important, the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga video game (reviewed here!), will easily recognize the Lego variation on the villainous Darth Vader. Hallmark captures the Darth Vader, in Lego form, with his little Lego lightsaber in his hand, marching boldly forward!
This is a very typical, very average Star Wars ornament with no bells and whistles, but given that it is based on a video game, based on a toy, based on the movies, it seems far too many degrees of separation to be worthwhile.
The Lego Darth Vader ornament recreates the Lego Sith Lord in solid plastic on a black and gray plastic Lego block base. The ornament, released in 2011 and again in 2012, is the leader holding a glowing red lightsaber in his right hand, or socket given how rounded the hands on Lego characters are. Hallmark managed to get $14.95 originally for this ornament and it was one of the ornaments I could find after the holidays both years! This character ornament is 3 1/4" tall, 2” wide and 2 1/8” deep. Given that the ornament was designed for fans, this is an ornament that appeals to collectors, though I suspect it is not nailing it with either of its target demographics. It is not detailed and realistic the way most Star Wars fans like their collectibles and it is not small enough or versatile enough to actually appeal to fans of Lego block toys.
The Hallmark Lego Darth Vader ornament is made of a durable plastic and has him holding a lightsaber in his right hand. His feet are arranged in a dynamic-looking stance, with one leg behind the body, though both are attached to a Lego block base. This is a very simplified sculpt of a Lego Darth Vader, but the essential parts are there: the helmet, the cape, the Lego-style open hands.
The Lego Darth Vader ornament is also detailed with the coloring to back up the sculpt. The front panel is made to look like a classic Lego toy sticker, but it is painted on, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the Lego Darth Vader is a pretty basic character and so there is not much that can be done in terms of detailing, so Hallmark does not need to try to add depth, shading or anything else to the color palate to get this ornament right. It is a bland character and a pretty bland ornament! The fact that the lightsaber is made of translucent red plastic, like the ones in the Lego toys, is pretty cool, though.
Unfortunately, the ornament does not have any articulation to it, so fans who want to turn the helmet or move the arms will be disappointed.
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the Lego Darth Vader could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a low-cost (comparatively) option for those who might not want to shell out for the ship or diorama series' of Star Wars ornaments. This Lego Darth Vader simply hangs.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Lego Darth Vader ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the Lego Darth Vader is very much a luxury; this whole concept is more ridiculous than realistic, so this is very much a “luxury” ornament for the serious die-hard fans. The ornament has a metal hook loop embedded into the top center, slightly back, of the character's helmet. From that hook, the Lego Darth Vader ornament is front heavy, from the way it is holding its lightsaver out. As a result, it leans constantly forward, further diminishing its coolness (especially given that the forward pitch is made more obvious by how the block base does not hang level as a result!).
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 branched out into other popular franchises like Star Wars and The Wizard Of Oz. The Lego Darth Vader ornament is very common and locally sold more on clearance than at full price, largely due to lack of consumer interest.
This is not a great investment piece and it is unlikely to appreciate for quite some time, if ever.
The Lego Darth Vader ornament is a bad idea, executed well on the sculpt, but without the balance, collectible value, or fan interest to make it a success. One hopes that Hallmark Keepsake will not release it again for a third year in a row and perhaps learn their lesson: the Lego Star Wars ornaments are not worth producing because collectors do not find them to be worth buying!
For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars characters, please check out my reviews of:
2012 Sith Apprentice Darth Maul
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 ornament reviews, please be sure to visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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