Friday, August 2, 2013

Celebrating The Anniversary Adequately, The 2013 AT-ST Ornament (Mostly) Satisfies!

The Good: Great Sculpt, Interesting sound effect, Impressive balance
The Bad: Seems expensive, Ground coloring
The Basics: With Hallmark celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Return Of The Jedi, the 2013 All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) ornament is something of a no-brainer, but Hallmark still does it justice!

This year is the 30th Anniversary of Return Of The Jedi and as such, all but one of the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments for the Star Wars franchise are focused on that film (where Jango Fett came from this year remains something of a mystery!). For fans of the vehicle ornaments, given that 2008 saw the release of the Shuttle Tyderium and 2002 had the second Death Star as an ornament, the obvious choice for Hallmark to use to commemorate the film was the All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST). Given that the AT-STs had more of a presence in the latter half of the film than any of the vehicles Jabba used, the AT-ST makes sense as an ornament from Hallmark and Hallmark made it well.

For those unfamiliar with such things, the "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" was seen very briefly in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!), but had a far more substantive role in the climax to Return Of The Jedi (reviewed here!). In the latter film, the two-legged AT-ST chicken walkers were used to pursue the Rebel forces around the forest moon of Endor. There, the weaponry of the Empire worked well against the Rebels . . . at least until the Ewoks joined the fight and turned the tide. Even so, the maneuverable two-legged walkers were useful in the narrow confines of the Endor forest.

It is a single AT-ST on a grassy patch of ground that is the subject of the 2013 All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) Hallmark ornament.


The "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament faithfully recreates the AT-ST on the grassy green Endor ground. The ornament, released in 2013, is an impressive work of sculpted detailing and craftsmanship. Standing four and a quarter inches tall, 4" wide and 2" deep, this Hallmark Keepsake ornament still seemed a little pricy at the original issue price of $29.95.

The Hallmark "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has an AT-ST solidly attached to the ground, though the left foot is slightly raised at the back, as if it is beginning to take a step. The ornament is colored in more than just simple monotones, so the AT-ST looks like a weathered vehicle working in the real world. Unfortunately, the ground upon which the AT-ST is walking is colored in an unsophisticated way. The ground is a light, bright, green that is clearly supposed to be grass, but looks a little more like green slime than a grassy knoll.

The AT-ST is extraordinarily detailed with such fine work as the cannons on the underside of the cockpit and the tiny laser cannons on the sides of the vehicle's "head" looking menacing and accurate. The legs and feet and every joint on the ornament looks accurate, as if the vehicle could stomp around the ground and shoot Ewoks! This is an ornament that proves that Hallmark can do ornaments with fine pieces in perfect proportion, as their subjects demand.


The "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament has the bonus feature of a sound effect! Unlike some ornaments that light up, the stark nature of the AT-ST prevents the vehicle from being adorned with much in the way of light effects. As a result, there are no diodes that emit light and, in fact, this ornament does not plug into a light strand.

However, on the base of the ornament, there is a simple button. Pressing the button activates a sound chip. The ornament plays a twenty-five seconds of sound effects out a small speaker at the bottom of the base. The sound effects are authentic noises made by the legs of an AT-ST, the laser cannons of the AT-ST and Chewbacca growling (presumably from after he took control of an Imperial Walker). This sound clip faithfully recreates the sounds from the Battle Of Endor for those who loved Return Of The Jedi!

The sound function is powered by three small 1.5V batteries (watch batteries), which are included. The batteries seem to hold out for at least fifty activations of the ornament, which I figure is a season or two of entertainment from this ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament is a pretty wonderful accent piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the back of the AT-ST’s cockpit, which is the highest point on the ornament. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs perfectly balanced from that loop.

This ornament has very little sway, as well; with the standard fishhook-style ornament hanger, the "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament has a little bit of side to side play, but otherwise, the ground hangs nicely level, maintaining the illusion that this is a walking vehicle.


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, Hallmark has branched out into other serious franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced and the "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)" ornament seems to be following in that trend. As a result, it is a harder sell at full retail price, but given the popularity of Star Wars it is a crapshoot as to whether or not there will be any at the season’s end. Either way, it seems like there were enough produced for demand, which might deflate the potential of this ornament as an investment piece.


Fans of Return Of The Jedi and AT-STs will likely enjoy the 2013 Star Wars vehicle ornament, but general fans of science fiction and Hallmark ornaments are less likely to be wowed by this outing.

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
2011 Slave I
2012 TIE Interceptor


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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