Monday, December 2, 2013

If They Were Delaying It Anyway . . . Why The 2013 The Joker Ornament Is Not All It Should Have Been!

The Good: Generally good sculpt, Basic coloring, Good sound clip, Generally affordable
The Bad: Mediocre balance, The paint job lacks any subtlety or realism (sloppy looking!)
The Basics: For one of the final ornaments of 2013, Hallmark released a The Dark Knight ornament of The Joker which was better in theory than in execution!

Every year, Hallmark releases its ornaments in waves. The bulk of the ornaments are actually released in July for Hallmark’s Ornament Preview Weekend. In October, the remainder of the ornaments make their debut and in addition to some limited edition ones, the October releases often try to bring back fans of certain genre works back to Hallmark stores. So, while fans of DC comics and the movies based upon them were drawn into Hallmark stores for the Preview Weekend’s two DC Comics-themed ornaments, to bring them back in October Hallmark withheld one of its advertised ornaments, The Joker. In addition to an exclusive, limited edition ornament of The Bat-pod, Hallmark released the unlimited The Joker ornament.

Hallmark and DC created an ornament that is evocative of the film persona of Heath Ledger as The Joker from The Dark Knight for the Joker ornament. For those not familiar with The Dark Knight (reviewed here!), the villain was the Joker, an agent of chaos played by Heath Ledger. Terrorizing Gotham City and the Batman, The Joker had a whimsical and psychopathic sense to him. Hallmark used the character from The Dark Knight , without choosing a single iconic moment for their sculpt of The Joker in ornament form.


The Joker ornament faithfully presents The Joker in his purple and green suit, which was the film character’s costume. This is The Joker in his suit, which is layered enough to include the green vest, periwinkle blue shirt and a necktie underneath the rich purple suit coat and pants. The sculpt is simple, but recognizable for anyone who has seen The Dark Knight. The ornament, released in 2013, is fair for an ornament based upon the costume used in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight film. With such a rich three-dimensional model, Hallmark was able to create an ornament with a good general form. However, the pants and vest lack a realistic texture that Hallmark is capable of, but seemed unwilling to do for this ornament, making it an oversimplified ornament. Measuring four and three-quarters inches tall, the Joker ornament is one of four DC super hero-based ornaments released by Hallmark in stores (there was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive one as well) in 2013, but it has a serious flaw. The paint job on the The Joker ornament is incredibly sloppy, especially for the face. The lips on the Joker are painfully overpainted and problematically undertextured (so they do not look like scars). The Joker ornament came with an original retail price of $17.95 and I suspect that there will be enough left over at the end of the season for those who want to pick it up cheaper.

The Hallmark The Joker ornament is made of durable plastic. The Joker’s suit costume is colored in bold purple and muted green, blue, and gray. As appropriate, the character’s natural skin is only visible for the underside of the neck while the face is covered in white make-up. The lips are extended ridiculously far as a smooth red paint line, which looks less like the Joker than a disturbed clown. The Joker ornament has the Joker holding a single card in his right hand and a foot midstep atop what appears to be a manhole cover.

The Joker ornament features a version of The Joker who looks more like the animated character than Heath Ledger. The skin tones are monotonal as opposed to having rich coloring, which is unfortunate and undermines the potential realism of this ornament.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, The Joker has a sound chip, but not a light-up function. The Joker ornament comes with batteries and with the push of a button on the manhole cover, a speaker on the base plays clips from Heath Ledger. The ornament plays four different clips from The Dark Knight of The Joker’s speech, including the iconic line, “Why so serious?” The volume from the ornament is quite loud and clear and while the ornament’s clip does not have any holiday value, it perfectly embodies the Heath Ledger version of the Joker!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake The Joker ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate superhero Christmas Tree, the Joker ornament should have been an indispensible villain ornament. Unfortunately, because the ornament is cast with the Joker in mid-step and the placement of the hook loop, this ornament leans about thirty degrees, so it is virtually impossible to balance it. The ornament has the standard metal hook loop embedded into the top of right side of The Joker’s head at a pretty obvious position. From there, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, swings very easily and is clearly weighted more on the right side (looking at the ornament).


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 of almost all major franchises like DC comics, The Wizard Of Oz and Harry Potter. The The Joker ornament just began selling a few weekends ago and it has been selling very slowly, at least locally. Given the problems with the balance and paintjob for this ornament, it is doubtful it will be a sell-out and appreciate in value any time soon.


Fans of The Joker, Christopher Nolan’s vision of The Joker, Heath Ledger, and DC comics characters are likely to find the The Joker ornament underwhelming compared to the idea of it. Many other DC Comics based ornaments have realistic depth and shading that this ornament lacks. As a result, it is less likelt to fit in well around other DC-themed Hallmark ornaments one has. As a result, it is a letdown redeemed by an amazing sound chip and its instantly recognizable qualities.

For other DC Universe superhero Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2013 San Diego Comic Con Man Of Steel Exclusive ornament
2013 Man Of Steel Superman
2013 Descending Upon Gotham City Batman ornament
2012 The Bat The Dark Knight Rises Limited Edition Ornament
2012 Catwoman ornament
2012 "Beware My Power" Green Lantern ornament
2012 The Dark Knight Rises
2011 Batman Takes Flight
2011 Green Lantern
2010 Limited Edition Harley Quinn
2009 Wonder Woman ornament


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

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