Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bulky, Goofy, Burtonesque: The 2013 The Nightmare Before Christmas Ornament – Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares – Is Average-At-Best

The Good: Looks interesting, Big, Affordable
The Bad: Balance issues, Breakable, Not iconic
The Basics: "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" is a troublingly imbalanced ornament from Hallmark from The Nightmare Before Christmas, though it can be found dirt cheap now.

Hallmark knows its audience very well. They seem to know who their reliable customers are when it comes to their holiday ornaments. One of their annual ornaments is always from A Nightmare Before Christmas and 2013 was no exception; Hallmark released the “Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares” ornament. Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares is an all right ornament for fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas, though it is unbalanced and seems to be one of the more breakable Hallmark ornaments . . . ever. While inspecting Hallmark ornaments for review late last year, I found three Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares ornaments with breakage to the sled’s blades.

For those unfamiliar with The Nightmare Before Christmas (reviewed here!) Jack Skellington, a denizen of Halloweentown finds himself transported to Christmastown in a bizarre turn of events and there the spirit of Christmas (or, at least, an obsession with Santa Claus) reaches Jack and he tries to bring that back to Halloweentown. It is Jack, seated at the helm of his absurd sled/tank with goggles on that is the subject of "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares." The Hallmark "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament is a very basic ornament and not one that is iconic of The Nightmare Before Christmas, though for fans who can find it inexpensively now, it is different than all the other The Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments Hallmark has produced.


The "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament recreates Jack Skellington seated at the helm of the weird drill-like tank-like sleigh he rode briefly in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The ornament, released in 2013, is as authentic as it can be considering it is based upon an animated work for the source material. Because everything in A Nightmare Before Christmas is colored in simple solid colors (without human shading or details), the ornament appropriately does not have any coloring depth or shading to it.

Still, Hallmark clearly made an effort on the "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament and almost everything about the ornament looks good and functions well. Jack Skellington has adequate detailing in his lips and mouth and in his spindly legs and his arms. The ornament even has Jack’s coattails hanging down between the main sleigh and the sleigh with the bag of gifts that trails it! The character's arms in his distinctive striped jacket's sleeves are visible and there are even the weird cranks molded into the side of the sleigh. At 3" tall and almost twice as long, the "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament is the same price as similar size ornaments (originally released at $19.95, but now found at half price pretty easily).

The Hallmark "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament is made of plastic, though it is not as durable as collectors might hope. The finely molded sleigh blades descend from the ridiculous green sleigh and they are so fine that if the ornament falls, they may break off. As previously noted, having visited six Hallmark stores and found three broken ornaments, the fragility of the Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares ornament cannot be overstated. The coloring on the Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares ornament may be accurate, but it looks very plastic and ridiculous with its bright, olive green nose.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" has no light effect or sound effect. The ornament is just fragile plastic and fine detailing (like the treads on the sleigh!), without the need for any light or sound function; there was no organic place for a light effect and a sound chip would have probably driven the price up to well over the $19.95 original issue price.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Christmas Tree for A Nightmare Before Christmas, the "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" ornament is an extravagance. It is utterly unnecessary. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top front of the second sled. It is actually a pretty discrete position for the hook loop, but from there, the ornament is ridiculously front-heavy. The ornament pitches downward at a pretty extreme angle and I was not able to get any of them to hang level or less than thirty degrees descending; usually, it hangs closer to a 45 degree angle pointing downward!


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 (reviewed here!). Within a few years, virtually every major studio with a marketable property jumped on the bandwagon and began merchandising Christmas ornaments, including Disney, which produced The Nightmare Before Christmas. "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" was the only The Nightmare Before Christmas ornament released in 2013 and fans seemed pretty neutral to it. As a result, I have been able to find this ornament easily after the holidays at clearance prices. I suspect it will be one of the few The Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments that does not appreciate in value any time soon, if at all.


Despite the fact that "Jack’s Sleigh O’Scares" was manufactured with pretty incredible attention to detail, the balance issue is enough to sour casual fans on it. The Nightmare Before Christmas might be a reliable subject for Hallmark ornaments, but in 2013, Hallmark missed the mark with their ornament based on the film. Fans who are considering picking it up anyway should be sure the one they are getting is intact, given their fragile nature.

For other The Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2012 Jack Sneaks A Peek
2011 A Snowy Surprise
2009 Welcome To Christmastown


For other ornament reviews, please check out my Toy And Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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