Sunday, October 19, 2014

More Bith, More Problems, The 2014 Star Wars Cantina Band Ornament Is Still Pretty Cool!

The Good: Good sculpt, Great sound clip, General coloring
The Bad: PRICE, Poor balance, Not detailed enough on the coloring
The Basics: Unfortunately overpriced, the 2014 "Cantina Band" Hallmark ornament is good, but not quite worth the money.

Now that Barbie is no longer serviced by Hallmark for the Keepsake ornament line, Disney seems to be the strongest licensee with Hallmark. Between traditional Disney ornaments from the animated films produced by Disney studios, Marvel Comics-themed ornaments and Star Wars ornaments, Disney has a big stake in Hallmark’s ornament production. Star Wars fans are certainly feeling the pinch this year as the proper Star Wars line has five common-release ornaments, plus the Santa Yoda peekbuster and the Comic Con limited edition Wampa ornament (which is anything but common). The most expensive of the line this year is the Cantina Band ornament.

Unfortunately for Star Wars fans and Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, the Cantina Band ornament is a bit overpriced for what the ornament is and its quality.


The "Cantina Band" is a diorama -style ornament from Hallmark, which recreates scenes from Star Wars both with a molded scene and special effects. The "Cantina Band" ornament, reasonably, features a sound effect, but no light effect. Hallmark's initial price for the ornament was $34.95, which was the most expensive (initial price) Star Wars ornament for the year and it was even more expensive than the Star Trek starship ornament this year.

The 2014 "Cantina Band" is made of durable plastic and includes a sound function emitted through a tiny speaker in the bottom of the ornament. The 3 3/4" wide by 4 1/4" tall by 1 1/2" deep ornament faithfully recreates some of the Modal Nodes. The Cantina Band has more members than the four who are cast into this ornament. That said, what the Cantina Band possesses is generally good. The four Bith band members are each cast expertly, each one holding its appropriate musical instrument. The piece is held together with a section of the floor wall of the Cantina, molded in cool, sandy-looking plastic.

Hallmark sculptor Katrina Bricker did an excellent job on the sculpt for the "Cantina Band" ornament. Unfortunately, the sculpting is only one factor of the ornament. The four characters in the Cantina Band are well-rendered, but the ornament has an assembled quality to it; the various characters look like they were masterfully cut, but then there are fairly deep seams around the feet, which makes them look like they were stuck on later. The level of detailing for the sculpt of the Cantina Band ornament is impressive. Bricker seemed to get every wrinkle in the pants, the face gills of the band members and a decent level of detailing for the hands and the instruments the characters are playing. These characters look very good.

The coloring detailing for the Cantina Band ornament is another matter, unfortunately. While the skin of each of the aliens looks appropriately detailed – the characters are not simply monotonally colored for their skin – that cannot be said of the entire ornament. The pants, shirts, and musical instruments of the Cantina Band members are simplistically colored and the hands are also presented with a lack of realistic depth and shading. As well, the section of floor for the Cantina Band ornament is sand-colored, but not infused with additional color detailing.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Cantina Band" ornament features a sound effect, but not a light effect. Powered by batteries that are housed in the ornament (and come with it), the "Cantina Band" ornament plays what appears to be the full song that plays in the background of the Cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope (reviewed here!). When the button on the ornament is pushed, the ornament plays a section of the A New Hope soundtrack and it sounds loud and realistic as it plays. This is a cool and accurate effect for the ornament.


As an ornament, the "Cantina Band" is intended to be hung on a Christmas tree and for that purpose, the ornament falls a little short. The "Cantina Band" features a steel loop protruding from the back of the head of the bandmember who is second from the left. From that point, the ornament hangs with a strong right bias. That makes sense as more than half the ornament is found to the right of that point. This is problematic as the ornament features the cantina floor section and thus is noticeably off-balance.


The "Cantina Band" ornament was issued at $34.95, which is ridiculously expensive, despite the quality of the ornament. At that price, it is not terribly collectible and it is unlikely its value will appreciate significantly. For the months since they were released, I have managed to easily find the "Cantina Band" ornament in every Hallmark Keepsake store I have been to. This does not look to be a sellout ornament or a great investment piece for investors.


The 2014 "Cantina Band" Hallmark ornament looks generally good, but for the price, fans of Star Wars and Hallmark ornaments are likely to want a little more for their money.

For other Star Wars diorama ornaments, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
2013 At Jabba's Mercy
2012 Han Solo To The Rescue
2011 Showdown At The Cantina
2010 His Master's Bidding
2009 A Deadly Duel


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

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