Thursday, November 6, 2014

Perfect Star Wars! The 2014 Rise Of Lord Vader Hallmark Ornament Is A Must-Buy!

The Good: Great sculpt, Wonderful sound clip, Reasonably priced, Good balance
The Bad: None that I can find (potentially collectible value)!
The Basics: One of the best Star Wars ornaments Hallmark has produced . . . ever, “The Rise Of Lord Vader” is one of the rare perfect ornaments that collectors will want to buy!

It takes a lot to make a perfect Christmas ornament. That might seem like a ridiculous statement, but I have found it to be true. Out of my (almost) two hundred Christmas ornaments that I have reviewed, only thirteen have achieved perfect ten out of ten ratings from me. But the combination of sculpt and coloring quality, balance, expense and feature quality combines to make for a rigorous set of standards that few ornaments manage to achieve. The latest ornament to hit the peak is this year’s The Rise Of Lord Vader Star Wars ornament!

For those unfamiliar with such things, Hallmark Keepsake has a line of collectible ornaments from major franchises, like Star Wars and Star Trek. From the Star Wars line comes the "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament. Fans of the Star Wars films will recall the moment at the peak of Revenge Of The Sith (reviewed here!) where Anakin Skywalker’s mangled human body is rebuilt by Palpatine into the recognizable form of the mostly robotic Darth Vader. It is Darth Vader laying on the medical reconstruction table, still restrained, that is the focus of the Star Wars The Rise Of Lord Vader ornament.


The "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament does an amazing job of creating the moment that completed the arc for Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. All of the molded details are impressive and the coloring is immaculate, even if that seems like it would be easy to pull off. The ornament, released in 2014, is a great idea that is the essential Darth Vader ornament so far produced. Standing four and one-half inches tall, two and three-quarters inches wide and one and three-quarters inches in deep, Hallmark Keepsake has been selling the ornament fast at its $19.95 original release price.

The Hallmark "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament is made of a durable plastic. The ornament replicates Darth Vader, restrained by his arms to the medical bed. Darth Vader looks great, especially in his small scale. Laying flat on the bed, which is in a near-standing position, Darth Vader looks recognizable in glossy black plastic against the matte gray and black of the medical bed. The medical bed looks so precisely rendered that is seems like it should be able to rotate! The sculpt is so precise that every wrinkle in Vader’s uniform is rendered, as are all of the controls on the front of his costume and the character’s belt. The restraints on Darth Vader look like they are atop the character, as opposed to molded to the character, which is a great level of detail!

Hallmark smartly chose an ornament subject that was pretty easy to get right on the coloring front. Darth Vader is colored in monotones, but that is the nature of the character. The medical bed, as well, is precisely colored in grays and blacks. Immaculately painted, The Rise Of Lord Vader ornament has silver-gray restraints holding Darth Vader to the medical bed and the medical bed is colored to have a “clean” look to it.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, The Rise Of Lord Vader features a sound clip. When the button on the ornament is pressed, The Rise Of Lord Vader plays a pretty long sound clip. Emitting the audio clip directly from the Revenge Of The Sith soundtrack, The Rise Of Lord Vader plays almost thirty seconds of dialogue between The Emperor and Darth Vader, wherein Darth Vader asks what happened to Padme, the Emperor lies and tells him that Vader killed her and Darth Vader screams “Nooooooo!” The sound effect is appropriately loud and distinctive.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament is essential. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the backing of the medical bed, which is the highest point on the ornament. Unfortunately, the ornament is back heavy as a result of the battery location and the center of gravity. From there, the ornament hangs perfectly level, without any inappropriate pitch to it.


Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced, and the "The Rise Of Lord Vader" ornament was produced in adequate numbers; the first wave of them sold out locally at my local Hallmark stores and is on its restock. Selling modestly since the first wave, The Rise Of Lord Vader seems like it would be an excellent investment ornament, especially at its affordable initial price. If one is able to find any of these on clearance, it seems like it would appreciate in value pretty fast!


One of the few truly indispensible Star Wars ornaments that virtually every Star Wars ornament collectors will want to pick up, The Rise Of Lord Vader is the Darth Vader ornament that sells itself!

For other perfect Star Wars Hallmark ornaments, please check out my review of:
2010 Lando Calrissian Limited Edition
2011 Bossk Limited Edition
2012 TIE Interceptor
2013 Boushh Limited Edition


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

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