Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stuck In The Middle: The 2015 Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 Ornament Is Problematic!

The Good: Some of the sculpting details, Sound clip is neat, Interesting concept
The Bad: Pricy, Very general likeness of Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter, Odd sound clip (includes dialogue from multiple characters not on the ornament!), Balance
The Basics: A mediocre ornament, "Platform 9 3/4" is a tough concept for the ornament, executed about as well as fans of Hallmark's Harry Potter ornament line might expect.

When it comes to Hallmark ornaments, I can think of few franchises that are immortalized in ornament form more erratically than the Harry Potter line-up. Even now, Harry Potter remains a viable franchise for Hallmark to license - they've tried to get fanbases from Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent to invest with minimal success - but the execution of the ornaments is more problematic than extraordinary. This year's attempt at a quality Harry Potter ornament is met with all kinds of problems. Even so, I cannot think of an ornament with so many problems where I have has so much respect for the initiative behind the concept. Moreover, the Platform 9 3/4 ornament - which is the 2015 Harry Potter ornament - makes some reasonable compromises, but what the ornament is left with is comparatively underwhelming.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Platform 9 3/4” is a holiday ornament that features a moment from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (reviewed here!) that is pretty seminal to how the magical beings and the muggles interact in the real world. To get to Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft & Wizardry from London's Kings Cross Station, magical people have to run straight into the wall to get access to Platform 9 3/4. That allows them access to an alternate platform and train track to access the Hogwarts Express.

It is Harry Potter, luggage trolly before him, bursting out of the magical portal wall, that is the subject of the Platform 9 3/4 ornament.


“Platform 9 3/4” recreates the moment from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone by featuring Harry, the wall (with its ornamentation), the ground, and his luggage (including Hedwig). The ornament, released in 2015, is a poor rendition of the character, at least if it is supposed to look like Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter. The character, like many of the ornaments for Harry Potter look more like the artwork associated with the novels. In other words, Harry Potter looks animated, much like he does on the cover of the books. Measuring 4 1/2" tall, 3 1/2" wide and 2 1/2" deep, the “Platform 9 3/4” did not sell out during the Preview Weekend at the original issue price of $24.95.

The Hallmark “Platform 9 3/4” ornament is made of a durable plastic and has Harry Potter running out of the wall, pushing his cart before him. Despite how it looks like Hedwig in his cage might have been attached after the rest of the ornament was molded (actually, I like this aspect, as it makes it look like the cage is atop the luggage as opposed to molded to it!), the ornament is pretty solid in its construction. Harry Potter's glasses are finely made, as is Hedwig and the cage the owl is in. By contrast, Harry Potter is very generally sculpted (his hair is sculpted without any texturing) and his plaid shirt is very smooth in an unrealistic way. Similarly, the brick wall is fairly smooth, though the coloring for the brick wall is surprisingly good.

The ornament is very light on detailing for Harry and the luggage. The details on Harry are very light. He lacks realistic fleshtones and his pants and shoes are monotonal, his flannel shirt is white and blue, and Harry's eyes are simply black dots. The sign for the Hogwarts Express is actually impressively painted for the finer font and border coloring, so the ornament has some real potential for realism, but is neglected on most of the ornament. The ground upon which Harry Potter is running is monotonal gray in contrast to the brick wall and Hedwig, so the ornament appears erratic in its detailing both sculpted and coloring details.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the “Platform 9 3/4” ornament could have a function like a light effect, but it only has a sound clip. The pressing of a button on the ornament allows a sound clip to be played out of the speaker in the base of the Platform 9 3/4 ornament. The sound clip is a nice touch and, for the expense, pretty much required. The problem is that the various sound clips for the dialogue relevant to the ornament are produced by characters not on the ornament. So, Hallmark was smart; instead of making an ornament that included both sides of the wall, the Muggle who is confused by Harry's request for Platform 9 3/4 and Ron Weasley's mother, it focuses on Harry Potter coming out of the wall.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the dialogue played by the sound chip precedes Harry's attempt to enter the Platform. So, one clip has him asking a Muggle where to find Platform 9 3/4 and the Muggle's reaction. Another clip has Molly Weasley giving Harry the specific advice on how to get into the secret platform. The clips on the Platform 9 3/4 ornament are longer than on most of the other Hallmark ornaments, which is nice, but the lines are mostly delivered by characters other than Harry Potter.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Platform 9 3/4” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate fantasy Christmas Tree, the “Platform 9 3/4” ornament is a good concept, but a poor execution, both in scale and detail, especially compared with other Harry Potter ornaments. The ornament has a brass hook loop that comes out of the top of the wall behind Harry. Ironically, the Platform 9 3/4's loop is on a stalk and it is backheavy. The irony is that if Hallmark had just made the stalk just a tiny bit shorter, the ornament would hang at optimal balance. Because the ground is supposed to be flat and perpendicular to the hook, the fact that it hangs heavy from the back makes it look like Harry is trying to run up a slight incline.


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!). Since then, they have delved into virtually every other collectible franchise in an attempt to cash in on every major license. The Harry Potter series has had several ornaments made for it, a few of which have started to really explode in value because of the end of the cinematic franchise. Given how expensive the ornament is initially and how it has some problems with it, it is hard to believe this one will be appreciating any time soon.

In short, this is unlikely to be a good investment piece.


The "Platform 9 3/4" is filled with contradictions and reconciling the discordant aspects forces me to try to answer the question: is it worth buying? At full price, I would say no.

For other Harry Potter ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2014 The Sorting Hat
2013 Hogwarts Castle
2012 The Final Battle
2011 The Golden Snitch (Limited Edition!)
2011 Fleeing The Fiendfyre
2010 The Pensieve
2010 A Gift For Dobby (Limited Edition!)
2009 "Harry! Happy Birthday!"
2001 Hogwarts School Crests mini-ornament set


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page, for an organized listing of all the ornaments I've reviewed!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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