Sunday, July 12, 2015

The 2015 Dr. Sheldon Cooper Gets The Big Bang Theory Ornament Line Off To A Rocky Start!

The Good: Good sculpt, Decent balance, Neat sound clips
The Bad: Overproduced, Incredibly animated look, Weird franchise to try to market
The Basics: The 2015 Hallmark Keepsake “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament is a decidedly mediocre start to a franchise that is incredibly hard for Hallmark to follow-up on.

A few years back, a friend of mine when I was living in Upstate New York recommended The Big Bang Theory to me and she was right; it is a show that (at least at its beginning) is right up my alley. Unfortunately, as the series has gone on, the show has become a weird mix of repetitive and insulting to its own fan base. The Big Bang Theory is popular enough that it is getting merchandised extensively and Hallmark is getting in on the action this year with the creation of the Dr. Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory holiday ornament. The initial good idea behind starting an ornament series for The Big Bang Theory is undermined by the execution and the idea of how to actually build an ornament series around the franchise. After all, once you do Sheldon Cooper with sound clips, where can you actually go? None of the other characters from The Big Bang Theory have great catch phrases and most of the rest of the characters' best lines are reactive (usually to Sheldon). So, the franchise is a tough sell from the beginning, but the execution of the Dr. Sheldon Cooper ornament makes the success of the ornament franchise all the more unlikely.

For those unfamiliar with the series, The Big Bang Theory (season 1 is reviewed here!) follows the lives of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a genius physicist who is socially awkward, Dr. Leonard Hoffstader (his roommate) and their friends. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is difficult to live with, but has an endearing bluntness and moments of unpredictable energy that make him fun to watch.

The “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament captures Dr. Cooper in a pose from the promotional materials for the television show, as opposed to from any sort of iconic moment within the television series.


The “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament generally recreates Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, in plain pants, a Green Lantern t-shirt and standing on a base with the logo for The Big Bang Theory. The facial sculpt is clearly intended to be Jim Parsons and in the broad strokes, it gets the character right, though the ornament went with a promotional image as the subject, as opposed to the character's usual stiff-backed appearance.

The ornament, released in 2015, is a decent size, but inconsistent in its detailing. The sculpt looks all right, though it has minimal texturing to the hair and is severely undermined by the lack of strong coloring detailing. Measuring four inches tall and with a base that is two and seven sixteenth inches in diameter, the “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament is one of several ornaments released by Hallmark for 2015 that is based on an obscure television or film property. The “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” ornament came with an original retail price of $17.95 and given its lack of detailing, it is a tough sell at that price.

The Hallmark “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament is made of durable plastic and is cast to look pretty solid. Unfortunately, the ornament is colored completely in monotones. Sheldon's skin is a sickly white, which makes him look like an albino about to pounce off his black-disc base. The paleness of his skin is accented by the dark green of his shirt and while Hallmark made a passing attempt to color his eyes in realistically, his lips are only faintly painted. The net result is that this ornament looks like an animated character version of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, more than a rendition of the live-action character played by Jim Parsons.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament has a sound chip. When the button on the base is pressed, the ornament plays one of five sound clips from The Big Bang Theory. Jim Parsons’s voice delivers lines like "I'm not insane, my mother had me tested," "That's my spot," "Bazinga," "Was that sarcasm?" and an introduction from the character that includes his various credentials. The base is, essentially, a speaker. The sound is loud enough to be easily heard and it comes with the batteries needed to operate the “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate television nostalgia tree, Dr. Sheldon Cooper is an interesting, but potentially dated, choice (it's unclear how The Big Bang Therory will hold up in the long run). The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the back of the subject, right between Sheldon Cooper's shoulder blades. From there, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs well balanced. The loop is actually hidden by the character's head, so it does not distract from the overall look of the ornament. Hung in this fashion, the ornament hangs level, which is good because if the base was not level, it would be pretty obvious!


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 “Dr. Sheldon Cooper” The Big Bang Theory ornament did not sell out in its first weekend from any of the many Hallmark stores I visited. In fact, the response so far to the ornament has been lukewarm; the cool sound clips are not overwhelming consumers with the urge to buy this lacklusterly colored ornament.

The net result is that the common-release ornament is likely to be overproduced for the fanbase demand. There are a lot of The Big Bang Theory products on the market now and investors in such merchandise should be able to hold off on the ornament and find it at a deal at the end of the season. At full price, it is unlikely to be a good investment as it is hard to bank on this ornament appreciating in value in the near term. Given that fan demand will easily be met by the quantities produced, it is unlikely that it will sell out right away and there should be some at the end of the season put on clearance. At half price, it makes a more resonable risk for collectible investors than the full-priced ornament!


Fans of The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Jim Parsons are likely to be more underwhelmed than bowled over by Hallmark's debut The Big Bang Theory ornament.

For other Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2015 Dr. Zaius The Planet Of The Apes ornament
2015 Celebration Barbie ornament set
2015 Legends Of Star Trek Lieutenant Nyota Uhura ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page!

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