Saturday, July 18, 2015

Too Animated To Be Intimidating: The 2015 The Godfather Ornament.

The Good: Generally good sculpt, Basic coloring, Includes a sound clip
The Bad: Poor coloring details, Seems expensive
The Basics: Hallmark decides to add The Godfather to its ornament line and, despite having an awesome library of sound clips, the Don Vito Corleone ornament is more mediocre than spectacular.

As an ornament reviewer, the most common comment I hear about Hallmark's Keepsake ornament line is kvetching about how the genre-themed ornaments I review have nothing to do with Christmas. The argument is an old one and for theists who celebrate Christmas as an acknowledgment of the birth of Jesus Christ, that's understandable. As an atheist who uses the winter holidays as an excuse to see family and exchange gifts without any religious context to the gathering, the complaints about Hallmark ornaments seem like old news. But, after decades of Hallmark producing genre-themed ornaments and the massive industry it has become, the complaints of the theists ring hollow; Christmas has been commercialized and large sects of the population have a very different, non-theistic, view of the holiday. Every now and then, though, I find an ornament to review that makes me think, "yeah, the theists kind of have a point; this ornament is, like, anti-Christmas." A few years ago, the honor of opening my mind up that way came in the form of the "Frankly My Dear" Gone With The Wind ornament (reviewed here!). This year, I found myself rolling my eyes at the Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather ornament. While this doesn't have a sound clip saying "I don't give a damn," it is the embodiment of a murderous gangster who repeatedly cheats on his wife and creates a racket that uses fear and intimidation to traffic drugs, guns and other "merchandise."

Hallmark and 20th Century Fox created an ornament that embodies the iconic role of Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather for the Don Vito Corleone ornament. For those not familiar with The Godfather (reviewed here!), the film based upon the novel tells the story of how one man came to rule the Mafia. It is Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, looking surprisingly regal with his stiff back and hand raised that is the subject of the 2015 The Godfather Hallmark ornament.


The Don Vito Corleone ornament faithfully presents Don Vito Corleone in his tuxedo and cigar. This version of Don Vito Corleone has the character standing, on a black and brown base that says “The Godfather.” The sculpt is fairly detailed and entirely recognizable for anyone who has seen The Godfather. The ornament, released in 2015, is good in that it looks prety much like Marlon Brando with his slicked-back hair, rose on his lapel, left hand in his coat pocket. The ornament includes such sculpted details as the rose, bowtie, and Brando's head. Measuring five inches tall and two and a half inches in diameter on the base, the Don Vito Corleone ornament is one of several non-genre movie-related Hallmark ornaments released in 2015 and it is, so far, selling fairly conservatively. The Don Vito Corleone ornament came with an original retail price of $17.95 and it is unlikely it will retain that value.

The Hallmark Don Vito Corleone ornament is made of durable plastic. Don Vito Corleone’s shirt is white with a black tuxedo coat and pants, just like in the movie on the wedding day of his daughter. Unfortunately, the skin tones for Don Vito Corleone are monotonal; the pale color is hardly lifelike and details like Milton’s lips are virtually absent on the coloring front, despite the well-painted eyebrows over the eyes!

The Don Vito Corleone ornament features a version of Don Vito Corleone who looks more like the animated character than the man who actually appeared in the live-action film The Godfather. The skin tones on the face and forearms are monotonal as opposed to having rich coloring, which is unfortunate and undermines the potential realism of this ornament. The hair color is also solidly gray as opposed to having realistic depth and shading.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Don Vito Corleone has a sound chip, but not a light-up function. Don Vito Corleone ornament comes with batteries and with the push of a button on the paperstack base, a speaker on the base plays clips from Marlon Brando. The sound clip has at least seven different quotes from The Godfather and the ornament is loud enough to be easily heard!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Don Vito Corleone ornament is to be hung on a Christmas tree. For those creating the ultimate movie-themed Christmas Tree, the Don Vito Corleone ornament is pretty unnecessary. While the character is iconic and from a famous film, it is not exactly an "upper" of a film that one might want an ornament from. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top of Don Vito Corleone’s head at a pretty obvious position. From there, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, swings very easily and is wonderfully balanced.


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 Don Vito Corleone ornament was one of the early (July) ornament releases and given how The Godfather is not a merchandising cash cow, it is unsurprising that it did not sell out at any of the Hallmark's I've been to. Given that, it is hard to bet on this being a good investment piece for the foreseeable future, if ever.


The subject of the 2015 The Godfather ornament is a tough sell in both concept and execution, but fans of Don Vito Corleone, Marlon Brando, and The Godfather might still want one. Still, those fans should probably wait until the end of the season to pick it up on clearance.

For other film-based Hallmark ornaments from 2015, please check out my reviews of:
Tiana Ballerina The Princess And The Frog ornament
Platform 9 3/4 Harry Potter ornament
Dr. Zaius Planet Of The Apes ornament


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

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