Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another Year, Another Disappointing Middle Earth Ornament Comes From Hallmark When Smaug Awakens!

The Good: Good balance, Generally all right sculpt
The Bad: Assembled looking, Light, Feels cheap, No sound clip, Simplistic look and feel
The Basics: The 2015 "Smaug Awakens" ornament illustrates Hallmark's continuing lack of enthusiasm for their Middle Earth license.

It seems like every year, I get excited for Hallmark's annual Middle Earth ornament and each year I get righteously disappointed. Sadly, this year is no exception: the 2015 Smaug Awakens ornament is another dismal ornament from a license Hallmark has never managed to render well or make profitable (a relationship between the two, perhaps?!). This year's ornament feels especially like a "screw you" from Hallmark to fans of the films Peter Jackson made based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkein in that it features a base and character big enough to include a sound function (and Benedict Cumberbatch fans would have gone wild for that), but it is a simple, light, mediocrely-rendered ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of the ornament, Smaug Awakens features the Dragon Smaug from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (reviewed here!) on his pile of gold that he is hoarding. This is very clearly the dragon, awakened and ready to interrogate Bilbo Baggins.

The 2015 Smaug Awakens ornament features both the dragon and his pile of gold, which acts as a base for the giant lizard.


The "Smaug Awakens" ornament recreates the dragon Smaug in a resting pose, but with is head raised. The ornament, released in 2015, has some decent surface detailing, making it recognizable as the dragon from Peter Jackson's films. This version of Smaug Awakens looks somewhat animated and because the scale of the ornament is fairly small, it is not the most detailed ornament from Hallmark's 2015 line.

Measuring four and one-half inches long, two and a half inches wide and two and one-eighth inches tall, the "Smaug Awakens" ornament is obviously out of scale with prior Middle Earth ornaments! At $17.95, the Smaug Awakens ornament feels very expensive, especially for how light it is.

The Hallmark "Smaug Awakens" ornament is made of a durable plastic and sculpted to look generally like the CG-dragon. Unfortunately, the gold upon which he lays is not metallic at all, so it looks like he's laying on tarnished bronze. The reds and browns of Smaug lack the sense of detail and realism of the CG-model upon which the ornament was based. Still, sculptor Orville Wilson sculpted Smaug's mane surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the ornament has obvious seams, which make it look like it was assembled and attached to the base.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Smaug Awakens" could have a sound effect, but it does not. Instead, this is a less-expensive option that is just the character. Given how big the base is, it is especially disappointing that Hallmark did not include Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug's dialogue in the ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Smaug Awakens" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate movie nostalgia Christmas Tree, the "Smaug Awakens" ornament is just too disappointing to justify adding. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the center of Smaug's back. This is fairly obvious and necessary for the ornament. Hanging there, the ornament has good balance. The base being as light as it is, the fact that the balance is decent is important and made fairly obvious.


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 (click here for that review!). Within a few years, every major franchise from Star Wars to A Nightmare Before Christmas to Indiana Jones started making Hallmark ornaments. "Smaug Awakens" is one of only a few Middle Earth ornaments on the market and it is the only one from The Hobbit this year. Between the mediocre quality and the short half-life of Middle Earth-related merchandise, investors have no real incentive to pick up this ornament, certainly not at Hallmark's original release price.


Fans of the Middle Earth franchise, dragons, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Hallmark ornaments are likely to all be disappointed by the Smaug Awakens ornament, making it one of the few big flops of Hallmark's 2015 ornament line.

For other Hallmark Middle Earth ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2014 Thorin Oakenshield The Hobbit ornament
2013 Bilbo Baggins The Hobbit ornament
2012 Gandalf The Gray The Lord Of The Rings 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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