Friday, October 9, 2015

Merchandising Into Mediocrity: The Hallmark 2015 Kylo Ren The Force Awakens Ornament!

The Good: Good sculpt, Fairly good balance
The Bad: Expensive, Very simple coloring, Lightsaber
The Basics: The first Hallmark ornament focusing on Star Wars: The Force Awakens is more of a dud when one strips away the hype . . .

I've been very hesitant to get into any merchandising surrounding the new Star Wars movie. That is not at all to say that I am not super-psyched about The Force Awakens being released this winter. However, I recall how the merchandising was for The Phantom Menace (or, as it was known for most of its merchandising push: Episode I). The market was flooded with merchandising focusing on Darth Maul and when The Phantom Menace was released, it was hard not to feel like the victim of some damn good hype. Maul has one on-screen kill before he is bisected by a rather green Jedi Knight. And yet, there is a shit-ton of merchandise that was focused on Maul. For The Force Awakens, it looks like Sith aficionado Kylo Ren is getting similar treatment. Hallmark's Ornament Release Weekend featured the debut of the The Force Awakens ornaments in the form of Kylo Ren (there's one more coming in November!).

Kylo Ren is a new-release Hallmark ornament that is not part of the usual numbered series of Star Wars character ornaments. And, despite the quality of the sculpt, Kylo Ren is an underwhelming, overpriced Star Wars ornament that is bound to make fans feel more exploited than rewarded for their love of Star Wars.

Hallmark has Kylo Ren, masked and cloaked in an action pose for their debut The Force Awakens character ornament.


The Kylo Ren ornament recreates the mysterious villain who wields a cross-shaped lightsaber in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2015, is the currently unfamiliar adversary in his black cloak and face mask, as many of the promotional images show him! Kylo Ren in ornament form is 4 1/2" tall, 4" wide and 2" deep, making him one of the biggest Star Wars character ornaments Hallmark has ever made. Hallmark charged $17.95 for the ornament originally and it sold out at almost every Hallmark Gold Crown store I've found.

The Hallmark Kylo Ren ornament is made of a durable plastic and it is well-sculpted. Kylo Ren, as it turns out, is pretty easy to cheat, though; he's mostly a cloak, though he has one arm outstretched as if he is using the Force. In fact, all that truly separated Kylo Ren from being an ornament of a Nazgul Ringwraith from The Lord Of The Rings is Kylo Ren's facemask and the lightsaber he holds. Kylo Ren's facemask is sculpted in the recess of the hooded cloak, so there is not much of it that was even sculpted. The lightsaber has the most detailing to it with its three blades and some texturing near Kylo Ren's gloves.

Kylo Ren is very light on any coloring details. The cloak is colored in monotones and the face mask is minimally gray colored. I inspected three different Kylo Ren ornaments and none of the face masks had decent or consistent paint jobs. As a result, most had a slap of a dark gray paint on the front of the mask, but the black of the plastic under that paint blends perfectly into the black of the cloak. One of the Kylo Ren ornaments I inspected had virtually no paint on the face mask; it was black like the cloak and blended into it! The lightsaber is painted in monotonal gray and its blades are a sick red color that looks more like a blood-covered blade and one made of light. Hallmark has frequently made lightsaber blades with translucent colored plastic and its failure to do so with the Kylo Ren ornament makes it feel like the ornament was rushed or based on minimal source material.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Kylo Ren could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a comparatively mid-priced option for those who might not want to shell out for the starship or diorama series' of Star Wars ornaments. This is Kylo Ren and he simply hangs on the tree.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Kylo Ren ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, Kylo Ren might be essential (we don't yet know how important Kylo Ren is in the new Trilogy), but it remains a tough sell given its scale and lack of coloring accents that make it look as real as many of the other Star Wars character ornaments. Die-hard collectors and fans will definitely want one, if for no other reason than it's Star Wars and it is from the new film. The ornament has a steel hook loop embedded into the top center, slightly back, of the character's hooded head. From that hook, the Kylo Ren ornament hangs with a very minimal right bias. The balance is only about three to five degrees off and only the most fastidious fans will notice it.


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 branched out into other popular franchises like Star Wars and The Wizard Of Oz. The Kylo Ren ornament is somewhat limited and has the potential to quickly appreciate in value, especially as most Hallmark Gold Crown stores sell out of it.

This is tough to speculate on for its collectible value. One suspects that if Kylo Ren is essential and vital in The Force Awakens and its subsequent sequels, Hallmark will make another version of him (much like they did with Darth Maul). If a better one is made, especially one with better detailing and in scale with the other Star Wars character ornaments, then this one will surely depreciate. But, if Kylo Ren develops into a fan-favorite villain, there's the potential that it will explode in value. But, while it may not be overproduced, it starts with a higher initial price than many comparable ornaments. The result is one that is tough to recommend as an investment piece.


Like most Star Wars ornaments, Kylo Ren has nothing to do with the Christmas holiday and this ornament might wow fans on speculation, but the moment it is placed next to other Star Wars ornaments, it appears substandard.

For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars characters, please check out my reviews of:
2015 C-3PO and R2-D2
2015 Admiral Ackbar (Limited Edition)
2014 Yoda Peekbuster Ornament
2014 Imperial Scout Trooper
2013 Jango Fett
2013 Wicket And Teebo
2013 Lego Yoda
2013 Boushh Limited Edition
2012 Lego Imperial Stormtrooper
2012 Sith Apprentice Darth Maul
2012 General Grievous
2012 Momaw Nadon Limited Edition
2011/2012 Lego Darth Vader
2011 Jedi Master Yoda
2011 Bossk Limited Edition ornament
2010 Lando Calrissian Limited Edition ornament
2010 Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
2010 Boba Fett and Han Solo in Carbonite mini-ornament set
2009 Greedo Limited Edition ornament
2009 Han Solo As Stormtrooper
2008 Emperor Palpatine ornament
2005 Slave Leia ornament
2000 Darth Maul
1999 Max Rebo Band mini-ornament set
1998 Princess Leia


For other holiday ornaments, please check out the Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment