Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy Star Wars Weekend! The 2015 Holiday Darth Vader Ornament Is FUN!

The Good: Good sculpt, Fun sound clips, Most of the coloring.
The Bad: Contrasts in detailing levels
The Basics: The 2015 Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster knows how to turn a phrase, which makes for an enjoyable novelty ornament!

As the weekend, quite predictably, explodes with enthusiasm for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (reviewed here!), I'm getting in the last of my holiday shopping and reviews done. For Hallmark, that means taking some time to whip off a few ornament reviews and, because I'm feeling the Force around my home, I figured I'd check out the Holiday Darth Vader, which is another Hallmark Peekbuster ornament. The ornament is a fun little concept ornament that uses turns of phrase from Darth Vader to chide those who pass in front of the ornament.

Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster is a late-release Star Wars Hallmark character ornament that features a motion sensor and a series of unique sound clips designed to startle and delight those who come near it and it has some fundamental differences from the Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament that was released a few years ago. Given the plethora of bounty hunters and other popular characters from the Star Wars franchise, it is weird that Hallmark went back to the Darth Vader well so soon, but the result is whimsical and fun, even if the purists might be irked by it.


The Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament recreates the instantly recognizable Sith in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2015, features Darth Vader with a Santa hat and a holiday sweater over his familiar black armor, standing on a little patch of snow. Unlike the earlier version of Darth Vader in peekbuster form, this Holiday Darth Vader does not have his lightsaber drawn. The Holiday Darth Vader ornament is just over 5" tall, 3" wide and 2" deep. Hallmark charged $19.95 for the ornament originally and it is still readily available at my local Hallmark stores.

The Hallmark Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament is made of a durable plastic and has him with his hands at his waist, with his helmet looking slightly up. The ornament is molded with a decent amount of detailing, at least for the helmet, base, and sweater. The helmet is finely detailed with the air vents on the fronts of the helmet and the sweater - which features AT-ATs and other Imperial icons on it - similarly looks textured like an actual sweater. However, the Santa hat has poor detailing. The fringe lacks texture and the lines on it lack the flow of the rest of the ornament, like the cape and the base. So, it looks like Darth Vader (a practical version) with a poor CG-Santa hat stuck on it.

The coloring detail on Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster is similarly erratic. Holiday Darth Vader himself looks good, which is easy given that most of the finer details on Darth Vader are covered by the sweater. As a result, the black armor is easy to do right and Hallmark does it well. Similarly, the base looks amazing with the white textured and faint glitter. The Santa hat, though, looks bright and monotonal. It's weird, but given the depth and shading to the base, the hat seems incongruent. And yet, the sweater looks fine.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster has a sound chip but no light effect. When turned on, the Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster is a motion-activated ornament. When it senses movement in the field before it, the Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster speaks one of (at least!) five admonishments to the person making the movement. Holiday Darth Vader calls out about the lack of holiday decorations and turns of phrase with lines from A New Hope including lines about the holidays, decorations, and presents! The voice from the sound chip sounds just like James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, which is very cool!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster is very much a luxury which is likely to appeal only to the die-hard collectors or those who want to freak out their geeky children! This ornament has a steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the back of Holiday Darth Vader’s hat. From that hook, the Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament hangs fairly level. The ornament sways when rocked, but otherwise is level and faces straight ahead well.


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 Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament is not as limited as many other Star Wars ornaments and has not appreciated in the secondary market yet, which makes sense because many Hallmark stores still have him on their shelves. At this point in the Star Wars ornament collections, fans are either sticking with what they know or accepting concept ornaments like the Peekbuster and LEGO Star Wars ornaments. I suspect that the novelty of this ornament will wear thin, especially considering that there already is a Darth Vader Peekbuster ornament.


Unlike most Star Wars ornaments, the Holiday Darth Vader Peekbuster has a lot to do with the Christmas holiday, but it is a novelty ornament. It is fun, for sure, but Star Wars fans have mixed reactions to "fun" as opposed to faithful representations of characters and things from their beloved film franchise. For me, though, the ornament is certainly cute enough to recommend.

For other 2015 Hallmark ornaments from the Star Wars franchise, please check out my reviews of:
There Is No Try Ornament
The Force Awakens Captain Phasma
Y-Wing Starfighter Ornament
The Force Awakens Kylo Ren
C-3PO & R2-D2
Limited Edition Admiral Ackbar


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

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