Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Impressive, Most Impressive: The 2016 Star Wars Royal Or Rebel? Ornament!

The Good: Good sculpting, Neat sound clip, Generally good coloring, Generally good balance
The Bad: Less-detailed background/diorama piece, Slight balance issue
The Basics: The 2016 Star Wars diorama ornament, “Royal Or Rebel?” is surprisingly wonderful!

One of the nice things about being a reviewer is that it often encourages me to look closer at things and experiences. Sometimes, there are products I initially dismiss on first blush that I discover are far better upon closer analysis. The "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament from the 2016 Star Wars Hallmark ornament line is one such product. The "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament is the 2016 Star Wars diorama ornament and it immortalizes the first encounter between Darth Vader and Princess Leia.

For those unfamiliar with such things, near the very beginning of A New Hope (reviewed here!) Darth Vader confronts the captured Princess Leia aboard the Rebel cruiser Tantive IV. Vader meets Leia in a hallway and accuses her of being part of the Rebel Alliance. It is that confrontation, with Vader raising his finger accusingly, that is the subject of the "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament.


The "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament does a decent job of recreating the characters in the hallway, though the patch of bulkhead from the Tantive IV looks underwhelming behind the well-rendered version of Leia and the lights and controls on Darth Vader's costume. The ornament, released in 2016, is one of the best Star Wars diorama ornaments yet produced. Standing four and one-half inches tall by three and a half inches wide and two and one-eighth inches deep, Hallmark Keepsake issued the ornament with an original price of $29.95.

The Hallmark "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament is made of a durable plastic, which allows the whole bulkhead section to support the characters on the floor section of the ornament. Princess Leia is incredibly well-sculpted and in addition to her costume and hair, she looks like Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in A New Hope. Darth Vader is similarly impressively sculpted. The iconic Dark Lord Of The Sith is instantly recognizable and detailing on his gloves and chest plate are impressive for an ornament of this size. Even the sculpting of the bulkhead is wonderful.

Unfortunately, the coloring of the bulkhead is remarkably simple compared to the detailing on Darth Vader's chest plate. Princess Leia's rosy cheeks have more impressive coloring realism than the bulkhead and floor piece. Most of the coloring, save for Leia's skin tones are done in monotones, as opposed to having weathering and shading.


The "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament has a sound effect, but not a light effect (which would have been difficult to do, save from the top of the bulkhead section - like an overhead light). There is a fairly obvious button on the front of the floor section of the base. When pressed, dialogue from A New Hope plays of the exact exchange encapsulated by the "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament. Vader accuses Leia of not being on a diplomatic mission and she retorts. The sound clip is about thirty second in duration and it is pretty loud.

The sound function is powered by 1.5V batteries (watch batteries), which are included. They are enough to power the ornament for (presumably) several seasons with the sound clip playing loudly and clearly, which is nice!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "Imperial Royal Or Rebel?" ornament is a wonderful addition that is surprisingly worthwhile, if not quite essential. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the ceiling piece of the bulkhead piece, which is the highest point on the ornament. Unfortunately, the ornament is slightly back heavy as a result of the character's locations, the wall, and the resulting center of gravity. The ornament has about a ten degree pitch when hung from the hook loop, but I found there were ways to prop the ornament that minimized the natural pitch of the "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament.


Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced, and the "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament appears to have been adequately produced, though the first wave has not sold out locally during the Ornament Preview Weekend at any of my four local Hallmark shops. Still, given the quality of the "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament, one suspects that it will appreciate in value on the secondary market. This is an ornament I am betting on in the long-term as an investment piece.


The "Royal Or Rebel?" ornament is an ornament that deserves a second look and a place in any Star Wars ornament collector's collection!

For other Star Wars diorama ornaments, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
2015 There Is No Try
2014 Cantina Band
2013 At Jabba's Mercy
2012 Han Solo To The Rescue
2011 Showdown At The Cantina
2010 His Master's Bidding
2009 A Deadly Duel


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

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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