Saturday, October 1, 2016

HAPPY ORNAMENT RELEASE WEEKEND! A Mediocre Gimmick Sinks The 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop Harry Potter Hallmark Ornament!

The Good: Good sculpt, Decent coloring, Good balance, Neat window
The Bad: Cheaps out on the light effect, Seems expensive, Window thing is a very limited gimmick
The Basics: The 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop Harry Potter ornament is a fair idea with a mediocre execution for its bonus features.

In advance of the cinematic release of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, the Harry Potter franchise is experiencing a phase that very few genre works successfully navigate. Spin-offs are fraught with problems and there is no one who suffers more than licensees of merchandise. Licensees have to invest early in order to capitalize on the opportunity presented by a spin-off before the interest organically wanes (the window for movie-themed merchandise is very short) and handicap the odds that the spin-off will manage to recapture the interest of the original audience and fans. The Harry Potter movie franchise was huge for a lot of merchandisers and Hallmark produced many successful and wonderful ornaments while the film franchise was at its peak. Now, in advance of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Hallmark is playing it safe as much as it can by producing one of the last major non-character locations from the Harry Potter franchise that could be made into an ornament (the Ministry Of Magic would be impossible to make an ornament of and only Weasley house remains as a practical alternative), in the form of Ollivanders Wand Shop.

"Ollivanders Wand Shop" has good balance and a fair concept, but uses an ineffective technique to sell the ornament and in a way, it feels far more expensive as a result. The Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament is well-detailed on the sculpt, fairly detailed on the coloring and utilizes a bonus feature that is decidedly underwhelming.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Ollivanders Wand Shop” is a holiday ornament that features the distinctive shop from Diagon Alley seen in the Harry Potter Saga (reviewed here!). The magical store is a classic London building on its own and that is the subject of the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament.


“Ollivanders Wand Shop” recreates the distinctive and cluttered shop in London in both opaque plastic and clear plastic for some of the windows and the bonus feature on the back. Measuring 4 1/4" tall, 2 3/4" wide and 2 1/2" deep, the “Ollivanders Wand Shop” has been selling very slowly since the Preview Weekend at the original issue price of $24.95, at least at my local Hallmark. The 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop Hallmark Ornament is one of two Harry Potter ornament for 2016, the other being a set of mini-ornaments.

The Hallmark “Ollivanders Wand Shop” ornament is made of a durable plastic, which is somewhat surprising given the fine work on the sign that protrudes from the front of the ornament. All of the pieces are molded together, so there is nothing that will fall off on this ornament, unless one drops the ornament from a height onto a very hard floor, which could fracture the front plastic "glass" or it could splinter the sign off the front of the shop. The sculpt for the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament is impressive, though the architecture for the building is remarkably simple.

As for the coloring, Ollivanders Wand Shop is very basic. While Hallmark used such decent painted details as the shop's name on the front in crisp, clear letters and the detailing below the front windows and most of the coloring for Ollivanders Wand Shop is done in monotones. The ornament does not look like the building is particularly worn or weathered. The real coloring issue with the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament is in the windows. The 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament features both transparent windows and opaque windows; some which reveal what is inside the rather indistinct building, others which obscure it. The contrast between the two types of windows for the building.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “Ollivanders Wand Shop” has a light effect that requires an exernal light source, which is atypical for Hallmark ornaments. Instead of having an internal light of its own and batteries or requiring a hook up to a light strand for power, the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament sits over a light on a light strand to light up. The 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament has a little mural in it of the interior of Ollivanders Wand Shop which is visible through the four transparent windows on the front of the ornament. Unfortunately, the ornament is very under-powered for the size, so the mural is inconsistently lit and if it is on a strand that uses the power for other ornaments, then the light from the strand will be virtually unable to illuminate the interior of the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament.

On the back of the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament, there is a "bonus" feature, which is a little window with a shot of Harry Potter in Ollivanders from one of the films. The back mural is small, underlit and not a huge reward for fans who have to handle the ornament just to take it in. The initial "wow" factor is cool, but it wears very quickly. While the sound clips from some of the ornaments may underwhelm with frequent playing, the rear window on the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament becomes passe even quicker.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Ollivanders Wand Shop” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate fantasy Christmas Tree, the “Ollivanders Wand Shop” ornament is a fair addition, especially compared with other Harry Potter ornaments. The ornament is completely out of scale with the other building ornaments and to use the feature, one has to have it directly over a light on a light strand, plugged into it. That said, the light strand needed to activate the feature can stabilize the Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament.

The “Ollivanders Wand Shop” ornament features a steel hook loop attached to the top, center of the ornament. From that position, the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop ornament hands perfectly level.


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 delved into virtually every other collectible franchise in an attempt to cash in on every major license. The Harry Potter series has had several ornaments made for it, a few of which have started to really explode in value because of the end of the cinematic franchise. With the potential revitalization of the franchise with the cinematic release of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, it is possible that Harry Potter merchandise might become a big collectible again. But with an initial price of $24.95, the 2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop Hallmark Ornament seems unlikely to appreciate in value from that.


"Ollivanders Wand Shop" is a very average ornament for Harry Potter fans and not likely to bowl over the general population.

For other Harry Potter ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2015 Platform 9 3/4
2014 The Sorting Hat
2013 Hogwarts Castle
2012 The Final Battle
2011 The Golden Snitch (Limited Edition!)
2011 Fleeing The Fiendfyre
2010 The Pensieve
2010 A Gift For Dobby (Limited Edition!)
2009 "Harry! Happy Birthday!"
2001 Hogwarts School Crests mini-ornament set


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page, there you will find an organized listing of all the ornaments I've reviewed!

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