Friday, November 24, 2017

Gringotts Wizarding Bank Is A Tough Ornament For Hallmark To Pull Off!

The Good: Good sculpt, Most of the coloring details
The Bad: Cheaps out on the light effect, Expensive, Assembled look on the dragon
The Basics: The 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank Harry Potter ornament is an essential ornament for fans, but objectively, it's a problematic rendition of the iconic building.

Sometimes, Hallmark pays decent fidelity to the material upon which it bases its ornaments, but that makes for an ornament that is tough to execute well. For Harry Potter ornaments, some of the buildings fall into that category. Hallmark made exceptionally good use of the reference pictures and computer models when making the building ornaments in prior years. For 2017, Hallmark appeared to do the same thing for their Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament and that includes the dragon on top of the building. As a result, the building for the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank is pretty well-made, but the dragon and its placement make for a tragically lopsided ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” is a holiday ornament that features the distinctive building seen in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (reviewed here!). The magical bank with its lamps on the side and the dragon on the roof is the subject of the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament.


“Gringotts Wizarding Bank” recreates the distinctive bank in London in both opaque plastic and clear plastic for some of the windows and lights. Measuring 7" tall, 3" wide and 4 1/4" deep, the “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” has been selling very slowly since the Preview Weekend at the original issue price of $24.95, at least at Hallmark Gold Crown Stores near me. The 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank Hallmark Ornament is one of two Harry Potter ornament for 2017, the other being a character diorama ornament.

The Hallmark “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” ornament is made of a durable plastic, which is somewhat surprising given the fine work on the lamps near the windows that protrude from the sides 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 hollow ornament. The lamps on the sides of the building and the dragon's wings are not particularly fragile, though they are susceptible to breakage if the ornament falls. The sculpt for the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament is actually quite good, from the building's shudders, door and the dragon. The dragon, unfortunately, has a very assembled quality to it. The wings, tail and head all have very noticeable seams where the dragon was put together on top of the rest of the ornament. The construction is sturdy, but it is clearly assembled and the seams are unfortunately obvious.

On the coloring front, Gringotts Wizarding Bank is decent. Gringotts Wizarding Bank features enough detailing to make the lines between the bricks clear so the building looks like a practical building with bricks, wood framed windows and shutters. The coloring on the dragon is a little more simplistic; the basic plastic is light, but the painted accents are not consistently applied to make the dragon look like a living being atop a practical building. The plastic appearance of the dragon is an unfortunate contrast to the coloring of the rest of the building.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” has a light effect that requires an external 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 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament sits over a light on a light strand to light up. Unfortunately, the ornament is very under-powered for the size, so the light from the strand is unable to illuminate the windows and lights from the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament in a satisfactory or compelling way.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate fantasy Christmas Tree, the “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” 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. Even the light strand needed to activate the feature cannot stabilize the Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament.

The “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” ornament features a brass hook loop attached to the top, hidden right behind the dragon on the roof. From that position, the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank ornament is incredibly left-heavy. The off-balance nature of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank makes it impossible to make it level when hung from the tree.


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 Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them failing to truly revitalize the merchandising of Harry Potter, it is unlikely that the 2017 Gringotts Wizarding Bank Hallmark Ornament will appreciate in value significantly or any time soon.


"Gringotts Wizarding Bank" is a somewhat problematic ornament for Harry Potter fans and it works much better for those trying to create a little Harry Potter table village as opposed to hanging it on a Christmas tree.

For other Harry Potter ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2017 A Dangerous Game
2016 Ornament Collection Set
2016 Ollivanders Wand Shop
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!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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