Friday, December 8, 2017

If It Weren't For The Sound Function . . . The 2017 Death Star Ornament Would Be An Abject Failure!

The Good: Accurate sculpt, Good sound clips, Balance is fine
The Bad: Somewhat silly light effect, Tremendously expensive, Bland coloring
The Basics: The 2017 Death Star from the Star Wars Storyteller ornament line is a redundant ornament with little "wow" factor.

Star Wars fans are, if Hallmark is to believed, where the money is at. It might help that the source material for Star Wars is fairly conservatively doled out (a film a year of late, after decades with a film every several years), that other major franchises are comparatively untested in the merchandising (Marvel Cinematic Universe) or seem to be spiraling entirely out of control (the Star Trek franchise). Whatever the reason, Hallmark is betting big on Star Wars in 2017 and that bet is carrying over into 2018 and, most likely, 2019 with their expensive, connected ornaments in the Storyteller line. The first of the Storyteller ornaments I've picked to review from the Star Wars line is the 2017 Death Star ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the Death Star, this is the massive Imperial weapon of mass destruction in A New Hope (reviewed here!) and the subject of the more recent Star Wars spinoff film Rogue One (reviewed here!). The giant sphere, that is no small moon, is responsible for the destruction of Jedda City, an Imperial records facility, and the entire planet of Alderaan before it is destroyed by Rebel pilots.

Hallmark has the station alone as the subject of the 2017 Death Star ornament.


The "Death Star" ornament faithfully recreates the Imperial planet killer in its general detailing. The ornament, released in 2017, is a larger casting of the previously-released Death Star ornament with new light and sound features. Measuring four inches in diameter, the Death Star ornament is a touch larger than most other Star Wars ship ornaments, which is probably why it comes with the hefty $39.95 price tag. Given the simplicity of the ornament, despite the amazing sound feature, the price is certainly a dealbreaker for more casual Star Wars ornament collectors.

The Hallmark "Death Star" ornament is made of a durable plastic and is an accurate sculpt of the spherical war machine. The Death Star ornament features the dish embedded into the surface of the sphere from which the Death Star's weapon fires and it has the molded hemisphere that is made to look like a trench. As well, the paneling on the different hemispheres is well-rendered for the ornament, though not so finely that it actually appears to be trenches, crannies and towers all along the surface. But for the broad strokes, Hallmark made the Death Star instantly recognizable.

The coloring for the Death Star is very simplistic. The two tones of gray hardly capture the realistic depth and shading of the monstrous sphere.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Death Star" has both a light and sound function, as part of the new Storyteller line. Unfortunately, to power the light and sound function, one must connect the Death Star ornament to a Magic strand - a specifically-engineered light strand from Hallmark that allows chips in the various ornaments on the strand to interact with one another. When properly attached to a Magic cord, the Death Star may be activated.

When the button on the Death Star is pressed (or the button on any connected Storyteller ornaments that interact with the Death Star), the ornament gets around to playing various sound clips and ship noises from the Battle near Yavin 4. The sound clips are cool, loud and clear. When the Death Star is the ship in the strand that is active, it lights up from within, most notably when the Death Star sound effect indicates it is being blown up. The sound effect is cool, but hardly enough to justify the ornament's inflated price.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Death Star" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, the "Death Star" ornaments is an important addition, though it was produced twice before in ornament form. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the station's top. From there, the ornament hangs perfectly well-balanced.


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 made ornament replicas from properties like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Tron. The "Death Star" ornament seems to be overproduced relative to the demand and the fact that many collectors seemed to hit their budgetary limits by the time this ornament hit the shelves. The comparative quality of the ornament seems to be offset in the minds of those who buy it by the fact that it is a necessary addition to the full Storyteller sequence. As such, while the Death Star might sell out, it is unlikely to be a good investment piece for the foreseeable future.


The Death Star is a necessary piece for those committed to completing the Storyteller line of Star Wars Hallmark ornaments, but for those not so inclined, it is a surprisingly easy ornament to pass by.

For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars ships, please check out my reviews of:
2006 Imperial AT-AT
2009 Luke's Landspeeder
2010 Rebel Snowspeeder
2011 Slave I
2012 TIE Interceptor
2013 All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)
2014 Sandcrawler
2015 Y-Wing Starfighter
2016 T-70 X-Wing Starfighter


For other ornament reviews, please check out my Ornament Review Index Page!

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