Monday, December 18, 2017

The New Generic Soldier, Generally Cool Ornament: The 2017 Praetorian Guard!

The Good: Good sculpt, Decent balance, Collectible value
The Bad: Expensive, Light on coloring details
The Basics: The Praetorian Guard Hallmark ornament is better than The Last Jedi in which the characters appear!

The Last Jedi has arrived! The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise was, as all of the films in the franchise since The Phantom Menace have been, preceded by a massive merchandising push. One of the first characters - or style of villain - to be a part of the merchandising of The Last Jedi was the First Order's Praetorian Guard. Nothing was actually known about the bright red First Order soldiers until they appeared in The Last Jedi, but they were well-represented in the advertising campaign.

For those who might not have noticed them in their one big scene in The Last Jedi (reviewed here!) the Praetorian Guards are standing defense in Supreme Leader Snoke's throne chamber on his command ship when Rey and Kylo Ren encounter him. The command ship appears to be the only place the Praetorian Guards were present and they are basically a more agile, better-equipped version of The Emperor's red-clad Royal Guards from Return Of The Jedi.

Hallmark made the Praetorian Guard, with its double-bladed staff in its hands, in a defensive pose, looking utterly inscrutable and surprisingly clean.


The Praetorian Guard ornament recreates the villainous soldier in the red armor and skirts in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2017 as late-release ornament, is the inscrutable adversary in its segmented armor, with the staff weapon in a two-handed grip! The Praetorian Guard in ornament form is 4 3/4" tall and wide and 2 1/4" deep, making it one of the biggest Star Wars character ornaments Hallmark has ever made. Hallmark charged $17.95 for the ornament originally and, despite the size and sculpt, that seems just a little on the pricey side for an ornament that is just a little under-detailed on the coloring front.

The Hallmark Praetorian Guard ornament is made of a durable plastic and it is exceptionally well-sculpted. The Praetorian Guard is basically a new-style of Royal Guard from the villainous First Order. These guards are designed to prioritize flexibility as well as armor. The Praetorian Guard's armor is expertly sculpted and the ornament includes decent detailing on the arms to include the segments that make it more of a flexible, ninja-like guard than the stagnant Royal Guards of eras past. Hallmark did an exceptional job with the sculpted details on the Praetorian Guard; the helmet has segments and is cut with precisely the right shape, the gloves are closed around the staff, with decent detailing for the finer lines on the back of the hands and for the fingers. The boots and staff have tiny nooks and crannies that look incredible for their accuracy.

Despite the quality of the sculpted detailing, the Praetorian Guard is very light on any coloring details. The armor is colored in monotones; red, black on the legs and the soles of the boots, highlights of silver-gray on the staff's blades. The red of the Praetorian Guard's armor is exceptionally clean, like these guards have not been in any battles or shown any wear to them. The armored segments do not have any depth or shading to them that makes them look like they are quite as segmented as they actually are. The armor has no additional coloring accents to them, which makes the Guard seem just a little more plastic than it ought to.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the Praetorian Guard could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a comparatively high-priced ornament compared to other Star Wars character ornaments. This is Praetorian Guard and it simply hangs on the tree.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Praetorian Guard ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, Praetorian Guard is very much an unnecessary luxury. The Praetorian Guard is pretty forgettable to those who are not part of Star Wars fandom and merchandising. Die-hard collectors and fans will definitely want one, but this is a limited edition ornament with limited appeal to more casual fans. The ornament has a steel hook loop embedded into the top back of the character's helmeted head. From that position, the Praetorian Guard ornament hangs perfectly level, which would be obvious if the balance was off given the staff's position.


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 Praetorian Guard ornament is limited and has the potential to quickly appreciate, despite its pretty steep original release price, if fans glom onto the Praetorian Guards after the film's hype dies down. Given the late-season release of the Praetorian Guard, many fans are likely to miss the ornament's release and have to try to find it on the secondary market after the season ends.


The 2017 Praetorian Guard ornament is one that, despite its minor coloring issues and its original expense is one of the best Star Wars ornaments released this year!

This is an ornament I happily sell in my online store! Check out my current inventory at: Hallmark Ornament Inventory!

For other Hallmark ornaments of Star Wars characters, please check out my reviews of:
2017 Rey The Last Jedi
2017 Luke Skywalker The Force Awakens
2017 First Order Stormtrooper FN-2199
2016 Death Trooper Rogue One
2016 Imperial Stormtrooper
2016 BB-8
2016 Han Solo The Force Awakens
2015 Captain Phasma The Force Awakens
2015 Kylo Ren The Force Awakens
2015 C-3PO and R2-D2
2015 Admiral Ackbar (Limited Edition)
2014 Yoda Peekbuster Ornament
2014 Imperial Scout Trooper
2013 Jango Fett
2013 Wicket And Teebo
2013 Lego Yoda
2013 Boushh Limited Edition
2012 Lego Imperial Stormtrooper
2012 Sith Apprentice Darth Maul
2012 General Grievous
2012 Momaw Nadon Limited Edition
2011/2012 Lego Darth Vader
2011 Jedi Master Yoda
2011 Bossk Limited Edition ornament
2010 Lando Calrissian Limited Edition ornament
2010 Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
2010 Boba Fett and Han Solo in Carbonite mini-ornament set
2009 Greedo Limited Edition ornament
2009 Han Solo As Stormtrooper
2008 Emperor Palpatine ornament
2005 Slave Leia ornament
2000 Darth Maul
1999 Max Rebo Band mini-ornament set
1998 Princess Leia


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

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