Star Wars Ornaments Wish List

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One popular gift item for the holidays with fans are Star Wars ornaments. Though there are produced by different companies the best ones are those made by Hallmark. They were first produced by Hallmark in 1996 a few years after the success of the Hallmark’s other sci-fifalcon brand the Star Trek ornaments. The first beautifully detailed ship ornament was of the Millennium Falcon and in that same year, Hallmark produced a set of mini-ornaments which consisted of a TIE fighter, an X-wing fighter and an AT-AT.

Since then, the company has released several ornaments each year and there is no sign of slowing down. Many of these ornaments have become highly sought after in the secondary market like the original R2-D2, while others are duds that would be lucky to fetch a buck on eBay (examples of those include Emperor Palpatine and Princess Leia in her slave outfit).

The pattern of these releases per year consists of a strikingly detailed ship, characters and dioramas. The first Star Wars (and Star Trek) ships featured lights but had to be inserted via a wire into a Christmas tree light socket. These days, batteries replaced the wires but for some reason while the Star Trek ships still have light features (except for the NX-01 and the 2012 Enterprise D) the Star Wars ships only have sound features. It’s too bad, because the lights as seen in the Star Trek ships really add an oomph factor and the Star Wars ships seem kind of pale in comparison.

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The character ornaments look great on trees, even the villains like Darth Vader, and they are much more colorful and eye catching when compared to the Star Trek character ornaments who are basically just humans. With Star Wars, Hallmark wisely utilized the many different aliens and droids in that universe and this could be why the ornaments are so popular. Even the human ornaments are nifty with the same characters being released wearing different outfits or accompanied by exotic companions like the Han Solo ornament with him riding on a tauntaun.

duelThe dioramas themselves are usually topnotch. Some include lights and sounds that capture specific moments from the films like Anakin Skywalker’s duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode III or when the Millennium Falcon leaves Mos Eisley (that diorama boasts John Williams’ iconic score) in Episode IV. Other dioramas were kind of frustrating, take 2011’s recreation of the Han Solo and Greedo confrontation in Episode IV. We still don’t know who fired first!

Hallmark also released ornaments based on the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and even LEGO Star Wars figures. Undoubtedly with the new batch of films coming up in a few years, there will be ornaments based on those as well.

hp photosmart 720Beginning with 2007, Hallmark had branched out with special, limited edition Star Wars ornaments that were only on sale on premiere weekends. Many of these ornaments, the first being the Tusken Raider, are highly sought after collectibles. But Hallmark raised the ante recently with extra rare, limited ornaments that were only available in conventions. Many of these special ornaments were basically repaints of previously released ornaments such as the K-3PO/R3PO and R2-Q5/R2-A3 sets being C-3PO and R2-D2 painted in different colors. However, Hallmark also put out original ornaments in these conventions of the nefarious bounty hunters IG-88, Dengar, 4-LOM and Zuckuss, as well as Ben Kenobi and Ponda Baba (that alien whose arm got lopped off by Kenobi in the Cantina). All of these extra rare ornaments are hard to find and command a lot of money in the secondary markets.

The success and high value of these rare ornaments are a testament to the popularity of the Star Wars ornaments. Given the diverse nature of the Star Wars universe, there are many ornament ideas to be pursued. Hallmark should consider making these ornaments, as well as those based on the upcoming films:

Characters and Dioramas

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi riding on Boga, that agile dinosaur-like creature with the funky honks seen in Episode III.
  • A diorama featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Chewbacca in the trash compactor, and have a feature where the chamber starts to compress!
  • A diorama featuring the Episode II arena battle with the huge beasts.
  • Mace Windu with his purple lightsaber.
  • Watto, who would look at home suspended on a tree branch.
  • The bug-like droidekas seen throughout the prequel films.
  • The MagnaGuards that accompany General Grievous, complete with their buzzing electrostaffs.
  • Admiral Ackbar the Mon Calamari militaryackbar leader who commanded the Rebels in Return Of the Jedi.
  • A diorama featuring Luke on Dagobah with Yoda and a force ghost of Ben Kenobi.
  • A diorama taking place in Jabba’s palace during Return Of The Jedi.

Ships

  • The Y-wing, A-wing and B-wing fighters seen in Episodes IV-VI. It would be really cool if the B-wing fighter’s wings would open and close.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi starfighter seen in Episode II.jedi fighter They can even have one with the portable hyper space engines.
  • The Mon Calamari cruisers seen in Return Of The Jedi.
  • The Medical Frigate seen in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.
  • A speeder bike complete with a scout trooper. It would blend in nicely on a Christmas tree since they were shown in Endor’s forests.
  • A Bespin twin cloud car from The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge from Return Of The Jedi.
  • Anakin Skywalker’s pod racer from Episode I.

José Soto

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Rise Of The Guardians Is A Wondrous Ode To Childhood Wonder

guardians posterDreamworks Animation’s latest animated release Rise Of The Guardians could very well be one of their greatest films though vastly underrated and dismissed by general audiences. That’s a shame because unlike recent animated efforts from Dreamworks’ main rival, Rise Of The Guardians has a surprising amount of depth and heart.

Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians Of Childhood series of books, Rise Of The Guardians is directed by Peter Ramsey and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro and Joyce. One thing perspective viewers should note is that the film isn’t a comedy and is more of a fantasy adventure film and it’s a refreshing change for Dreamworks. Unlike their other films, Rise Of The Guardians doesn’t have any crude toilet humor aimed at kids, topical references or annoying modern songs that break a film’s narrative flow.

The film centers on Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) who was once human and turned into the mythical character after drowning. Though he enjoys his role of bringing frigid weather and playing one-jack frostsided with children (they are unable to see him) he longs for human contact or just to be noticed. At the same time, Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), who is Russian, notices that Pitch Black (Jude Law) a.k.a. the Boogeyman is preparing to return to the world and spread nightmares to children everywhere. Santa summons the other Guardians to the North Pole to combat Pitch. The motley crew is composed of a buffed-up, Australian Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman (who doesn’t speak in the film) and their tasks as Guardians are to protect the children of the world from evil, in the film’s case, nightmares. The newest Guardian to be recruited is Jack Frost who naturally doesn’t want to get involved in the conflict. See, he’s more of a party dude but he surprisingly relates to children better than the other characters since he alone actually plays with them. And that could be the best advantage he and the others have against Pitch and his growing army of darkness.

Rise Of The Guardians is beautifully animated and storyboarded. Many sequences bring out a sense of wonder and joy and even brought tears to my eyes. It’s a celebration of childhood and all the thrills of being a child who still believes in fantastical beings like Santa Claus. The characters are superbly executed, very relatable, engaging and surprisingly hip without going overboard. For example, the Easter Bunny is a tough dude who clashes often with Jack, but he has a tender passion for children and wants to bring a sense of hope with Easter. Santa Claus is a loud, boisterous man who sports tattoos on his forearms and drives a super-detailed sleigh that traverses through pitchthese wormhole-type constructs. While the Guardians are colorful and bright, Pitch is dark and monochromatic¬† and a startling contrast to them. The black-sand army of mares that he uses are terrifying and reflect violent storms to the Sandman’s graceful, golden sandy constructs like unicorns and dolphins. The light and dark clashes Pitch and the Guardians have are very spectacular.

But the center of the film is and should be Jack Frost. In many ways, he’s the one character we the audience can relate to the most. His journey was the best part of Rise Of The Guardians and he is a true hero with a surprising amount of depth.

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It’s hard to say what will and will not be considered a classic in the future. Hopefully, whether in theaters or on DVD, people will discover this unexpected gem and enjoy this exciting and exceptional film. But do try to see this eye popper on the big screen this holiday season, it’s something to be cherished.

Annette DeForrester