2012 Hallmark Ornament Highlights

Sure it’s after Christmas, but for us fans of Hallmark ornaments it’s a fun or frustrating time (depending on how successful you are in hunting) for bargains as genre-based ornaments go on sale for half off or more.

As we’re busy gobbling up 2011’s ornaments, let’s look ahead to this year’s ornaments. Most of them will go on sale sometime in July with the rest coming out in October. Incidentally, the full lineup of Hallmark ornaments won’t be officially revealed until this spring. But for now here are the known 2012 ornaments based on cool stuff we like. In other words, this ain’t about fuzzy elves or reindeer!

Star Trek

U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hallmark is releasing this replica of Captain Picard’s Enterprise. Collectors will know that this ship was produced in 1993. The difference between these two is that this one can be displayed on a stand (similar to Hallmark’s 2006 version of the original Enterprise) and is battery operated. Presumably it will feature lights and sounds; hopefully Jerry Goldsmith’s majestic score will also┬áplay when a button is pushed.

Dr. McCoy

The third in the Legends of Star Trek series. This figure of everyone’s favorite Starfleet doctor is a companion piece to the other entries in the series, Kirk and Spock.

Two Spocks Meet

Not sure what is the official title of this diorama. It’s a recreation of sorts (without the Star Trek delta shield logo in the background) of that scene near the end of the 2009 Star Trek film where the old Spock from the real universe meets his younger alternate self.

Star Wars

If you’re a Star Wars fan then this is your year. Without contemplating any convention exclusives, a total of five ornaments will be released by Hallmark. They include:

TIE Interceptor

Barely glimpsed in Return of the Jedi (but that’s nothing new when it comes to Star Wars merchandise), nonetheless it will be beautifully detailed as are most Hallmark ship ornaments.

Han Solo on a Tauntaun

From The Empire Strikes Back, Han sporting his winter duds on his soon-to-be doomed riding animal. For any non-fan, the animal is a tauntaun used as beasts of burden by rebel soldiers and personnel on the frozen world of Hoth. Han took this animal out at night to look for his friend Luke who…oh never mind, it looks neat! Trust me it will make a solid gift for a Star Wars fan and it won’t cost a lot either, probably selling for less than $20. Then again from looking at the fact that the ornament has a base which would fit batteries it could mean the price could be jacked up. But it’s still a good gift!

General Grievous

As a fan of this character from Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars cartoon, I’ve been hoping they would release this Jedi slayer, which if you’re into the villains of the movies, make a great addition to that collection or on your tree. (A fan can geek out by putting all the Star Wars villains together in one spot!) The cape and lightsabre are a nice touch. Too bad they didn’t have him with all four arms extended, but that would probably make the ornament even more fragile. Future editions can feature his raspy voice.

Darth Maul

This is Maul’s second ornament, the first one was released in 2000 a year after The Phantom Menace came out. Fortunately, the pose is different in this year’s model and not a re-issue with a new paint job. Those kinds of ornaments are reserved for convention to go on sale in┬áthe secondary markets for obscene amounts of money.

Lego Stormtrooper

Hot on the heels of the successful Lego Darth Vader ornament comes this one of the white-clad cannon fodder. Perhaps Lego droids or Yoda are up for 2013.

Waldermann Rivera

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Thor Is Better Than Iron Man!

There’s the other blu-ray release this week, Marvel Studios’ Thor, which came off as a pleasant, unexpected surprise when released in theaters this past May. Why was it better than it seemed? Blame it on marketing, maybe (man did those awful heavy metal riffs at the end of the trailer nearly kept me away from the movie). But it looked very uninspiring in the trailers as some run-of-the-mill fantasy romp. Instead the film was a clever re-imagining of the Marvel character while celebrating its larger-than-life Kirbyesque landscape.

In the comic books, Thor is the God of Thunder from Norse myth. While the comics also state that he and his fellow Asgardians are more or less extra-terrestrials, this film full on states this as fact. The result is one of the more imaginative alien cultures shown on film. Basically, their technology is so advanced that it seems almost like magic to us. For example the famed Rainbow Bridge which leads to other realms is for all intents and purposes a sort of wormhole machine and it looked spectacular on the big screen.

More importantly, director Kenneth Brannaugh’s science-based vision of the Asgardian world is so rich that it fires any viewer’s imagination. Right away, I was able to conceptualize how Thor is probably genetically attuned to his hammer that is itself a probable lightning rod. Despite some misgivings from some about the Earth based scenes, which inject much needed humor, the entire effort pays off and enriches the burgeoning Marvel movie universe.

Why is it better than Iron Man? I could go on forever but I’ll just go over a few points. For starters, the villain Loki is so much better than Iron Man’s Obadiah Stane. Loki could’ve been a Joker rip off but in this film, he’s so calculating and subtle that you can’t help see his side that Thor isn’t entitled to rule Asgard. Stane on the other hand, is your average evil capitalist. Too many Marvel films have them. Another point is that with Iron Man, it takes forever for Tony Stark to actually become don his regular Iron Man armor. In fact, I believe there are only three scenes where he’s in the red-and-gold outfit and this happens after more than hour into the film! With Thor right away you see him using his powers (which is one of the main reasons he gets exiled to Earth) and actually Thor doesn’t bother with a standard origin storyline and that’s a relief. Instead the transformation into a hero has to do with Thor transforming his soul. And one last point is that Iron Man after a fantastic first hour starts to drag once Stark escapes his captors, then it’s waiting until he fights Stane. And that came off as a quickly done robotic fight straight out of a Transformers film. Not with Thor, I know some people complained about his scenes on Earth but to me it added more to his story and only made me wish they spent more time with the fish-out-of water aspect to it.

The film was a big hit and a sequel’s in the works. However, it did seem to get lost in the buzz but that’s because the market is saturated with superhero films. Add to that the crappy 3D conversion that everyone complains about (when will studios realize that cheaply done 3D results in hard-to-see film that will turn off audiences from shelling out moolah for any future films?) and that’s why it wasn’t as big as hit as Iron Man. That’s too bad, but now that it’s on DVD it’s worth a look.

Lewis T. Grove