Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ornament Review: A Visit from Santa #1 - Polar Bear - 2009 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Cute ornament to start a new series
Cons: Obvious seam in the bear, a bit too "dirty."
The Bottom Line:
The bear has some flaws
But the overall effect
Is still very cute

Santa Kicks Off an Ornament Series for Animal Lovers by Visiting a North Pole Neighbor

When I started collecting Hallmark ornaments in 2010, I started looking at their series ornaments.  At first, I dismissed the A Visit from Santa series, but the more I looked at it, the more it grew on me.  Fortunately, a couple stores in my area still had the first in the series, so I was able to get Santa's visit with a polar bear.

The series captures moments of Santa visiting animals to spread Christmas cheer to them.  His first visit is to a polar bear, which makes sense since they live near him at the North Pole.  This isn't quite the Santa of modern America pop culture; he's just a shade off.  Yes, he's dressed in red.  He's wearing a cap with a star at the end instead of a pompom.  He's red coat is tied with a green sash and has a green fringe with holly leaves on it.  And near the bottom are Christmas trees in white.  He's wearing green mittens and holding a walking stick.  His face is pretty detailed, and you get a hint of rosy cheeks behind his snow white beard.  Frankly, Santa's appearance was one of the things that had to grow on me with this ornament, but I like it now.

Santa's got his white hand resting on the polar bear.  The bear is mostly white with obvious bits of texture on him.  Frankly, the bear is one of the things I still don't quite like.  He was obviously made in two pieces and glued together; the seam around his neck is quite obvious and is a bit distracting.  Also, they decided to put some brown around his feet.  I'm sure it is supposed to represent dirt, but on several ornaments I looked at, it was over done and actually just looked bad.  I managed to find one with the brown kept to a minimum and it doesn't look that bad, but the over use on most of the ones I looked at was actually a disappointment.

A friend in the know says this ornament is made from injected plastic.  I know it doesn't feel quite as firm as the plastic ornaments I normally get from Hallmark, but it doesn't feel like it would break easily, either.  Still, it's probably best not to let kids play with it.  If used as a decoration, I'm sure it will last a long time.

The ornament actually has a nice base.  The polar bear has all his feet on the ground, and Santa has a solid base.  This means it stand flat if you decide to display it somewhere.  Personally, I think it's a great size to hang on a tree.  There's a little brass ring on the top of Santa's head.  He hangs every so slightly forward, but it's not noticeable unless you are looking for it.

This ornament was released in 2009.  Unlike some series that attempt to incorporate the year into the ornament, the only place you'll find it is on the bottom.  That's also where you can find the 1 in the Christmas tree symbol that Hallmark uses to  identify their series ornaments.

Hallmark must have cut back on production on ornaments in 2009, maybe fueled by the recession.  While I was able to find this ornament discounted, many places sold out of it before Christmas in 2009.  Even the few I had in town are now gone.  Prices seem to be ranging from $20 to $30 now, but I have a feeling that the price may increase in the years to come.  It really is cute, and as more cute animals come out, I think the series will become very popular.  If you like this one, you may want to get it now.

And I'm glad I broke down and got it.  Yes, parts of the polar bear still bother me, but for the most part I like the first in the A Visit from Santa series.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Visits from Santa.

Original Price: $12.50

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