Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ornament Review: Checking It Twice - Once Upon a Christmas #1 - 2011 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful details and fun light and sound effects
Cons: Price (but totally worth it)
The Bottom Line
Wonderful details
Made better by lights, music
Really worth the price

No Reason to Check Your List Twice.  You'll Want This Great Series Starter

I am a collector.  You tell me something is part of a series, and I immediately take notice.  Since I've started collecting Hallmark ornaments, that has become my downfall.  I collect enough series that I decided I was not going to start any new ones in 2011.  So far, I've bought the first in two new series and plan to start a third as well.  (I'm not touching the fourth.  Really!)

One of those new series is connected to Hallmark's new Wonder and Light Cord.  While they may be using new technology to power the ornaments in the Once Upon a Christmas series, Checking It Twice incorporates lots of nostalgic and artistic touches.

This is a cord that you can string on your Christmas tree.  There are a number of special outlets (most of the time 7) that you can then connect your specially marked ornaments to.  This cord gives them the power they need to light up and, when a button is pressed, play music while leading the others in a light show.  They are lots of fun, which is a shame because they are also some of Hallmark's more expensive ornaments.

So, what does this particular ornament look like?  The main focus is Santa sitting in a chair.  He's wearing red pants but he's got a white shirt and slippers on.  On his lap is a big book with the names of the good kids, and he's in the process of checking it with a feather pen.  Okay, so the pen itself is really plastic, but it looks great.  At his feet is a Labrador puppy laying on a pillow.  On the table next to him are a lamp and a plate of sugar cookies.

This is bigger than your average ornament.  All the pieces sit on a circular base that is four inches across.  Santa's head is about 5 inches high.  But this allows you to notice so many more details.  The chair, for example, is very ornately decorated.  This is one ornament you won't mind if it turns around.

For those who have been collecting Keepsake ornaments for a long time, this is a fun treasure hunt.  The puppy I mentioned is the same puppy from the popular Puppy Love series entry a few years back.  Both the chair and table were part of a studio signing piece from about 10 years ago.  Around the base are decorations based on several other popular series.  The only one I recognize and own are the sugar cookies, which are miniature versions of the first ornament in the Season's Treatings series.

The big base is flat, so you can display this ornament on a mantle or table if that's what you want to do.  The bottom of the base is also where you'll find the 1 in a Christmas tree, a marking Hallmark uses to show this is the first in a series.  The hook for hanging the ornament is in Santa's left shoulder.  The ornament hangs forward and to one side a little bit, but it's not too bad.  What you will notice is how heavy this ornament is.  You'll definitely want to find a sturdy branch to hang it on.

But what about the sound and light aspect?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  When the ornament is plugged in, the base flashes red and green.  A light also comes on the book with the list of names.  The only light that constantly stays on is the lamp on the table.  To start the music and light, press the button in front of the puppy.  When you press the button, you get a show that lasts about a minute.  Santa talks about how he'll need a bigger bag for all the presents to take to the good kids for the first 10 seconds, and the rest of it is an upbeat instrumental version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with bells as the percussion instrument.  It's really fun to listen to.  The lights on the ornament blink on and off in time to the music.  The other ornaments that are connected to the same cord this ornament is on also flash their lights, although it's not really connected to what this ornament does.  And Santa's voice?  It's a warm, friendly bass.  I can't imagine them finding a better Santa.

Because of all these elements, the ornament retails for $30.  Plus you need to buy the cord separately for around $6.  (Again, you can plug multiple ornaments into the cord.)  This isn't a cheap ornament, but I find it worth it.

The detail in Checking It Twice makes it a work of art.  It's absolutely beautiful.  The light and music just adds to the fun.  If the rest of the ornaments in this series live up to this one, I will be very glad I started it.

And check out the rest of the Once Upon a Christmas series.

Original Price: $29.95

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