Monday, July 8, 2013

Ornament Review: Time for Toys - Once Upon a Christmas #2 - 2012 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mix of detail, light, and sound
Cons: Minor balance issue.  Expensive
The Bottom Line
Santa making toys
Rich details on ornament
Plus fun lights and sound

Santa's Hard at Work on His Work Bench

Last year, Hallmark introduced an ornament series that shows Santa getting ready for Christmas.  These ornaments are big and include light and sound, so they are on the expensive side.  Time for Toys is the second in this Once Upon a Christmas series, and it continues to show why these ornaments are worth it.

As the title of the ornament suggests, this time, Santa is sitting at a work bench building toys for all the good girls and boys from his list on last year's ornaments.  And I do mean bench literally in this case.  He is sitting on a bench with a train at his feet.  He's currently painting a duck, and he's got it in one hand and a paint brush in the other.  In the cubby holes on his work bench, there's a toy pony, some tools, and his pipe.  And on top of the bench is sitting a robot.

Of course, if I knew Hallmark ornaments better, I might be able to identify everything being references on the ornament.  I do know the toy pony looks like an ornament in the Pony for Christmas series.  I also recognize the robot as being a previous year ornament as well.  I assume the others are, but I don't know for sure.  As a bit of an in joke for the die hard fans, Santa mentions the creators of the original ornaments for the robot and pony when he's talking (which I'll get to in a minute).

As I said, this ornament includes light and sound.  But to fully enjoy it, you need to have the Magic Cord, a special cord that Hallmark introduced a couple years back.  This cord has spots for 7 ornaments total per cord, and they all interact to each other as you play them.

When this ornament is left to its own devices, the base flashes red and green, and the lights in the robot and on the pony flash on and off.  There's even a glowing light in the train.  To start this ornament playing, just hit the button at the front by the bench Santa is sitting on.  Santa speaks for about 15 seconds, and as he talks about the robot and the pony, they light up and make noise.  For the rest of the minute the ornament plays, the lights put on a show and you get an instrumental version of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas."  The other ornaments attached to this cord also flash in time to the music, although there's only one spot where this ornament controls the timing for a super neat effect.  I find these ornaments irresistible, and the way they interact is so much of the fun.  Santa's voice in this one, which is so deep and jolly, is another draw.  You just can't help but smile as you listen to him talk.

I have a feeling that the ornament requires quite a bit of electronics to function, and all that is hidden in the base the ornament sits on.  They put it to good use by having holly leaves and cute toys raised on it, plus the flashing lights I mentioned earlier.  That also means it is flat, so setting this in a display is certainly a valid option.  The 2 in a Christmas tree is on the bottom of the ornament.

The ornament is surprisingly light for it's size (it's 4 to 5 inches in all directions).  Still, you'll want to put it on a steady branch to make sure it doesn't fall off part way through the Christmas season.  The ornament tips back slightly, but it's not bad enough to really be an issue.

Especially when you look at all the detail.  While the toys are a bit on the small size and not as detailed, Santa looks amazingly real.  The benches have some great detail in them as well.  And long time Hallmark collectors will enjoy the nods to ornaments past, some of which they'll have in their collection.  (Personally, I'm still waiting to see that happen for me.  I'm too new to the game.)

The only draw back is the price - just under $30.  It's expensive, but when you consider the size and the show it puts on, I find it more than worth it.

So I am thrilled I started the Once Upon a Christmas series.  Each one is a treasure full of music and light, and I will enjoy Time for Toys for years to come.

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

Original Price: $29.95

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