Hallmark Hockey Greats, 2001
In 2001, Hallmark released two hockey player ornaments: Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux. The Jagr ornament was the fifth and final of the Hallmark Hockey Greats series. The 2001 Mario Lemieux ornament was technically not part of the series, but it does fit in with the other ornaments nicely. In fact, it is a straight-up repaint of the Lemieux Hockey Greats ornament released in 1998. Still, it is not noted as part of the Hockey Greats series on the box like the other ornaments from 1997 to 2001.
Releasing a second Mario Lemieux ornament made sense at the time. Lemieux came out of retirement in late December 2000, scoring 76 points in 43 games. During the 2001-02 season, he missed much of the season but was still considered one of hockey’s elite players.
The back of the box has a short bio of Lemieux:
The only owner-player in a U.S. major league sports today, Mario Lemieux returned to the ice after a 3-year retirement and quickly led his team to a 5-0 win. It was December 2000, and the arena was packed with Penguins fans cheering for the remarkable team leader who, following his retirement in 1997, put together an ownership group and saved the franchise for their city. The powerful 6’4″ center continues to exhibit the same passion for the game that earned him six NHL scoring titles and three League MVPs. Lemieux also guided the Penguins to two Stanley Cup championships (1991, 1992).
Look for the Keepsake Ornament featuring Lemieux’s teammate and protege Jaromir Jagr at your Hallmark retailer this year.
At the time that this ornament was released, Jagr was no longer with the Pittsburgh Penguins, having been traded to the Washington Capitals in July of that year.
Likeness 3 out of 5
This ornament is a repaint of the 1998 Mario Lemieux ornament, so obviously both get the same score of “3” for likeness. But this just looks too young to be Lemieux in his 30s.
Here, Mario looks more like a mature-for-his-age teenager. Too cherubic. You could almost see Lemieux rendered like this in a Norman Rockwell painting.
At least Mario is rockin’ the hockey hair.
Pose 3 out of 5
Lemieux is in a skating pose, which looks fine when you hang the ornament up. However, it will not stand on its own — you have to hang it to display it, or it just lies on its side (like in the photos below). If the figure came with a stand, so you could put it on a shelf, it would be a lot nicer of a keepsake.
Detail 5 out of 5
All the Hallmark hockey ornaments have incredible detail. Nothing is overlooked — from the texture of the hockey socks to the skate laces to the folds and wrinkles on the jersey. Both flat and gloss paints are used, making some parts shiny and other parts dull.
Also notable is that the Nike “swoop” logo appears everywhere on the figure — his helmet, sticks, skates, shorts and gloves. This is because Lemieux signed an endorsement deal with Nike shortly after he came out of retirement. Either the figure had to show Mario wearing Nike, or Hallmark added Nike logos to make it look more authentic.
The only drawback of the figure’s detail is that the shade of gold used on the figure does not match the shade of gold used on the Jagr figure — such as the outlines around the numbers, the pinstripes on the shoulders and the Penguins logo itself.
It is hard to tell from the above picture due to the lighting, but the Lemieux figure uses more of a “yellow” color, while the Jagr figure uses more of a “gold.” So, the figures don’t look quite uniform when displayed together. You think they would have matched the colors a little better since the figures were released at the same time.
Repaints / Variations
The 2001 Mario Lemieux ornament is a repaint of the 1998 Mario Lemieux ornament.
The 1998 ornament is of Lemieux in his white Penguins home jersey from the mid-1990s. Admit it — you want both of them!
My biggest complaint about this Lemieux ornament is the same as the previous Lemieux ornament — it looks too young. The details are awesome, though. Unfortunately, this ornament does not come with a trading card like the 1998 version does, but the black uniform is much cooler.
Year of release: 2001
Original retail price: $15.95 U.S.A. / $20.95 Canada
Approximate Size: 4 1/2″” tall
Sculptor: John “Collin” Francis
2 thoughts on “Mario Lemieux Hallmark Hockey Greats Keepsake Ornament 2001 edition”
Your vast array of collecting diversity never ceases to amaze me, Sal.
I’m glad that I can still surprise you after all these years.