The Good: Good sculpt, Interesting light effect
The Bad: Missing nacelle lights, Poor balance on stand, Only lights up on stand, Repetitive
The Basics: The original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament returns as a substandard ornament/statue that is likely to disappoint avid collectors and underwhelm more casual fans.
When Hallmark began making Star Trek ornaments for the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek, it began with an exceptionally limited ornament released with almost no fanfare. That was the U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!) and the few people who found them were pretty well amazed by the piece with its light up function and rarity. For the 40th Anniversary, rather than actually innovating, Hallmark released the U.S.S. Enterprise again . . . with some alterations. As a result, there is a vastly more common Enterprise 1701 ornament that has no improvements and a few detractions from the original, making one wonder why Hallmark opted for the lazy way out.
For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Enterprise, this was the defining starship of Star Trek. Included in every episode of the original Star Trek (reviewed here!), the U.S.S. Enterprise is a science fiction icon. The home of the Federation crew whose mission was exploration and discovery, the U.S.S. Enterprise was popular with Star Trek fans and was the obvious choice for a starting point from Hallmark when they began producing Star Trek themed Christmas ornaments and, one supposes, an obvious choice to reissue if they had to reissue anything. I am from the camp that there are plenty of other starships Hallmark could do for the first run before they had to repeat, anniversary or not.
The "U.S.S. Enterprise" ornament faithfully recreates the famed Federation starship in solid white plastic. The ornament, released in 2006 - as part of the show's 40th Anniversary celebration - perfectly captured the surface details of the original Enterprise. This was easy enough to do as the Enterprise had a rather simple mold and very few details. However, Hallmark created the starship with its distinctive bridge dome, engineering hull (with such details as windows molded into it!) and warp nacelles. Measuring five and a quarter inches long, two and one-half inches wide and one and three-quarters inches tall (four inches tall when attached to its stand), the U.S.S. Enterprise ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships and after years of searching for one, many fans of the ship and the ornaments gladly shelled out the $25.00 Hallmark wanted for the ornament because it was a better option to them than the $350 first run Enterprise, which remains that pricey in the secondary market. The thing is, many fans who held out for this reissue were disappointed: it does not light up except when attached to the base and the ship falls off the base rather easily.
The Hallmark "U.S.S. Enterprise" ornament is made of a durable white plastic and has the starship on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments. Like many of the subsequent Star Trek ornament releases, this one does have the date stamped or painted on it; it is dated 2006 on the stand, which it must plug into to light up.
The U.S.S. Enterprise is detailed adequately. So, in addition to details molded into the starship, like windows, phaser banks, plating on the saucer section and the deflector dish on the front of the engineering hull, the Enterprise has a very faithful paint job. This means that the top and bottom of the saucer section has the call numbers (1701) on them, the starship's name and number on the front of the saucer section, the numbers and racing stripes on the engineering hull and warp nacelles and even gold tones in the deflector dish! In other words, the sculpt and painting details continue (or, in this case, recreates) a high level of quality for fans of the ornaments and the show!
That said, the U.S.S. Enterprise is a pretty easy ship to get right and Hallmark did a great job of not screwing it up!
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Enterprise" has a light function. Fans of the ornaments might be a little disappointed that this ornament has a light function, but no audio one, especially considering that the original release had lights, but no sound, too. Many of the Star Trek ornaments both light up and play a sound clip. The "U.S.S. Enterprise" does not. It does, however, have a slot in the bottom of the ship that plugs (poorly) into a black plastic base. Assuming one has batteries that work (three 1.5V watch batteries) the ship lights up. Well, what of it that lights up lights up.
Plugging the ornament in to the stand activates the light effect on the "U.S.S. Enterprise." The light effects on this starship ornament is remarkably simple; the bridge dome atop the saucer section lights up white, as does the primary phaser array dome directly underneath it. There are four flashing lights on the saucer's lip, two green, two red. While the ornament is plugged in, these lights flash at random, which is pretty neat.
But the big strike against this ornament comes in the warp nacelles. The tips of the warp nacelles are appropriately molded in red plastic, capping off the struts with translucent red domes. But these do not light up! Rather astonishingly, there are no light effects in the final area that actually had a practical light on the original working model of the ship! That Hallmark either couldn't or didn't manage to include this as a lit area is disturbing. One would think in fifteen years they could have solved that problem.
As well, the Enterprise continually falls off its stand (see below), so the light effects only work hit or miss based on whether or not it is actually on the stand firmly or not.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Enterprise" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Enterprise" ornament is an essential piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top, aft portion of the saucer section.
The location of the loop is the best that Hallmark could reasonably do. However, this forces the front of the saucer up about twenty degrees as the nacelles weigh the back down some. As a result, this ship does not cruise straight through space, but rather is always ascending. It looks fine, though.
The real balance problem comes when one tries to keep the Enterprise attached to its stand. The Enterprise's pitch actually is enough so that when it is pressed into the base, it often wobbles back, with the weight of the nacelles torquing it off the base. The result is that one either has to choose to hang it on the tree or light it up on the base and while having options might seem like a good idea, it's only a good idea when that actually works. This only does sporadically and the base is poorly designed for keeping the Enterprise on it.
Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition U.S.S. Enterprise ornament. This Enterprise recreation is vastly more mass produced, but word quickly spread among fans as to how poorly it worked in terms of functionality so it became a pegwarmer. As a result, it is still fairly easily available in the secondary market at the original issue price or a deflated one. Unlike what frequently happens when products are reissued, this Enterprise did not cause the original ornament to deflate in value.
Fans of the Star Trek franchise, science fiction and the U.S.S. Enterprise specifically are likely to want a U.S.S. Enterprise 1701 ornament, but those who look into it will not want this one. The lack of balance and consistent light effects make it a dismal failure, even if it is far more affordable than the original release.
For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2010 U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek refit)
2009 Klingon Battlecruiser
2008 U.S.S. Reliant
2005 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A
2003 Scorpion Attack Craft
2000 Borg Cube
1998 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E
1995 Romulan Warbird
1994 Klingon Bird Of Prey
1993 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo
For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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