The Good: Decent likeness of Mr. Spock, Good balance
The Bad: Overproduced, Expensive
The Basics: A very average ornament, the mass-produced, slightly off-color skin tones and expense of the Mr. Spock ornament keep it from true greatness.
I thought I would start today by addressing something that ought to be obvious about Christmas ornaments: in the end, it is hard not to make an ornament average. After all, most Christmas ornaments are seen once a year and have nothing to do, save hang on a recently-killed tree as decoration. Unlike things like action figures, which are played with, most ornaments have a simple function: hang and look good. I have been evaluating ornaments that are collectible and that does add some additional requirements to an ornament.
One of those things is the collectibility and realism of the sculpt of the ornament. As a result, it is harder to define what makes an "average" collectible ornament. Thus, things like cost do play a factor and, frankly, Paramount (now CBS) Studios charges an arm and a leg for the franchise rights to their products and licensees like Hallmark end up passing that lack of savings on to the customer. As a result, some of the Hallmark ornaments, like Mr. Spock are issued with a seemingly high (and it is) issue price right around $20.00 and those who collect ornaments in general (as opposed to Star Trek memorabilia in specific) might well come away from the shopping feeling like they are getting ripped off. Still, Mr. Spock is a decent ornament and he defines well what makes an average Star Trek personnel ornament, making for an essential baseline review for me.
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Spock, he was the chief science officer and first officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise for almost every episode of Star Trek (reviewed here!). Played brilliantly by Leonard Nimoy, Spock became an iconic character in popular culture with his logical demeanor, pointed ears and presence in every episode of the original Star Trek television show. The way he would square off with Dr. McCoy became a high point for many fans, who watched for their interactions. Spock was defined by his unemotional behavior and devotion to logic and reason. So, it makes a lot of sense that Hallmark would make Mr. Spock the second in its series of original Star Trek character ornaments right behind Captain Kirk.
The "Mr. Spock" recreates well the famed First Officer of the Enterprise in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 1996, is a fair, if average work with realistic detailing, but shading that is a bit off for Spock. Measuring four inches tall (to the top of Spock's head, 4 1/2" to the top of the ornament's metal hook), three and one half inches wide and two and three-quarters inches deep, the Mr. Spock ornament was a decent seller for Hallmark when it originally sold them at $17.95.
The Hallmark "Mr. Spock" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the Vulcan officer seated at his science console on the bridge. The ornament comes with Spock, his chair, and a section of bridge console, which he has his hands on. All of the pieces of molded together, so there is nothing that will fall off on this ornament. And it looks pretty cool.
Spock is colored correctly with his blue Sciences shirt and the bridge console looks good, as does the chair. Mr. Spock is detailed adequately, for those who are casual fans and those who are just considering this an ornament. Star Trek fans tend to be a bit more demanding, though. Spock has a neutral expression on his face, but the skin tones are clearly human, not with the slight green tinge that would define Spock as a Vulcan. As well, mine has some stray paint in his ear and near his eye. Outside that, though, this is a good likeness and details like the multicolored buttons on the console he his in front of are decent.
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Mr. Spock could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a low-cost (comparatively) option for those who might not want to shell out for the starship series of Star Trek ornaments. This is Spock, attached permanently to the console, all it does is hang. This might be especially disappointing for fans as Leonard Nimoy had recorded a sound bit for the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament (see link below) and that could have been reused in part to enhance this ornament. Similarly, it would have been cool is the scanner on the console had lit up (as it did in the television series). Having the ornament without any features might disappoint some collectors.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Mr. Spock" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Mr. Spock" ornament is a pretty necessary one. The ornament has a brass hook loop that comes out of the top of the chair and hangs over Spock's head. This is remarkably stable (surprisingly) and the ornament only sways when it (or the tree) is bumped.
As well, the Mr. Spock ornament is remarkably well balanced; Spock hang level at his seat.
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. Since then, they have made ornament replicas of almost all of the major starships from the franchise and when they started on the personnel in 1995, they were quite a bit more mass produced than that first one. The "Mr. Spock" ornament was a moderate success commercially. Between the popularity of this character with fans and the general public, Mr. Spock sold well. Still, there were so many of this ornament produced that he is readily available (still) in the secondary market.
In other words, this is not the best investment piece, but it does seem to satisfy most collectors and people who spent their money on it.
Fans of the Star Trek franchise, Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock are likely to be largely pleased by the Mr. Spock ornament; it is a decent recreation of one of the most lovable characters from one of the classic science fiction television shows of all time. And despite the high cost of the ornament, this lives up to what an ornament is supposed to: depict the character well and hang.
For other Star Trek ornaments of characters, please check out my reviews of:
2010 Legends Of Star TrekCaptain James T. Kirk
2009 Limited Edition Ilia Probe
1997 Dr. McCoy
For other Christmas 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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