Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Almost Everything "Star Trek" Fans Could Want From An Ornament (Except Availability): Hallmark's Enterprise!

The Good: Good sculpt, Good balance, Interesting light effect
The Bad: Missing nacelle lights
The Basics: Expensive, but a surprisingly solid collectible investment, the U.S.S. Enterprise was the first and truly wonderful, Hallmark Keepsake Star Trek ornament!

There are, let's face it, truly very few iconic science fiction space ships. If you were to ask the average person on the street to identify a picture of the lead space ship from the top ten science fiction series's of all time, odds are, only one would be so universal as to be known by the majority. That ship would be the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701, the starship that carried the intrepid Captain James Kirk and his crew on its historic five-year (or, three year, as it turned out) mission. Instantly recognizable, the original Enterprise is hanging in the Smithsonian (when they do hang it) and since 1991, it has hung on the Christmas trees of those lucky enough to snag one.

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 (click here for my review of the series!), 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.


The "U.S.S. Enterprise" ornament faithfully recreates the famed Federation starship in solid white plastic. The ornament, released in 1991 - as part of the show's 25th 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, the U.S.S. Enterprise ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships and most fans of the ship and the franchise quickly realized that $24.00 was a steal for this ornament, which lights up. Truth be told, most fans did not get the opportunity to purchase this ship, it was so rare. They are most commonly found on the secondary market drawing absurd prices. As a result, collectors who waited, missed out. And Hallmark realized it had a valuable franchise on its hands!

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 1991 on the engineering hull, on the left side, aft. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order 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 establish 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. 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 five inch cord that is attached completely to the underside of the engineering hull of the ornament. This green electric cord is embedded into the bottom aft section and it allows the ornament to be plugged into a Christmas light strand.

Plugging the ornament in (one needs to remove a single light bulb from the strand, then slide the male end from the ornament into the female end on the strand) 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 he 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.


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.


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. In fact, most of us did not know at the time that Hallmark would be releasing this and we were left looking for them when the first, exceptionally limited, wave of them were gobbled up. The result is that most dealers at conventions demand (and get) an incredible $350 for this ornament! No kidding! Mint in box, that is the standard price and that is down from approximately $500 five years ago. In other words, there is a great demand for the limited supply of these and it makes for a great investment piece if you luck upon one!


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, science fiction and the U.S.S. Enterprise specifically are likely to covet this exceptionally rare, near perfect, Star Trek ornament. It definitely was the start of something good (and profitable) for Hallmark!

For other Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2010 Edward And Bella Twilight Ornament
2010 His Masters Bidding Star Wars Ornament
2010 Defender Of Justice Iron Man 2 Ornament


For other ornament reviews, please check out my index page.

© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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