Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 2008 Star Trek Communicator Ornament Is Very Cool, Even If It Doesn’t Scream "Holidays!"

The Good: Good balance, Good sound effect, Very cool sculpt
The Bad: Inaccurate sound effect, A little pricey
The Basics: A good ornament which was originally too expensive, the communicator began Hallmark's collection of device ornaments from Star Trek with precision!

Last year, I panned the Hallmark 2009 Phaser ornament. To make up for that, I felt it was only right to review the Star Trek Communicator ornament as well. In addition to starship and mural ornaments, as well as an exceptionally limited personnel ornament, in 2008, Hallmark started to include a Star Trek equipment ornament, in the form of the almost instantly recognizable communicator from Star Trek. While this was a slow seller last year - with its twenty dollar initial price tag - the secondary market's reduced prices on them seem to have found the ideal selling pace (most dealers sell them for about $15.00 and they cannot keep them stocked at that price!). As a result, fans and collectors who did not pick it up at full price have been more eagerly collecting this ornament and it is a decent one for fans and collectors.


The communicator ornament recreates the communicator and having seen some of the actual set-used props, this is a remarkably accurate replication of the communicator prop. The ornament, released in 2008, is a precise sculpt down to swirling dial at the top and the flip-open grill that supposedly acts as an antenna. The ornament features an ambitious sound chip and a limited light-up effect (though to be fair, the light up effect is exactly what the actual communicators did on the actual props).

Measuring two and three-quarters inches tall (a little over five when the grill is opened to expose the inside of the communicator), two inches wide and about three-quarters of an inch deep, the communicator ornament is a smaller-sized Star Trek ornament and with the light and sound feature, it seemed a bit pricey at the original issue price of $19.95, but in the secondary market the price seems to have come down quite a bit. The Hallmark communicator ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the communication's device on its own. Cast in black, gray and gold plastic the ornament looks just like the frequently-seen StarFleet device used by officers in the twenty-third century.

This ornament remains fairly easy to find in the secondary market, but given how well it has been selling there this year, one suspects it will not remain available there much longer, at least not at the deflated prices we've been seeing.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the communicator ornament has both a light effect and a sound effect. This ornament operates on three independent batteries so one does not need to position it near a light strand on their tree. The light effect only works when either of the buttons below the red or green LEDs are pressed. Pressing the center button - below the red LED - causes the communicator to beep and the red light to light up. Pressing the right button, below the green LED, causes that LED to light up.

When the button below the green LED is pressed, the ornament plays a clip from its extensive library of sound clips. More than any other Hallmark Star Trek ornament, the communicator trades on the sound chip to impress consumers. This has, allegedly, fifteen different quotes that come from the tiny speaker, though I've only heard thirteen after a year's use. The quotes feature the voices of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Uhura and Scotty and they are clips from at least five different episodes of the original Star Trek, almost all to do with communicating with landing parties or the ship.

The communicator also makes the classic communicator flipping open sound when one actually flips open the gold grate. This is a nice touch for authenticity and fans seemed to respond to this (this has been pretty solidly appearing in costume contests since it was released, with almost the same frequency as the Playmates communicator replica toy).


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake communicator ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the communicator ornament is a mid-priced option that most fans will be able to live without. The ornament has the standard bronze hook loop embedded into the top center of the communicator. This is fairly unobtrusive and necessary for the ornament. Because it is so light and the communicator is symmetrical anyway, it hangs perfectly straight.


Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (click here for that review!). Since then, they have made ornament replicas of almost all of the major starships and many of the characters from the franchise and they have all been more mass produced than that first one. The communicator ornament was a fairly slow seller from the Star Trek assortment in 2008, even to fans and not at all a success among the public at large. There were few fans who bought it and investors seem to have made off with the bulk of these as clearance specials. As a result, the ornament is only available now in the secondary market, though the price there is less than the original issue price. As a result, it seems this was only a good investment to those who bought while the price was severely deflated.


The communicator is an iconic part of Star Trek, and Hallmark made it a decent value with the extensive sound clips, but they overestimated interest at their original price. The market has settled on a fair price now and it is getting harder to find as fans become wowed by the effects this ornament has.

This is a great choice for Trekkers who do not have it yet, especially at the deflated price it may now be found at!

For other Star Trek Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2004 “The City On The Edge Of Forever” ornament
2005 Khan ornament
2010 Legends Of Star Trek Captain Kirk ornament


For other ornament or toy reviews, please visit my index page for a neat, organized listing, by clicking here!

© 2010, 2009 W.L . Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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