Friday, November 19, 2010

A Better Class Of Enterprise, The Enterprise NCC-1701-A Ornament Is Everything But Balanced!

The Good: Amazing detail, Good light effects
The Bad: No sound chip, A bit obscure for casual fans, Extreme balance issue
The Basics: With great detailing and a good light effects, Hallmark Keepsake created a decent, but hardly essential ornament with the Enterprise-A.

There are a few things about the Star Trek Hallmark ornaments that actually make me laugh when I look at the overall collection that has been released. Perhaps chief among these is laughable things is that when the ratings for Star Trek: Enterprise were struggling, Hallmark Keepsake did not release an ornament of the new, fresh, hip, NX-01 Enterprise. Instead, they released - at long last - an NCC-1701-A Enterprise. Take that new show! Loyal fans who loved the film franchise held out and we got a great ship, not some "sits on a stand for its effects" die-cast ornament! Possibly the most neglected of the Enterprises (which were in more than one episode or film!), the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A was the starship for the final two Star Trek films that featured the original cast.

For those unfamiliar with the Enterprise-A, introduced at the climax of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (click here for my review of the film!), the Enterprise-A was commanded by Captain James T. Kirk and his intrepid crew until it was decommissioned and replaced by the Excelsior-class Enterprise-B. This ship is essentially the same one as the Enterprise that had appeared as the refit Enterprise in the first three Star Trek films, with a few minor modifications. Still, it is remarkably popular with the fans of Star Trek and that is clearly who the ornament is marketed toward.


The "Enterprise-A" ornament faithfully recreates the cinematic Federation starship in solid white plastic. The ornament, released in 2005, is an impressive casting of the legendary starship with an immaculate paint job and decent-enough light feature. Measuring five and five-eighths inches long, two and one-half inches wide and one and one-half inches tall, the Enterprise-A ornament is a welcome addition to the Star Trek ornament line, as it is an oft-neglected ship. Hallmark seemed to sense the dwindling interest in the Star Trek franchise, but they did not include a voice chip for this starship. Still, Star Trek fans tended to shell out their $24.00 for the ship and there were very few leftover after the holidays the year this was released. As a result, Hallmark continued a strong winning record with the Star Trek ornaments!

The Hallmark "Enterprise-A" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the starship on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments. Like the previous Star Trek ornament releases, this one has the date stamped on it, though this year it was actually molded subtly into the ship. The 2005 date is subtly visible on the bottom, front section of the ship's saucer section. Stamped as it is, it it thoroughly unobtrusive. This ornament includes three1.5V LR41 batteries to power the ship for the light effect.

The Enterprise-A is detailed incredibly, at least as much as is appropriate. The Enterprise-A had a few sections of baffle panels and nooks and crannies and the Enterprise-A has each and every one meticulously detailed on the ornament. This ship looks sleek and fast and appropriately colored all over. Hallmark got this ship absolutely right! As well, the Enterprise-A has all of the appropriate markings, like the racing stripes on the sides of the ship with the craft's name and call numbers. The bridge module has the appropriate stripes and colors, also.

As well, there are molded details, like the inside of the nacelles and the deflector dish being molded in blue plastic that is translucent for the light effect! This starship looks great; Hallmark did a pretty impressive job with getting the details on this ornament just right for the exacting collectors and fans.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Enterprise-A" has a light function, but sadly, no audio one. This was one of the many Star Trek ornaments to light up, but not play a sound clip. The ship is powered by three 1.5V batteries which fit into the engineering hull. There is a panel that opens easily with a fingernail to reveal the compartment. The ornament comes with three appropriate batteries, but given that the ornaments have been sitting for four years now, one will want to replace them if they want the light effects to work.

After the batteries are installed and the battery compartment is closed, there is a button on the underside of the ship that lights the Enterprise-A up. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the Enterprise-A and as it is individually powered, it does a pretty decent job of lighting the whole ship up well. The light effects on this starship ornament are remarkably simple; the warp nacelles and deflector dish light up, blue inside and atop the nacelles and right from the bottom of the ship. The red impulse engines on the back of the saucer section light up as do four tiny ports at the phaser array below the saucer and another four atop the saucer for the bridge, which light up white.

This is where some fans might feel a little cheated, in the light effects. The running lights do not light up and the blue glowing spot at the back of the saucer section does not light up either (it is just painted on). But considering the level of detail, with the bridge and impulse engine lights, it is hard to believe that the photon torpedo ports could not be lit, which would have made for a neat - if not terribly Christmasy - effect.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Enterprise-A" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Enterprise-A" ornament is a great addition, despite its under-representation within the franchise. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the craft, behind the bridge but before the blue dot.

Unfortunately, this is an exceptionally poorly balanced starship. Because of the weight of the nacelles and the batteries, the Enterprise-A is ridiculously back-heavy, such that the ship seems to cruise at a painful forty-five degree ascension! This ship is virtually impossible to arrange so it flies level.


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 my review!). Since then, they have made ornament replicas of almost all of the major starships from the franchise- as well as some real minor ones - and they have all been more mass produced than that first one. The "Enterprise-A" ornament was still rather less produced than some of the ships from the peak years. Largely, it was fans who bought it up, not investors or general fans of science fiction. Still, it was bought up rapidly and this one seems to have been less mass-produced, as if Hallmark knew it would not be a huge draw. It is one of the moderately difficult Hallmark Star Trek ornaments to find on the secondary market, but it seems to have held its value, not selling for less than its original issue price, at the very least.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the Enterprise-A specifically are likely to enjoy this ornament, but it is a fairly average Star Trek Hallmark ornament at the end of the day.

For other Hallmark Star Trek ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament
2008 Communicator ornament
2009 Phaser Ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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