Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Corny, It's Common, But The Shuttlecraft Galileo Ornament From Hallmark Is Still Cool!

The Good: Good sculpt, Good light effects/sound bit
The Bad: Minor balance issue, Overly common
The Basics: Leonard Nimoy's participation in creating the sound effect for the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament saves the obscure landing craft from being a failure!

When it comes to overcompensating, no one does it quite like Hallmark Keepsake. The Christmas ornament maker clearly learned its lesson from the overly rare first Star Trek ornament it produced with the U.S.S. Enterprise. So, the next year, it flooded the market with the new Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament and the two ornaments could not me more opposite in terms of presentation, rarity and function. Still, it illustrates a pretty quick learning curve for Hallmark and in the end, the Shuttlecraft Galileo might be a more common, less universally recognized and hokey ornament, but it's all right!

For those unfamiliar with the Shuttlecraft Galileo, this was only the second ship outside the U.S.S. Enterprise shown in detail on Star Trek. Introduced in "The Galileo Seven" (click here for my review of that episode!), the U.S.S. Enterprise was shown to have a landing craft for when a planet was encountered where the transporters could not be used. In exchange for the rights to the model rights, a company produced the shuttlecraft prop for the series and the episode was produced. Over twenty-five years later, the blockish design of the Enterprise's landing craft was not exactly universally recognized the way the Enterprise was, but it was a strong enough association with Star Trek that fans of the series eagerly gobbled up the ornament Hallmark made when it was introduced.


The "Shuttlecraft Galileo" ornament faithfully recreates the famed Federation landing craft in solid white and gray plastic. The ornament, released in 1992, is a decent casting of the obscure ship with a decent paint job and very neat feature. Measuring three and one half inches long, two and one-half inches wide and one and one-quarter inches tall, the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament is a clever addition to the Star Trek ornament line, appearing before other, more essential, starships. It brazenly declared that the ornaments would not follow the scale of the ships (it would have been about half a centimeter cubed if it had been forced to fit in the same scale as the Enterprise!) and appealed instantly to fans of Star Trek and suckered in others with the gimmick of the voice chip. Still, despite how common it was and the obscure nature of the ship, it quickly sold with its $24.00 price tag. As a result, Hallmark had a second hit on its hand with Star Trek ornaments and was quickly on its way to establishing a whole new collectible market for Star Trek fans.

The Hallmark "Shuttlecraft Galileo" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the landing craft on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments. Like the previous Star Trek ornament release, this one has the date stamped on it, in this case on the back of the ship like a license plate! This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The Shuttlecraft Galileo is detailed adequately, but it has the benefit for Hallmark of having been a remarkably simply craft to begin with. As a result, the Shuttlecraft Galileo has all of the appropriate markings, like the racing stripes on the sides of the ship with the craft's name and call numbers. This includes the same markings on the landing struts or nacelles, which is actually a fine paint job that illustrates just how far Hallmark would go to create a quality piece!

As well, there are molded details, like the tips of the nacelles having a subtle indentation and ribbing that is not shown clearly on the show! 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 "Shuttlecraft Galileo" has a light function, as well as an audio one! This was the first Star Trek ornaments to both light up and play a sound clip. The "Shuttlecraft Galileo" has a speaker on the bottom surface, as well as a button to activate the sound chip. The Shuttlecraft Galileo has a five inch cord that is attached to the back of the ornament. This green electric cord is embedded into the 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 "Shuttlecraft Galileo." The light effects on this starship ornament is remarkably simple; the front window lights up, as does the aft thruster array. It is a white light effect and there are no people visible through the front window, but it is still pretty cool.

As well, there is a button on the bottom of the ornament. When pressed, while plugged in, the ornament begins to speak. Leonard Nimoy actually recorded a special bit of dialogue specifically for use in this ornament. As a result, when the button is pressed, the ornament speaks with Nimoy's voice, saying "Shuttlecraft to Enterprise, shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy holidays. Live long and prosper." Sure, it might be almost entirely outside the character, but fans were thrilled by it and over fifteen years later, it is still pretty cool to hear.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Shuttlecraft Galileo" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Shuttlecraft Galileo" ornament is a surprisingly welcome piece, not so much because of its iconic status or recognizability, but rather because of the sound function and the fact that most collectors started their collection with this ornament. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the Shuttlecraft, which is the most stable point on the ornament. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs almost perfectly balanced from that loop.

This is a generally well-balanced ornament and when plugged in to a light strand, it only has a minimal amount of pitch (less than ten degrees up for the cockpit). It is more or less well-balanced and stable on a tree.


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 (click here for that review!). Since then, they have made ornament replicas of almost all of the major starships from the franchise and they have all been more mass produced than that first one. The "Shuttlecraft Galileo" ornament was vastly overproduced, but Hallmark met the demand for the ornaments with it. Despite the lack of popularity of this starship with fans and the general public, the gimmick was enough to make this a sellout! Even with it being overproduced, dealers and collectors gobbled them up, though they almost instantly became readily available (and still are) on the secondary market, at fairly consistent prices. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece, but at least those who did invest in it are likely to not lose on it.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the Shuttlecraft Galileo specifically are likely to enjoy this ornament and be glad that Hallmark gave the process of producing ornament for Star Trek fans a second chance. They took what could have been a colossal failure and made it into a moderate success; not every endeavor from companies acquiring the Star Trek license turn out so well!

For other Hallmark Star Trek ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2009 Phaser Ornament
2008 Communicator Ornament
2010 "Amok Time" Ornament


For other ornament and toy reviews, please be sure to visit my index page for an organized listing of all I have reviewed!

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