Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nothing Says "Merry Christmas" Like Shooting Your Neighbor: The Phaser Ornament!

The Good: Decent balance, Decent detailing, Decent (if incongruent) sound chip
The Bad: Small and seems expensive as a result
The Basics: A basic ornament with a cool sound effect, the phaser ornament is a tough sell as a Christmas ornament.

Star Trek ornaments are becoming a real mixed bag. As the franchise gets more and more merchandised, Hallmark has been stretching for subjects. A few years ago, they lamely chose the Vulcan Command Ship over other, more popular starships for their starship line of ornaments. This year, the line-up seems generally solid, but the low point of the collection is the Phaser ornament.

Unlike prior years where a character and a starship are featured with another ornament that is a diorama, this year the ornaments are a starship and a scene, but there is no character ornament. Instead, there is a phaser ornament with working lights and sound. This is an overpriced, somewhat unimpressive ornament with a great sound function and a pretty impressive sculpt.


The phaser ornament recreates the Phaser Type II and having seen some of the actual set-used props, this is a remarkably accurate replication of the Phaser prop. The ornament, released in 2009, is a precise sculpt down to the numbers in the dials to adjust power levels. The ornament features a more advanced than necessary sound chip and a limited light-up effect.

Measuring nine and one quarter centimeters tall, four centimeters wide and two and three-quarters centimeters deep, the phaser ornament is a smaller-sized Star Trek ornament and with the light and sound feature, it seems a bit pricey at the original issue price of $18.00. The Hallmark phaser ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the small beam weapon on its own. Cast in gunmetal, gray and gold plastic the ornament looks just like the seldom-seen weapon of choice for StarFleet officers in the twenty-third century.

This ornament remains exceptionally easy to find in the primary market, and one suspects that it will be a poor seller in the secondary market. Even so, it does seem pretty well-made.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the phaser ornament has both a light effect and a sound effect. This ornament operates on an independent battery so one does not need to position it near a light strand on their tree. The light effect only works when the button on the trigger of the ornament is pushed or the dial that activates the other sound effect is twisted.

The trigger button, when pressed, activates the basic phaser sound. For as long as one presses down on the trigger, the light at the emitter end lights right up. The other way to activate the phaser effect is by twisting the left dial all the way up. That activates the second sound chip. The sound chip actually contains three different clips from Star Trek, most notably (or obviously) "Arena" (click here for my review of that!). Rather coolly, the chip has several seconds of dialogue between Kirk and Spock. The men talk about firing settings and the dialogue is interesting, if not accurate to the weapon.

As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake phaser ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the phaser ornament is a high priced option that most people will be able to live without. The ornament has the standard bronze hook loop embedded into the top center of the weapon. This is fairly unobtrusive and necessary for the ornament. Because it is so light and the gun 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 phaser ornament was a slowest seller from the Star Trek assortment, even to fans and not at all a success among the public at large. There were few fans who bought it and almost no investors or general fans of science fiction picked it up. The relative expense of this ornament makes it seem a bit pricey for the quality and size of this ornament, even if it does have a decent sound effect.


The phaser might be an iconic part of Star Trek, but it is an esoteric choice for an ornament. While Hallmark tries to make this one interesting with additional sound effects, it still seems a bit expensive.

For other Star Trek Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2008 Communicator ornament
2010 "Amok Time" ornament
2005 Khan ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here for an organized listing of them!

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