Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple And Great, A Cool Subject Makes For A Wonderful Ornament: The Klingon Bird-Of-Prey!

The Good: Great sculpt and detailing, Interesting enough light effect
The Bad: Balance issues
The Basics: A very memorable Star Trek starship makes for a very cool Hallmark Keepsake ornament with the Klingon Bird Of Prey!

Today is, as far as I'm concerned, a good Christmas ornament day, at least for me as a science fiction fan and ornament reviewer. When I first considered the Klingon Bird Of Prey ornament, it was on the same day I did my first ornament review with Hallmark Keepsake's "Imperial AT-AT And Rebel Snowspeeder" ornament (click here for that review!) and now, I've found a place to review one of my favorite ornaments of all time, the Star Trek Klingon Bird Of Prey ornament! Yes, I may be a geek with a science fiction Christmas tree, but I know what I like!

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. In 1994, they thrilled collectors like me with the Klingon Bird Of Prey ornament! Fans of Star Trek responded powerfully to the Klingon Bird Of Prey. In fact, I recall when I first saw a Klingon Bird Of Prey in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (click here for the review of that film!) and I was completely captivated. The starship was sleek, appeared dangerous (it blew up two ships pretty easily in the film!) and was accented by very cool theme music. Since that film, the Klingon Bird Of Prey has returned in other Star Trek films as well as the spin-offs, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, cementing it as one of the essential vessels of the Star Trek franchise.


The "Klingon Bird Of Prey" ornament faithfully recreates the famed Klingon starship in its cruising mode, with the wings in the "down" position. The ornament, released in 1994, is an incredible work, as far as surface detail and coloring. Measuring four inches long, five and one-eighth inches in wingspan and two inches tall, the Klingon Bird Of Prey ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships and most fans of the ship and the franchise had no problem shelling out $24.00 at the time the ornament was released.

The Hallmark "Klingon Bird Of Prey" 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. The date of release (1994) is printed on the ornament above the back warp thruster light assembly. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The Klingon Bird Of Prey is extraordinarily detailed with incredible detail as the hoses on the blaster guns at each wing tip being cast into the ship! The starship is the appropriate recognizable olive green with black accents in each detail. Details include things like baffle platings on the wings that make the ship look like it has bird wings (which is how the ship got its name!). As well, the underside has the steel-gray accents for the wing movement assembly that would raise and lower the wings on a functional Bird Of Prey as well as the red "feather" plating on the underside of the starship's wings. The other extraordinary detail that Hallmark Keepsake got exactly right was the Klingon lettering on the top and bottom of each wings that denotes the ship's name!


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Klingon Bird Of Prey" has a light function. Those who are fans of the starship itself might be a little disappointed that the wings do not move from the "cruise" mode to the "firing" mode. 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 "Klingon Bird Of Prey" does not. It does, however, have a five inch cord that is attached completely to the underside of the ornament. This green electric cord actually organically flows from the aft tractor beam assembly dome 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 "Klingon Bird Of Prey." The light effects on this starship ornament include: a flashing photon torpedo tube on the front nose, a solid yellow running light on the underside of the bridge (behind the photon torpedo tube), red warp power lights on the underside of the ship where the bridge tube meets the engineering hull, three tiny pinprick red running lights on the top of the Bird Of Prey at the same point as the warp lights and a flickering red light for the thruster assembly on the aft quarter of the ship! It is actually quite impressive the level of detail that went into the light effects; the "Klingon Bird Of Prey" is not one that would naturally be lit up much like, for instance, many of the 24th Century Federation ships. This is not a ship with a lot of windows, it is built for battle. Thus, the thruster assembly, weapon's tube and other lights show a real appreciation for accuracy with this starship!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Klingon Bird Of Prey" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Klingon Bird Of Prey" ornament is an essential piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the Bird Of Prey, which is the most stable point on the ornament. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs perfectly balanced from that loop.

Unfortunately, the light effects undo the balance of the ornament. Because of the orientation and stiffness of the cord for the light effects, when the Bird Of Prey is plugged in, the back is pulled down when the ship is hung near the light strand. The result is that the most of the vessel pitches up about forty-five degrees. This exposes the belly of the ship and is not the ideal look for the "Klingon Bird Of Prey." Sure, it might look neat that way, if it were coming up over an asteroid or soaring over a mountain, but on a tree, the angle looks awkward, not dramatic.


Hallmark Keepsake ornaments tend to be mass produced and the "Klingon Bird Of Prey" ornament was a real pegwarmer. Despite the popularity of this starship with fans, the mass, general public which is not as familiar with the Star Trek starships largely passed this one by. The result was that it was overproduced and when dealers and collectors gobbled them up, they became readily available (and still are) on the secondary market, at deflated prices. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece!


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, Klingons and the Klingon Bird Of Prey specifically will find this to be one of the essential Star Trek Christmas Ornaments. While the die-hard fans might have wanted more, it is a great sculpt and coloring job with decent light effects and the fans will forgive Hallmark for not making it play music.

For other ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2010 U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek refit)
2009 Klingon Battlecruiser
2005 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo


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

© 2010, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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