Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ridiculously Dimmed Lights Sink An Otherwise Perfect U.S.S. Enterprise-E Ornament Into Average Territory!

The Good: GREAT sculpt and detailing
The Bad: Inadequate lighting effects
The Basics: Despite light effects that look like the batteries in the ship are dying (it's not powered that way), the U.S.S. Enterprise-E ornament is too good a sculpt/paint job to not recommend!

Do you ever have something you're excited about reviewing, until you actually look at it closer and objectively? Sometimes, that is the only way we realize how a product falls short. That is the way I feel about the Star Trek Hallmark ornament of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E. I was actually so excited about this ornament until I went back and actually looked at it objectively and contacted some other people who have them to make sure mine was not an anomaly. Unfortunately, it (apparently) is not and this ornament suffers some pretty serious design or execution flaws, most notably super-dim light effects and an awkward sense of balance. Still, it is definitely worth picking this ornament up for the loyal Star Trek fans!

For those unfamiliar with the Enterprise-E, this was one of the defining starships of Star Trek: The Next Generation era in the Star Trek franchise. Introduced in the feature film Star Trek: First Contact (reviewed here!), the Enterprise-E instantly made an impression. Sure, this was essentially a recasting of the original U.S.S. Enterprise, further refined for new technological advancements in special effects (and the jaded amongst us believed that the genesis of this new ship was truly about having something new to market to fans to buy) but it looked cool with its sleek lines and more battle-oriented appearance. The starship captured the imagination of fans and was one that made for an obvious choice from Hallmark and Hallmark got the sculpt pretty well executed!


The "Enterprise-E" ornament faithfully recreates the prestigious Federation starship in solid gray plastic. The ornament, released in 1998, is a great work in terms of the amount of surface details and coloring. Measuring six and one-eighth inches long, two and one-eighth inches wide and one and one-eighth inches tall, the Enterprise-E ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships and most fans of the ship and the franchise quickly realized that $24.00 was a decent price given the quality of this ornament.

The Hallmark "Enterprise-E" 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 most previous Star Trek ornament releases, this one has the date painted on it, in this case on the aft section of the saucer section right behind the impulse drive section. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The Enterprise-E is detailed impressively. So, in addition to the warp nacelles and deflector dish being molded in different colored plastic (in this case blue, red and yellow) on the edge of the saucer section there are tiny ports for the shield generators molded in red plastic. As well, the Enterprise-E has amazing surface paint detailing, like the escape pod bays and multiple windows being painted right onto the surface of the starship. The detail work is actually incredible!

As well, the Enterprise-E has a number of paint details that are faithfully recreated on the ornament. The starship - like most Federation vessels - has call numbers, the ship's name and such painted on. Hallmark accurately recreates every racing stripe and paint detail on the surface of the Enterprise-E on this ornament!


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Enterprise-E" has a light function. 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 "Enterprise-E" does not. It does, however, have a five inch cord that is attached completely to the underside of the ornament. This green electric cord is embedded into the bottom center 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 "Enterprise-E." The light effects on this starship ornament are a real crapshoot. Hallmark gets the light effect absolutely right in that the impulse drive lights, warp nacelles, and main deflector dish all light up. The problem, though, is that they do not light up very brightly or consistently. The blue lit section of the warp nacelles, especially, looks terribly anemic. Lit only at the front, the nacelle is not bright and fades so the whole light panel is not even lit. Similarly, the surface details on the edge of the saucer section (those neat little red shield emitters) do not light up at all. This is a disappointment, as is the lack of light from the bridge dome. Between not having a lot of light for the lit areas and not all of the areas that ought to have a light effect being lit, the Enterprise-E disappoints fans of the ornaments and the starship.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Enterprise-E" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Enterprise-E" ornament is an essential piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top back portion of the Enterprise's saucer section, 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, when plugged in, the stiffness of the cord causes the Enterprise to pitch. It is only a few degrees, about fifteen degrees up for the saucer, but often enough, it also rotates some to "roll" about fifteen degrees as well. The result is that this ship looks like it is coming around something and I can live with that. I actually think it looks cool, but for those concerned with level ornaments, it is a drawback in that one must choose between (even inadequate) light effects and balance.


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 (reviewed here!). 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-E" ornament was a commercial draw; fans bought it, but the general public did not seem willing to invest in it. 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 about the same price as it was originally issued at. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece! As well, some fans will not purchase it because it is not as good as a number of other Star Trek ship ornaments in terms of the light effect.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the Enterprise-E are likely to be more neutral to this starship ornament because of the mediocre execution of what initially seemed to be a strong sculpt and ability to light up. But functionally, this is a disappointment and while I recommend it, it is one that I am just as happy to leave unlit (it is a remarkable sculpt and paint job!) as plug it in.

For other Star Trek 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
2003 Scorpion Attack Craft
1995 Romulan Warbird
1994 Klingon Bird Of Prey
1993 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo


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

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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