Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sure, It's Only An Ornament, But The Scorpion?! A Star Trek Hallmark Failure.

The Good: Good sculpt
The Bad: Woefully inadequate light effects, Terrible balance, Obscurity, Vastly overproduced
The Basics: An accurate sculpt of one of the ships that even fans are unlikely to care about, the Scorpion is one of the few starship failures for Hallmark!

Note to Hallmark and Paramount Pictures (now CBS): Star Trek fans will not buy just anything anymore. After years of flooding the market with toys, trading cards, gaming cards, greeting cards, jewelry, statues, ornaments, books, t-shirts and food products there are (virtually) no fans out there left who are able to afford to collect EVERYTHING. Thus, as we Trekkers look over our budgets and collections, we tend to look for the things that we can afford and most consistently please us. As a result, there are a number of things we weed out because they manage to get to the point of absurdity.

So, to you Hallmark Keepsake, as I begin to utterly shred your Star Trek: Nemesis Scorpion ornament, I'd like to suggest you consider widespread Trekker appeal when making your ornaments. As a result, any plans you had to create a diorama ornament featuring God and Sybok from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier or the two environmentalists lecturing the crew of the Enterprise-D from "Force Of Nature" ought to be scrapped . . . well, immediately. After all, after The Scorpion do you truly want to rush for that third strike?

For those unfamiliar with the Scorpion - and let's face it, outside the die-hard Trekkers, who is?! - this was an obscure attack ship seen only in the feature film Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!). Escaping from the massive Romulan battleship, the Scimitar (Hey Hallmark, why didn't you make THAT ship?!), Picard and Data used a little fighter ship called a Romulan Scorpion-class Attack Ship. The Scorpion has a cockpit that seats two and the ornament features the Scorpion with Picard and Data in the seats, visible through a dome. The attack craft was used in one mildly amusing scene and then most people forgot about it. Considering the lack of popularity of Star Trek: Nemesis, it was a pretty risky choice to begin with.


The "Scorpion" ornament faithfully recreates the briefly-seen attack ship in solid black, glossy plastic. The ornament, released in 2003, is an easy ship as it has very little surface detail, but the ship still ends up looking like some permutation of a Tim Burton Batmobile. Measuring five inches long, two and one-quarter inches wide and one and three-quarters inches tall to the tip of the blaster assemble, the Scorpion ornament is hardly one of the essential Star Trek ships. Even fans of the franchise could not muster up the enthusiasm en masse to shell out $24.00 for this small ship ornament. As a result, discerning collectors at the time waited and this was one of the few Star Trek ornaments to be bought en masse as part of after-Christmas sales. In other words, it was one of Hallmark Keepsake's utter failures.

The Hallmark "Scorpion" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the attack craft on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments. Unlike previous Star Trek ornament releases, this one does not have the date stamped or painted on it. Instead, it is faintly molded into the very bottom of the ship where only those looking closely might find it. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The Scorpion is detailed adequately, at first glance. After all, there is not much one can do with this ship; it had smooth, dangerous-looking lines and was designed to look fast, not heavily armored. As a result, the surface is largely smooth with very few details. The gun assembly atop the fighter and the landing gear below are adequately detailed, though. However, unlike the pictures for the Scorpion, the cockpit dome is not made of clear plastic. Instead, it is black-tinted. The only benefit to this is to prevent people from seeing just how terrible the paint jobs and likenesses of Picard and Data inside the cockpit are.

That said, the Scorpion is a pretty easy ship to get right in that it is a solid color, save the gun assembly which is a matted gray plastic and the tiny, new Romulan symbol on the back of the wings. Those details work and prevent one from completely declaring that Hallmark was asleep at the wheel when they made this ship.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Scorpion" 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 "Scorpion" 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 (right in front of the landing gear) 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 "Scorpion." The light effects on this starship ornament are remarkably simple; the tips of the drive section light up a bluish color, the aft thruster port and forward running lights light up a bright yellow and the tiny panels in the cockpit light up a faint green. The light effects are not entirely accurate; the lights in the film were more like flood lights lighting the space before the ship, rather than weak running lights. The panels inside the cockpit are a neat touch, but the shaded dome mutes it so effectively as to make the collector wonder why Hallmark bothered.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Scorpion" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. For those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Scorpion" ornament not at all an essential piece. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the Scorpion, which is the most stable point on the ornament. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs fairly balanced from that loop.

Unfortunately, this is not true of the ornament when plugging it in. The cord is awkwardly positioned near the landing gear and seems to be much more stiff than any other Hallmark ornament in the collection. As a result, when plugged in and hung, the cord either becomes what the fighter is forced to face and "fly" into. Or, turned around, the ornament violently pitches because of the stiffness of the cord, casting the ship up at an awkward (over forty-five degree) angle. In other words, one needs to make the decision between lit up or well-balanced with this ornament. The only way to get it level seems to be not plugging it in.


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 "Scorpion" ornament was a colossal failure commercially. Owing largely to the lack of popularity of this ship with fans and the 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 severely deflated prices. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece! As well, many fans will not purchase it because it is not as good as any number of other Star Trek ship ornaments.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, Romulans and the Scorpion specifically are likely to be largely disappointed by the Scorpion ornament; it is a poor recreation of one of the more obscure ships in the Star Trek universe and one wonders why Hallmark even bothered with this one.

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
1995 Romulan Warbird
1994 Klingon Bird Of Prey
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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