Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Woefully Underlit U.S.S. Enterprise-D Hallmark Ornament Could Have Been Great!

The Good: Good sculpt/some detailing
The Bad: Terrible balance, Mediocre light effects, No sound effects, Saucer section does not separate.
The Basics: Lacking in decent light effects or the ability to separate the saucer section, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D Hallmark ornament underwhelms fans and collectors.

When Star Trek: The Next Generation made its debut, I was actually pretty excited. The adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard quickly fascinated me and I found I was more excited week by week watching the series. One of the aspects of the show that I quickly adapted to was the new Enterprise. The U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D was an intriguing new design and it captured my imagination, as it did many of the fans of the show.

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, this was THE defining starship of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Introduced in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot episode, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D revised the Constitution-class Enterprise from Star Trek for a new era. Familiar, yet different, the Enterprise-D appeared in every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here!). Given that the series was set on this ship, it made for an obvious choice from Hallmark and Hallmark got the sculpt good, if not perfectly.


The "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament faithfully recreates the Federation starship in solid gray plastic. The ornament, released in 1993, is a fair representation in terms of the amount of surface details and coloring. Measuring four and three-quarters inches long, three and one-half inches wide and one and one-quarter inches tall, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships and most fans of the ship and the franchise paid their $24.00 without truly looking at what they were buying.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" 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 back section of the saucer section cargo bay of the Galaxy-class vessel. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The U.S.S. Enterprise-D is detailed in a way that is solidly mediocre (at best). The windows and molding lines from surface details are present, but the plethora of windows are little more than indentations and the bridge dome is not even a light in this incarnation! So, while the surface and shape look accurate, it has a much more solid and homogenous look than the actual starship did. This is especially bad when one views it from the aesthetic of the light effects. The epitome of the "surface" nature of the details is the deflector dish. The deflector dish is molded in light blue plastic, as is appropriate. However, there is the central portion of the array is red plastic, but it is less lit than the blue section. So, it looks all right when unlit and terrible when plugged in. Outside that, the warp nacelles and deflector dish are appropriately molded in different colored plastic (in this case blue and red).

As well, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D has a number of paint details that are poorly recreated on the ornament. The starship - like most Federation vessels - has call numbers, the ship's name and such painted on. Hallmark fails to capture a lot of those details. So, for example, on the saucer section, there is a red phaser array circle that is missing from the ornament and the bottom of the saucer section is similarly light on details. Finally, the overall color is a bit white compared to the more gray color of the actual starship.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" 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 "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" 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 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 "U.S.S. Enterprise-D." The light effects on this starship ornament are poor, with only anemic lights on the warp nacelles and the similarly-lame light effect of the main deflector dish. There is a blinking yellow light for the bridge dome that makes no sense in the context of this ship. There are no other light effects for the many, many windows on the starship or the phaser dome underneath or the sensor/phaser ports. What lights there are seem to be underpowered in any strand I plug the ornament into, giving it a sickly appearance that is actually unpleasant to see.

But the insult to injury for the fans of Star Trek or the Enterprise-D is that there is no ability to remove the saucer section. The big gimmick of Enterprise-D was that the saucer section detached and the ornament would have been real cool if it could detach. The ornament does not. This is a bummer for fans.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament is an essential piece. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top of the saucer section just behind the bridge dome. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs lopsided. The weight of the aft section of the ship, especially the electric cord, drags the ship down in a way that makes the ship look like it is listing dead in space.

As well, when plugged in to activate the light effects, the Enterprise-D remains off balance in an awkward way. Not looking like it is soaring dramatically over a planet, this ornament instead looks like it is being sucked into a black hole!


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 (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 "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament was a commercial draw; fans bought it and some of the general public invested in it as well. The result was that it was gobbled up rapidly and this one seems to have been grossly mass produced. It is one of the easiest ones to find on the secondary market. The quality of the ornament sent the value of it plummeting. The quality and quantity made this one a terrible investment and as fans looked at cutting back on the spending, many were underwhelmed with the light effects on this ship ornament.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the U.S.S. Enterprise-D are likely to be excited by the idea of this starship ornament until they see it and they will be less excited when it is plugged in. Then, they are likely to pass on it.

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
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo


For other Hallmark 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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