Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh Khan, You Can Steal My Reliant (Ornament) Any Day!

The Good: Amazing detail, Good light effects (what there are), Perfectly balanced
The Bad: No sound chip, A bit obscure for casual fans, Anemic light effects.
The Basics: With great detailing, but hampered by anemic light effects, Hallmark Keepsake created a decent, but hardly indispensable ornament with the U.S.S. Reliant.

Two years ago, the last Christmas celebration I had was with a good friend of mine, with whom I went Christmas shopping with very early in the season. We were beating the rush and sending her daughter and daughter's partner some gifts and while we were out, I wandered into the local Hallmark store and checked out the latest Star Trek ornament. I forgot about it and was incredibly surprised when we were doing belated Christmas and she presented me with the U.S.S. Reliant ornament which was new that year. Talk about an awesome gift. This had a little extra meaning for me as actor Ricardo Montalban had died a few days prior.

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Reliant, this ship appeared only in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (reviewed here!). Sent into the galaxy on a peaceful mission, the U.S.S. Reliant was commanded by Captain Terrell until it went to the wrong planet in the Ceti Alpha star system and it was taken over by Khan!!!! The second half of that film is preoccupied with the space battle between the U.S.S. Enterprise and the U.S.S. Reliant as Khan relentlessly hunts Captain Kirk. Hallmark, makers of the Star Trek ornaments allow the Star Trek fans to recreate the essential battle with the U.S.S. Reliant. While not entirely accurate, this makes a great companion piece for the Enterprise-A ornament. The U.S.S. Reliant is remarkably popular with the fans of Star Trek and that is clearly who the ornament is marketed toward.


The "U.S.S. Reliant" ornament faithfully recreates the cinematic Federation starship in solid white plastic. The ornament, released in 2008, is an impressive casting of the menacing starship with an immaculate paint job and slightly anemic light feature. Measuring four and three-eighths inches long, two and five-eighths inches wide and one and one-half inches tall, the U.S.S. Reliant ornament is a welcome addition to the Star Trek ornament line, as it is an oft-neglected but cinematically spectacular starship. Hallmark - by this point - has largely foregone the voice chip for the starships, including the U.S.S. Reliant. Still, Star Trek fans tended to shell out their $24.00 for the ship and there were very few leftover after the holidays last year, when this was released. As a result, Hallmark continued a strong record with the Star Trek ornaments!

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Reliant" 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 the previous few Star Trek ornament releases, this one has the date molded subtly into the ship. The 2008 date is subtly visible on the bottom, front section of the ship's saucer section. Molded in the plastic as it is, it it thoroughly unobtrusive. This ornament includes three 1.5V LR41 batteries to power the ship for the light effect.

The U.S.S. Reliant is detailed incredibly, at least as much as is appropriate. The U.S.S. Reliant had a few sections of baffle panels and nooks and crannies and the U.S.S. Reliant has each and every one meticulously detailed on the ornament. This ship looks menacing and armored and appropriately colored all over. Hallmark got this ship absolutely right! As well, the U.S.S. Reliant has all of the appropriate markings, like the racing stripes on the sides and top of the ship with the craft's name and call numbers. The bridge module has the appropriate stripes and colors, also.

As well, there are molded details, like the inside of the nacelles and the deflector array being molded in blue plastic that is translucent for the light effect! The tiny red impulse engines are also appropriately molded for the light effect. The U.S.S. Reliant ornament looks great; Hallmark did a pretty impressive job with getting the details on this ornament just right for the exacting collectors and fans.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Reliant" has a light function, but sadly, no audio one. This was one of the many Star Trek ornaments to light up, but not play a sound clip. The ship is powered by three 1.5V batteries which fit into the phaser bulb on the underside of the saucer section. There is a panel that opens easily with a fingernail to reveal the compartment. The ornament comes with three appropriate batteries.

After the batteries are installed and the battery compartment is closed, there is a button on the underside of the ship that lights the U.S.S. Reliant up. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the U.S.S. Reliant and as it is individually powered, it does a pretty decent job of lighting the whole ship up well . . . as well as it lights up. The light effects on this starship ornament are remarkably simple; the warp nacelles and deflector arrays light up, blue inside the nacelles and the bulb atop and below the aft drive section. The red impulse engines on the back of the saucer section light up as well.

This is where some fans might feel a little cheated, in the light effects. The running lights do not light up and the bridge does not either. The entire front section is dark and given that that is where the batteries are, it seems disappointing that Hallmark could not construct it to light up more. As well, the fact that the photon torpedo launchers on the bow above the ship do not light up is disappointing.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Reliant" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Reliant" ornament is a great addition, despite its under-representation within the franchise. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the craft, behind the bridge. Hung from a hook there, it is perfectly, completely balanced.


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. Reliant" ornament was still rather less produced than some of the ships from the peak years. Largely, it was fans who bought it up, not investors or general fans of science fiction. Still, it was bought up rapidly and this one seems to have been less mass-produced, as if Hallmark knew it would not be a huge draw. It is one of the moderately difficult Hallmark Star Trek ornaments to find on the secondary market, but it seems to have held its value, not selling for less than its original issue price, at the very least.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the U.S.S. Reliant specifically are likely to enjoy this ornament, but it is a fairly average Star Trek Hallmark ornament at the end of the day.

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
2000 Borg Cube
1998 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E
1995 Romulan Warbird
1994 Klingon Bird Of Prey
1993 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo


For other ornament reviews, please be sure to visit my index page for a concise listing! That is available by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment