Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ornament Or Display Piece, Space Station Deep Space Nine Cannot Be Both (We Forgive Hallmark!)

The Good: Amazing detail, Interesting sound effect
The Bad: Odd choice for sound chip, a bit obscure for casual fans, Anemic light effect
The Basics: With amazing detailing, a fair light and great sound effect, Hallmark Keepsake recreates an essential Star Trek vessel with their Deep Space Nine ornament!

For those who do not follow my many reviews, it becomes quite clear while reading through my library of reviews that I am a huge fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It is my favorite series of all time and one of the few that took the time to develop characters over years in ways that were compelling and sometimes controversial. The series was dense, intense and ultimately a perfect show. So there was a mix of high anticipation and trepidation over an ornament of the principle domain of the series, space station Deep Space Nine. The anticipation came because it was arguably the essential vessel that had not been manufactured by Hallmark yet and the trepidation came from the fear that Hallmark Keepsake would somehow screw this one up, as it is a complicated piece. They did not.

For those unfamiliar with Deep Space Nine, this was the space station that was the centerpiece of the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (reviewed here!). Cardassian in design, built by Bajoran slave labor, for the bulk of the series, it was commanded by a Federation and Bajoran crew and it was mammoth and creepy. Hallmark's choice of Deep Space Nine is a wonderful one, filling in the last gap of the truly essential Star Trek franchise vessels.


The "Deep Space Nine" ornament faithfully recreates the massive Cardassian space station in solid gray plastic. The ornament, released in 2001, is an exceptional casting - arguably more detailed than the massive Space Station Deep Space Nine toy - of the incredible station with an immaculate paint job and very neat feature. Measuring five and one-half inches in diameter and three and one-quarter inches tall (four and a half when connected to the base), the Deep Space Nine ornament is a worthwhile addition to the Star Trek ornament line, appearing after a number of more obscure starships. Given that every other ship in the Star Trek universe is smaller than this space station, this is obviously out of scale (if it were in the correct scale, it would be something like six feet in diameter). There is added appeal to fans of Star Trek with the voice chip. Still, despite how common it was and how it was a primary ship, it languished because of its size and stifling $35.00 price tag. As a result, Hallmark had a success with die-hard Star Trek fans, but not most of the populace at large.

The Hallmark "Deep Space Nine" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the station on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments. Like the previous Star Trek ornament release, this one has the date, though this is molded into the base, as opposed to painted anywhere on the actual station. This ornament has leads on two of the three lower pylons and they plug into the black plastic base that comes with the ornament. This allows the light and sound functions to work.

The Deep Space Nine is detailed incredibly, enough so that it completely justifies the expensive price tag on it. Deep Space Nine had extensive surface detailing, from the Cardassian architecture on the pylons to the nooks and crannies from which the weapons were produced to the docking ports for ships on the outer ring. This ornament faithfully recreates each and every one, save the top of the Ops station. In order to make this ornament work, the top antennae are replaced with the hook loop. Outside that, this ornament has all of the molding and paint details of space station Deep Space Nine. This is an incredible masterwork of detailed for an ornament. This station looks fortified and mysterious and accurate. Hallmark gets this piece absolutely right! As well, the Deep Space Nine has all of the appropriate markings, like the yellow panels in the docking ring.

As well, there are molded details, like the engineering core being molded in red plastic and the yellow lights at the three primary docking ports that provide the light effect! In fact, the only place Hallmark sacrificed detail for efficiency was on the top of the station, where there is fine detailing impossible in this scale. This 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 "Deep Space Nine" has a light function, as well as an audio one! This was one of the few Star Trek ornaments to both light up and play a sound clip. The "Deep Space Nine" has a speaker on the bottom of the black base the ornament plugs into. The base also has a button to activate the sound chip. Deep Space Nine plugs into the base using three tabs added to the bottom of the three lower pylons and when plugged in, the tabs are invisible. Two of those tabs have metal leads for conductivity and when they are placed in the correct two holes, the base may be activated (it has an on/off switch for conserving the batteries) and the button may be pressed to activate the lights and sounds.

Turning the base on after the ornament is plugged in and pressing the discrete black button activates the light effect on the "Deep Space Nine" ornament. The light effects on this ornament are remarkably simple; the engine core and docking lights light up. The engineering core is the red area below the central core and the yellow lights are paired on the docking ring at each of the pylon junctures. The station is only faintly illuminated by these. The light effects remain in action for a minute after the sound chip runs its course. The base is powered by two AAA batteries, which are not included and they last quite a while so long as the power switch is flipped.

As well, when the button is pressed, the ornament begins to speak. Actor Avery Brooks allowed his voice to be used for this ornament and one suspects that it is simply a clip used from the episode "What You Leave Behind" as Sisko says "To the best crew a Captain ever had. No matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel . . . a part of us will always remain here, on Deep Space Nine." It's the perfect clip for this ornament and embodies a great moment in the series. Avery Brooks, who plays the captain of space station Deep Space Nine is the lead actor for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is, arguably, the best, most appropriate sound chip for any of the Star Trek ornaments as the right character is associated with the right ship; it is perfectly matched!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Deep Space Nine" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Deep Space Nine" ornament is a must-have piece, whatwith being a virtually unique ship and the centerpiece of one of the series'. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop protruding from the centermost point of the station. As well, there are six supplemental loops - unobtrusively at the top of each docking pylon and hidden below the bottom of center of the docking ring at each opposite point. In other words, this ornament can be secured pretty incredibly by those who want it stable and/or in some angled pose! But for those just using the central loop, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs almost perfectly balanced from that loop.


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 "Deep Space Nine" ornament was a fan draw more than one bought by the public at large, due largely to its size and expense. 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 be a tough sell to Christmas buyers. It is one of the moderately difficult Hallmark Star Trek ornaments to find on the secondary market, and it seems to have held its own as far as value goes. One supposes quality does truly pay off!


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, Captain Sisko, the Cardassians and Deep Space Nine specifically are likely to enjoy this ornament. If it were being rated just on its sculpt, it would be a slam dunk, but it is expensive and the dependency upon the base forces collectors to either use it as an ornament or a display piece (I am loathe to think how anyone would put this anywhere near pine sap!). Moreover, the lighting effects are a bit anemic. Still, for the essential Star Trek Christmas tree . . . it's about time!

For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2011 Romulan Bird Of Prey
2010 U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek refit)
2009 Klingon Battlecruiser
2008 U.S.S. Reliant
2006 U.S.S. Enterprise (reissue)
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 visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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