Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recycled Novelty Is Not Worth The Expense: The 2011 New York Comic Con Exclusive U.S.S. Defiant Is Not Worth The Price!

The Good: Good sculpt, Collectible value, Novelty
The Bad: Obviously recycled, Glow-in-the-dark function wears off fast, Vastly overpriced, No light or sound function.
The Basics: The original U.S.S. Defiant ornament returns as a substandard ornament/statue that is likely to disappoint avid collectors and underwhelm more casual fans.

A few weeks back, I got very exciting news. That news was that at this year's New York Comic Con, Hallmark would be present and it would have two exclusive ornaments for genre fans. As a genre fan, I was super excited because of the New York Comic Con, my favorite franchise would be getting an exclusive ornament. I was stoked; with only 700 U.S.S. Defiant ornaments being made and sold at the convention, it was going to be worth the trip down to New York City to get the rarity. But then, I read the fine print. The U.S.S. Defiant was limited because it was glow-in-the-dark, which struck me as odd, until I learned that this was not some new casting of the U.S.S. Defiant from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but rather a novelty reworking of the U.S.S. Defiant from "The Tholian Web."

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Defiant, this was a ship seen briefly in the Star Trek episode "The Tholian Web" (reviewed here!). The U.S.S. Defiant was a Constitution-class vessel which was trapped in a weak area of space and drifted between our universe and an alternate one When Captain Kirk became trapped aboard the doomed Federation ship, it looked like he might be lost when the ship blinked out of existence. The U.S.S. Defiant was delineated from the U.S.S. Enterprise by different call numbers, NCC-1764 instead of NCC-1701, and the fact that it was sparkly and green in brief time it was on screen.

But here's the problem and the reason I did not go down to New York City for the Comic Con and the exclusive ornament (having a friend who lives in the City pick me one up instead): the Hallmark U.S.S. Defiant ornament is recycled. Hallmark openly admitted they took the 2006 U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!), changed the call numbers and put a thin membrane of glow-in-the-dark paint on it. So, while fans of Star Wars and Star Trek who went to the San Diego Comic Con were rewarded with brand new, limited edition sculpts of Dengar and IG-88, those who went to the New York Comic Con were granted . . . a recycled starship and recolored R2 unit droids. I'll be the latest one to say it; what a gyp!

And it is a rip-off. The U.S.S. Defiant is moderately creative, but when I heard "limited edition U.S.S. Defiant," my mind immediately raced to two potentially cool ideas. Recycling the original U.S.S. Defiant mold (the Deep Space Nine Defiant) and either recasting it clear or repainting it with a starscape, either to represent the cloaked version of the popular warship would have been much more creative than restenciling the ship name and number and thinly coating the ship ornament with glow-in-the-dark paint. And while these easily sold out, it is impossible to argue it is worth tracking down on the secondary market as the novelty quickly wears off and the expense is vastly disproportionate to the quality.


The "U.S.S. Defiant" ornament faithfully recreates the obscure Federation starship in solid white plastic that is slightly green from the glow-in-the-dark paint. The ornament, released in 2011 as an exclusive at the New York Comic Con convention in October uses the exact same mold as the 2006 Enterprise ornament. As such, it perfectly captured the surface details of the original Defiant. This was easy enough to do as the Defiant had a rather simple mold and very few details. However, Hallmark created the starship with its distinctive bridge dome, engineering hull (with such details as windows molded into it!) and warp nacelles. Measuring five and a quarter inches long, two and one-half inches wide and one and three-quarters inches tall (four inches tall when attached to its stand), the U.S.S. Defiant ornament is an obscure starship that most fans will not feel they need to buy.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Defiant" ornament is made of a durable plastic with a slight lime green tint to it and has the starship on its own, as is typical for Hallmark's starship line of Star Trek ornaments.

The U.S.S. Defiant is detailed adequately. So, in addition to details molded into the starship, like windows, phaser banks, plating on the saucer section and the deflector dish on the front of the engineering hull, the Defiant has a very faithful paint job, save the coloring which is supposed to be off because of the novelty of the glow-in-the-dark nature. The top and bottom of the saucer section has the call numbers (1764) on them, the starship's name and number on the front of the saucer section, the numbers and racing stripes on the engineering hull and warp nacelles and even gold tones in the deflector dish! In other words, the sculpt and painting details continue (or, in this case, recreates) a high level of quality for fans of the ornaments and the show!


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Defiant" could have a light or sound function, but it does not. Instead, this ornament does not have electronics and instead just has glow in the dark paint. The green glow in the dark paint is a real letdown. I "charged" the ship by having the ornament in sunlight for a full twelve hours and put it in the dark. The green glow lasted twenty minutes. The sickly green color is not particularly bright and I could not get it to last more than twenty minutes. The glow in the dark function is weaker than I would have hoped and it looks a lot better under a blacklight than it does with the glowing function.

The lack of a light function is a real disappointment. The tips of the warp nacelles are appropriately molded in red plastic, capping off the struts with translucent red domes. But these do not light up! That Hallmark either couldn't or didn't manage to include this as a lit area is disturbing.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Defiant" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Defiant" ornament is a ridiculous luxury. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top, aft portion of the saucer section. The location of the loop is the best that Hallmark could reasonably do. However, this forces the front of the saucer up about twenty degrees as the nacelles weigh the back down some. As a result, this ship does not cruise straight through space, but rather is always ascending. It does not look bad, though.


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!). This Defiant recreation is even more limited. At only 700 pieces, the 2011 U.S.S. Defiant is already commanding prices over $100 and one suspects it will peak higher before those who open them realize they are entirely lame. It is doubtful, though that the Defiant ornament will ever go down below $50, so those who could get their hands on this are already getting a great return on investment.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, science fiction and Hallmark ornaments are not likely to feel the need to pick up this ornament. The glow-in-the-dark function is a cute idea, but the execution is not at all impressive. Instead, this feels like exactly what it is: a vastly overpriced recycled ornament with minor changes designed to appeal to only the most die-hard fans and collectors.

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
2005 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A
2003 Scorpion Attack Craft
2001 Deep Space Nine
2000 Borg Cube
1999 Runabout Rio Grande
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 by clicking here!

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