Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Trading Off Lights For Sound, The 25th Anniversary 2012 Hallmark U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D Ornament Is Solidly Average.

The Good: Good sculpt/some detailing, Decent sound effect
The Bad: Balance, Pricey, No light effects, Saucer section does not separate.
The Basics: Lacking a light effect, the new 2012 25th Anniversary U.S.S. Enterprise-D Hallmark ornament might well illustrate that Hallmark does not really care about Star Trek anymore.

I am a fan of the star Trek franchise. I enjoy the shows, I used to have an immense collection of ornaments, toys, trading cards, comic books, novels and videos. When Star Trek was in its boom times, I spent every available dollar I had on merchandise and when the market was so bloated, I began to divest myself of the parts of the collection that no longer thrilled me (or that I could no longer reasonably complete). The truth is, the moment I started selling off some of my Star Trek figures was one of the saddest moments of my life. It may seem silly to say that, but at that point in my life, I had a complete collection and the only part of the franchise I had given up on was the Star Trek novels. Star Trek: Voyager had come out and the first new novel was rushed to market, making me feel exploited. So, I decided I didn’t need to keep collecting each and every Star Trek franchise novel. And with the toys, when Playmates put out their limited edition 1701 series, my partner at the time managed to snag the elusive “Tapestry” Picard (reviewed here!) for me. But, when the next 1701 figure was released and we could not find one over three states, I realized that my collection would not be complete; I just could not afford it any more. So, I began the process of divesting myself of the “deadweight.” The whole experience left me feeling exploited and, more than anything, it made me feel like the manufacturers/licensees did not actually care about the collectors.

With the release of the Hallmark 25th Anniversary U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, especially on the heels of the lamely repainted U.S.S. Defiant Exclusive ornament for last year’s New York Comic Con, it is hard not to feel like Hallmark no longer cares about Star Trek. This year’s main starship ornament is a slight recast of the Enterprise-D ornament the company released nineteen years ago, stuck on a stand. The light effect has been replaced by a sound chip and with so many starships left in the Star Trek universe, the fact that Hallmark is double-dipping is especially disappointing.

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 for the 25th Anniversary of the series, it was certainly a safe commemoration of the show (I would have voted for a Star Trek: The Next Generation shuttlecraft ornament had anyone bothered to ask).


The "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament faithfully recreates the Federation starship in solid gray plastic and then attached the ship to a solid black stand. The ornament, released in 2012, is a fair representation in terms of the amount of surface details and coloring. Measuring four and seven-eighths inches long, three and three-quarters inches wide and two and three-eighths inches tall, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D ornament is one of the essential Star Trek ships, but because it has been done before (without the stand), this is hardly an essential ornament.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the starship with a stand, unlike most of the other Hallmark Star Trek starship ornaments. The 25th Anniversary Enterprise does not have a date stamped on it, outside the copyright information on the base. This ornament utilizes batteries (which Hallmark included) for the sound effect.

The 25th Anniversary U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-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 elements like the main deflector dish are painted on, as opposed to cast in different colors of plastic. The surface and shape look accurate, it has a much more solid and homogenous look than the actual starship did.

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. The bottom of the saucer section is especially light on details.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" has a sound function, but no light feature. Fans of the ornaments might be a little disappointed that this ornament has an audio function, but no light one, especially consider that the original version of this ship did have a light feature. Many of the Star Trek ornaments both light up and play a sound clip. The "U.S.S. Enterprise-D" does not.

With the battery in the ornament, one needs only to press the button on the stand to the "U.S.S. Enterprise-D." With that, one hears the opening monologue and theme music to Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is a nice touch and the sound quality is excellent. This is a longer sound clip than many of the Hallmark ornaments and it almost makes it feel worth it . . . almost.

When I reviewed the original Enterprise-D ornament, I kvetched about how the ornament did not include a feature that allowed one to remove the saucer section. Well, Hallmark had nineteen years to change that. They, however, did not.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake 25th Anniversary "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 a good piece that does not quite fit in with the rest of the Star Trek ornaments (with the attached stand). The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top, back of the saucer section. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs slightly off-balance. The stand and aft section weigh the ornament down enough to throw the ship off a few degrees.


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 seems vastly overpriced at an original issue price of $32.95 and it is not flying off the shelves at that price. Given that the original Enterprise-D ornament has decreased in value from its original $24.00 issue price, it is hard to imagine that this ornament will increase in value anytime soon, if ever.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, the Federation and the U.S.S. Enterprise-D are likely to be pass this ship ornament by as it is extraneous and expensive.

For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2011 U.S.S. Defiant (New York Comic Con Exclusive)
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
2001 Deep Space Nine
2000 Borg Cube
1999 Runabout Rio Grande
1998 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E
1997 U.S.S. Defiant
1996 U.S.S. Voyager
1995 Romulan Warbird
1994 Klingon Bird Of Prey
1993 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
1992 Shuttlecraft Galileo


For other Hallmark ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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