Friday, April 5, 2013

One Need Not Loathe Enterprise To Find Little Merit In Hallmark's "Vulcan Command Ship" Ornament!

The Good: Mostly interesting light effects
The Bad: Not terribly detailed, Balance issues, Overproduced
The Basics: One of the least recognizable Star Trek starships arrives as part of Hallmark's beloved starship ornament line: the Vulcan Command Ship fails with fans, collectors and the general populace!

There are some strange ironies in the Star Trek collectibles market, but none come quite so readily to mind as one that relates to the Hallmark Star Trek ornaments. Hallmark, in its yearly quest to create ornaments from the Star Trek universe created an ornament of the obscure Vulcan Command Ship from Star Trek: Enterprise (back when it was simply entitled Enterprise, actually). Hallmark released this ornament before it released the titled ship of the series, the NX-01 Enterprise, which - to date - it has not. I think that's hilarious, especially considering that Star Trek: Enterprise ultimately failed due, in part, to lack of merchandising support and cast participation on the convention circuit.

For those unfamiliar with the Vulcan Command Ship, this was one of the few starships of Star Trek: Enterprise era in the Star Trek franchise that popped up in more than one episode. Seen sporadically throughout Star Trek: Enterprise (reviewed here!), the Vulcan Command Ship is pretty much only known to the die-hard fans of the series (not even of the franchise). The Vulcan Command Ship is essentially a long, rocket-ship like craft with a ring in the aft section, perpendicular to the main hull. The starship is such an esoteric one, it is a wonder that Hallmark chose it at all.


The "Vulcan Command Ship" ornament faithfully recreates the famed Vulcan starship in solid copper pearlescent plastic. The ornament, released in 2004, is a fairly disappointing work, though, lacking in some surface details - especially as it plays into the lighting effect. Measuring six and one-eighth inches long, three and one-quarter inches wide and two and one-half inches tall, the Vulcan Command Ship ornament is not at all an the essential Star Trek ship and most fans of the ship and the franchise quickly realized that $24.00 was an awfully steep price given the quality and subject matter of this ornament. As a result, discerning collectors at the time waited and this was one of the few Star Trek starship ornaments to be bought en masse as part of after-Christmas sales. In other words, it was Hallmark Keepsake's real Star Trek (or Enterprise) flops.

The Hallmark "Vulcan Command Ship" 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. Unlike previous Star Trek ornament releases, this one does not have the date stamped or painted on it. In fact, the only place the date appears on this ornament is in the copyright information molded into the bottom side of the ring in the ship. This ornament plugs into the standard light strand of Christmas lights in order to light up.

The Vulcan Command Ship is detailed adequately, at first glance. However, loyal fans of the series who pay attention will note that the window holes on the ship are present, but not part of the light effects. The windows near the bridge dome are a source of illumination in the series and the detailing here is more of a broad stroke, lacking the finer details, including those holes. That said, the Vulcan Command Ship is a pretty easy ship to get right in that it is a solid color and Hallmark managed that just fine.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "Vulcan Command Ship" has a light function. Fans of the ornaments are like to be rather 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 "Vulcan Command Ship" 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 - rather annoyingly - into the bottom front 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 "Vulcan Command Ship." The light effects on this starship ornament is remarkably simple; the inside of the warp ring lights up blue and the bridge dome and phaser banks below it light up an orangish-yellow. This is where the ornament truly falls down. The windows - which provide a real sense of detail and texture on the show - do not light up. This keeps the ornament fairly dark, which does nothing to enhance its status.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Vulcan Command Ship" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "Vulcan Command Ship" ornament is not an essential piece, but it would have been nice if it had been done well for those who were going to buy it anyway. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top center of the Vulcan Command Ship, which is the most stable point on the ornament. As a result, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, hangs fairly well balanced from that loop.

However, plugging the ship in, with the stiffness of the electric cord from the ship, causes the Vulcan Command Ship to pitch up about thirty degrees, which looks inorganic in this design. Thus, one has to choose between it looking good and appearing to cruise straight or having the light effects activated.


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!). 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 "Vulcan Command Ship" ornament was a tremendous failure commercially. Owing largely to the lack of popularity of this starship with fans, fans and the general public which is not as familiar with the Star Trek starships largely passed this one by. The result was that it was overproduced and when dealers and collectors gobbled them up, they became readily available (and still are) on the secondary market, at severely deflated prices. In other words, this is not an ideal investment piece! As well, many fans will not purchase it because it is not as good as a number of other Star Trek ship ornaments and has lower overall recognizability.


Fans of the Star Trek franchise, Vulcans and the Vulcan Command Ship specifically are likely to be largely disappointed by the Vulcan Command Ship ornament; it is a poor recreation of one of the most obscure starships. One is baffled at why Hallmark even bothered with this one!

For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2012 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D 25th Anniversary Edition
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
2002 Delta Flyer
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 ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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