Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ten Significant Minutes On Screen Lead To An Awesome Ornament: The 2013 U.S.S. Kelvin!

The Good: Great rendering, Cool light effect
The Bad: Pricy, No sound effect
The Basics: The U.S.S. Kelvin Hallmark ornament might be an obscure starship, but makes for a surprisingly good starship ornament.

When it comes to the new year’s worth of Hallmark ornaments, the Star Trek line is somewhat anemic. The truth is, Hallmark has completely hedged its bets on their Star Trek ornament line – there were no exclusive Star Trek ornaments for this weekend’s premiere event and the Comic Con exclusive that was just announced is another ridiculously underwhelming repaint. By contrast, the Star Wars franchise had an exclusive character ornament for Premiere Weekend in the form of Boushh (reviewed here!) and their Comic Con exclusive is a uniquely-created full-featured ornament, along with the five standard-release ornaments. Star Wars even landed in the Hallmark ornament dream book on the page ahead of the Star Trek ornaments this year. So, while Hallmark has cut back the Star Trek line for the legitimate pragmatic reason that consumers are not shelling out the way they used to, there is also the sentiment that the company has given up on those consumers.

That assertion can be made by the fact that this year’s ornament if the U.S.S. Kelvin. I like the U.S.S. Kelvin as much as the next person, but it’s a ship that appeared on screen for ten minutes and it lacked the significance of the Nerada (from the same film), the U.S.S. Vengeance (from the new film) or even any number of shuttlecraft from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager or even Star Trek: Enterprise. In fact, for a company that is hedging its bets, it seems to have forgotten that the NX-01 U.S.S. Enterprise from Enterprise has still not yet received Hallmark ornament status from the main line. Given how Enterprise bombed both with the fans and on the merchandising front, it might seem reasonable that the NX-01 hasn’t yet gotten regular ornament treatment, but given that the Vulcan Command Ship from the same series has been made into an ornament, it seems odd that Hallmark would leap ahead (and over) to the U.S.S. Kelvin.

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Kelvin, this is the starship that opened the film Star Trek (reviewed here!). The ship that was briefly commanded by George Kirk after the Captain went over to the Nerada and was killed is a simple starship that did not last long in combat. It’s not even the ship that James T. Kirk was born on; he was born aboard an escape shuttle in the first few minutes of Star Trek.

And yet, for 2013, Hallmark Keepsake released the simple ship as its prime Star Trek ornament offering.


The "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament faithfully recreates the cinematic Federation starship in solid white plastic. With very simple lines and fine coloring details, the U.S.S. Kelvin looks just like it did in the film. The ornament, released in 2013, is an impressive casting of the StarFleet vessel with an immaculate paint job and decent-enough light feature. Measuring just over five and a half inches long, 2 1/2” wide and 2” tall, the U.S.S. Kelvin ornament is a cool, if unnecessary, addition to the Star Trek ornament line. Despite cutting back the Star Trek line , Hallmark continues to bank on the Star Trek fans for revenue and charge almost twice as much - $32.95 – for the ornament which has a light effect, but no sound chip.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Kelvin" 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 the previous Star Trek ornament releases, there is no date stamped onto this ornament. If it is molded on, it is very subtle and may just be the copyright date. This ornament includes the 1.5V LR41 batteries to power the ship for the light effect.

The U.S.S. Kelvin is detailed incredibly, starting with the shaping of the warp nacelle and through the tiny phaser banks detailing around the bridge section. The U.S.S. Kelvin has a few sections of baffle panels and nooks and crannies and the U.S.S. Kelvin has each and every one meticulously detailed on the ornament. This ship looks weathered with a somewhat dirty finish to it, as opposed to a clean white Federation starship. Hallmark got this ship absolutely right! As well, the U.S.S. Kelvin has all of the appropriate markings, like the racing stripes on the sides of the warp nacelle (the Kelvin only has one nacelle). It, of course, includes the ship’s name and number on the saucer section. This starship 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. Kelvin" 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 1.5V batteries which fit into the engineering hull. There is a panel that requires a screwdriver to open. The ornament comes with the appropriate batteries and given Hallmark’s track record, it is easy to assume the one set will last at least one full holiday season.

After the batteries are installed and the battery compartment is closed, there is a button on the underside of the nacelle that lights the U.S.S. Kelvin up. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the U.S.S. Kelvin and as it is individually powered, it does a pretty decent job of lighting up only the two little bits that have the effect: the warp nacelle and the main deflector dish on the engineering hull. The light effects on this starship ornament are cool enough and there is no light effect for the main saucer section to illuminate the bridge. The U.S.S. Kelvin lacks a light effect for the running lights, but given how cool the blue and yellow lights that are present are and how brightly they shine, it is easy to forgive Hallmark for this.

It is a little disappointing that the U.S.S. Kelvin does not have any sound effect, especially considering how the main theme from Star Trek was fairly distinctive.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament is a fair addition and given how Star Trek (the film) managed to revitalize the franchise, this one might sell, even though it wasn’t in the new movie. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top aft section of the saucer section.

From that point, the U.S.S. Kelvin is well-balanced. In fact, this hangs perfectly level, without any balance issues, though it does swing easily when knocked around on the hook/branch.


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 and they have begun mass producing exceptionally minor ships like the U.S.S. Kelvin. The "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament seems to be selling very slowly, at least for the initial weekend. Given the price and obscurity of the ship in the source material, it is hard to bet on this being a good investment ship ornament. As a loyal fan of the franchise, I am banking on finding these after the holiday when they are put on 50% clearance.


The U.S.S. Kelvin might be a quality Star Trek ornament, but it is overpriced and not worth rushing right out to buy, though it adds some zest to the overall Star Trek ornament line.

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
2004 Vulcan Command Ship
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 be sure to visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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