Sunday, October 6, 2013

You Won’t Find It This Ornament Release Weekend, But The Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin Is Almost Worth Hunting Down!

The Good: Great rendering, Cool light effect, Presumed collectible value
The Bad: Pricy, No sound effect
The Basics: The Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin Hallmark ornament is a pretty tough sell for the price and rarity.

Happy Ornament Release Weekend! As Hallmark ornament enthusiasts flock to Hallmark stores, there are a number of ornaments that fans won’t find on the shelves. In addition to the first-run Limited Edition ornaments that sold out during Ornament Preview Weekend, there were ornaments that were exclusive to the various Comic Cons (San Diego and the forthcoming New York Comic Con) that Hallmark had a presence at this year. For Star Trek fans, this year’s outing is an unfortunately unimpressive repaint. In fact, Hallmark’s lack of ambition is particularly stunning for this year’s Star Trek exclusive ornament; it’s this year’s common-release ornament with a slightly different paint job. The Comic Con exclusive is the Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin, which is identical to the U.S.S. Kelvin ornament (reviewed here!) save that it has a black paint streaks on it representing the points where it was phaser burned by the Romulan ship Nerada.

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.

For 2013 Hallmark Keepsake released the battle damaged version of the ship as its Comic Con Exclusive Star Trek ornament offering.


The Battle Damaged "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament faithfully recreates the cinematic Federation starship in solid white plastic, but with additional black painting for scorch marks. With very simple lines and fine coloring details, the U.S.S. Kelvin looks just like it did in the film, near the end of its tenure on screen. 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 Battle Damaged 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 Battle Damaged "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 Battle Damaged 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 Battle Damaged 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 very dirty finish to it, as well as burn marks on the saucer section, bridge dome and engineering hull. Hallmark got this ship absolutely right! As well, the Battle Damaged 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 Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin up. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the Battle Damaged 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 Battle Damaged 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. As well, the darkness of the battle damage mutes the light effect some.

It is a little disappointing that the Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin does not have any sound effect, especially how Hallmark could have done a clip of the Kelvin getting destroyed!


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Battle Damaged 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 very much an extravagance. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top aft section of the saucer section.

From that point, the Battle Damaged 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 Battle Damaged "U.S.S. Kelvin" ornament was sold only at conventions and was strictly limited to a few thousand pieces. Already its price has quadrupled and at that price, it makes for an excellent investment piece (for those going to the NYCC), but an overpriced ornament for fans and collectors. Given how easily one could pretty much make this ornament by buying a second common-released U.S.S. Kelvin ornament, this is a vastly overpriced option.


The Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin might be a quality Star Trek ornament, but it is overpriced and only the absolute competitionists will feel the need to pay the exorbitant prices that it is found at outside the convention setting.

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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