Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sadly No Better Than The Movie; The 2014 U.S.S. Vengeance Ornament Is An Under-Detailed Disappointment!

The Good: Accurate rendering
The Bad: Pricy, No sound effect, Very lightly detailed
The Basics: The U.S.S. Vengeance Hallmark ornament renders the ship from the disappointing Star Trek Into Darkness in an accurate, but disappointing, way.

Every now and then, I actually feel sorry for licensees of major franchises. In order to market merchandise for products, usually the manufacturers who produce such products have to make them a decent amount of time in advance of the work being released and they have no idea as to whether or not the source material will actually be successful. In the case of Star Trek licensees, I seldom find myself feeling sorry for the manufacturers. After all, more often than not, the licensees look at Star Trek as a cash cow. But with Hallmark, the franchise is seldom really exploited – this year’s Vina ornament (reviewed here!) was the first Star Trek wide-release limited edition ornament produced in years – so I have come to appreciate how much work they put into the ornaments they produce for the Star Trek franchise. Unfortunately with the 2014 starship release from Hallmark, Hallmark shot double duds.

This year’s Hallmark Star Trek starship ornament is the U.S.S. Vengeance. The Vengeance was a somewhat briefly seen ship in Star Trek Into Darkness. Two summers ago, the serious Star Trek fans who attended the Las Vegas Star Trek convention voted Star Trek Into Darkness as the worst of the Star Trek feature films. And it wasn’t even close to the next film on their “best of” list. So, that Hallmark chose a fairly unpopular ship from an unpopular film makes it a tough sell for the Star Trek fans and there is no hook for the population in general.

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Vengeance, this is the starship that was utilized by the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness (reviewed here!). The ship was used by Admiral Marcus to try to destroy the U.S.S. Enterprise after Kirk liberated the man who bombed StarFleet’s secret library in London from Klingon space. The giant starship utilized by Section 31 nearly destroyed the Enterprise before it crashed into Earth.

Sadly, Hallmark’s 2014 Keepsake ornament is the dark starship that was briefly seen . . . and for which there is no reasonable expectation that we will see it again.


The "U.S.S. Vengeance" ornament faithfully recreates the dark Section 31 starship in solid black plastic. With very simple lines and almost no coloring details, the U.S.S. Vengeance looks pretty much like it did in the film. The ornament, released in 2014, is an accurate casting of the StarFleet vessel with a light feature, but almost no painted-on details. Measuring just over five and five-eighths inches long, 3” wide and 1 1/2” tall, the U.S.S. Vengeance ornament is bland and an utterly unnecessary addition to the Star Trek ornament line. Hallmark continues to bank on the Star Trek fans for revenue and with a starting price of $32.95 for the ornament which has a light effect, but no sound chip, this is comparatively expensive.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Vengeance" 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. Vengeance is poorly detailed, though the source material is ridiculously simple. The monolithic black starship only has white painted details on the inner portion of the saucer section (which has some open space in front of the bridge section). The U.S.S. Vengeance has a few sections of baffle panels and nooks and crannies and the U.S.S. Vengeance has those and the weird angles on the front of the engineering hull detailed on the ornament. This ship looks clean and black, without any battle scarring which makes sense given that this was essentially a prototype vessel. The simple source material, no matter how well-rendered, is exceptionally simplistic and stacked up next to other Hallmark Star Trek ornaments, it looks very poor.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Vengeance" 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 that lights the U.S.S. Vengeance up. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the U.S.S. Vengeance and there is only a blue light that comes from the main deflector dish on the engineering hull. This is a minimal light effect and it is barely noticeable in regular lighting conditions. This is a huge disappointment for fans.

It is similarly disappointing that the U.S.S. Vengeance does not have any sound effect.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Vengeance" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Vengeance" ornament is a poor addition and given how Star Trek Into Darkness did not do stellar business comparatively, the U.S.S. Vengeance ornament is a tough sell to fans and the general public. 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. Vengeance 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. Vengeance. The "U.S.S. Vengeance" ornament seems to be selling very slowly; I’ve found them in quantity at all of the Hallmark stores I have visited recently. 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. Vengeance is no better than Star Trek Into Darkness and that makes it not at all worth picking up.

For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2013 U.S.S. Kelvin (Battle Damaged) Convention Exclusive
2013 U.S.S. Kelvin
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!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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