Monday, August 8, 2016

For The 50th Anniversary, Hallmark Gives Star Trek Fans "The Man Trap!"

The Good: Wonderful sculpt, Crisp sound clips, General coloring
The Bad: Noticeable seams, Back-heavy, Expensive, Somewhat awkward sound clip
The Basics: Hallmark’s diorama ornament for the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek relives the climax of “The Man Trap” with mixed results.

Last weekend was the big 50th Anniversary of Star Trek convention in Las Vegas and, sadly, I was unable to get together the funds to set up as a dealer there. The years of me dealing in Las Vegas seem to be behind me and that leaves me with a pretty predictable period each year where I'm just a little depressed. So, today, after going through people's pictures of the convention and feeling my last burst of sad nostalgia, I figured that it was time to move on and what better way than to look into some new Star Trek merchandise? Today, I figured I would review the Star Trek diorama ornament for the year from Hallmark. In tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the first episode to air on NBC, Hallmark released "The Man Trap" as its diorama ornament and it is a great example of how Hallmark frequently gets a lot right with their ornaments.

For those unfamiliar with the episode, "The Man Trap" (reviewed here!), is the first episode that aired and it features the Enterprise arriving at a planet where the resident archaeologist is acting twitchy. His wife is a former lover of Dr. McCoy and, in the course of the episode, it turns out that she has been replaced by a shape-changing alien. The alien violently removes salt from its victims' body and, after killing several Enterprise crewmen, corners Kirk in his quarters before it is killed. It is Kirk being attacked by the M-113 Salt Vampire and screaming in pain that is the subject of the “The Man Trap” ornament!

To add extra value to this ornament, Hallmark provided this ornament with a sound chip, which is pretty much necessary to justify the original issue price of $29.95.


The "The Man Trap" ornament recreates the moment Kirk, seated in his desk chair in his quarters under the thrall of the M-113 Salt Vampire, is being attacked by the creature. The ornament captures a very specific moment as Kirk's mouth is open, mid-scream from being . . . desalinated. The M-113 Salt Vampire is detailed to include both its shaggy fur and the weird, mossy garment the creature wore. The ornament, released in 2016, is a good sculpt of the M-113 Salt Vampire, Kirk, the chair and the floor base.

Hallmark clearly made an effort on the characters as Kirk on this ornament is detailed with accurate rank insignia, the division badge on his chest, and the screaming facial expression. Measuring 4 1/16" tall, 2 1/4" wide and 2 9/16” deep, the "The Man Trap" ornament is a larger Star Trek ornament and it fits the general scale of most of the diorama ornaments Hallmark has released for the Star Trek franchise.

The Hallmark "The Man Trap" ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the Captain and M-113 Salt Vampire next to one another with the M-113 Salt Vampire reaching out with its suction cup-covered fingers right near Captain Kirk's face. The M-113 Salt Vampire is standing and Captain Kirk is sitting in his chair and the two are connected by the base, which houses the speaker for the sound chip. I was impressed by details that Hallmark got absolutely right, like the lift and curve of Captain Kirk's hair. That's a tough thing to render in plastic, but Hallmark nailed it on their "The Man Trap" ornament. Sadly, the M-113 Salt Vampire looks assembled, as it has noticeable seams at the shoulders, where the arms were apparently connected to the base piece. This is the only noticeable defect in the ornament's sculpting/assembly.

The M-113 Salt Vampire's detailing is good, save for the coloring. Having watched "The Man Trap" many, many times, Hallmark colored the creature a bit lighter than it was in the actual episode; the greens are closer to a lime green, as opposed to the olive green of the creature. Similarly, while the fur has sculpted depth and is colored with grays and whites, they are much lighter than the creature in the episode actually was. As for Captain Kirk, Kirk's coloring is far less sophisticated than his sculpt. There is no realism to the flesh color on Kirk and the coloring is oversimplified so Captain Kirk has a somewhat animated look to him.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "The Man Trap" has only a sound effect. This ornament operates on an independent battery so one does not need to position it near a light strand on their tree. Because there is no special light function in the scene, it makes perfect sense that there is no light effect on the “The Man Trap” ornament.

On the ornament, there is a small button on the front of the floor piece of the base that, when pressed, activates the sound chip. The sound chip contains actual dialogue of Kirk from “The Man Trap.” Here is where the ornament's function becomes a bit wonky. There are three sound clips played by the sound chip: one of Kirk's captain's log, explaining the situation and the salt vampire, one of Spock revealing that the creature is killing Kirk, and one that has Kirk screaming in pain before McCoy shoots and kills the M-113 Salt Vampire. It's weird to have so many sound clips from people who are not present in the diorama ornament, despite the clips being perfectly appropriate to the moment rendered in the ornament.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "The Man Trap" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "The Man Trap" ornament is a high priced option and most fans will find is to be an extravagant one, even if it does commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek in a decent way. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top front of the M-113 Salt Vampire's head. This is fairly obtrusive, though it is necessary for the ornament.

From the loop's position, this is a slightly back-heavy ornament. It hangs with a bias toward the back and the pitch is noticeable especially because of how the base is otherwise flat. This is not the most lopsided ornament ever, but it is noticeably unbalanced.


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 and many of the characters from the franchise and they have all been more mass produced than that first one. "The Man Trap" ornament has been selling fairly briskly since Ornament Preview Weekend, at least locally, but it still seems unlikely that this will be an ornament that sells out before the holidays. Most fans bought it early and while serious investors might be hoping to get them on clearance, the quality of the ornament suggests that fans who did not buy it immediately are unlikely to feel the need for it, even at a discounted price.

I’m betting against the long-term investment potential of the “The Man Trap” ornament only because the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek is bound to force collectors to truly choose where to spend their dollars (the sheer volume of anniversary merchandise is stifling!). I suspect that the ornament's mixed quality will leave those who do not pick it up immediately because they are already fans of Hallmark's Star Trek ornament line unwilling to hunt it down later on.


The Star Trek diorama ornaments are frequently polarizing, but for the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, the “The Man Trap” ornament hits more than it misses. It is a solid base . . . for those who might be willing to customize the ornament with more detailed coloring, it could be damn near perfect, instead of the average execution Hallmark mass-produced.

For other Star Trek diorama Hallmark ornaments reviews, please check out my reviews of:
2015 "The Needs Of The Many" Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan ornament
2014 "The Devil In The Dark" ornament
2013 "Arena" ornament
2012 "An Extraordinary Meeting" Star Trek ornament
2011 "Mirror, Mirror" ornament
2010 "Amok Time" ornament
2009 "The Menagerie" ornament
2004 "The City On The Edge Of Forever" ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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