Friday, July 14, 2017

Better Than The Film In Which It Appears: The 2017 U.S.S. Franklin Hallmark Ornament!

The Good: Good rendering, Cool light effect, Decent balance
The Bad: Expensive, No sound effect
The Basics: The U.S.S. Franklin Hallmark ornament is a decent rendition of the starship from Star Trek Beyond, despite being expensive and lacking a sound effect.

The more I considered the Star Trek film that was released as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the franchise, the less I enjoyed it. Star Trek Beyond was a trainwreck in a lot of ways. So, it is hard not to feel bad about how Hallmark had to make a leap in its merchandising long before the film was released. Last year, it was announced well before Star Trek Beyond met with limited praise from fans that the U.S.S. Franklin from the film would be the 2017 Hallmark Star Trek starship ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Franklin, this is the starship that Scotty and the Enterprise crew found on the surface of Kral's planet in Star Trek Beyond (reviewed here!). The ship was used by the stranded Enterprise crew to escape Kral's planet and save the nearby starbase. It was an Enterprise-era starship.

For 2017, Hallmark Keepsake released the retro-starship as its prime Star Trek ornament offering.


The "U.S.S. Franklin" ornament faithfully recreates the cinematic Federation starship in solid gray plastic. With very simple lines and generally basic, but accurate, coloring details, the U.S.S. Franklin looks just like it did in the film. The ornament, released in 2017, is an impressive casting of the StarFleet vessel with an immaculate paint job and decent-enough light feature. Measuring five and a quarter inches long, 3 1/2” wide and 1” tall, the U.S.S. Franklin 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 one of its highest prices for an ornament - $32.95 – for the ornament which has a light effect, but no sound chip.

The Hallmark "U.S.S. Franklin" 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. This ornament includes the batteries needed to power the ship for the light effect.

The U.S.S. Franklin is detailed incredibly, from the nacelle struts to the shape of the bridge. The U.S.S. Franklin has a few sections of baffle panels and nooks and crannies and the U.S.S. Franklin 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 pretty right! Unfortunately, the U.S.S. Franklin features a very obviously-placed button for the feature. The bridge dome is topped by the button for the light feature. Similarly, the steel projection for the hook loop is very noticeable as it juts out of the back of the bridge on the saucer section of the U.S.S. Franklin.

On the coloring front, the U.S.S. Franklin has all of the appropriate markings, like the racing stripes on the sides of the warp nacelles. On the nacelle struts, the U.S.S. Franklin is realistically - if unattractively - colored bright orange. 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, despite the bridge button being problematically obvious.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the "U.S.S. Franklin" 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 batteries which fit into the bottom of the saucer section. 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 top of the bridge that lights the U.S.S. Franklin up, mostly on the bridge section. Pressing the button activates the light effects for the U.S.S. Franklin 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 light effects on this starship ornament are fairly bright.

It is a little disappointing that the U.S.S. Franklin does not have any sound effect, especially for the ornament's price.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "U.S.S. Franklin" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, the "U.S.S. Franklin" ornament is an unnecessary addition and given how neutral many fans were to Star Trek Beyond, it is tough to believe that fans will flock to buying it up. The ornament has a longer and more obtrusive steel hook loop embedded into the top aft section of the saucer section.

From that point, the U.S.S. Franklin 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. Franklin. The "U.S.S. Franklin" ornament is unlikely to be a fast sell-out, making the implicit argument that for the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation perhaps Hallmark should have bet instead on a shuttlecraft ornament from that show. 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. Franklin might, objectively, be an accurate and well-made Star Trek ornament, but it is overpriced and not worth rushing right out to buy.

For other Star Trek ship ornaments from Hallmark, please check out my reviews of:
2016 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 50th Anniversary Tribute ornament
2015 U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-C
2014 U.S.S. Vengeance Star Trek Into Darkness
2013 Battle Damaged U.S.S. Kelvin (Comic Con 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!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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