A Needlessly Detailed Look at Star Trek Christmas Ornaments

STARDATE 66424.7: LT CMNDR WHATEVER REPORTING UNAUTHORIZED USE OF STARSHIP DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS STOLEN FROM THE UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS, ROMULAN EMPIRE AND BORG COLLECTIVE. SAID DESIGNS HAVE BEEN SENT BACK IN TIME TO NOSTALGIA HOUNDS AT HALLMARK AND USED FOR TACKY, OVERPRICED CHRISTMAS ACCESSORIES. SO UH I GUESS I’LL JUST TELL YOU ABOUT THEM?

Uh, right. So this all starts back in 1976, when Hallmark – already high on inventing extraneous holidays and cards to give them artificial meaning – entered the Christmas tree business with its first “Keepsake” ornament. I guess it sold well, because in 1979 the ornaments became annual treats for old people, suckers and the hopelessly nostalgic (all of whom we’ve conveniently catered to by adding Amazon links for each below!)

1991 saw the first Star Trek ornament, fittingly the original NCC-1701 Enterprise (no bloody A, B, C or D). By ’91 I was already a TNG fan, but not big on TOS, so this year’s ship went by without notice. Looking back now, it appears Leonard Nimoy himself hawked a 1992 Spock ornament.

http://youtu.be/laNNR1Di9oM

Now, 1993 was where I jumped in. I was watching probably close to 10 episodes a week via reruns at new episodes of the 7th season, so when the Enterprise D arrived… well it had to be mine, along with all other ships from the fairly crappy Playmates line (though the ships were indeed cool). I’ve since photographed (aka clumsily shot with a phone) pics of my ornament collection hanging on the tree; here they are, because you’re very interested in this!

1993 – Enterprise D (TNG)

The main ship from The Next Generation, and the fifth Federation craft to bear the name Enterprise. So, the bit is you plug the dangling green cord into the lights, which then power the ornament; this can be simple stuff like lighting warp nacelles, or more elaborate things as the Keepsake series wears on. My favorite part of this ornament (other than the detailed sculpt) is the blinking light on the top of the saucer section; it simulates the blinking lights of aircraft in the night, which gives an extra sense of liveliness to your tree.

1994 – Klingon Bird of Prey (TOS/TNG)

One of my favorites. The blinking light on the front of the craft is constantly active, so this is a rather hyperactive ornament. The ship itself is perhaps best known from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (the one with the whales) or maybe as the ship that delivers the death blow to the aforementioned Enterprise D in Generations. The humps on the back of the ship are meant to look like linebackers huddled up, ready to hurl themselves at you at a moment’s notice. It’s such a strong, aggressive design that it lasted from the TOS times well into the TNG/DS9/VOY era some 70 years later. That’s like the military continuing to use P-51 Mustangs in 2010! The very idea!

1995 – Romulan Warbird (TNG)

First seen in the season one finale “The Neutral Zone,” this imposing ship is larger than the Enterprise and one of the ongoing aggressors of the series. Its unique build – with massive amounts of empty space in the middle – is suitably alien and the green color scheme is a great contrast to the red, white and blue Enterprise. Now, 1995 also introduced Picard and Kirk ornaments, but I dabbled in those only briefly and resumed focus on the ships.

1996 – USS Voyager (VOY)

Not long after the series began, its titular ship found its way into Hallmark stores with this lovely Voyager ornament. Unlike the real deal (or its Playmates equivalent), the nacelles do not move, though they do light up similarly to the Enterprise D.

1997 – USS Defiant (DS9)

At long last, Deep Space Nine sees some representation! The Defiant is the “tough little ship” seen in First Contact, and was in fact originally built in response to the looming Borg threat. On the show, however, it was mostly used in the Dominion War (a rather cool, serialized storyline that consumes seasons 4~7 of DS9); I also suspect it was created to get Sisko and the DS9 crew off the station, as seven seasons of holosuite malfunctions just ain’t gonna cut it.

Fun fact: This ornament has a voice clip of Worf that plays every time the tree is plugged in: “I wish you a most honorable holiday. Kapla.”

1998 – USS Enterprise E (TNG)

Bigger, faster and tougher than the D before it, the E debuts in First Contact and is the home of the TNG cast through Insurrection and Nemesis. This is a Sovereign class ship, as opposed to the Galaxy class of the D; it’s also flatter and sleeker than the D, perhaps just to look cooler on a movie screen?

1999 – USS Rio Grande (DS9)

Uh, so… this is a shuttlecraft used in Deep Space 9. Granted it’s “the” shuttlecraft of the show, but I mean, it’s a shuttle. Not a ship. This kinda turned me off the series, because there were plenty of other options to go through before settling on a puny shuttle. And now think of the scale! My tree was already on shaky ground with the Warbird and Defiant next to each other, but a runabout shuttle? C’mon!

2000 – Borg Cube (TNG)

Ah, much better! I’ve loved this function over form design ever since I first saw “Q Who,” a second season episode that actually creeped me out back in the day. The Borg are old hat now, but watch that episode and imagine them as a true unknown, a race that exists only to consume and grow with no regard for the individual. The haunting interior lights suggest something sinister inside.

But, as this is an ornament, you’re treated to “We are the Borg. Enjoy your holidays. Resistance is futile.

2001 – Deep Space Nine (DS9)

Whoa, OK – this is pretty damn cool. But for whatever reason, I didn’t get this in ’01, and only recently received it as a present. Part of my problem was that it required a base to do anything; the other ornaments lit up or spoke simply by being plugged in to the lights, while DS9 had to be connected to a battery powered base. To dangle from a tree, you have to give up the show. Fair enough I suppose, as the detail on this thing is fantastic.

This also sets a precedent for future ornaments; more and more often the ornament would require a base or batteries to trigger lights and sounds. The Delta Flyer, Vulcan Command Ship and Scorpion (among others) still light up, but this is the time period in which I completely lost track of the ornaments. Having seen every episode a dozen times, and with only one more movie on the horizon (2002’s dreadful Nemesis), my desire to keep amassing Trek stuff was waning.

2010 – USS Enterprise (JJ)

So nine years go by and I don’t buy a new ornament, missing quite a few decent sculpts in the process. The receipt of this 2010 ornament, based on the Enterprise from JJ Abrams’ alleged “Star Trek” movie, got me back on track. While I can talk about that movie forever (it’s a fine film, but it’s never once Star Trek and we don’t need MORE movies based on blowing shit up), the ship itself is cool. Pity though, the lights require tiny watch batteries and only activate when a button is pressed. Sure wish I had the option to leave ’em on…

2011 – Romulan Bird of Prey (TOS)

OK, so the Klingons have a bird of prey, but the Romulans did it first back in TOS. The bird design on the bottom is faithfully recreated, but the best part is the blinding blue light that erupts from the nacelles:

It’s alarmingly bright. Like, really bright. But that makes it a standout ornament and it got me back on the bandwagon. I’ll be checking every year, once again, for new Trek ornaments.

2012 – USS Enterprise D (TNG)

Full circle; this year’s ornament is another Enterprise D for the 25th anniversary of The Next Generation. As an ornament, it sucks; it’s attached to a heavy base that makes it impractical to hang from a tree, and on its own it simply plays the entire opening Picard speech. I already have an Enterprise ornament, and I already have an Enterprise that delivers said speech, so this is pretty useless. I get it’s in the spirit of the anniversary, but as a collector… it’s not very worthwhile.

What a great ending point! Suffice to say I really enjoy collecting these things and this has made simply plugging in my tree a daily delight; the Borg, Worf and an errant Darth Vader all argue over each other with excessive holiday cheer, delivering a line that sounds something like “WE ARE THE BORG MOST HONORABLE HOLIDAY BUT YOU ARE NOT A JEDI YET.”

21 thoughts on “A Needlessly Detailed Look at Star Trek Christmas Ornaments

  1. I’m amazed at the amount of “useless” stuff people are able to collect. I’ll buy special editions of games or CDs that have extra levels or tracks, but statues and toys seem pointless to me. Brett seems to have several good sized collections of stuff like these ornaments that lies around. Not the way I show my interest, but I like the enthusiasm, nonetheless.

  2. I have a ninja turtle ornament that has a shell made out of a walnut. That is the closest I come to special ornaments. I like these kinds of articles hope to see more in the future!

  3. I don’t know how I’ve gone 30 years without know about these type of Ornaments. But I’ve just gone to amazon and ordered the Klingon Bird of Prey and Darth Vader’s TIE fighter. I’m not really sure if I should curse Brett or praise Brett for bringing this to my attention.

  4. “(it’s a fine film, but it’s never once Star Trek and we don’t need MORE movies based on blowing shit up)”

    -U mad bro?

    1. Not mad, but Trek means something. There’s a reason it’s persisted since 1966. A saturated market in the late ’90s killed the brand, but to bring it back as a whiz-bang shoot ’em up is the antithesis of Star Trek. The ’09 movie was a great adventure movie, but it’s forgettable. Once Star Wars returns, no one will eagerly await the next Trek. That’s why it has to take the high road, and be about… something. Anything. A purpose, a societal necessity.

      Obviously I have strong opinions on this!

      1. I agree w/ the brelston. the differences of ster trek from star wars is what makes it so unique and interesting. it’s right there in the title, it’s not a war it’s a trek. it’s about exploration and discovery. it has a special place in science fiction history.
        i’m a massive star wars fan, but star trek really appeals to the explorer in me. the new star trek sort of misses the point. but maybe it shouldn’t be movies, and go back to tv series. it’s better suited for the long form story telling so in one ep you can have a healthy chunk of action and drama and the next ep can be a whole subtle ep where the characters morality and such are challenged. I dunno… I think JJ and crew kind of missed the point of star trek.
        hunh… who knew i had so much to say about star trek. ha!

  5. boy! that old Romulan BOP is sooooooooooooooooooper ridiculous.
    i remember some of those TNG ones my step dad was into the show big time so they hung on the tree.
    haha

  6. All very fun until I saw the Borg Cube. I want one.

    As for your interest waning before Star Trek Nemesis Brett, I felt the opposite. I thought Nemesis was looking incredible until it came out and deflated my interest in the franchise for a long time, but up until then I was on a Trek high. Oh for a Mass Effect-style epic RPG…

    I think we’re due a Trek Movie Marathon LaserTime Chat!

  7. CarMax reserves the right to revise their offer if something changes. If your car was newer with low miles, or has expensive performance tires, they might revise it. For the most part, its no big deal, esp if you have an older car they will just wholesale. I would not worry about it.

  8. I don’t think the one I had was listed but it certainly was the Shuttlecraft. Spock would say some Happy Holidays bullshit when you pushed a button. It was so weird that someone made that. I don’t even remember there being more! Boy was I wrong.

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