Star Trek Ornament Hits the Stars: A replica of the Starship Enterprise is this year’s hottest Christmas tree bauble
December 19, 1991|ROXANNE ROBERTS | THE WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON — Pick one: This year’s fastest-selling Christmas ornament is (a) a porcelain angel, (b) a Merry Olde Santa, (c) a replica of the Starship Enterprise from “Star Trek” complete with tiny red and green blinking lights on the spaceship’s bridge.
Answer: Beam me up, Santa.
The good news, for the clever shoppers who snapped up the $20 Hallmark Keepsake Magic ornament when it came out this summer, is that it’s the bauble to have. The bad news, for all of us who missed yet another hot trend, is that it’s completely sold out.
“If we had 1,000 of them, I’m sure we could have sold them all,” says Bonnie Dunnells, manager of Elm Tree Hallmark in Herndon, Va. “It’s the Cabbage Patch doll of ornaments.”
Demand for the Starship is the greatest that Hallmark has ever had for any ornament, says spokeswoman Betsy Helgager. The company will not release production figures but the Enterprise, which premiered this summer at about 11,000 retailers, was quickly reissued this fall when Hallmark realized it had a phenomenon on its branches. Each store got about 50.
Who knew? There was a spaceship last year, another one of the Keepsake Magic ornaments (“Lights! Music! Motion!”), but it wasn’t a big seller. This year Hallmark was banking on the $20 “It’s a Wonderful Life” with blinking lights, the $40 “Santa Special” train with talking Santa, and the $25 “Kringle’s Bumper Cars” with lights and motion.
But it’s the limited-edition Star Trek ornament, five inches long, which plugs into a miniature-bulb socket on the tree, that’s causing calls from desperate customers across the country. Hallmark attributes the demand to the show’s 25th anniversary, the recently released “Star Trek VI” movie and the death of the series’s creator, Gene Roddenberry.
Ornament collector Kay Layton of Germantown, Md., has 17 cartons of Christmas decorations. Usually she waits until the day after Christmas to buy, when everything goes on sale. But she snapped up an Enterprise in September. “I’m not a Trekkie but something told me to grab it.”
Since the ornament went on display in August, stores have been inundated with requests. Most started waiting lists; after a while, they stopped taking names. On Oct. 1, when retailers were allowed to reorder the spaceship, Hallmark received more than $1 million in orders, said one representative. Most shipments were sold out the day they arrived. People are still calling, even offering extra money.
The display ornament at Tysons Hallmark Corner was stolen in August. One woman threw a tantrum when she discovered customers were limited to one ornament each.
Even Hallmark employees have had to scramble. One wanted three ornaments for family members, so she called relatives in three different states and asked them to buy it for her. Dunnells–to be fair about it–put her own name on the waiting list in September and finally got her little Enterprise last week.
“I really have no feeling for it at all,” she said. “It’s just that I’m sure it’s going to be worth a lot of money someday.”