Article text: Twenty-five years after embarking on its mission to “boldly go where no man has gone before” the USS Enterprise has crossed another frontier – onto Christmas trees across the country. And even the stoical Mr. Spock would no doubt be tickled at its success. Hallmark Cards has turned the famous starship into its newest Christmas ornament. The tiny model – about 5 inches long – features blinking red and green lights! Authentic markings and sells for $20. The ornament immediately caught the fancy of Trekkies when it arrived in stores in July. Retailers now can’t get enough of the item to satisfy demand. Fans who want the Federation starship on their tree the Christmas are advised to get their names on a waiting list right away. Dallasan Hallmark in Casa Linda Plaza has sold out of its stock three times, plus the display ornament, and is waiting for more. That is, except for one ornament, whispch is tucked away out of sight of customers. “I’m a Trekkie,” says cashier Josef Caldwell. “It’s for me.” “It’s the biggest demand we’ve ever had for a single ornament,” said Betsy Helgager, spokeswoman for Hallmark in Kansas City, Mo. “We’ve heard about the waiting lists and all that. We expected it to do well, but… (Mitchell Diggs, Scripps Howard News Service)
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.”
José Soto of Starloggers recently posted his ten best Star Trek ship ornaments and the ten best character/diorama ornaments.
“When it comes to ornaments, Star Wars may be the big thing given the abundance of Hallmark ornaments that are all over the stores now. However, Star Trek fans know all too well that their beloved franchise started the Hallmark ornament craze back in 1991 with the release of the original Enterprise ornament.” (more)
Be sure to check out Starloggers and see which ornament tops the list.
Strange New Worlds was a science fiction collectors magazine published from 1992 through 1994, providing original articles, interviews, and news for science fiction collectors. This is a reprint of an article from Strange New Worlds Issue 10 – Oct/Nov 1993.
The Star Fleet of Hallmark
by Kevin Stevens
In 1991 Hallmark Cards produced the first in a series of Star Trek Keepsake Ornaments in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the television series. The Starship Enterprise ornament was unveiled in July 1991. The finely detailed ornament blinking red and green lights on the saucer section was a beautiful recreation of the classic starship.
By August, Hallmark found that demand for this particular ornament was overwhelming; it appealed both to collectors of Keepsake Ornaments as well as Star Trek fans and collectors. The Enterprise proved to be the most popular ornament made by Hallmark since the Keepsake Ornament line was introduced in 1973.
By October 1991, Hallmark made the unprecedented decision to go back into production with the Enterprise ornament. Still, by December these supplies of ornaments were also depleted. It immediately began climbing in value on the secondary market. By June 1992 collectible dealers were advertising the $20 ornament for anywhere from $50 to as high as $125. Prices would climb higher still.
In 1992, Hallmark, wishing to repeat its success with the Starship Enterprise, produced a second Keepsake Ornament: the Shuttlecraft Galileo. This lighted ornament included a voice chip featuring the voice of Mr. Spock. By pushing a button, collectors could hear Spock wishing all a happy holiday. Anticipating a repeat of the response to their Enterprise ornament, Hallmark produced the Galileo in greater numbers. Retailing for $24, this ornament was so available to retailers that demand never exceeded supply.
Fans and collectors bought the Galileo in quantity. Hallmark heavily advertised the ornaments in science fiction and Star Trek publications. This exposure, combined with the increased production numbers, meant that fans interested in obtaining the ornament were able to do so easily at retail prices. A year later, collectors can find the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament for between $35 and $40.
However, because many more fans obtained the second ornament in the series, the demand grew to complete the set by finding the Enterprise ornament. Fans were now hungry for it. Prices for the Starship Enterprise ornament climbed to $175, eventually topping out at about $250. One dealer at a Los Angeles area Star Trek convention had priced the ornament at $400. Prices for this piece have since stabilized at about $200.
Although the Galileo ornament never achieved the collectibility status of the first ornament, a counter display promoting the ornament has become collectible. The display featured a plastic globe recreating a moon with the Galileo ornament orbiting above it. A button at the base of the display allowed shoppers to hear the greeting from Mr. Spock. This display, which included a cardboard back with advertising information about the ornament, has gone on to the secondary marketplace, with prices from $75 to $150.
For 1993, Hallmark has released the third in the series of Star Trek ornaments: the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. As with the first Enterprise ornament, this keepsake piece features blinking lights. No voice chip is included.
Hallmark announced that it would scale back production for the 1993 ornament, making the newest ornament a more promising collectible than the Galileo. Early reports from Hallmark Gold Crown Stores (retailers for the ornaments) bear this out. Stores that began receiving the ornaments in August have been sent only half their anticipated orders, making demand high from collectors. Even those who pre-ordered have had to wait for back orders to be received.
It remains to be seen how production numbers for the new ornament will stack up as the holiday season approaches. During the holiday season, collectors should anticipate increased prices for the earlier ornaments. If the pattern established in 1992 holds true, prices may spike again, but should stabilize in the new year.
Regardless of the fluctuating prices and collector frenzy, these ornaments remain among the most beautiful, and highly collectible, Star Trek items produced in recent years.
Kevin Stevens is editor of Trek Collector, a bimonthly newsletter for Star Trek fans and collectors. He has been a Star Trek collector since 1972. His collection was featured recently on Los Angeles’ Fox TV news station KTTV.
Strange New Worlds was a science fiction collectors magazine published from 1992 through 1994, providing original articles, interviews, and news for science fiction collectors. This is a reprint of an article from Strange New Worlds Issue 4 – Oct/Nov 1992.
Hallmark officially kicked-off its promotion of the new Shuttlecraft Galileo Keepsake ornament on August 29 , though ornaments were available for sale in select stores the first week in August. This lighted ornament is based on the shuttlecraft design from the classic Star Trek TV series. It features a holiday message from Mr. Spock (voice provided by Leonard Nimoy).
As with all Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, it is unknown how many of these ornaments will be produced. This is proprietary information that Hallmark closely guards. However, it is assumed that based upon the phenomenally successful sales of last year’s Enterprise ornament, that Hallmark will be producing enough of these to meet the demand. The Leonard Nimoy commercial for the Galileo encourages buying multiples of the ornament.
At the 50th World SF Convention, dealers were already asking $50.00 for this ornament that is still available elsewhere for the original retail price of $24.00. Stocks of the Galileo ornament were quickly depleted by eager collectors and dealers in many stores. Before paying inflated dealer prices, first check with your local Hallmark store.
You might also see in your local shop the charming Galileo counter display. It features a large three-dimensional cardboard asteroid (replete with meteor crates) with the Galileo suspended in “orbit” above it. A button clearly marked “press here” is at the base of the display and allows the customer to hear Spock’s holiday message.
As reported in Issue #2 of Strange New Worlds [“Hallmark’s Voyage of the Starship Enterprise”], Hallmark had more demand for last year’s Enterprise ornament than for any other item made by Hallmark since Keepsake Ornaments were first begun in 1973. It is still too early to judge if this latest addition to Hallmark’s Starfleet will enjoy equal attention. Hallmark collectors currently list the value of the 1991 Enterprise (original retail value of $20.00) at $175.00.