Geek Tree 2017

The Geek Tree is back and its brighter and louder than ever. Expanded to a 9′ tall narrow tree in 2016, this year’s Geek Tree includes a new power 2017 ornaments from Hallmark as well as older 1990s-era ornaments that my parents gave me.

To learn more about the Geek Tree and its previous iterations, check out Nuketown’s Geek Tree feature.

The new Hallmark ornament is the Death Star, which is part of their “Storyteller” line of powered ornaments. I’m excited for this one; Hallmark released all manner of powered Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments in the past, but after the mid-2000s they transitioned to using batteries instead. While battery power is fine for playing sound, it’s terrible for lighted ornaments. Part of the appeal of the Star Trek ornaments was seeing their warp nacelles and deflector dishes lit up on the tree, adding to the nebula of lights. With battery power, those lights only came on if you pressed a button, rather than being on all the time.

A tall Christmas tree rises next to a set of stairs decked out with stockings. A TV appears to the right.
The fully armed and operational Geek Tree, in all its 2017 glory. View the Geek Trees of Christmas Past. Credit: Ken Newquist.

The Storyteller ornaments should change that. I say “should” because I haven’t seen the Death Star in action yet; I have the ornament, but the cord itself is arriving on Christmas Eve. There are two other ornaments in this year’s Storyteller series: Darth Vader’s TIE fighter and an X-Wing. Hopefully I’ll be able to get those as well.

The other New School ornament this year is the U.S.S. Franklin from the movie Star Trek Beyond. Sadly, it is not a Storyteller ornament so while it’s battery allows it to light up, it doesn’t stay lit. The ornament itself is a nice-looking sculpt and representative of the ship from the movie. Its warp nacelles — yellow instead of red — would have been a great addition to the tree if they were continuously powered, but alas, that was not to be.

Re-entering the Space Race

Going Old School, my parents gave me their collection of space-themed Keepsake ornaments from the mid-to-late 1990s. There are five of them:

  • The Eagle Has Landed (1994)
  • Freedom 7 (1996)
  • Friendship 7 (1997)
  • Apollo Lunar Lander (1998)
  • Lunar Rover (1999)

Adding all of these to the Geek Tree would have been difficult — even with the bigger Geek Tree space is still at a premium, and power from the Christmas lights even more so. I decided to add the Apollo Lunar Lander to the tree because it looks super cool. Friendship 7 because it’s depicts the launch sequence of the Atlas rocket that carried the capsule into orbit. The ornament glows red and orange when turned on, which is augmented by slow rumble of the rocket engines and a voice over playing as it does so. Once it “launches” the ornament flows a steady red, which complements the tree perfectly.

Both add to the audio cacophony that happens when the tree is turned on. That’s another major benefit of the powered ornaments; I love all of the competing speculative fiction voices that you hear when the Geek Tree comes online; it’s fantastic to finally be able to add to it.

The remaining Space Race ornaments will be going on the family Christmas tree.

Puppies and Starships

The big challenge for the Geek Tree this year is the addition of Bob, the Seeing Eye puppy we’re raising. Bob’s about 9 weeks old at this point, and like most puppies (and babies for that matter) he likes to explore the world with his mouth. He’s already taken a few tentative bites of my AT-ST, which caused me to move the chicken walker to a higher branch. So far he’s ignoring the AT-AT, but we definitely need to keep an eye on him to make sure his “explorations” don’t destroy the lower quadrant of the Geek Tree.

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Darth Vader, Gandalf, and the Enterprise 1701-E on the 2017 edition of the Geek Tree. Credit: Ken Newquist.