Review: 10245 Santa's Workshop

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The unveiling of the latest Winter Village set has become an anticipated annual event. Ever since the release of Set 10199 Winter Village Toy Shop back in 2009, LEGO have released a further set in the series each and every year. This year’s offering is Set 10245 Santa's Workshop, and thanks to the LEGO Community Engagement & Events (CEE) Team, we’ve managed to get our hands on a copy of the set ahead of the September 17 release date for VIPs. So is Santa’s Workshop a worthy sixth installment in the beloved Winter Village line? Read on to find out…

Box & Contents

Last year’s Set 10235 Winter Village Market was the first of the Winter Village sets to carry the distinctive Creator Expert branding, and Santa’s Workshop continues this practice. The visuals festooning the front of the box (below) are typical Winter Village fare, showing the set contents nicely arrayed against a snowy backdrop. We also learn that the building difficulty is rated as 12+, and that the set contains 883-pieces.

In addition to the main image showing Santa setting off into the sky in his magical sleigh full of presents, the back of the box (below) features a number of cute vignettes. These include Santa sitting down with a cup of tea and reading his mail, a couple of elves working on the toy production line, and Mrs. Santa at the hearth lighting a torch. Overall the box imagery was more than enough to induce a cosy and comforting Christmassy vibe – no mean feat given that I was reviewing the set over the course of a few pleasant and warm September days…

In marked contrast to last year’s Winter Village offering, this set opens via a couple of thumb tabs rather than tape seals. This is presumably because the box is smaller than that of last year’s set. Opening the box reveals a sealed plastic sleeve containing instruction booklets and a sticker sheet, three loose 18L rigid black hoses, and nine bags containing elements and numbered with a ‘1’, a ‘2’ or a ‘3’. In my previous experience, the bag containing the instruction booklets has generally been closed up via a a sticky flap; this wasn’t ideal as the flap had a tendency to stick to the instruction booklets as you were removing them from the bag, so this new arrangement is much better IMHO, even if it does make the instructions a bit harder to get to. The sticker sheet (below) is small and contains only six stickers.

Instructions

There are two instruction booklets (front cover of booklet 1 below). These are a little under A4-sized. Booklet 1 is by far the slimmer of the two, containing just 32-pages from cover to cover. In addition to building instructions, this booklet contains advertising for the Creator website, the LEGO Club and a couple of other Creator Expert sets including the aforementioned Winter Village Market. The inclusion of advertising for the Winter Village Market is bizarre, since in the UK at least, this set hasn’t been available from LEGO [email protected] for months, although at time of writing, it is at least still available in the U.S. and elsewhere. Booklet 2 is more than twice the length of Booklet 1; in addition to the building instructions it contains a 3-page inventory of parts, advertising for three LEGO Modular Buildings, information about the VIP loyalty programme, and a request for product feedback.

Elements

You can see a selection of uncommon and/or interesting elements to be found within the set in the picture below (click to enlarge). As I’ve commented in previous reviews, it can be a challenge to identify new elements in the absence of a BrickLink inventory, but a few parts did stand out. Certainly the tan 1 x 1 brick with the reindeer eye print and the tan curved 2 x 2 slope with reindeer tail print, that you can see in the middle of the picture, do appear to be new and unique to this set, as I think are a number of other elements including the pearl gold elephant tail / trunk, the black road sign on pole, the medium dark flesh 1 x 6 x 2 arch, the yellow paddle, and the flesh 6 x 8 plate. Also, while the light aqua guitar has previously appeared in a couple of sets, on those occasions it’s been decorated with silver strings and a magenta scratchplate in contrast to the undecorated version in this set. All other elements in the picture have previously appeared in at least one set, but no more than ten.

Minifigures

The set contains six minifigures, not including the five brick-built reindeer… Santa (below) looks markedly similar to the 2012 Series 8 Collectable Minifigure version which also appeared in last year’s City Advent Calendar. I believe that his red sack is unique to this set however, and according to BrickLink, it’s only previously been available in a medium dark flesh colour. Santa’s torso doesn’t feature any back-printing, and he doesn’t have an alternate expression.

Santa’s other half, Mrs Claus, can be seen below. Her skirt consists of a printed red 65 degree 2 x 2 x 2 slope brick and features a suitably festive print which I’ve not seen before, including a couple of sprigs of holly. Her torso is back-printed, and she comes complete with a standard red cape.

Mrs. Claus sports a calm and benevolent facial expression, but appearances can be deceptive – her alternate expression, which you can see in the picture below, leaves you in little doubt who wears the trousers in the Claus household. The message is clear – mess with Mrs. Claus at your peril !

Santa is ably assisted by four elves. As you can see in the picture below (click to enlarge), apart from their identical hats each of them wears a completely different outfit. None of the torsos are back-printed. Their hats, which come complete with a pair of ears, look the same as the hat worn by the elf which formed part of last year’s Series 11 Collectable Minifigure line-up.

Each elf has a different facial expression, from mischievous on the left to ecstatic on the right. Don’t be fooled by the cheery little guy in the dark blue plaid shirt and red trousers, however – on the basis of his alternate expression (below) it appears that he’s actually not doing so well after all and is maybe in need of a big hug... A timely and salutary reminder that Christmas is actually a desperately lonely time of year for some people, although it’s perhaps an unexpected inclusion in the set nonetheless. Interestingly, none of the other elves have alternate expressions.

The Build

There are three bags numbered with a ‘1’. These contain the elements needed to build the five reindeer, Santa and his sleigh complete with presents, a small Christmas tree, and a signpost to the North Pole, all of which you can see in the picture below (click to enlarge). Building instructions are located in the first instruction booklet. The reindeer are tethered to the sleigh by way of two of the black 18L rigid hoses that I mentioned earlier, with the third hose provided as an unused spare.

For me, the highlight of this stage of the build were the reindeer which look great and showcase some ingenious uses of elements; particularly clever is the use of tan Battle Droid torsos which are perfect for attaching the head to the neck. In addition, the four older reindeer feature reddish brown mechanical arms which do an admirable job of imitating antlers. Compared with the older reindeer, the baby (below) is a stud shorter in length and only has stumpy antlers which are made up of 1 x 1 plates; even an old cynic like me has to admit that the baby is extremely cute!

Stage 2 of the build consists of the assembly of Mrs. Claus and the construction of the right side of the workshop (looking from the front) including the clock tower. In time-honoured Winter Village tradition, the exterior of this idiosyncratic olde worlde structure (below – click to enlarge) is packed with neat little details and embellishments including the red and white oversized candy canes out front, numerous arches of various shapes and dimensions, and a tumble-down chimney; the clock tower is completed by a black 4 x 4 dish printed with a clock design last seen in Set 10224 Town Hall.

The interior can be seen below. The ground floor features a welcome mat (unfortunately stickered rather than printed) just inside the front door and a fireplace, above which is a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Claus on holiday in Fiji… Unlike some previous Winter Village offerings, there’s no light brick to illuminate the hearth or indeed any other part of the building. The upstairs level is accessed by a pearl gold ladder and contains a large, ornate armchair where Santa can sit and read his correspondence.

The final part of the build consists of the left side of the workshop and a machine for producing toys. Columns and arches are once again a prominent feature of the exterior of the single storey structure (below), and Christmas lights are strewn across the snowy roof. The large window to the right of the door is imaginatively constructed from pearl gold 1 x 4 x 1 fence elements sandwiched between trans red plates and framed in dark green.

The sparse interior (below) features what looks like a workbench complete with tools and that’s pretty much it apart from a 2 x 4 tile stickered with a “to do” list adjacent to the door; there isn’t even a roof to cover the interior.

I’m a big fan of the detailed and skillfully-realised toy-making machine and conveyer belt (below) which stands apart from the workshop. With its various dials, wheels, levers and lights it really looks the part. The inclusion of a microscale blue, light bley and trans yellow Classic Space toy on the belt is a nice touch.

Once completed, the right and left sides of the workshop click together by way of a couple of clips, and you can see the completed building below surrounded by all the other elements of the set (click to enlarge).

Verdict

Set 10245 Santa’s Workshop is classic Winter Village fare and it fits seamlessly into the series. The neat little details, interesting building techniques and rare colours which have been a feature of the sets since their debut in 2009 are all present and correct, and I can see the set gracing many a Christmas display. My main criticism is the insubstantial nature of the workshop itself – picture perfect it may be, but it’s small, and the left side is sparsely furnished and doesn’t even have a roof. That having been said, it’s evident that a large proportion of the elements have gone into the reindeers and sleigh, the toy-making machine and the other accessories, and a trade off presumably had to be made to hit the target price point.

Santa’s Workshop contains 883-elements and will retail for £59.99 / $69.99 / €69.99. It will be available for VIP Early Access starting on September 17, with global availability beginning October 1. Thanks again to the LEGO Community Engagement & Events Team for supplying the set for us to review.

 

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51 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Great review. I love the red sack that santa has. I will most likely pick this one up.

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By in Australia,

^ Yeah, one of those reindeer needs a trans-red nose.

I still like the general look of the set, but I don't know, I can't help feeling that it's a step into left-field for the winter village. It's still a nice looking set, but the village so badly needs a hotel or train station or restaurant or something (it'd be nice to have a non-denominational church, but that'd be pushing it, wouldn't it?).

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By in United States,

I'm an atheist, and I'd be all about a Winter Village Church. It totally fits. Good idea!

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By in United States,

This is definitely one of the better winter village sets, but something about it leaves me underwhelmed. I think I may prefer a more real-world location, but Santa's workshop at the north pole was inevitable.

Maybe it's because this would look great as a stand-alone decoration, but the other sets actually work together as a village? Still, it's nice. BUT don't buy it until you can grab an exclusive winter village promo with it, too!

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By in United States,

Wow! This looks wonderful! Can't wait to build it beside the rest of the Winter Village.

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By in United States,

@DanRSL I agree. I'd probably wait until October to buy this so I can get the Miniature toy shop promo. It looks like it will go good with this.

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By in United States,

I really don't like the Mrs. Claus torso-skirt combination.

Steve

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By in Singapore,

The building seemed kinda small.

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By in United States,

The classic space toy on the conveyor belt looks like a micro versions of #70816

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By in Hong Kong,

Anyone know the size of the box???

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By in United States,

I guess including light bricks is no longer a Christmas tradition. Bummer.

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By in United States,

Can't wait for this. Love the holiday theme. Will also wait until October to pick up the promo set as well. Thanks for the great review!

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By in Poland,

Ugh... That print on Miss Santa's Dress looks horrible...

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By in Spain,

Thank you for a thoughtful, detailed and interesting review.

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By in United Kingdom,

Does the build warrant the "expert" tag? It looks fairly simple but of course it may just be that it is small and rather unfinished which makes it look that way.

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By in United Kingdom,

The Winter Village Market is likely to be re-released at the same time, so that there are two winter sets available. This is what happened last year, when the Cottage from 2012 was also available. I wonder if the Cottage will also be re-released?

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By in United States,

Wasn't there some statement earlier in the year that this will be the last of the Winter Village sets? If so, bummer :(

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By in United Kingdom,

@fulcrumbop that was misinterpreted from something in the designer video, when the guy said something that intimated that. In my opinion it was a language issue - where he'd said 'last' when he meant 'latest' (I can't remember exactly what was said). These kinds of things can often happen when English isn't someone's first language.

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By in United States,

I wonder if Mrs Claus would look better with the CMF 'Grandma Visitor' (Red Riding Hood) torso print? The elves also look a bit of a muddle, guess they're changeable but feels like they've just used up spare torsos. The CMF elf or Garden Gnome prints would have been fun, or even just keeping the more modern dungarees look on all of them. That plaid shirt print always screams 'left-over' to me.

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By in United Kingdom,

Has there been any news on the Christmas promotional freebies for this year? I really liked the tree stall last year. The timing of my purchase of the Santa's Workshop is likely to be based on whether these freebies are worth it. What are they going to be? Any images?

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By in United States,

Pretty sure that the elf with green overalls has back printing. I could be wrong, but I remember seeing back printing on him.

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By in United States,

I love the Winter Village series, and have them all. I'll be getting this one too! I attach my Winter Village buildings to several large base plates to create an actual village.

That said, can Santa's workshop in this set be attached to a base plate? The way the workshop sits at an angle relative to the house makes me wonder how it will attach. Any thoughts?

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By in United States,

"leaves you in little doubt who wears the trousers in the Claus household."

That's a rather sexist turn of phrase, which I'd leave back in the 1880s where it originated.

(It's sexist because it implies that a woman being in charge or wearing trousers is abnormal.)

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By in United Kingdom,

^ I don't read that into it at all. Nowhere does Dave state that it's unusual.

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By in United States,

I completely agree about the "insubstantial nature" of the set. While the design is very good and the build looks fun, the result as a whole just doesn't meet my expectations for a $70 set.

My main criticism is the fact there is no workshop in Santa's Workshop. Sure, there is a machine that produces toys by apparently ignoring the laws of physics, but there is no proper workshop for all of those elves. For that, one needs the promotional set #40106. Promotional sets that fit well with a set have been a trend for some time, but this is the first time (in my opinion, of course) the main set has suffered for it.

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By in United States,

Curse you LEGO and your Christmas-sprinkled temptation.

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By in Canada,

I really like this set, for what it is...I haven't purchased any of the winter village sets before (though I've loved and wanted all of them, my budget is a cruel miser most times). I will pick this up however, along with the October promo 40106 (which is the best holiday promo set yet, IMHO!). Looks like Oct 1 will be a busy day for [email protected]!

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By in United States,

I agree with binaryeye that this set needs the 40106 promo set to really feel like Santa's workshop.

I'm sure if they included it by default that would have pushed the price point higher than what they wanted, but it would have made for a much better set overall. Or, they could have ditched the toy making machine and replaced it with the 40106 workshop to get a larger building that actually has a workshop, and made the toy making machine the promo set.

It'll be interesting to see what the second promo set is.

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By in United Kingdom,

The second promo set (for Black Friday) has been confirmed as a "Winter Skating Scene" according to a VIP leaflet pictured on The Brick Fan.

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By in United States,

I think the reduction in price point for this series was a poor decision, leaving us without the light brick and with an insubstantial feeling to the structure. I thought ~$100 was the perfect price point for this once-yearly series

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By in United Kingdom,

my one real niggle with this set is that they didn't cast the elves hats in any other colours, it'd have been nice to have at the least a few reds (if not blue too) available where it might go better with the elves' clothes.

I'm planning on putting the chair in front of the building with a camera on a tripod to set it up as a visit Santa attraction rather than the real north pole, possibly with another santa minus beard sat on a stool on a tea break.

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By in United States,

If the second promo (Winter Skating Scene) has nothing to do with Santa's Workshop (which I suspect it doesn't based on the name), then the workshop will have to be an October purchase to get double VIP points and the first promo.

In my opinion, though, they should have dropped the machine/baby deer to add the actual workshop part, or added the workshop and bumped the price up 10 bucks.

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By in Canada,

@dougts - only the previous two winter sets sold at the $100 pricepoint. The Toy Shop, Bakery, and Post Office retailed for $54.99-$69.99 USD. I for one am more than happy for a return to that price range. $80-90 CDN (for around 800 pieces) annually is perfect. While I did think the Cottage was worth the bigger price point, I skipped the Carnival. The store display did not look worth the $130 (!) CDN.

That does not mean anybody who feels disappointed should purchase the Workshop, but that the lower price point IS in line with the first three years of the theme.

I will admit to wishing there was a light brick. It was kind of a neat highlight of each year's set.

On another note! I have a question relating to the build/instructions that wasn't mentioned in either this or the EuroBricks review. The press release and shop page call-out: "Family dual-building experience: includes separate brick sets with instructions for adults and children aged 8 and over."

I am actually very interested in this feature. My wife and I like to build the sets together. How does this play out in the instructions?

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By in Canada,

Also, yes to a winter skating scene. Although it will be tough to match the beautiful frozen lake included in the winter village bakery!

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By in United States,

Nice review!
I can't help but think that they are offering the additional workshop promo to answer the comments about the actual workshop not having anything in it.

I still think the clock from TH is way too big for the little house. I might need to redo it, if I get one. :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

"Anyone know the size of the box???"

The box is approx. 48 cm x 28 cm x 6 cm.

"Pretty sure that the elf with green overalls has back printing. "

I just re-checked and you're right - the overalls print continues on to the back of the torso. Good catch ! Not sure how I missed that....

"can Santa's workshop in this set be attached to a base plate? The way the workshop sits at an angle relative to the house makes me wonder how it will attach. Any thoughts?"

Raise the house/ clocktower side of the building off the baseplate by one plate in height and tile the area underneath where the angled workshop section would sit. You can then attach the house/clocktower section to the baseplate, and the angled section will rest on top of the tiles.

"I have a question relating to the build/instructions that wasn't mentioned in either this or the EuroBricks review. The press release and shop page call-out: "Family dual-building experience: includes separate brick sets with instructions for adults and children aged 8 and over."

I am actually very interested in this feature. My wife and I like to build the sets together. How does this play out in the instructions?"

As far I I could tell, all this means is that the build is divided into separate sections and each section has its own bags of elements. Even then, the instructions for sections 2 and 3 are in the same booklet so two people building these two sections simultaneously would need to use diffferent parts of the same booklet.... If anyone can shed any further light on this then please comment.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm chuffed the reindeer have printed elements. I never attach stickers and wasn't looking forward to having reindeer without faces!

...also chuffed the set is £20-30 less than the last two sets!

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By in United Kingdom,

I like the promo set. But I agree, the Workshop would not be complete without it. To be honest I think the toy making machine is silly (it doesn’t fit my old fashioned idea of Christmas toys being hand crafted by elves and a sprinkling of magic), and would have much preferred the machine as an amusing promo set addition to your Christmas collection. Also, liking the idea of a ski scene, look forward to it. So what is the deal for these promo sets? Spend £50 in October to get the first? What about the second?

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By in United States,

@rnsrobot

I'm well aware of the price point history - I own them all. But given LEGO price/value inflation over the past two years, a $100 price point now is roughly equivalent size/piece wise to $70 2 or 3 years ago. Compare this to the 10222 Post Office. Same price point, but the 10222 contains substantially more. the 10216 and 10199 both also contain substantially more to them at $55-$60 then this set does at $70.

Given that it's only a once per year set, I'd rather spend a little more to feel like I got a "complete" model, then feel like too many corners were cut to save $30/year

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review! This will be a definite purchase for me, along with the minecraft sets and double VIP points, October is seriously going to hurt my bank balance!

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By in United States,

"As far I I could tell, all this means is that the build is divided into separate sections and each section has its own bags of elements. Even then, the instructions for sections 2 and 3 are in the same booklet so two people building these two sections simultaneously would need to use diffferent parts of the same booklet"

So basically it is exactly the same as pretty much every LEGO set of mid-size or larger: numbered bags and multiple instruction books. Pure marketing backed up by nothing new

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By in United Kingdom,

It's okay from the front, but the back is an incoherent mess. I'll be buying it for the family's annual winter village scene, but the parts for the toy machine and sled/reindeer will be going straight in my LEGO spares box.

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow, the higher priced sets got complaints that they were too expensive, and now this lower price set is getting complaints that it isn't expensive enough...

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By in United States,

I actually have no complaint on the price point for this one, at least not directly. I almost didn't buy the Cottage because of the price point. Now I did end up getting it, but only because it's an exceptionally good set--but I was disappointed that Lego seemed to be pushing one of my favorite themes toward the $100+ range. My family can't commit to spending that much every year and I was afraid the Cottage would be my last WV set. The Market coming out at the same price seemed to seal WV's fate.

So yes, I'm glad they're back down to the $60-70 range. But that said, my issue with this one is the same issue I had with last year's Market, which I had no problem skipping. Like the Market, this set feels like a collection of several filler pieces. The workshop doesn't feel like it stands on its own and my Winter Village display already has more than enough little filler pieces--the previous 4 sets provide plenty (the igloo, the woodshed, the ice rink, the gazebo, several vehicles, more than enough park benches... I could go on). I want my Winter Village to look like a village, not a swap meet.

But I will end on a positive note--that nod to classic space is a wonderful touch! Perhaps at $49.99, I'd be seriously reconsidering my position, but at $69.99, it's not a difficult decision. And after all, I still haven't even picked up Benny's spaceship yet!

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By in Indonesia,

Explaining the "concept of snow" is already hard here in Indonesia, let alone ideas and traditions belonging to Christmas. Seems a good set for North America/Europe only to me. Would be great if Lego starts complementing Christmas sets by releasing sets touching upon Asian traditions such as Chinese New Year or any other great Asian festive tradition. Lots of (market) opportunities around in a region home to the majority of the world population I would say!

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By in United States,

I like that this was not going to be an obnoxious 99.99 USD price point and at a more comfortable 69.99 USD. Hopefully it stays at that price.

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By in United States,

Batupintar, I fully agree that TLG needs to make a Chinese New Year set every year.

There are too many folks in the world celebrating that holiday who definitely need a toy designed for them. They have ignored the Asian market long enough; a few sets here and there is not sufficient. Add a Chinese New Year set every year and watch it take off! And forget the snow in those sets!

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By in United States,

@Batupintar & legogal

There are actually a few reasons I can think of off the top of my head why Lego would NOT want to focus on a Chinese market yet.

For one, despite being the most populated country in the world, China's middle class is only roughly 25% of that number. Now, that number STILL outnumbers the US's TOTAL population, but within that middle class (people that could possibly even buy Legos in the first place) how many of them have the buying power for luxuries like collectable toys?

Secondly, Legos take up space. Space is a huge issue for cramped cities in countries like China, so a lot of the luxury items people would likely focus on are those that get a lot of value for their size - TVs, computers, video games, etc.

Lastly is the issues of clone brands and piracy. China is notorious internationally for not respecting or enforcing copyright and intellectual property laws. There are already countless clone brands out there (I think the majority from China) and pirated Lego reproductions (mostly minifigs, you want a Green Lantern? Just 3 dollars!) and these are mostly being sold internationally. If Legos caught on in popularity IN CHINA? You can bet the piracy will increase exponentially. That would mean taking on a whole legal project simply to address the Chinese market, who wants that headache?

Lego certainly could feasibly make money selling/targeting Legos in China, but it's not so obviously appealing that they would have already.

Also, the cynic in me sees targeting western-stlye (Lego, etc) New Year gifts to China as a trap. First, complaints about whitewashing through western christmas products, next complaints about whitewashing by infecting cultural traditions with christmas-style gift giving. You can't win.

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By in United States,

Hmmm...I'll probably get it to keep a complete set of the theme, but probably my least favorite of them all. At least the smaller items like the woodshed or igloo from Winter Cottage and the stands from the Carnival can be set up outside as part of an overall theme. Where's the toy machine supposed to go? I guess I just don't like having a set that has an actual Santa. I might do what someone else said and set it up like it's a tourist attraction in the village. It just seems like an outlier to the other sets in the line.

And @woodwardiocom...give us a break. Of all the things to complain about.

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By in United States,

I like the simple look of it. I will set it up for the Holiday season and then I will mod it into my medieval village the rest of the year. I normally don't pick up these sets because I would rather spend my money on the themes that I collect year round but since I can mod it into my castle stuff I think I will get it. Doesn't hurt that I can use it as an excuse to put Lego throughout the house during the Holidays to ruffle my wife's feathers!!

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