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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.