It's the biggest shopping weekend of the year - and it starts tomorrow, Brick Friday. LEGO gets into the shopping/holiday spirit by offering 40254 Nutcracker as a gift with purchase over $99. This set was also available to VIPs this last weekend, when I managed to get a copy.
Is the Nutcracker worth venturing out into the crowds during this busy weekend?
The front of the box shows the nutcracker with a Christmas tree with twinkling lights in the background as well as a hearth with a roaring fire. A red ribbon banner on the upper right hand corner indicates that this is a Limited Edition model. The back of the box illustrates different features of the set - the moving arms, the nutcracker function, and a close up of the face. I particularly like a feature on the bottom of the box - there's an illustration of a metal nutcracker (complete with nut) with a red line through it, illustrating that one really shouldn't use this set as an actual nutcracker.
Inside the box (it has one of those annoying thumb tab openings, but a sharp knife can get around that) there are three unnumbered bags and an instruction booklet.
The nutcracker is built from the ground up, starting with the black pedestal that he stands on. His tall boots are in stone dark grey and are topped with dark green trousers with some red detailing just on top of the boots.
The most eye-catching part of the nutcracker's outfit is his military style jacket. It's bright red with generous detailing in warm gold for the buttons and epaulettes. He has white gloves and a black belt to finish the look. His arms, connected to the torso thanks to some Technic pins, can be raised up and down but not rotated at all. I don't mind this a bit as this is quite consistent with regular Nutcrackers.
The connections between the main portions of the model (legs to torso, torso to head) are provided through a series of jumper plates, allowing for some offset connections that help to make the build more realistic.
The top of the front of the torso includes the nutcracker's lower jaw and beard, which is of course the nutcrackers' primary function. The nutcracker lever is a Technic handle. However, the width of the space for the "nut" is quite small. Even though the packaging warns us not to use the model as an actual nutcracker I'm not sure what nut would actually fit in the space, unless it was a pistachio?
The back of the model is not unattractive, either.
The nutcracker's head has some fantastic detailing, with bushy eyebrows, an elegant moustache and expressive eyes thanks to 1x1 round printed tiles. I particularly like his flowing snowy white hair, represented well through the use of several white 2x2x2/3 plate w/bow pieces. His white hair is nicely contrasted with a black hat with a warm gold decoration on top.
At 230 pieces, one would think this set to be around a MSRP around $20.00, however, my receipt shows that its MSRP is actually $9.99. Regardless of what the MSRP is, it's worth it. It's a engaging little build. I love the colour scheme and the generous use of warm gold for accenting on the torso, as well as the nutcracker's expressive face. The use of the jumper plates to create offset connections between the main portion of the build is very effective in creating a realistic model.
This is an excellent little set and well worth picking up if you have any shopping to do this Brick Friday weekend.