(Written by William)
In this Brick Breakdown series I review official LEGO sets, from the perspective of looking at interesting building techniques we can all learn from. Today we will be looking at the #10245 LEGO Creator Santa’s Workshop. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
The #10245 LEGO Creator Santa’s Workshop set is the latest in the LEGO Winter Village series and is currently available at the Online LEGO Shop. Technically it is not titled Winter Village like the sets in previous years, but the style and theme seems suitable for it to be classified as a LEGO Winter Village set. The omission in the title is most likely due to the fact that there are elves, reindeer and Santa and his wife in the set – which may be hard to explain in the otherwise realistic LEGO Winter Village world.
Frankly, you could pretend that the elves are kids in costumes and the reindeer are artificial winter decorations, thus there is no reason why you couldn’t add the set to your LEGO Winter Village display. (Although this set doesn’t have a lamp-post, which all of the previous LEGO Winter Village sets had.) However no matter how you view this set in the LEGO Winter Village world and in your own collection, it doesn’t disappoint. All previous LEGO Christmas-themed sets have been really sweet, and this set is no exception. From the picture over the fireplace showing the Clauses on vacation, to the door mat that says “Welcome Ho Ho Home”, this set is filled with charming details. So let’s take a look at some of the building techniques used here.
➡ LEGO SANTA’S WORKSHOP – THE SLEIGH
Normally, I would talk about a specific technique and then use the set as an example. However, in this case, the object that is being replicated is just as important as the techniques used. Santa’s sleigh has a very unique look, with curves that make it iconic. And because these swooping curves are not square by nature – thus not easily replicated with basic LEGO elements – it sort of forces you to work with the few LEGO elements that has curves.
Take for instance the sides of the sleigh; they have that U-shaped curve to them. This means that if you want to recreate this classic design, you have to look at LEGO pieces with an arch. Through that process you may try the large inverted LEGO arch pieces, but find them too big. Then you may think about how nice a normal LEGO arch would work if it was just upside down – and that’s when you realize that is in fact the answer. You could come to the same conclusion with the runners and figure out something similarly decorative – like what LEGO designers ended up doing in this set. Just keep in mind that every time you make these decisions they may cost stability.
And this brings us to another feature of the sleigh. If you look at the bottom, you’ll find it is built on a solid plate. This means it’s not as functional as a real sleigh, but you have more options for decorative elements. This concept is explained further in the Brick Breakdown of the LEGO Exo Suit under the Triangle of Design section.
So now that we talked about the fact that an iconic object will direct you toward certain pieces, and that you’ll need to compensate if it focuses too much the decorative side of things, we need to look at one additional element, and that is the scale of the model. Before you rush off and find the right elements, you need to know what scale you should use for recreating something from real life. To do this, you must determine the functionality of your model. In this case, LEGO designers wanted a sleigh that Santa could sit in, and could also be stuffed with a moderate amount of presents. This functional need for space gives us the framework to build around, which in turn guides us to the pieces we need to use, and also how to reinforce them for a model that doesn’t fall apart.
And this is what makes building recognizable real-world objects so attractive to LEGO builders. Approached the correct way, you almost have a step-by-step manual on how to build your model. This is of course an over-simplification of the process, and you can in fact run into some pretty difficult issues. But every time you do, you can walk through this process of focusing on the shape, scale and functional need first, then the LEGO elements that could make them happen, and finally on how to keep them all together. Remember that there could be more than one solution to the same problem, so keep an open mind as you work on a solution.
➡ JOINT – YET DIFFERENT – LEGO BUILDINGS
Many LEGO sets only contain one building instead of multiple connected structures. Technically, the LEGO Santa’s Workshop also has only one building, but it is very clear that one side is the workshop while the other is a bit more like a home. Therefore, we can extract this technique from the set even though that might not be its intention.
First of all, keep in mind that buildings have a purpose. Despite how decorated they may be, people use buildings to do specific things, and this is often reflected on how a building is decorated. The right side of this Santa’s Workshop has a clock, and a sign, along with decorations (like the candy canes and stone-work) on either side of the door.
On the left building there is a bit of decoration like the Christmas-lights on the roof and the double lanterns on the side, but overall it is plainer. This initial glance tells us that the right side is less industrious than the left. Another tip in making joined buildings stand out is to have clear entrances. In the case of Santa’s Workshop, it has two doors. Look closely and you’ll see that the windows in each door are different to, again, indicate that they lead to different places.
Finally, you can further distinguish two buildings using subtle architectural clues. Check out the doorway on the right. It is completely rounded, while the door and large window on the left come to a slight point in the center. You may also note that the left side uses log bricks in the wall to help give it more accents. Don’t forget to look at the roofs. Each one is built in a different style to put that final suggestion that these are very different places.
The point I’m trying to make here is that this is something that happens in real life. We tend to build things to fit a purpose, and this is reflected in the building’s design. Sometimes these differences are small and subtle, but they are there. So if you ever end up working on a LEGO model with several joint buildings that serve different purposes, keep these points in mind. They can make a big difference in making your buildings realistic and believable.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Having a real-life object to copy and make into a LEGO creation is a wonderful thing. It not only gives you a challenge, but also provides a guide in how to create something. It also provides a concrete example of the triangle of design we talked about in the LEGO Exo Suit Breakdown – which is always handy if you are trying to make the best LEGO creation possible.
Buildings that are joined often use similar color schemes and patterns. This might make it hard to figure out how to make them stand apart. The trick is recognizing the subtle signals we all pick up on without thinking about it. For an example, go to a downtown area and chances are you’ll think “business”. Then go to a residential neighborhood, and you will think “people live here”. And the factory district will have an industrial feel. You don’t need to know anything about these places because the buildings tell you what they are. Knowing how to create these subtle differences will allow you to experiment with some very advanced LEGO building techniques and architectural styles. If you are interested in the #10245 LEGO Creator Santa’s Workshop, it is available at the Online LEGO Shop.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO Santa’s Workshop set? Have you had a chance to build it? Did you learn from the interesting building techniques? How do you like the sleigh, the building and the reindeer? Feel free to share your own experiences, tips or ask questions in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the other reviews in this series:
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Ideas Exo Suit
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Ideas Research Institute
- Brick Breakdown: Emmet’s Contruct-O-Mech
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Forest Animals
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO King’s Castle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Cinderella’s Castle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO MetalBeard’s Sea Cow
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO MetalBeard’s Duel
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Minecraft Sets
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Disney Princess Sets
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean
- Brick Breakdown: The LEGO Movie Ice Cream Truck
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Parisian Restaurant
- Brick Breakdown: The LEGO Movie Flying Flusher
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO The Hobbit Dol Guldur Battle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Winter Village Cottage
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Winter Village Market
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lord of the Rings Council of Elrond
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Ninjago Golden Dragon
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Superman Black Zero Escape
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Tower of Orthanc
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO City Dump Truck
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Monster Fighters Ghost Train
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Silver Mine Shootout
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train Chase
- Brick Breakdown: Ninjago Temple of Light
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Comanche Camp
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Stagecoach
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Star Wars AT-RT
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Arkham Asylum Part 1
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Arkham Asylum Part 2
- Brick Breakdown: Legends of Chima Polybags