(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 #10249 LEGO Winter Toy Shop. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
Before we get started, it might be good to get one question out of the way. Why was this set reissued? It’s a question Jamie Berard (the lead designer for LEGO Creator) gets asked a lot these days. I have a friend who recently took a trip to Denmark, and had a chance to ask Jamie this very question in person. The long and short of his response was rather surprising. The reissue had nothing to do with a lack of new design ideas. In fact, according to Jamie, they had a new model ready to go. However management was not ready to put resources into it just yet. So Jamie talked with the people in charge and it all boiled down to this; there would either be no new LEGO Winter Village set this year, or they could rerelease one of the previous sets. The end result is a revised version of the #10199 LEGO Winter Toy Shop from 2009. The next logical question is; what changes are there in the revised version?
➡ LEGO WINTER TOY SHOP – WHAT’S NEW?
Parts wise, there are noticeable changes between the original set and the rerelease, while keeping all the charm of the original. The most noticeable structural change involves the Christmas tree and the roof of the shop, but we will skip over those for now and talk about them later when we discuss the techniques used. Other really neat changes are the little toys.
First up is the new rocket ship. It’s a simple design that can be put together quite easily, but it has an instantly recognizable shape. Next is the delivery truck that uses the new black roller-skate pieces as wheels – very clever and looks good. More sophisticated designs are the biplane and the helicopter. Both take advantage of brand new pieces that were not available in 2009, and some very clever building-techniques. Other changes for the toys include the new teddy bear, instead of the small brick-built bear in the original set. Also, a crate has been added to store the light-strands and/or gifts. And the previously brick-built wreaths have been replaced with the new green life-preservers.
As far as the minifigures, there is an additional minifig added to the previous line-up, and some of the designs have been changed. The most significant being new printed faces and bodies for the carolers. Also, the lady caroler who used to have two capes to give the illusion of a red interior lining, now only has one cape that is red on one side and black on the other.
You might think, that while these changes are nice, they still don’t add up to a $20 mark up in price. The original set from 2009 had 815 pieces, while the new set has 898 pieces. So there are a few more areas that got new parts that may explain the increase. For instance, there is a whole new strand of lights added. Also the tree, while looks quite similar, is designed differently using more pieces. Other examples of increased number of pieces include the ladder which originally features a 2×2 modified brick with two finger connections. This time the same shape was rebuilt with plates using four pieces instead of one. Some of the floor tiles have been swapped out as well, from 1×6 to a couple of 1×3 tiles. Oh, and before I forget, the bench has studs now so minifigures will not slip off. 😀
As for changes in colors, there are several small variations. For example the red lights on the tree were replaced with pink. The fixtures for those lights, as well as the door-knob and frog above the clock, are now all gold. The wheels on the toy train have become silver. The Jack-In-The-Box went from blue and red to blue and orange. The gray LEGO Technic pieces on the roof are now dark-green and the plates under the windows that were dark-red are now reddish-brown. And we already talked about the changes for the minifigures.
➡ LEGO WINTER TOY SHOP – TURNING PLATES
Besides changes in elements, colors, and details there are also differences in building techniques. The original set came out before I started writing this Brick Breakdown series, so I never had a chance to talk about some extremely rare techniques, like turning plates. This technique is used in both versions of the set near the top of the Christmas tree, where a 2×4 plate is slightly turned. To understand what is happening here, take two 2×4 plates and two 1×1 round plates to conduct a small experiment.
Place a 2×4 plate horizontal so you have two rows of four studs. Now place the two round plates in the upper left corner and the lower right corner of the horizontal plate. Now take the second 2×4 plate (also horizontal) and then slightly rotate it so that the lower left stud attaches to the round plate in the upper left corner and the upper right corner attaches to the lower right stud. If you do it right, it should look like the top plate is turned about 45 degrees.
The new LEGO Winter Toy Shop also connects the lower branches using this technique. This gives each successive layer a much more natural shape while continuing to provide solid stability. In addition, these plates are built around a trunk that is made of 2×2 round bricks. The result is a realistic tree-trunk and convincing limbs when you look at the tree from the side. All in all, it is a much more complex, yet subtle design, and it provides you with many more examples of plate turning when compared to the original set.
➡ LEGO WINTER TOY SHOP – SIGHTED VS. BLIND BUILDING
Probably the biggest change to the new version of the LEGO Winter Toy Shop is how the roof comes together. It is also what I feel is the worst change to the model. Ultimately, you do get a roof that looks almost the same, and maybe even a bit more seamless. The trade-off is that it is a lot more fragile than the original. In order to explain this difference you need to understand differing building approaches.
And this is where sighted and blind comes into play. These terms refer to how much you are able to see the connections when you are putting something together. In a blind approach you rely on your sense of touch. This means you are free to build things a bit more on the sturdy side since you don’t need to see what you are covering up. On the other side of the coin is the sighted approach. This method may require using fewer elements or thinner pieces so that you can better have line of sight when you connect things together. Generally, it has the benefit of looking a bit better since you don’t have to cover up any bulky elements.
Neither method is superior. Both have their major strength and potential weakness. A great builder will learn to use both styles and use each at the most appropriate times. The roof on the newest version of the LEGO Winter Toy Shop is completely a sighted approach. It has a much simpler connection system and looks great. I personally found the instability a point against the technique since I feel floors, walls, and roofs should be the most resilient and durable parts of a building. However, that’s just my personal preference.
➡ LEGO WINTER TOY SHOP FINAL COMPARISON
Normally, I talk about how to apply the techniques you learn at this point, but I feel this Brick Breakdown has more to do with how the new set compares to the original. In short, this version does feel like a small but noticeable upgrade. For those who never got the original, this is an easy set to say yes to when it comes to adding it to your collection because it looks really sweet. If you have the original set already you might still consider picking it up for the upgrades it provides, but truthfully, most of what you get in the new set is minor differences. If you do end up having both sets, you might combine them to make the best version. For example, taking the old roof and putting it on the new set with the updated green LEGO Technic pieces. Other hobbies call this “kit bashing”. LEGO fans just call it building what we want. 🙄
In the end, this set is great, no matter which version you get. I will admit that the new version feels a bit better overall, if you only want one. The minor issue I have with the roof is merely nitpicking an excellent design. However, for those who have the willpower to skip this set because you have the original, you aren’t missing out on too much. My final opinion is that this was a very good set to have a re-issue for this year.
So what do you think? How do you like the #10249 LEGO Winter Toy Shop? Do you have the original set already? Are you planning to get the new version? And did you learn from the interesting building techniques used in the sets? Feel free to share your own experiences and 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 Super Heroes Hulk Buster Smash
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Creator Ferris Wheel
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Pirates Treasure Island
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO The Hobbit The Lonely Mountain
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Super Heroes Green Lantern Set
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO UCS Tumbler
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Minecraft The Cave
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Minecraft Ender Dragon
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Santa’s Workshop
- 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