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LEGO Holiday Train review, thoughts, tweaks

by admin on October 24, 2016

in LEGO Exclusives

As long as I can remember I loved trains. When I was little, we lived on the third floor of an apartment complex, which was a perfect vantage point to see the trains passing in the not-too-far distance. Whenever we heard a train passing, my brother and I dropped everything, ran to the window yelling, TRAAAIN!!!, and counted all the train cars. We never got tired of this pastime. So much so, that I still stop for trains to count the cars, and my brother moved to a house right next to some train tracks. He said hearing the trains makes him relax. And we both love riding trains too. There is nothing like riding the train through the countryside, hanging out the window with your hair blowing in the wind, and listening to the clickety-clack of the train wheels on the tracks…

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Box

So with a lifetime affair with trains, you would expect me to have a large LEGO train collection, right? Well, my brother has some awesome LEGO trains, but I never got into them. Why? Because I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop, and I don’t have either the funds or the space to house a whole LEGO train layout. While LEGO only releases a new train every year or two, and they are not super expensive, they also need Power Functions, and track with switches, tunnels and bridges, and a whole city to run around. So I resigned myself to enjoying LEGO trains from a safe distance… at least until recently, when by chance (faith? curse?), I ended up with the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train…

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Box Back

So today I will share with you might thoughts on the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train, and also some of the modifications I have done to it so far. But let’s begin with the official description: Gather the family for some festive LEGO building fun with this charming model featuring a full circle of track, boarding platform with bench and lamppost, a Power Functions upgradable train engine with brick-built smoke billowing from its stack, coal tender, flatbed wagon with a rotating holiday tree, toys and gifts, and a red caboose with a detailed interior and table. The train engine also features large and small red-colored locomotive wheels and the train is decorated with green wreaths, string-lights and white tree elements. This LEGO Creator Expert set includes 5 minifigures: a locomotive driver, ticket collector, grandmother, boy and a girl. The Holiday Train in total measures over 4” (12cm) high, 20” (52cm) long and 2” (7cm) wide. 734 pieces. Price: $99.99 – BUY HERE

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Coming

The #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train is not the first Christmas-themed LEGO train, as exactly ten years ago, LEGO released the #10173 LEGO Creator Holiday Train (see below). It is interesting to note that while the earlier train was a regular LEGO train with a full-size engine and cars all dressed up in festive colors, the newer train is much smaller with a cutified look. Some LEGO fans even say that it reminds them of those tour trains found in historic towns and used for sightseeing.

#10173 LEGO Holiday Train

However the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train is not the only smaller LEGO train either. The #7597 LEGO Toy Story Western Train released in 2010 has a toy-ish looking engine, but the caboose and cars are quite respectable, albeit a bit on the smaller side. And if you take a look at the #79111 LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train released in 2013, you will notice that it appears almost exactly the same as the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train. In fact, the two look excellent together, as you will see on my picture toward the end of this review.

7597-lego-toy-story-train

I will add here that it is worth reading the #79111 LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train Chase review at Eurobricks, as it is one of the nicest LEGO trains LEGO ever released, even though the movie didn’t do well. The review includes excellent comparison pictures with the #10194 LEGO Emerald Night (a full-size, also dark-green train), which clearly shows that these smaller trains are perfectly compatible with the larger ones, and look good next to each other on the same tracks.

#79111 LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train Chase Review

Building the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train was a real pleasure. An interesting feature is that the set comes with two instructions booklets, even though the instructions would have easily fit into one. LEGO did this on purpose, so two people can build the set at the same time; one working from the smaller booklet to build the bench, the toys and other accessories, and the other to build the train. This is a very thoughtful arrangement, especially for a holiday set.

10254-lego-holiday-train-front

It took me about an hour to build the train, and it was an easy and pleasant experience. Of course the engine was the most complex, with lots of clever building techniques. The coal tender is simple, but even there you will find some advanced sideways building. The flatbed wagon comes with a rotating Christmas tree that automatically moves with the movement of the train wheels (I will talk about this section more below). The caboose at the back is a straightforward build, but looks very good. I quite like the color combination of the whole train; mostly green and red, with touches of gold, dark-blue and dark-red, and there are no stickers. All comes together nicely.

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Side

One of the highlights of the LEGO Christmas Village sets is the small toys included as minifig-size Christmas presents. The #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train doesn’t disappoint in this regard. You will learn quite a bit about micro-building by putting together all those tiny toys and vehicles.

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Minifigures

The back of the larger instruction booklet includes steps to motorize the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train. I was actually pleasantly surprised how easily and elegantly the Power Functions pieces fit in this train. It is clear that adding Power Functions wasn’t just an afterthought. You will need the #8879 LEGO Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control ($12.99), #8884 LEGO Power Functions IR Receiver ($14.99), #88000 LEGO Power Functions AAA Battery Box ($12.99), and #88002 LEGO Power Functions Train Motor ($13.99). You can find them all under the LEGO Power Functions section of the Online LEGO Shop.

shop-lego-power-functions

The #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train also includes 16 standard curved track pieces, which gives you a full circle of rail track with a diameter of 27” (70cm). This is not a particularly big circle, so you might be able to put it around a smaller Christmas tree, but if you want to run the train around your LEGO Christmas Village, you will need more tracks. Below I have included a video-review by JANGBRiCKS so you can see the train in more detail. He also shows you how the train looks motorized, and running through his LEGO city, which is of course fun to watch.

All in all, the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train is a lovely set, so if you have any interest, just go ahead and buy it. You won’t be disappointed. It is available under the LEGO Creator section of the Online LEGO Shop.

shop-lego-trains

As far as modifications, there are only a couple of things I didn’t like about the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train, and both involve the flatbed wagon. The mechanism to rotate the Christmas tree is simple, brilliant, and works well. The tree stands on a rotating light-gray 6×6 round plate, covered with some white 2×2 and 1×2 jumper-plates. This is the first thing I don’t like. The round plate is an elegant solution for displaying the tree, but then the curve is ruined with the edges of the jumper-plates jutting out in every direction. It just looks messy.

10254-lego-holiday-train-christmas-tree

The reason LEGO designers used this solution is because this is the only way they could get the small train to lay out in a circle around the tree. And here is the second thing I don’t like about this section; while the cars of the small toy train are fine, the engine is too big. This makes the train very difficult to circle around the tree, and thus the jumper-plates were needed.

lego-holiday-train-1

I definitely wanted to remove those jumper-plates, so I played around with different ideas to wrap the train around the tree directly on the 6×6 round plate, but nothing would work. Then I finally came to the conclusion that the engine was just too big and bulky, and decided to build a smaller engine and remove the caboose and one car. So now I have a small train going around the tree, and I also added a few small presents.

lego-holiday-train-2

Once I realized how similar the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train was to the #79111 LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train, I just had to buy that one as well. Yes, the LEGO Creator Holiday Train made me buy another train. See? This is exactly what I was afraid of. Fortunately, even though the train has been retired quite some time ago, I was still able to buy it on eBay for the original retail price. This is quite unusual, as LEGO trains normally go up in price, but somehow – probably because the movie didn’t do well – this excellent little train flew under the radar of LEGO train fans.

lego-holiday-train-3

I’m quite happy with my two trains. They are smaller than regular trains, so instead of the engine and the cars being 30+ studs long each, they are about half the length. This makes the entire train about half the length as well (from about 40 inches to 20 inches), and thus much easier to display. But they still look good with regular LEGO trains, as demonstrated in the review at Eurobricks I linked to above. I guess I found myself a niche in LEGO trains after all, that doesn’t require such a large investment… at least that’s what I’m telling myself right now…

#10254 LEGO Holiday Train Press Release

And I will show you one more thing; LEGO fan mouseketeer11 thought the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train was a bit short, and added some extra cars, including a flatbed wagon to transport Christmas trees, more presents and Santa’s reindeer, plus a passenger car, and a super sweet hot cocoa tanker!  You can see more pictures here.

lego-holiday-train-by-mouseketeer11

What do you think? How do you like the #10254 LEGO Creator Holiday Train? Do you have it already? Did you build it yet? Have you modified anything? What other LEGO trains you have? Feel free to share your thoughts and own review in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

brickmaster October 24, 2016 at 12:17 PM

Wow! Fantastic review! Great modification on the rotating Christmas tree, and love the comparison pictures with the Constitution! Also, that last train is amazing! A cocoa tanker! That’s so awesome!

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admin October 24, 2016 at 12:32 PM

Yeah, the cocoa tanker is my favorite part too. Make sure you check out the close-up pictures I linked to. It is worth it. 🙂

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Rant October 24, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Do you have any issues with the power functions engine not being strong enough to pull the train?

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admin October 24, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Sometimes the wheels may skip. You can add a LEGO rubber band to the big wheels for better traction. 😉

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Icepacklady October 24, 2016 at 1:12 PM

As I understand it power functions are not included with this train, right? And if you buy them separately then there are several things you have to buy. Over $50 worth.

I don’t have any Lego trains myself at the moment because space is a limiting factor but I picked up the train station earlier this year when I saw it on sale and I am tempted by this holiday train. However the cargo train and the passenger train have been on sale recently and those DO include the power functions. So pricewise those trains come in cheaper than the holiday train if you buy the power components separately. I’m hoping my husband will get me one of the 3 for Christmas but I’m not sure which one would be more fun.

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admin October 24, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Yes, the power functions are not included. You need to get a motor, a receiver, a remote control, and a battery pack (I included their exact set numbers in the review). It is a good idea to pick up at least one motorized train, so you have the full package available, and you can always swap them out to other trains.

One thing you can do if you don’t care for having all your trains motorized at all times, is to build one generic car with the motor, received and battery box included that you can simply attach to any of your trains to give it power whenever you want to.

Personally I prefer the cargo trains over passenger trains. The passenger trains are all sort of one unit. They can’t really be mixed and matched because of their shape, design and color. With the cargo trains you get a bunch of generic cars that you can attach to any train in any order you want. So you can make one super long train, or a bunch of smaller trains. Just like in real life.

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Tom October 24, 2016 at 1:32 PM

Nice to know I’m not the only one who won’t touch lego trains as I won’t stop either and I’m not willing to drop the £5k to get a decent setup that I would. This does look very tempting though!

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admin October 24, 2016 at 1:35 PM

I was already seduced and broke my vow, so maybe you are the only one left. Stay strong! 😉

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Tom October 24, 2016 at 2:44 PM

I missed emerald nights and am simply not willing to pay those kind of rates as they are insane. I’ll stick to microscale!

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admin October 24, 2016 at 2:46 PM

The Constitution Train is a smaller brother of the Emerald Knight, and it still sells for the original price. Just sayin’… 🙄

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Alison October 24, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Thanks for your review and I like your modification to the mini train. I love Mouseketeer’s mods too and discovered that he is selling the instructions on Ebay. I purchased them and have already started bricklinking. I haven’t got the original set yet as was waiting for the right deals here in Aus. That time has come so I will be placing my order today, then have to wait two weeks for it to get here!!

This is my first Lego train too and I also don’t have the space or budget for a big layout. However, I also have always loved trains (courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa living by the railway). The time will come (for a big layout). Just not sure when!! This year I bought a dining table that has detachable legs for my Christmas display. After Christmas it can slide down behind the sofa. So I can finally have a place for my entire Winter village plus the new train. So excited!!

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admin October 24, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Sounds like you are going to have an awesome Christmas layout! Would you share the link to the instructions? It would be helpful to other readers as well. 🙂

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mouseketeer11 October 24, 2016 at 6:39 PM
admin October 24, 2016 at 7:06 PM

Thanks! Perfect! 🙂

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mouseketeer11 October 24, 2016 at 5:32 PM

Thanks for sharing my train wagons, BrickBlogger! 😀 I’ve had the same issues of the original train slipping with Power Functions – with my extended train it needs two motors!

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admin October 24, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Oh, nice to have you over! By the way, the chief editor of Bricks Magazine reached out today after reading my review and seeing your train. He would like to get in touch with you. I gave him your Reddit contact. 🙂

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mouseketeer11 October 24, 2016 at 6:40 PM

Yes, got an email from him! Thanks for directing him to me 🙂

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admin October 24, 2016 at 7:07 PM

You’re very welcome. 🙂

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Marguerite October 24, 2016 at 9:52 PM

I like “longer range” for “Lone Ranger” – took me a while to figure that one out! Hadn’t realized how very similar those two trains are.

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admin October 24, 2016 at 10:52 PM

LOL! That’s too funny! Stupid spellchecker! 😀

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Kevin October 25, 2016 at 4:17 AM

Great Review, thank you. I have the Holiday Train on order and also the power parts. Could anyone advise me on what Lego Rubber Band I will need for better traction, and also where I could purchase one. I can’t seem to find anything on the Lego website.
Thank You

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admin October 25, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Kevin, you can play around with generic rubber bands too. You just basically want something that gives the train wheels better traction. As far as LEGO brand rubber bands, you can find them all on BrickLink: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=229. The second one from the end (x37, red color shown on the picture) fits the large train wheel perfectly.

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Kevin October 26, 2016 at 3:40 AM

Many thanks for the info – Rubber bands on order.

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Xevo October 25, 2016 at 12:27 PM

I recently picked this set up as well because my fiancee expressed interest in the train when we were looking at the most recent catalog, and I had also had a passing interest but never got a Lego train before. Now I have this set, bought the PF train motor and battery box (as the Lego store employees confirmed you only need those two, the remote only lets you change it from going forwards to backwards while it’s in motion) and am now strongly considering picking up the Lone Ranger train as well.

I noticed you showed the Constitution and Holiday Train side by side, have you tried mixing and matching the cars yet? I’m unclear if they have the same kind of linkages, or even how the cars actually do link up as I haven’t built mine yet.

My fiancee’s birthday is December 5th, and she’ll be my wife after November 5th, but she has a strict rule about no Christmas decorations until December 6th so it will stay hidden in my closet for now…

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admin October 25, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Xevo, yes, the cars are completely interchangeable, so if you would like to make one very long train, you can do that. The cars are connected by magnetic bumpers, and they are the same on all LEGO trains. Keep in mind that for a very long train you will need more than one motor, as one can’t pull that many cars.

Good point about the receiver and the remote. They are really not needed if you just have one train that you want to run around a track. The battery box itself has a button on it to turn the train on and off. However if you have multiple trains with a complex layout, having a remote can be very useful.

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Xevo October 25, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Great points, thanks for the quick reply! I’ll probably end up picking up a second train motor eventually when I get the constitution. I had been looking at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J4S6UYO/ as well due to the very cheap price on Amazon for all the tracks you get as well as the full 4-part PF set, so if I end up deciding I want a more complicated setup that will probably be my way in!

Also I just ordered 12 of the 3×3 rubber bands on BL that you pointed out, so thanks for that info as well…

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admin October 25, 2016 at 1:26 PM

That cargo train is really sweet, especially for that price. Getting a train like that is definitely the most economical way to break into trains.

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rainey October 25, 2016 at 4:53 PM

The thing about a train is it’s not a static thing. I hope Lego will offer additional cars over the years. Particularly ones that could incorporate a second motor.

And, as mouseketeer11’s ingenuity has made clear, we can improvise as well. But the downside is that Lego doesn’t make the axles available. I don’t know why that’s so but, since they’re fairly essential, that makes it difficult.

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admin October 25, 2016 at 11:46 PM

Yeah, those axles are precious. And trains also have other special prefab parts (like the magnetic connectors). The best way to make custom trains is to just get an extra train when it is discounted and use the parts for custom cars, or find partial trains on eBay. Otherwise it is too much work and money to find all the necessary parts on BrickLink. I also wish LEGO would provide kits with extra carts. They used to do it, but that was a long time ago.

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Alex October 26, 2016 at 5:54 AM

I am rather clueless in terms of trains. We have one 60051 High-speed Passenger Train still waiting to be gifted to our daughter, so I don’t know what is inside and how trains work (other than the duplo one). So let me get this straight. The train I already have has power functions included, which fit this lovely holiday train (so tempted…)?
Thanks in advance.

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Xevo October 26, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Yeah I looked at that train as well, and it has all the Power Functions you need to motorize the Holiday train as well. Of course, you could only have one motorized at a time…

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admin October 26, 2016 at 11:58 AM

Alex, all the trains come with the same Power Functions components, so they are easy to swap them out. The trains that already come with Power Functions (like your Passenger Train) is the easiest, because the instruction booklet will give you a step-by-step guide how to install the Power Functions.

Then there are sets like the Holiday Train where – although the set doesn’t include Power Functions – the instruction booklet still gives you a step-by-step guide how to install the components. These trains are designed to work with Power Functions, so they are easy to install.

Then there are also trains that doesn’t include Power Functions, and there is no official guide from LEGO to install the components. These are usually the hardest to motorize because they weren’t designed with Power Functions in mind (the Constitution Train is one example). But once you understand how Power Functions work and you become familiar with the parts, you can figure it out yourself, and there are also tutorials on YouTube to make it happen.

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Xevo October 26, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Oh neat I didn’t realize the Constitution didn’t have PF instructions with it. Well, I look forward to that challenge, which will be after I have motorized the Holiday train and hopefully have a better idea of how all that works!

I think my plan is to change one of the Constitution cars, likely the coal tender, to be a combo battery box + train motor. We’ll see!

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admin October 26, 2016 at 5:38 PM

The biggest challenge with the Constitution is the engine. It is hard to change it out to the motorized base. So yeah, your idea of putting the motor and the battery box in the coal tender could work. I remember I saw at least three different combinations as far as how to motorize that train. The issue when you put the motor behind the engine is that the engine may run off the rail as it doesn’t have much weight. But on slower speeds you can run it just fine. I have also seen that some people just make a generic car and put everything in it; motor, battery box, and IR receiver. This way all they have to do to motorize a train is to add that car. No need to fuss with running wires or anything else. Again, the challenge here that it may derail the engine, but other than that it is a good solution when you only run your trains occasionally.

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Xevo October 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Right, there’s bound to be some issues, but I was also wanting something that would work as a back half motor for a longer combined train too…

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admin October 26, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Oh, yes, that should work very well. 🙂

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Juan December 11, 2016 at 11:40 PM

I built my train and when I turned on the motor it was going way too fast so the train keeps getting derailed.

Is there any way to slow it down?

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admin December 12, 2016 at 12:22 AM

Juan, you need the Remote Control and the IR receiver to properly control the train. If you only install the motor and the battery box there is no way to control the speed, and it will go at full speed. Hope this helps some.

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Juan December 12, 2016 at 12:29 AM

That is what I thought. I will have to go to the lego store and pick it up.

Thank you for the info.

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admin December 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM

You’re very welcome. Have fun with your train! 🙂

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Maria January 31, 2017 at 9:13 PM

Great review, we have Lego train set in our house. 🙂

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