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…
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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