Merry Christmas! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re having a wonderful time eating, merry making and opening up presents! Did you get a lot of LEGO for Christmas? I know I did!
Since it’s Christmas, I thought it’d be a great time to post up a review a very special Christmas set – 10245 Santa’s Workshop! This year’s seasonal set, the latest in LEGO’s beloved Winter village theme has been sitting in my living room for a while and I finally had time to put the set together now that work and the year is finally winding down. Read on to see if it’s a lump of coal or if it’s a must-have present this year!
Name: Santa’s Workshop
Set Number: 10245
Price: AU$119.99 (AUS LEGO.com link)
Exclusive to: LEGO.com
Theme: Winter Village
Year of Release: 2014
Santa’s Workshop is the 6th entrant into LEGO’s illustrious Winter Village theme, which is personally one of my favourite themes of all time. I look forward to each year’s Winter Village set with festive anticipation ever since I fell in love with the Toy Shop. This year’s Winter Village set is a slight departure from the ‘regular’ structures in the theme, which usually seem like they belong in a sleepy, snowy village.
I guess this means that we have official confirmation from LEGO that the Winter Village is located in the North Pole 🙂
When news first broke that Santa’s Workshop was the next Winter Village set, I was pretty apprehensive and a little disappointed as I felt that Santa’s Workshop didn’t fit in very well with the other buildings and characters. There were so many other buildings or ideas that they could’ve gone ahead with – a tavern, a chapel, a wooden cabin, an inn, a bank, stables, a coffee shop… the list is pretty much endless!
Till I saw the first pictures of the adorable herd of reindeer included in the set – I was instantly sold that Santa’s Workshop would be a brilliant idea.
Let’s get into the review proper!
Here’s the packaging for the instruction manuals and sticker sheets. Interestingly, the manual doesn’t come with a cardboard backing to prevent it from creasing but because they’re sealed in a plastic packaging, the manuals maintained their shape pretty well and most importantly, the sticker sheet is in pristine condition. Personally, I prefer the cardboard backing method but this way seems to work just as well. As long as the stickers are unharmed, I’ll be a happy camper.
Here’s a closeup of the sticker sheet – the stickers are a mix of transparent decal-type stickers and traditional opaque paper-type ones. I personally would’ve preferred that all of them were transparent decals as they are far more durable and of better quality. The stickers are really fun and add a lot of humour and charm to the set – my favourite being the holiday portrait or Mr and Mrs Claus on a tropical holiday in Fiji.
The build for Santa’s Workshop is separated into three major sections and the polybags inside are numbered accordingly which makes the building experience intuitive and allows for breaks in between the major parts. I like taking my time with large sets, spreading it out through several days if possible so this is a huge plus for me.
Before we get to the main build, here is the the lineup of minifigures in the set. We get 6 minifigures in Santa’s Workshop – the Claus family and their adopted (?)
slaves workers – 4 hardworking, industrious and cunning Elves – each with pointy ears and hats. Being Santa’s Workshop, the diversity of the minifigures included isn’t something to shout about, however what they lack in variety they more than make up for in festive cheer.
Meet the most festive couple in the North Pole, Santa Claus and Mrs Claus! The main man himself Mr Claus is pretty unremarkable having made his debut in Series 8. Santa is almost identical to the one in Series 8 except he has much sharper printing on his torso and he has a bright red present sack which is new and exclusive to this set.
Mrs Claus on the other hand is an absolute stunner. She has a immaculately detailed red and white dress which has a little apron on it as well. Her torso packs a lot of delicate patterns printed onto it and in a very rare move – her neck area is almost the same shade of yellow as her face! She’s armed with a tray of baked goodies, which obviously includes Santa’s favourite – cookies!
Mrs Claus’ apron which is printed on her sloped dress piece is by far the best thing about her entire minifigure. It has 2 striped candy canes sticking out of the front pocket as well as a sprig of mistletoe printed onto it which adds a very festive touch to it. Her cape/cloak is a rather odd accessory to have since it makes her look a little bit like a superhero, but I’ve reconciled it with the fact that it must be freezing in the North Pole so it must be there to help keep her warm.
Removing his beard allows you to get a better look at Santa’s face – he has a very cheerful and youthful look sans facial hair. Mrs Claus solidifies her position as the better half by sporting an alternate face which has a very displeased and annoyed look. Not sure if that’s for Santa when he forgets to feed the reindeer or when the Holiday Elves misbehave and mess up the workshop.
Mrs Claus also has back printing for her upper body where you can see the straps of her bodice. Santa unfortunately doesn’t have back printing, which I think is a shame since this is a proper set and this isn’t the stone age.
Looking back, Santa has come a long way. The earliest Santa now looks like a colourful vagrant compared to his current version. The Santa in the middle was from Series 8 and as you can see, the printing on his torso was a lot worse with the red paint bleeding into the white fur sections, as well as the sloppy printing on his belt. #progress #evolution
And here are the helpful Holiday Elves, all four of them! The Elves are quite a colourful quartet, each with their own outfits and facial expressions. From left to right, I might just name them Smirky, Smiley, Freckly and Laughy. What? That’s the best I’ve got!
Each Elf has pointy ears and a cone-shaped hat which coincidentally made its debut with Series 11’s Holiday Elf.
Again, I was disappointed to learn that only one Elf (Smiley) had back printing which is a crying shame making these minifigures look rather bland and unfinished. Laughy is the only Elf with an alternate face, where he’s shedding a tear – probably being told off by Santa for slacking off and falling behind the production of Christmas presents. Santa is under a tight deadline and runs a pretty tight ship!
I’m still not sure whether I like or dislike the Elves. I understand their place in Santa’s Workshop but with nothing particularly sexy or exclusive about them, I’m still finding it hard to get excited by them. The very least that LEGO could’ve done was give us some rare faces or clothes, or even a recoloured hat (a green and red striped hat would be so cool) to make them slightly more desirable.
In their current state, I find them lacking the necessary elements for me to go WOW!
In Bag 1, you assemble all the other bits that aren’t the workshop. We’ll start with some of the smaller builds which includes a very cute North Pole sign, a mini-Christmas tree and an adorable baby reindeer!
The tree is quite cute and uses a clever mix of slopes, cheese slopes and dark green and regular green bricks to create a very textured and layered Christmas tree. I think they captured the scale perfectly, as it’s just the right size for a minifigure. That said, there are definitely a few things that they could’ve improved, namely the lights which are a little boring.
Using flat 1 x 1 round tiles would’ve made the tree a lot more attractive in my opinion. More colours and more lights would’ve also been a great idea.
Here’s the cute little baby reindeer that’s too small and young to pull Santa’s sleigh. It’s utterly adorable and is quite possibly one of the cutest things I’ve ever had to build out of a bunch of tan and brown bricks thanks to its beady eyes and round brown nose.
The baby reindeer uses a lot of common parts which makes it relatively easy to replicate and make more of them – except for the printed 1 x 1 tan brick which has the eyes printed on them. The baby reindeer is gorgeous from every angle, and his head, antlers and tail can all be tilted for some limited playability.
The cornerstone of Bag 1’s contents is Santa’s Sleigh itself – a delightfully impressive model that incorporates a very festive blend of red, pearl gold and dark green bricks to achieve a very remarkable and pleasing aesthetic. The sleigh seats one standard issue minifigure-sized Santa as well as a bunch of colourfully wrapped presents which occupy all the free space that’s available.
The sleigh uses some pretty ingenious building techniques to give it a very organic and curved look – I especially like the upside down red arches that cleverly clip on to the sleigh. The use of Christmas colours for the sleigh is absolutely on point. The only elements that kind of stick out are the lamps, which I feel are a little too ‘black’ and contrast a bit too hard with the rest of the components.
Closing up Bag 1 is the herd of industrious reindeer which magically pull the sleigh so that Santa can visit all the children in the world. There are four reindeer and they’re essentially upsized versions of the baby reindeer with a couple of tiny tweaks that set them apart.
Here’s a comparison shot with the baby reindeer – the few immediate differences are the larger antlers and cone-shaped legs but they retain an identical look and feel.
One of the more defining features of the adult reindeer is their hairy backs which is printed on a curved slope tile piece. It’s a nice little addition since it adds a bit of visual flair to the adult reindeerrs and also creates the nice curved shape of their backs.
You can pop out parts of the reindeer’s backs, which you can see above that creates a crevice in which the sleigh can be attached to the reindeer’s bodies. As they are made out of LEGO, I doubt they feel pain when chunks of their bodies are temporarily removed. I think.
And here’s the 4 reindeer-powered Sleigh in action, with Santa pulling the reins. I’ve got nothing much to add other than the fact that it’s a brilliant build that sets Santa’s Workshop apart from all the other Winter Village builds, in a very festive and fun way.
Bag 2 contains the living quarters of Santa’s Workshop and was a very delightful little build. I was impressed by all the small elements coming together to create this two-storeyed structure. For quite a small structure, Bag 2 took me a lot longer than I expected, because of all the intricate details that was incorporated into the design. I definitely underestimated this set based on its perceived size.
The third and final bag completes the Workshop area of Santa’s living quarters. While it wasn’t as elaborate and laborious as Bag 2’s build, they were some very cool building techniques employed – I was blown away by the effort and aesthetics of the arched window.
Both structures easily snap together to create the finished building – while a little on the small side, it packs a surprising amount of exterior details. Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout architectural and interior elements of Santa’s Workshop.
We’ll start with the ornate clock that hangs from the front of the building as well as the lattice windows that once again employ the winning combination of pearl gold upon dark green against a tan background. Together with the clock, it makes for a very pleasant looking facade.
Right next to the front door, you’ll find two giant-sized candy canes as well as a round Santa’s Workshop sign. The candy canes are simple builds but give the entire structure a very whimsical fairytale-look, which is perfect since we’re dealing Santa Claus!
I also loved the effect that the white cheese slopes and tooth-looking piece on the roof create – making it look like a bunch of snow has piled up and is hanging from the roof. It’s these little things that help make the Winter Village theme a perennial favourite among LEGO fans.
One of the little exterior flourishes that I really enjoyed was the clandestine planter box and most importantly, the use of a grey phone as a lampholder, found on the left side of the workshop. Let’s take a look at the interior of the Workshop next.
The hallway is rather small but still manages to look and feel quite cosy. From memory, I’ve always associated elaborate tiled floors with Winter Village sets, so I was quite let down that there was no fully tiled floors indoor. To greet Santa when he gets back from delivering presents to billions of kids worldwide is a cute welcome mate which says “Welcome Ho-Ho-Home”. I love puns, so I naturally enjoyed this more than your average human being.
There’s also a very basic fireplace, which should give Santa a very warm welcome home. Perched above the mantelpiece is a framed portrait of Mr and Mrs Claus on a tropical holiday in Fiji – best piece of decoration in the house for sure.
The ladder leads upstairs to…
Santa’s study/loft! It’s extremely cramped, mostly because his humongous armchair takes up more than half of the space available! The armchair is designed extremely well, and you can even adjust the backrest to recline if Santa wants to have a nap upstairs. I really like that the armchair has the same colour scheme as his sleigh – he probably commissioned them from the same Polar designer.
Across his armchair is a small table covered with letters containing wishes and fan mail from children across the world, as well as a candlestick so that Santa can read through the night.
Here’s Santa’s sanctuary where he goes to avoid Mrs Claus’ wrath!
In comparison to Santa’s living quarters (side note: where does Mrs Claus sleep??), the Workshop portion is rather bland and uninspiring which is pretty disappointing since I expected much more going on since this set is named Santa’s Workshop. Duh. When you enter the Workshop door, you’re greeted with a recruitment poster that’s a play on the iconic Uncle Sam Wants You US Army enlisting posters.
That’s pretty funny since I kind of assumed that the Elves were bred purely to do the Claus’ bidding. It’s quite comforting to learn that the Elves are voluntary (and possibly salaried!) workers 🙂
This is Santa’s workbench which has a grand total of two tools – a hammer and a wrench. I think the orange and purple objects on the table are paint pots. For a set named Santa’s Workshop, this is unacceptable. It seems like LEGO had to forego interior details to achieve a specific exterior shape and look.
Previous Winter Village sets were iconic because they managed to blend attractive exteriors with detailed interiors and I’m quite sad that LEGO wasn’t able to strike an ideal balance with this set.
The interior does improve a little when you populate it with minifigures. The cutaway effect still suffers because of the lack of content inside – it just feels like 70% of the bricks used in this set were allocated to ensuring that the outside looked good. While it does, it’s still no excuse to have the interior leave much to be desired.
A small consolation to top off this set is a toy assembly machine that the Elves operate to craft toys for Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I love this build but it does feel like an afterthought thrown in to make up for the lack of stuff inside. This contraption feels like it would belong inside the workshop, but because of the building’s size – no way was this is ever going to fit inside.
Which is quite a shame, because this machine is really the heart and soul of the entire Workshop. The imagery conjured when you think of Santa’s Workshop – picture Elves working fantastical and marvelous contraptions to assemble thousands or millions of toys for Santa – probably what inspired this entire set and is encapsulated by this handy machine here.
It has a very Willy Wonka vibe to it – pull a few levers, turn a wheel and flick a few switches there to get the machine cranking out toys. I really love the simplicity and how that image was able to be materialised and brought to life with this toy creator machine.
Here’s a look at the control panel – simply yet effective and yes – that 1 x 4 tile is all printed. The printing is a bit sloppy.
And here’s a closer look at the assembly line. Keen-eyed Classic Space lovers would’ve instantly identified this micro Classic Spaceship toy. Is it a miniature version of Benny’s Spaceship? I’m going to go with yes 🙂
What a terrific Easter Egg to hide in this set! I was overjoyed when I realised what it was and assembling it out of very basic pieces was an absolute delight. The moment that trans-yellow cheese slope cockpit goes on, you know you’ve just constructed one of LEGO’s best micro-miniature models ever.
What I liked:
- Mrs Claus
- Awesome Reindeer
- Santa’s Workshop’s beautiful and brilliantly detailed exterior
- Toymaker machine
What I didn’t like:
- Very bland and empty interiors, especially the workshop area
- Elves are kind of boring and generic
- No back printing on Santa
- Wished the machine sat inside the workshop
Final thoughts: I’m struggling, because there is so much to love about this set and even more that could’ve been better. As a reviewer, building a set that contains more “could’ve” elements is more heart-wrenching than building a set that is just objectively bad.
When I look at the finished model, I’m left with so many “What Ifs?”. What if the Workshop could’ve been bigger? What if the machine managed to fit inside the building? What if the Elves were a lot more interesting?
Stacked up against previous Winter Village sets, it’s easy to see why Santa’s Workshop falls a little short – the benchmark for a set to belong in the Winter Village club has been set so high that nothing short of revolutionary would’ve allowed it to make the cut.
Which is not fair, because if I were to judge Santa’s Workshop with anything other than a Winter Village lens, I would be singing its praises because it is what it is – a great set. Not perfect, but great which is all a toy really needs.
Judged on its own merit, Santa’s Workshop wins points for a colourful cast of characters, adorable brick-built animals and one of the best exteriors that I’ve built in my life. It is a vibrant set, put together using a very well though out colour palette and some extremely fun gags. Santa’s Workshop will effortlessly fit with the rest of the other Winter Village sets on face-value – as long as no one brings up the insides – it’s a winner in my books.
Would I recommend this set? A 100% yes – despite my ranting, it’s still one of the best sets that LEGO has put out this year, and the novelty and iconic nature of Santa’s Workshop means that you will always find a place and reason to put it up on display every Christmas season. The build was mostly enjoyable and your friends will be impressed and thrilled when they see this set – ideally near your Christmas tree or fireplace if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.
Thanks for reading my review of LEGO 10245 Santa’s Workshop! I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did writing and photographing it.
Do you own one? I’d love to know what you thought about it in the comments section!
From all of us here at Jay’s Brick Blog (it’s actually just me!), I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas! I hope you wake up to boxes and boxes of LEGO 🙂
May your 2015 be filled with good tidings, peace and light. Merry Christmas!