December and Christmas is almost upon us! The waning year and fast-approaching festive season heralds one of my annual LEGO traditions – building the year’s Winter Village LEGO set!
This year, LEGO surprised everyone by re-releasing the Winter Toy Shop, the very first Winter Village set which kicked off one of LEGO’s most beloved sub-themes way back in 2009. The Winter Village theme has has always occupied a special place in my heart as I escaped my Dark Ages right around the time the sub-theme kicked off and I’ve religiously collected every single one since.
Name: Winter Toy Shop
Set Number: 10249
Price: AU$109.99 – Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA]
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: Creator Expert
Year of Release: 2015
Instructions: 10249 Winter Toy Shop 1 2
LEGO set re-releases are always a controversial topic amongst LEGO fans. New LEGO fans who missed out on old sets love them, and scalpers, investors & speculators hate them. When the 2015 Winter Toy Shop was announced, there was a huge collective groan from LEGO fans – mostly because the set is an almost mirror image of the original, with only a few cosmetic changes applied.
Fans were dismayed that there wasn’t a “new” Winter Village set this year, which I concede is a very valid concern but I fully support LEGO’s decision to re-release one of the most beloved sets in recent history. The LEGO landscape has changed dramatically since 2009, with so many new fans in the fold, which is why remakes like these are important.
Without this remake, you’d probably have to spend about AU$250 upwards to get your hands on a new Winter Toy Shop.
Let’s get into the review! With this review, I’ll be judging this set on its own merit and try to avoid too much comparison to the original Winter Village Toy Shop – which is only fair! I may do a comparison post if I have time and compare both of them side by side if there’s enough demand for one!
The set starts of swimmingly out of the box with no sticker sheet and interestingly, I really enjoyed the numbered polybags. We only get 2 instruction booklets and two sets of numbered bags which made the build very seamless and easy to follow.
The Winter Toy Shop comes with 8 minifigures featuring a very familiar cast of characters that wouldn’t look out of place in any LEGO City. The minifigures are all dressed up for the cold weather with a pleasant mix of scarves, jumpers and coats to keep them warm.
The carolers are the standout minifigures of the set, distinguished by their “singing” expressions and prominent flushed cheeks. Both their faces are new and exclusive to this set and represent a slightly updated version of the beloved originals.
The female caroler has an exclusive new torso and a beautiful printed skirt piece which has the fabric pattern continuing seamlessly on to the sloped piece. She also has a pretty kickass red and black two-tone cape. As an added bonus, she also has an alternate expression (you can see it in the lineup image) where she has a neutral smile.
The male caroler’s torso isn’t new but still relatively rare, having only shown up in a few Monster Fighter sets and the Palace Cinema. Both minifigures come with lyric sheets which are a familiar sight for anyone who has gone caroling. Curiously, the dude doesn’t have a dual-sided face which is a puzzling design call.
Here are the three children in the set. You get a young bloke who’s a motor-racing fan (evident by his Octan jersey), a freckle-faced girl on a snowboard and another freckly boy with bright blue skis.
The kids are a great addition to this family-friendly set and they’re all rugged up appropriately for the cold weather. My only slight complaint is the young girl snowboarder girl who seems to have an adult female torso. It’s one of those tiny little things that bother me but I really feel that minifigure depictions of children should be as accurate as possible.
The Octan kid has back printing on his torso with everyone’s beloved energy company emblazoned on his jersey as well as an alternate startled expression. The little snowboarder girl also has an adorable worried/sad look on her face.
The two adults have pretty generic city torsos with back printing and the redheaded lady has an alternate dismayed expression.
Overall, a decent enough selection of minifigures with just enough unique elements such as the carolers and plenty of regular city-folk as filler to populate the set.
I really enjoyed building the Winter Toy Shop. I took a leisurely approach, constructing the set over the course of two nights – one for each instruction booklet.
You start off building a small wintery scene which has a bench as the focal point, a gorgeous lamppost, a small conifer tree, a pile of snowballs that the mischievous Octan-kid has been stockpiling and a snowman as well.
It’s a basic scene but it does a great job upping the Wintery feel and quaint village vibes of the entire set.
Here’s a closer look at the lamppost which has 2 transparent spheres enclosing the lights. The spheres are a little wobbly as they didn’t seem to “click” atop the lamppost quite as nicely as I would’ve liked it to.
Apart from looking pretty, the spheres also create a nice “lighting” effect when viewed from afar – as if there’s a halo of light around the lights!
The Winter Toy Shop comes with a delightful selection of toys that find their home under the Christmas tree! Crafted by no one else but the Toy Shop owner, the toys make clever use of basic LEGO parts to conjure up the likenesses of trucks, rockets, helicopters, biplanes and even a charming little tugboat.
There’s also a teddy bear accessory, which I always enjoy seeing in sets.
The vehicles are all exceptionally designed and are constructed in the same scale as the miniature vehicles from the Bricktober Sets. My favourite out of all the tiny vehicles is a toss-up between the truck which masterfully employs the use of skates as wheels, and the simple rocket.
The standout toy of the whole bunch is none other than the Jack-in-a-box – a toy that perfectly captures the nostalgic warmth of the Winter Toy Shop and corresponding allure of hand-made trinkets.
Unfortunately, they haven’t found a way to make a fully functioning Jack-in-a-box that is able to pop out of its box but it’s still a sight to behold thanks to the classic smiley face, brand new Jester Hat colours and matching pattern on the box.
Here’s a proper look at the Christmas tree, which commands a very imposing presence with its large size, dense leaves and the massive shining star adorning it. The tree’s size alone is what makes it stand out from other LEGO Christmas trees.
The string of lights on the tree do not drown out all the beautiful green foliage which is achieved by cleverly layering green plates upon one another, pointed at different angles. Building it was quite repetitive, but the payoff when you see it all come together at the end is worth it.
The Christmas Tree is so large that the Winter Village’s inhabitants need a ladder to reach the top in order to affix the star onto it.
I also really like the base of the Christmas tree for some reason. The use of reds, browns and golds really go a long way in pumping up the festive vibes.
Here’s the completed Winter Toy Shop in all its glory. The quaint structure is defined by the large windows which allow excited kids to peer into a world filled with fun little inventions. The Toy Shop’s twin triangular snow-covered roofs are also another distinctive feature and I really like the festive wreaths and architectural flourishes on the upper level.
The Winter Toy Shop exudes a very small-town look and feel. It’s just the right size, not too small but not too large and imposing at the same time. Pine trees flank the Toy Shop, with the bright green hues penetrating the snowy ground.
The Winter Toy Shop’s facade is simple but pleasing to the eye. Here’s a peek into the windows where you get a clear view of a little blue robot and a locomotive engine.
One of the coolest enhancements of 2015’s Winter Toy Shop is the addition of this vintage printed Toy Shop sign, which proudly hangs near the entrance. There are a grand total of ZERO stickers in this set and I believe that this printed sign is exclusive to this set. It’s only a minor piece, but it does so much to add to the Toy Shop’s charm.
Here’s a look at the Toy Shop from the side. I really like the uneven bricks protruding from the chimney.
Here’s a look at the roof of the Toy Shop’s workshop room which can split open slightly.
The larger roof can also be detached quite easily – it snugly rests atop the second floor’s frame.
Here’s a look at the Winter Toy Shop from behind. The back is entirely exposed like a dollhouse and there are 2 main areas within the building – the Toy Shop on the ground floor and a small work area upstairs.
The Toy Shop area has some cool smooth flooring courtesy of the use of dark tan tiles and there’s plenty of space for customers to browse the wares on sale. There’s a small fireplace at the left hand side of the room, and a counter which has a printed cash register.
For a Toy Shop, there’s not a lot that’s on sale at the moment – most probably because the Winter Villagers have cleaned the shop out in anticipation of the holiday period.
The toymaker’s workshop is situated on the upper level, accessible via a cleverly positioned ladder. There’s not as much space to move around but just enough for a simple workbench. The toymaker is currently putting the final touches to a yellow car.
There’s also a really random golden frog that’s perched in the rafters. Totally drawing a blank on why it’s here but eh, I kinda like the mystery and nonsensical vibe.
There’s a light brick up in the workshop and it illuminates the room quite effectively – bathing the room with a warm, comforting glow. I kinda like the picture that this photograph paints – the hardworking toymaker working hard into the night to ensure that there are enough toys for the Winter Villagers come the festive season.
Here’s how the illuminated room looks like from the outside.
What I liked:
- LEGO re-releasing one of the most popular sets in recent history
- Just the right number of minifigures
- The Winter Toy Shop’s quaint design
- You can re-enact and play around with plenty of scenarios
What I didn’t like:
- Some of the torsos are a little generic
Final thoughts: What can I say, there’s so much to love about the Winter Toy Shop. It thrives with the charm of LEGO’s Winter Village theme – containing all the expected elements of a sleepy, snowy village. The Toy Shop’s design is unpretentious yet distinctly unique in its own right, carrying itself with subtle little design nuances that give it plenty of character and originality.
The peripherals of the set such as the Christmas tree, toys, bench and lamppost and of course the colourful cast of minifigures inject a sense of wholesomeness to the Winter Toy Shop. I really enjoyed the almost limitless play and display value of the set – with so many different characters and potential scenarios to re-enact, you could easily spend hours shuffling around and rearranging the minifigures to create your ideal Winter Toy Shop scene.
While that’s all fine and dandy, the burning question of a set that’s almost a carbon copy remake is – should you buy it if you already have the original?
I can’t pretend to have the right answer for that as it’s entirely subjective and reliant on many other factors such as your budget and display needs. I bought the 2015 Winter Toy Shop for several reasons – I wanted the shiny new additions such as upgraded minifigures, I was curious to experience the new set and I have plans to maybe merge 2009 + 2015. Oh and to write this review – duh!
Now that I’ve built and owned both, I do have to say that it didn’t feel like a complete waste for me. You get a decent amount of useful parts in this set, which means that you can always recycle/cannibalise the bricks for other MOCs.
But if you weren’t lucky enough to be a LEGO fan in 2009 and own the original, you’re in luck because the Winter Toy Shop is an exceptional set that’s playful, charming, colourful and most importantly festive.
I highly recommend this if you don’t have the original. If you do already have the set, I’ll be frank – you could probably skip out on this and not miss out on much. Unless you have an obscene budget for LEGO, your money would be best funneled into some of the other great sets of 2014 and 2015.
Be sure to check out the Review Hub to read some of my other LEGO reviews! Thanks for reading and happy holidays!