That special time of year must be on the way, because the LEGO Group has announced 10259 Winter Village Station as this year’s Christmas themed set. Is it likely to be as satisfying as a warm mug of hot chocolate with cream, or as disappointing a lukewarm cup of mulled wine?
To start off this latest First Impressions piece, I will make it clear that I am a big fan of the Winter Village sets that are released on an annual basis by the LEGO Group, having been collecting them since 10199 Winter Toy Shop was released in 2009. So every time such a set is announced, I am ready to embrace the next snowy scene in the series.
When opening the folder containing the images and information relating to 10259 Winter Village Station, I clicked on the first image before reading the text, flicking through the gallery of images to see what would be next to join the ever growing Winter Village display.
Seeing the image of the snowy train station with 10254 Winter Holiday Train rolling in, a big smile arrived on my face – it looked great. What a perfect, delightful setting to add to the village. The notion of friends and family arriving to spend Christmas together that it evokes fits perfectly with the previous sets released in this theme.
What became apparent as I flicked through the rest of the images was that 10259 Winter Village Station is particularly flattered by that first angle. 10229 Winter Village Cottage this ain’t. It is fine to not have a back on the building, so that the interior can be accessed, but this is much smaller than buildings such as 10222 Winter Village Post Office. It is little more than a façade of a building.
I quickly put myself in the minds of the LEGO team behind the set – the station must be so small, I rationalised, because this will be a lower priced Winter Village set. The LEGO marketing guys must have figured that the only people who would buy this are those who own 10254 Winter Holiday Train, so they made it a smaller set at a lower price. It’s essentially an accessory purchase.
Reality soon dawned when I read the accompanying information, to find that 10259 Winter Village Station is actually priced at £74.99. Ouch. For that kind of price, I would have expected a much fuller train station with more detail.
The supplementary builds that are in the box with the station itself helped to justify the price. A bus is included, that looks fine with a nice front, but does not scream festivity as the best of the Winter Village vehicles have done. A crossing is included too, which seems rather superfluous – such adornments should be small supplementary City Train sets, not taking up valuable pieces in a Winter Village Station set. There are four pieces of train track included too, again making the price feel a little more justified.
This set seems to suffer from a dilemma. The LEGO design teams always work with children in mind first, so in this set included a bus to ferry passengers to and from the station, a crossing so that the bus can get over the track along with a bit of track to explain the station. Children need that full play experience in the box, so the logic goes. But by packing that story telling experience into the box, the main train station build lacks the kind of detail and attention it needed to really pop.
Although LEGO sets are always designed for children first, it seemed that the Winter Village sets had a primary audience of hobbyists, or maybe adult fans with families who wanted a communal Christmas experience. This may be a mistaken presumption, but these are badged as Creator Expert now, a branding typically used for the more AFOL focused sets.
From the images released, I do think that this will look great alongside 10254 Winter Holiday Train and look forward to displaying them together. But it feels like a missed opportunity – if this station alone was being sold for half the price, it would feel much more tolerable. This will be one of those occasions when the price is paid grudgingly, rather than with the knowledge that 10259 Winter Village Station is great value for money.
10259 Winter Village Station will be available for VIPs to order at shop.LEGO.com from September 14, and available to everyone else from October 1.