It’s hard to believe, but somehow it’s already nearly October. While some people think that should mean “Halloween all the time,” others–particularly those in marketing–think that it’s a good time to start getting everyone ready for the gift-giving holidays. Normally that just makes me grumpy, but it does have the occasional upside. Here’s one of those positives: it’s time for LEGO to announce the newest addition to their Winter Village Collection! This year, we leave Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole to check out what the elves get up to in their spare time…namely hanging out in their club house. This highly anticipated set spans 1,197 pieces with goodies like a new minifigure-scaled reindeer, four elves, a heap of presents, and, oh yeah, the club house itself. The Winter Village Collection 10275 Elf Club House will be available September 23 from the LEGO Shop Online for US $99.99 | UK £84.99 | EU €94.99. Is it worth fitting into your holiday budget? Read on and see!
The box and contents
The Winter Village Collection is now styled in LEGO’s Adult Packaging theme–listed for ages 18+, with a dark black background and minimal text. It’s a very pretty box, to be sure, but you have to wonder about the 18+ aspect. Shouldn’t the Winter Village be aimed more at family and inclusive building? The price point on this set isn’t extravagant, and the theming of the set is silly and fun enough to appeal to all ages. Even LEGO’s own marketing has a mixed message on this, as the press release for this set includes this bit: “This brand-new holiday set is the perfect festive family tradition and a way for families (naughty or nice) to enjoy the magic of Holiday season and build together to bring their ultimate Christmas fantasy to life.” That doesn’t sound like an “18+” set to me.
Inside the box are eleven numbered parts bags, and another package that contains the instruction booklets and sticker sheet.
There are two styles of instruction books in this set. Book one is a center-stapled 48-page booklet. The second book is square-bound, coming in at a more hefty 124 pages. The sticker sheet is pretty minimal, with some very cute images that admittedly would be hard to find uses for in less seasonally-themed sets.
There are a handful of uncommon colors and parts among the pieces in this set, but the one that has everyone talking is this new reindeer. Ever since we saw the stag design show up as Harry Potter’s patronus in 75945 Expecto Patronus, we’ve been hoping it would eventually arrive in a non-ghostly form. The body is cast in solid plastic with some nice painted details. The antlers are made of a softer, more rubber-like plastic and are permanently implanted in the deer’s head. Set designer Chris McVeigh says its name is “Brixen”. It’s a shame that there’s only one deer in this set, as putting a full team together to pull Santa’s sleigh is sure to be an expensive proposition. On the other hand, it seems likely that if you’re looking at this set as a potential parts-pack, you could quickly flip these guys on the secondary market to help finance even more purchases.
Outside the Club House
The first instruction booklet covers the first two bags of parts, and includes everything that isn’t part of the club house structure itself. It has the Christmas tree, a selection of gifts, a sleigh, a scarf-wearing elf and Brixen. These builds don’t really interact with the club house at all, so it could be a good opportunity to share the work around with a bit of family building. You know, if this set wasn’t meant just for adults. (I’m almost done complaining about that.)
I admit I skipped ahead in the instruction book to finish up Brixen. The only thing missing was the harness to hook the reindeer up to the sleigh.
Now, that should have been a trivial bit of building. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The glossy black “adult theming” stretches into the instruction booklets. Now, that doesn’t sound all bad, but wait until you try and actually build something. In this case, the dark brown plates all but vanish against the black. Some parts and steps have the bricks outlined in red to make them easier to see, but, as illustrated here, that’s not always the case. If you embiggen the image you can faintly make out the 1×2 plate on the underside of the harness…but I missed it the first six times I tried to figure out why the build didn’t look right to me. It took me finally noticing the “hovering” 3x in the parts list to clue into what was up.
And, while I’m griping, it would have been nice to get an extra 1×2 brick and tile in medium nougat to have a “naked” deer option. It’s not a big nit, but it does feel like a small oversight/cost-cutting measure.
Anyway, once you learn to prep for invisible pieces, the rest of the build goes pretty smoothly.
Moving quickly back into the positive aspects of this set, the sleigh is sharp looking with great gold accent pieces. I also like the tiny afterburners in the back. It has a very 1966 Batmobile vibe.
Next up is a computer showing off the Nice List. (The screen is a sticker on a 2×2 inverted tile.) This is an Easter egg of sorts, as Chris added in this build as a tribute to the many brick-built PCs he created before he was an official LEGO designer, such as the classic DOS computer we reviewed back in 2017. The use of a white ingot brick instead of the usual 1×2 tile with keyboard pattern is a nice touch, giving both a clunky look to the older computer, as well as a nice part to re-use later.
The selection of brick-built gifts spans a couple of wrapped packages to a keyboard and airplane. There’s also a really sweet pirate ship micro-build.
The final build in this section is the Christmas tree. There have been a lot of different versions of brick-built trees in the seasonal sets over the years, and I think this is the best one yet. The build is easy enough, consisting of four triangular “panes” of fronds spread around a central trunk. But the use of 1×2 cutout slopes and a couple of cheese wedge tiles creates the perfect shaping. The star on top makes good use of the star element from The LEGO Movie 2 sets, with a 2×2 boat tile in transparent yellow to give it a bit of a glow. The only puzzlement for me here is the choice to use tan as one of the colors for the 1×1 round plate ornaments. Seems like a blue or even orange plate might have given things a little more pop. Tan just seems “off” as a holiday color to me, I guess.
Overall, this is such a good mix of small builds and parts that it feels like this could (and maybe should) have been produced as a stand-alone seasonal set. It certainly would have made the reindeer more available to the masses, and I could easily see fans picking up multiples of a smaller set to supplement their winter village as a whole.
Building the Club House
The core of the club house itself has a 7×19 footprint, with a bit of extra plate creating a snowy expanse around it. There’s a good mix of tiles in useful and uncommon colors making up the floor and pathways.
The first floor is split into two main rooms. To the left is a breakfast area with seating for two. There’s a stickered 2×4 brown tile with a shot of the four elves with Santa over the table, and a plate, waffle, and mug for each diner. To the right is an end table with a pot of coffee next to a gift wrapping station. Car doors and 1×2 tiles are used to great effect to create a roll of candy-striped paper.
The top floor is one large bedroom area. There’s a chest of drawers, a cocoa mug, and a small wrapped present. A calendar (a sticker on a 2×2 tile) reminds everyone that December 24th is an important date if you’re an elf prepping presents. For those of you who were wondering, the 24th does fall on a Thursday in 2020, but then not again until 2026 and then 2037.
On the right side of the room is a reading nook. It may be a little spartan, but it’s very functional. I like the design of the reading light – it’s not particularly complex, yet it has a great look.
The elves have a very communal sleeping arrangement. This triple-decker bed would probably give Emmet some ideas. It’s a bit rickety, though, as we’ll discover in a bit.
A little later on, the roof is in place and things are happening on both sides of the building. If you crawl out through the bedroom window, you’ll get to check out this telescope station. The snow-caps on the railing are a very nice touch.
Opposite the telescope is a covered stall for the sleigh. 1×6 tiles help keep things aligned, while also providing a nice suggestion that the garage is actively used when the sleigh is elsewhere.
The final bit of building is putting together the chimney. Rather than just another rehash of a wood-burning hearth, we get something entirely new. Thanks to a bit of clever LEGO engineering, there’s a plinko-like mechanism to cook waffles! I’ve left the front off of it here so you can see the setup. You’ll get to see it in action below.
The finished model
Put all together, the Elf Club House looks fantastic. The chimney blocks off the back of the sleighport, and adds just a bit of extra depth to the building. The alpine styling of the building looks sharp and crisp, and I really like the curved accents in the wood trim. I’m not super thrilled about the wreath, mainly as I couldn’t get it not to squish out of shape on me. But even mushed it’s recognizable and an interesting bit of design. From the snow on the window ledges to those great strings of lights, this has all the necessary hallmarks of a wintery lodge.
From the rear you get a real “doll house” feel to this set. There are things to play with and do just about everywhere you look. In a larger set, I would have been looking for things like stairways or more integration between the rooms, but at this scale those details would have been more distracting than useful. The downside to the amount of stuff is that it’s somewhat tricky to have the elves interact with anything that isn’t at the very leading edge of the set. The gift wrap station, in particular, is almost inaccessible with the support beam in the way.
Moving on to play features, out front you can park the sled in the covered parking stall, and open the front door to let in some crisp winter air. I have to point those amazing Christmas lights out again, too. They really look functional.
I really like all the little touches in the club house façade. I mean, just look at this tilting signpost. The stickers for “workshop” and “north pole” may not have a lot of re-usability, but they’re very cute. And if you have other winter village sets, you can (hopefully) arrange them so the signs actually point to the relevant scenes.
The chimney works well as a stand-alone build, and the clips that attach it to the club house proper work well. The integrated “toaster oven” is so clever you don’t stop to ask where the fire is supposed to be. The brick-built stocking is also really well done.
The mechanism for the oven works smoothly and seems nearly impossible to jam. It can be a little messy, though. Maybe that’s why that elf looks so unhappy: there’s some quality time with a mop in their near future.
The breakfast nook is cute, but in action it again makes you question the ergonomics of the club house. Since the elf minifigures have short, non-articulated legs, they have to stand on the chairs instead of sitting. That’s an understandable compromise, but due to the height of the table, plates, and mug, you have to raise the figures arms to almost comical heights to get them to fit into the space. And just forget trying to get two elves to have a bite at the same time. You’re probably better off just putting all the elves in other areas of the club house when you display things.
The only other (minor!) complaint I have about the design of this set is that the interior spaces are really dark. Unless you have a light pointed directly into the building, most everything is lost in shadow. You can see this on the back of the box, and you can see it “live” below. LEGO did provide us with a bit of a solution though. At the top of the bedroom is a built-in light brick that gives a warm and cheery glow to things. The light turns on when you press down on the red 1×1 cone brick, and turns off when you release it. It might have been nice to have a way to lock it in the on position, but I doubt the button battery that powers the light would last for very long in that case.
The final play feature of this set is a real doozy.
Imagine you’re an elf, working holiday hours that make a near-release video game’s “crunch time” feel like a walk in the park. At the end of the day, you stumble back to your club house, climb over your coworkers into the top tier of a tiny bunk bed, and try and sleep despite the gallons of coffee and hot cocoa coursing through your veins. Maybe you can close your eyes. Maybe you only have a single expression printed on your head, so you can’t. Either way, you huddle in the dark, waiting for dawn. And when it comes, some stupidly chipper “morning person” is downstairs, up and dressed, with a bullhorn. And they turn it up full blast, and scream “RISE AND SHINE”. And you tumble out of your top bunk, fall over two floors, and smash into the ground.
The Club House comes staffed with four unnamed elf minifigures. Apparently they’ve unionized since their 2014 Santa’s Workshop appearance as they all sport identical outfits now. The dual-sided torso print is brand new, and seems fittingly festive with the bell-studded collar and shiny belt buckle. The faces have all appeared before, but two of them (the one with closed eyes and the one with the glasses) are fairly uncommon. The red scarf accessory has only appeared twice before, both times in the 2020 Chinese New Year sets.
Only two of the faces have dual expressions, which is okay, but not great. As noted above, having a “sleeping” option for at least three of these characters would have been a nice enhancement.
Conclusion and recommendation
I may have been a little negative on the marketing choices for this set, but once you’ve built it and thrown away the packaging you’re left with something that is really nice. The build is creative and innovative, finding new tricks to add into a well-established theme. The new reindeer piece is fantastic, the elves are cute, the brick-built gifts are clever, and even the tree is outstanding. For those who are looking to reuse the bricks in their own creations, there’s a solid mix of useful elements at a reasonable 8 cents per part. Being part of the Winter Village Collection is likely to help the collectible aspect of this set, too. All in all, this was a solid win for me. If you’re looking for a fun addition to your holiday displays, this set may just be the right one for you.
Winter Village Collection 10275 Elf Club House will be available September 23 from the LEGO Shop Online for US $99.99 | UK £84.99 | EU €94.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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