Two years ago, LEGO released a set based on an interesting new concept to celebrate great minds who had an influence on our childhoods. Titled Creative Personalities (40291), it focused on the famed children’s author Hans Christian Andersen. It’s taken LEGO awhile to return to this theme, but this holiday season they’re releasing the second in the series, Charles Dickens Tribute (40410). Based on Dickens’ beloved short story A Christmas Carol, the 332-piece set will be free with purchases over US $150 | CAN $150 | UK £150 from LEGO.com and in LEGO stores. It will be available first to VIP members Nov. 20-21, and then available as part of the company’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales from Nov. 27-30. Let’s take a closer look.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
The box and contents
The packaging follows the same design language as the earlier Hans Christian Andersen set with a wax seal printed in the upper right corner bearing the author’s portrait. Charles Dickens, a 19th-century serial novelist, is best known for his gritty depictions of London’s working classes, and the short story A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, has become a cultural touchstone. While it hasn’t quite become an annual tradition for me, I think I’ve read the story or watched one of the myriad adaptations on more Christmases than not. (And for my money, the best movies are 2009’s animated film starring Jim Carrey if you want accuracy–yes, really–or 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol for good fun.) If you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, do yourself a favor this holiday and spend an hour or two reading it: “Marley was dead, to begin with.”
Inside the box are four unnumbered bags, the instruction booklet, and a sizable sticker sheet, as the set’s only printed elements are the minifigures and two log tiles. There’s not too much that’s remarkable in the element selection, though it’s a solid mix of useful pieces.
The build starts off with the book base, which is closed unlike the previous set. It sits on several large dark red plates, making a base that’s 10×16. The closed pages are represented with 1×2 grille bricks. Of course, this book has a reason for being closed, since it also includes a small drawer. There’s no fancy mechanism for it; just a few tiles make the action work. The binding of the book gets the first sprinkling of stickers to create the ornamentation and title.
The rest of the build progresses swiftly since it’s really just two walls and a few interior details, though the wall does make a nice little zig-zag. More stickers adorn the wood planks on the floor and the peeling brickwork on the walls.
The completed model
Apart from the single drawer (which is perfect for tiny trinkets or treasures but serves no immediate purpose in the set), this set has no play features.
And that is totally fine, because the designer was instead able to focus on adding lots of detail and visual depth. The building’s walls are as complex as any you’d find in a modular, with sand green wallpaper and dark grey stripes around a few brown wood segments, all topped with a cap of white snow. The tiny Christmas tree is a sad thing that I’d poke fun at if it appeared elsewhere, but it’s perfectly fitting–if not even a bit extravagant–for Bob Cratchit’s parlor.
Outside, the weather is a blustery London winter. The added details in the multicolor shingles are a nice effect, though given coal smoke that blackened the city at that time, I suspect it all looks far too clean. There’s a tiny tree in the yard and a small lamppost.
The drawer creates a small cavity that’s not quite big enough for a minifigure, but any kids who get this set are sure to be delighted because who doesn’t love secret hiding spots?
The set looks great in conjunction with the Hans Christian Andersen set, as well. One significant gripe I have, though, is that the beautiful printed tile from the first set that bore the author’s name and a tiny wax seal is nowhere to be found. Even Dickens’ name on the book is just a sticker.
The three most iconic characters from the story are of course Ebenezer Scrooge, a personality so famous he’s become synonymous with a miser, Bob Crachit, his underpaid and overworked clerk, and Tiny Tim, his crippled but impeccably optimistic son. Scrooge’s black suit is borrowed from Cornelius Fudge in last year’s Harry Potter line, while of course the head is new. About now you’re also probably wondering why Scrooge’s magnificent tophat is sideways, and here’s why: that’s how the instructions show it. I thought it was odd at the time but followed the instructions anyway, and then forgot to fix it before doing the photos, despite it clearly being wrong.
Bob Crachit’s torso is also new, along with Tiny Tim’s double-sided head, which shows a slight smile on one side and a smudged face and frown on the other. I think Tiny Tim’s smiling side should have been much more pronounced to fit his character. Tim’s torso and Crachit’s face are existing elements drawn from Ron Weasley and a variety of Star Wars characters, respectively.
Conclusion and recommendation
There aren’t a lot of Christmas-themed gift-with-purchase sets that would prompt me to buy something solely with an eye on the free goodie, but I think this would be one. I absolutely adore the concept of celebrating famous creative figures through small, detailed vignettes, and I hope that LEGO continues to do them. And it’s hard to think of a creative personality is more apt for a Christmas-themed set than Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. I would love to see LEGO branch out beyond authors as well and bring us scenes of famous musicians and artists. However, the $150 USD threshold to qualify is certainly a steep one, compounded by the extremely limited availability with the promo slated to run a total of just 6 days, so it won’t be within everyone’s grasp. The upshot is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are likely to bring some deals so maybe you’ll be able to snag the set while also snapping up some bargains. Ultimately, if you’re a fan of Dickens, Christmas sets, or just like the idea of a cool series of sets based on authors, you’ll want a copy of this one.
40410 Charles Dickens Tribute has 332 pieces and will be available to VIP members Nov. 20-21, and then available to anyone during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales from Nov. 27-30, free with purchases over US $150 | CAN $150 | UK £150. It is also available to purchase from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
Check out the full gallery of images: