Hang up the stockings because Santa Claus is coming to town! Flying down from the North Pole this Christmas is the new LEGO 40499 Santa’s Sleigh! We had the opportunity to get an early look at Santa and his holiday ride, the perfect accompaniment to this year’s Winter Village Collection set, 10293 Santa’s Visit. With 343 pieces, the set will be available October 1st for US $36.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99. Read on to see our review of the unboxing and building below.
Unboxing the parts, instructions, & sticker sheet
Just like Christmas morning, there’s a lot to open with this box. For starters, the box itself is a joy to look at. The scene of Santa Claus riding through the snow is a classic holiday look. You can easily see the gold detailing on the sleigh and the presents stacked up behind Old Saint Nick. But stealing the show from the Kris Kringle are four reindeer, last seen in last year’s 10275 Elf Club House. It’s good to see them get such forefront placement on the box cover.
Santa stars on both sides of the box, though on one side he’s seen feeding three reindeer with a carrot.
On the back of the box, I found Santa unloading his sleigh with a present in hand and other gifts nearby. Perhaps he’s at your house? There are also three other images featuring Santa holding his “Naughty or Nice” list, his sleigh’s GPS display, and the trunk on his sleigh pulled open. These are great teases to the legend of Santa Claus, which is why visually, the packaging is fantastic. I’m not one to keep boxes of sets I’ve opened, but this one might make it into a frame on my wall.
I opened the box by cutting the tape off the edge. I prefer the boxes that you punch the holes in, though those are usually only found on small LEGO set boxes (a recent notable exception is the blue 77942 Fiat 500 we just reviewed). Inside the box were the instructions, a sticker sheet, four bags of pieces, and four individually packaged reindeer. The individual wrapping was great in terms of quality assurance during packaging and delivery, but it was a little inconvenient to have to pull all four of them out of their own wrapping. My six-year-old, who was assisting me in my review, had a difficult time unwrapping the reindeer on her own. As I unwrapped the reindeer, I saw that the antlers were more rubbery in texture. Those who purchased the 10275 Elf Club House or 75945 Expecto Patronum sets know this, of course, but I hadn’t, so this was my first exposure to the LEGO version of Santa’s preferred sleigh-pullers. In that set, only one reindeer was included, but here there are four of them and at a much cheaper price point.
The instructions were folded in half, which to some builders isn’t an issue but I found the crease made it hard to keep the instruction booklet open while building.
The sticker sheet was small, yet somehow the set designers stuffed nine stickers onto it. I happen to enjoy stickers so it wasn’t a bad thing that it came with so many.
Opening the larger bag number one, I discovered there were two additional bags inside. That means that technically, bag one is actually four bags if you include the smaller bag in the box that was also labeled with the number one. Why so many bags, LEGO? Thankfully, LEGO has already announced that it will be reducing its wasteful plastic packaging in the near future by moving to paper bags.
I always start with the minifigure when building a set, regardless of what the instructions say. Thankfully, the instructions and I were in agreement here and Santa Claus was built. He comes with a dual-sided torso, with the back showing a candy cane stuffed into his belt.
There have been more than 30 versions of a Santa Claus minifigure, but I think this one is the best. He’s the same Santa as the one that appears in the new LEGO Winter Village Collection 10293 Santa’s Visit. It’s nice to get a new minifigure twice in one year, with this Santa having new dual-molded legs that simulate his snow boots.
Santa comes with his “Naughty and Nice” list as a printed tile, which was a surprise since the set already comes with a host of other stickers. I was hoping the “Nice” list came with an easter egg of the names of The LEGO Group executives. However, the letters are too tiny to get a solid read on what all of them could be, though the TBB staff had fun guessing at a number of them. I guess we’ll never know if Niels B. Christiansen is getting the puppy he’s always wanted this year.
After putting Santa together, it’s time for the presents. After all, what is Christmas without gifts? Most of these are simple tiles and cheese wedges stacked together to look like wrapped boxes with bows. I like the variation in colors and sizes.
Unwrapped gifts include a pair of skis and poles, a teddy bear, and a white guitar (the carrots are for the reindeer and the pretzel is a travel snack for Santa).
As expected, the sleigh begins to come together after the presents are completed. This part of the build was relatively quick since it’s a lot of easy, repetitive brickwork.
This was the first time I’ve used 1×2 curved bricks with 1×3 curved bricks, which just so happen to fit perfectly inside of one another.
One part of the build at this stage did stand out: the drawer on the back of the sleigh. Even though it was featured on the back of the box, I had forgotten about it and was delightfully surprised to put together the drawer as the finale to this part of the build. It’s the perfect place to store Santa’s travel needs, such as the carrot for his reindeer and his pretzel snack for later.
Beware, however. The drawer is a bit difficult to pull out without breaking. There’s not much grip, even with the flat tile bricks that cover the exposed studs. By the way, one of the tiles has a license plate sticker that numerically spells out “SANTA” (check the sticker sheet above for a better image).
The next stage of the build involves the fine-tuning of the sleigh’s woodwork, such as curves on the front and gold bricks as decorative trim. I did see that there’s a gift-wrapped present under Santa’s seat that’s completely non-functional but probably exists to make it seem like Santa’s sleigh is stuffed with holiday packages.
From here, I added the other gold elements onto the sleigh and constructed the sleigh’s front. The biggest sticker in the set is placed here, telling everyone that this sleigh clearly belongs to Santa Claus with his initials, “S.C.”. It wasn’t hard to place and looks great.
Speaking of stickers, my favorite sticker with this set was the GPS screen. It’s a fun little nod to the age-old question, “How does Santa know where our house is?” Maybe this settles the debate once and for all. The screen faces Santa on a 2×2 tile as he sits on the sleigh’s front bench.
I then began the connection system that joins the sleigh to the reindeer. These connections are a simple hinge system connected with gold rods, which provides more stability from the sleigh to the reindeer than ropes would have had the designers chosen to go that route. Connecting the reindeer is a little tricky, as there’s no definitive guide to how far I should space them from each other, but with a little trial and error it worked out.
At this point, it’s time to break out the reindeer. This set comes with the option to put a nougat-colored brick and a tile of the same color in the reindeer’s saddle area, though of course, I had to ditch these to make room for the sleigh harnesses.
The reindeer are connected to gold tubes which themselves connect to the sleigh rods.
What was finicky was the tiny stickers that go on top of the tiles on the reindeer harness. But regardless of the difficulty, the finished set looks fantastic.
The Completed Set
If you haven’t loaded the sleigh for the yearly Christmas Eve drive, now is the time. Stuff those presents down deep and make sure Santa has his snack packed in the trunk. For me, this was the most fun part of the build. I felt I could put the presents any way I wanted in the sleigh as if I was a little elf helping Santa get ready.
And with that, the set is completed.
Conclusion and recommendation
Even though it’s still September, this sleigh makes it the most wonderful time of the year. I love the details and the four reindeer. Santa Claus is right at home in his sleigh, which brings me to one final point: this set is almost perfect. It’s nearly perfect as is. Sure, you could add a piece here or there to increase stability, but as far as looks go this is one for the books.
The one complaint I have about the sleigh is that the dark grey runners beneath it are a bit flimsy since they’re not connected to each other. It’s not a big deal if this set is going to be a display piece, but since I plan on playing around with my kids, it will need all the sturdiness it can get. I plan on remedying this by using a 1×4 tile to connect the runners together.
As far as a recommendation goes, how could I not recommend Santa’s Sleigh with reindeer? If you’re looking to add a little holiday cheer to your home, get this set. It’s easy on the display space and sturdy enough to get down on the floor and play with it. If you’re interested in getting four additional reindeer to complete the lineup, you’ll have to either get a second Santa’s Sleigh set or purchase them individually from another source. I will say that if you plan on purchasing LEGO Winter Village Collection 10293 Santa’s Visit, you might as well get Santa’s Sleigh to do the visiting.
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.