I owe many of my talents to my mom such as my artsy inclination because she introduced us to painting and crafting from the toddler age on, but her penchant for seasonal home decoration isn’t a trait I inherited. That’s part of the reason why my interest in LEGO‘s Christmas-y sets is limited and they tend to never float to the top of my lists, but somehow I couldn’t resist the Winter Village Station (10259).
I wasn’t exactly planning to get this set, which was last year’s special edition, yet somewhere along the lines I fell in love with it. It brought back memories when we would put up my grandpa’s and then my father’s model train stuff for the end-of-year-season and play with it. If I wasn’t living in such a small flat I would almost consider continuing that route and build myself a small LEGO train track.
That and of course if I had the money, which is always a concern. In case of this train station that decision was made easier by the good price I got it for. I was able to order it for just under 50 Euros one day on Amazon, bringing it in just shy of that magical limit that usually makes or breaks my purchase decisions.
For what I paid I feel I got quite a lot of stuff and even better yet, good stuff. As you well know I tend to be quite critical of sets that contain too many “useless” parts, i.e. small, very specific parts in colors that are hard to combine with other colors, but here there is little to complain. One can never have too many parts in Sand Green or Medium Dark Flesh, there is a load of Dark Tan plates, including some larger ones, and there are some items unique/ exclusive to this set like the yellow arches for the aft wheel wells on the bus or the printed clock faces. Some yummy stuff that alone makes it worthwhile.
The overall appearance of the train station nicely captures the typical look and feel of many small town/ village train stations built in the 19th and early 20th century you can find here in Europe, be that a more robust stone building like in the Swiss Alps and Germany or the more wood-based construction of the Northern regions and some eastern countries. The designers can be congratulated for evoking this familiarity without being too specific in the details.
All that being true, there is a small criticism here, though. For all intents and purposes this should be a two-storied building, as back then those buildings were built to have the actual railroad operations stuff like the ticket booth or the station chief’s office on the ground floor, while above there were free living quarters for some of the personnel as part of their employee package. On the set specifically it would have helped to make the main building a bit more distinct from the platform and possibly also would have allowed to integrate the clock into a bay rather than making it a separate tower (which they rarely ever were).
Another minor shortcoming of the exterior is the lack of more snow elements. I’ve already tried to add a bit more variation using the spares that come with the set, but I would have loved if there were more white tiles and “tooth” elements to give the impression of thick snow areas and icicles. Granted, it wouldn’t be much trouble to source some extra bits from my collection, limited as it might be, but one shouldn’t have to. It feels a bit like LEGO have been miserly about ten or so elements that could have made a noticeable difference.
The backside reveals a good part of the construction, which would have to be my second real gripe with this set. As you can see, it is built very loosely with separate walls and framework that isn’t always interconnected. This doesn’t make for the most stable construction and it is far too easy for my taste to inadvertently break off parts.
In particular I also found the foundation frame downright annoying. It tends to fall apart over and over at certain locations until you cover it with the plates for the boardwalk. I appreciate the desire on the designers’ part to be efficient and keep the model light, but regardless I feel that a simpler, more straightforward conventional construction with some large plates as the base for the brick frame would have worked better and spared some frustrations.
The detailing on the inside/ backside is not particularly elaborate, but sufficient. It’s basically the kind of limited dressing you get with most Friends sets – a coffee machine and some other contraption represented with a bunch of rudimentary bricks, in this case the ticket booth. It does the trick, but wouldn’t it have been fantastic if the floor extended a bit more and the booth could be facing opposite the door? This would also have allowed to extend at least one wall and add another seating area for customers to wait in a heated hall. Seems useful during winter time, don’t you think? 😉
I’m still not big on minifigures and my use for them is certainly limited, but I guess the ones that come with this set are okay, even if they are as generic as it gets and variations of them have appeared in other sets already more than once. Given how small the set is, putting them all into their positions almost makes the model look overcrowded, so there’s definitely no need for more. It just would have been nice if they actually looked more wintery with real parkas, gloves, printed on thermal boots and the like. Them being dressed so lightly only reinforces the perception that the train station is more on the verge of spring, with good chunks of the snow already having melted away, instead of being in a deep freeze winter.
Since this is a train-centric set, after all, it comes with four straight rail segments and on one of them you are supposed to build this little railroad crossing. Nothing out of the ordinary and a nice side build, though for me the two large slope parts are actually going to be more useful one day as a roof on some MOC as will be the rest of the parts then. The model is too fragile, anyway, and breaks apart easily so there seems little point in keeping it around unless you integrate it in a fixed position in your tracks. This is really only meant to be assembled once and glued into a fixed position, in a manner of speaking.
As already hinted when mentioning the exclusive parts of this set, the second large build is an old-timey looking bus and it simply looks gorgeous. LEGO could sell this as a separate 15 Euro set and I’d totally buy it, even more than once. Funny enough it looks more appealing than many comparable sets from the City or Creator series. that’s just how good it really is.
The construction is pretty much a “no frills” affair and I guess that’s why it’s so appealing. It doesn’t try to be too clever by using specific parts like a custom windshield element and except for the roof Wedge elements could almost be built completely from stock basic parts you may have in your own repository, give or take the lack of a specific piece in a given color that may break the appearance. If you have a bunch of windows and arches from an architectural model floating around you could totally try to create your own flavor of the bus.
Since it uses standard one unit wide bricks and window frames instead of the sleeker panels, the interior space is a bit limited and everything feels kinda crammed. That doesn’t take away from its quality, you just can’t squeeze in a ton of figures. I also tend to think that they could have placed the seats directly at the window and thus gotten a two studs wide walkway. It would have been more credible and in fact it could be reminiscent then of some really, really old busses, trams and trains that actually had their seats only arranged on one side and were completely made from wood. Could have been cool and cutified the set further.
A small caveat is the way the removable roof is affixed. The two 1 x 1 plates near the front portion tend to come off with the roof instead of staying put. it makes you wonder why they didn’t use the 1 x 4 tiles with the two studs at the opposing ends like they have been tried and tested on pretty much every Modular Building or other sets that feature removable floors and such. If you have some of those in your parts collection, you might want to rework the upper frame a bit.
All in all I’m quite satisfied, though. This feels to me like what all LEGO sets should be like – reasonably enjoyable to build, interesting building techniques, nice colors, fun to have a play with and amazing to look at again and again. If only every set was that nice! I fully recommend this set not just because it’s Christmas season. Given the subject matter, you could derive some joy from it even in summer (and perhaps adapt its look to reflect the season). If I had the funds I could see myself buying at least one or two more sets to extend the platform and beef up the building. It seems one can’t really go wrong here, so get it while the set is still available!