My LEGO obsession and in particular my like for the Friends series has become a bit of a running gag in my family, so they’ll take every opportunity to take little well-meant jabs at it and get me sets. The Snow Resort Chalet (41323) was a Christmas present from the best of moms, which she got in one of those seasonal special sales in one of our grocery stores here. Similar to the Modular Winter Lodge (31080) this set is an end-of-life product, so by the time you read this, it may not be available everywhere anymore.
Inevitably, as part of the Friends winter theme sets, this shares some of the quirks I already mentioned with the Hot Chocolate Van (41319), most notably the Magenta color that somehow just doesn’t cut it when used in the way it is being used here. It’s too much “in your face”, no matter how you spin it. It also doesn’t help that in this set it there is almost no genuinely “warm” colors like Orange or Yellow that would provide a counter-balance and make it more appealing.
The content of the set isn’t that bad for a price of around 27 Euros this was sold for. The original 40 Euros price would be a stretch, though, and feels unjustifiable to me. There are some nice elements in the box that can be used more universally like the Reddish Brown pieces or the white roof parts, but after all it’s not that most people would be desperately looking for some of the others such as the already mentioned Magenta stuff or the Medium Azure bits. At least the little Husky is something I hadn’t in my growing collection of the Friends critters, so there’s at least that.
Compared to some other skidoo variations out there the one in this set isn’t that attractive and doesn’t really contribute much to the overall value just like the cleaning station. They could have left out both items and thrown those few bricks into some more details on the building itself. Really nothing to see here.
The building itself is overall done pretty nicely, beginning with the fact that for once it’s actually built on a 16 x 16 plate, something which unfortunately cannot be taken for granted these days with so many building models just being shallow facades pieced together from many smaller plates. Having a single large plate immediately adds that level of stability and ease of construction. In addition, of course for a playable set the added depth also is beneficial for actually interacting with the surroundings and placing your figures in the scene.
The building itself is slightly inset, somewhat negating the advantage of the large plate, while at the same time making room for a rather large and wide porch. The problem here is, though, that there’s nothing to do on said porch and it seems like wasting space. There are no cots, no bench no ski stands and so on. I’m under the impression that this was more done to make it look like one of those old cabins like you find them in the Alps or the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) rather than being of any practical use. That would be okay for a collectible building, but for a play set it kind of misses the mark, I think. Then again of course there would be that thing with the Lime Green tiles on the beams instead of brown. It’s a bit of a mess…
Speaking of which – despite that little issue with the front porch, there are several playable/ accessible features in the back at least. the placement of the jacuzzi is a bit questionable, as typically you wouldn’t want to walk out of your door just to climb in. This likely should have been shifted more to the rear and be accessible directly from the living room. I also think a second row of arched bricks to make it look deeper wouldn’t have hurt and if it was all tiled over, there would not be a need for the fake “water” by ways of the Medium Azure plates.
The second level with the sleeping area is simple, but does the trick. It’s built on a single 16 x 8 plate and could even be lifted off to access the first floor. I kinda like the chimney – it’s super simple, but exactly conveys that cosy feeling you would want. The large roof tiles are one of the highlights of this set as they’re not that widely used and thus expensive if you were to buy them separately. Since they are attached via large hinges they can be opened up, naturally. For playing with the set it will be rarely necessary, though, so it’s more a coincidental side-effect of the chosen construction method.
Overall this is an okay model, but if I were to build it “for real” permanently and use it in a winter scene, I’d change quite a few things. It’s clear that the designers tried to cram in as many ideas as possible, but didn’t quite succeed. Most annoyingly there is no coherent internal logic in how things are placed and some things could have been enhanced easily like actually including a ladder to go up to the sleeping area. Of course little kids won’t be bothered by any of that too much, but for the more grown-ups it’s definitely something they will notice.
As this is phasing out, anyway, it’s probably not much of a concern, but it’s not an essential buy nor was it ever like so many Friends sets. Now that I have seen some examples of it, I perfectly understand why the winter series never gained much traction and those models have been sitting on the shelves – the seasonal context and dependency notwithstanding, of course.