29 September 2020

LEGO® Winter Village review: 10275 Elf Club House - The Build

Unwittingly, we seem to have turned new contributor Lee (cityson on Flickr) into our Christmas correspondent; following his tussle with Winter Snowball Fight, this week he takes on LEGO® Winter Village 10275 Elf Club House. Before discussing its parts tomorrow, let's take a look at the build. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.


The Winter Village subtheme of LEGO® Creator Expert has always been a curious existence to me. With their 12+ age suggestion, I tended to think of them as being a transitional phase for builders to get a taste of some more advanced techniques without being overwhelmed, and appropriately so given the family nature of the festival itself. However, this year’s offering, 10275 Elf Club House, has been given the new 18+ branding. Does the model live up to such a jump in rating? Let's find out!



Bag 1 gives you the new Reindeer in Medium Nougat (6310336 | Design ID tbc) plus all the accessories that are independent of the Club House, and immediately there are some lovely builds. The microscale toys are a typical inclusion in the Winter Village sets, and the 3 included this time are all quite simple yet elegant, as usual. I particularly like the micro sailing ship, as I don’t recall seeing anything similar before.


While there have been numerous versions of Christmas trees over the years, I must say this one is probably my favourite take on it. The core structure of it may be the same as the one used in the last few Winter Village sets (since 10245 Santa's Workshop as far as I am aware of) with the one-sided wedge plates attached from 4 sides, but the use of the 36 2x1 45° Slope with 2/3 Cutout in Dark Green/ Green (6226931 | 15672) gives it such a lovely texture. I also quite like its size relative to the minifigures. It isn’t as big as the one from 10199/10249 Winter Toy Shop, but it is just large enough to have a presence.


The old computer is such a nice Easter egg from the set’s designer Chris McVeigh, who is famous for his nostalgic technology MOCs. While this isn’t something groundbreaking, I would like to point out the use of the 1x2 jumper plate to centre the monitor on the 1 x 1 plate below, as I have been asked in the past why I was looking for a specific version of the jumper plates. This is a fine example of a connection only enabled by the newer design of the element (15573) from 2013.


There isn’t much in the way of fancy techniques for the sleigh either, but I quite adore how the rear exhausts are put together. It does make me wonder though, is Brixen actually pulling the sleigh?

Exterior of the Winter Village Elf Club House

After half a day of relaxing while building in the company of some classic Christmas songs, the Elf Club House is finally open!


I really like the front view of the house, the cartoonish difference in proportion between the two storeys fits the elves perfectly, and really gives the Club House an extra touch of personality. The colour scheme of Sand Green and Sand Yellow/ Dark Tan also mix really well with the white snow and brown structures.


However, I must confess that I am not a big fan of the house from the  side view. The slanted outline of the roof looks a bit awkward to me here, due to the way the house is chopped off vertically at the back. The chimney attached to the house also looks rather odd as it sticks out from the rest of the structure from this angle. That said, I think it is a rather minor and subjective issue.


I also have mixed feelings over the Christmas lights on the roof. On one hand, I really appreciate the choice of using the light cover piece (58176) rather than the typical 1x1 round plate solution, and I do think they look nicer with the rounded tip. However, the bar holders with clip (11090) used to make the connection made the lights stick out just a bit too much for my taste, and ultimately a bit oversized relative to the house. Regardless, any effort to create new solutions to an old problem should be applauded, particularly in a long-running theme like the Winter Village. Those are probably the only 2 criticisms I have for this lovely set.


Hung above the entrance is another example of what I meant by “new solutions” that I appreciate. The Christmas wreath makes use of 8 1x2 Rounded Plates in Dark Green/ Green (6210271 | 35480) , as opposed to the Lifebuoy in Green (4655148 | 30340) used over the past few years.


The wreath’s 2 topmost and 2 bottommost studs are connected to brackets which are stacked 5 plates apart, as the above render shows, to form a near-circular shape. You never know when these LEGO Maths Facts will come in handy!


The entrance is appropriately small for the elves; I wonder if their boss can fit through the door…? The door is made up of 2 2x6 1/2 Circle Plates with some simple decoration on the front, and while it isn’t anything fancy, I really like the rounded shape of the door as it adds to the cartoonish vibe.


There are also enough differences between the two sides of the Club House to keep it from being boring to build, or to look at. On the right is the “sleighport” for the elves to park their sleigh so Brixen can finally take a break.


On the left, there is a wooden balcony with a telescope, which is built onto the slanted roof below with hinges. When I first built this part, my architectural education made me question how people access the balcony, but on second thought, they are elves and of course they can fit through the dormer window! Not sure if that would be a comfortable experience though…

The Elf Clubhouse Roof

As a builder who is into clever LEGO geometries, I am absolutely in love with the roof construction of this set.


The smaller roofs of the dormer windows are connected by clips and bar in the middle, and further attached to the structure with Reddish Brown 1x2 Plates with Pin Hole (6192310 | 18677), which is such a sleek solution.


The main roof uses a similar structure, but instead the two planes are connected in the middle by a sub-assembly with the light brick. I am really impressed by how the angle achieved almost seamlessly lines up with the Sand Green 2 x 1 x 2 65° Slope Bricks that build up the front facade, and I am curious if the designers came up with the solution through pure testing or whether they actually calculated the maths behind it, as the angles seem to be quite precise according to my measurements:


And to me, perhaps the most incredible part is how the wedge plates used for the roofs of the dormer windows fit into the main roof so perfectly.


It was so satisfying, the moment when I installed those smaller roofs. Now, even though I am not bothered by it at all, I have read a few comments online on the visible gap between the roofs. Therefore, out of curiosity, I gathered some white tiles to see if the gap can be minimised by applying some tiles on the main roof, and I think it worked out quite nicely.


I am not 100% certain that it fits the gap by the official standards, but the way the roof is constructed appears to have just enough wiggle room for you to add the tiles.


Here is another comparison from the side view for anyone interested in such a modification. It surely looks nicer, but I think the original design is reasonably good enough, considering how tiling the whole roof would add extra cost to the design, and the presence of studs is often celebrated in official sets.

Interior of the Elf Club House

The interior is populated with loads of details but before digging into them, I would like to point out a minor issue I have with the movable chimney.


I thought the double clip connection would be strong enough but for some reason the chimney detaches really easily. Even when I was just turning the model around gently, the friction of the table was enough to drag the chimney off from the house from time to time.


On the upper floor is the bedroom for the 4 elves but there is only 1 triple-decker bed, so I assume there is always one elf awake to take the night shift. The light brick gives a really warm, festive atmosphere to the room, which is always a nice addition to the Winter Village sets. It is however a bit unfortunate that the light can barely be seen from outside, even in the dark, as the bed is in the way. Above the bed, you can also see the calendar sticker with Christmas Eve marked; I guess the elves are looking forward to their holiday too!


But there is more to the bedroom! There is a simple yet clever mechanism built into the clock so that when the time comes, the elves can be involuntarily launched from the triple-decker bed. I tend to imagine that the elves like to be woken up this way, as they all seem to be quite cheerful. I really appreciate the fact that the mechanism is activated by rotating the clock; it really shows how much care the designers put into creating a story.


An inside look of the mechanism reveals a second usage of the light cover piece. I think it is quite clever as the rounded tip of the piece allows it to align with the height of the red tiles on the sides when at an angle, but to stick out just enough when perpendicular to the floor to tip the bed. The roundness of the tip also allows smoother motion, and I notice that the latest rendition of the Death Star Final Duel (set 75291) also used this aspect of the piece for the platform-collapsing mechanism. Perhaps we will see more utilisation of this piece in future play features.


There is also some furniture in the bedroom. There isn’t anything particularly innovative about the construction, but they look nice enough.


Going downstairs (or flying down, like the sleepy elves), there are two areas. On one side there is the gift wrapping station; just a really neat build. I particularly love the repurposing of the 1x3x1 Car Door (3821) for the wrapping paper. This area becomes quite inaccessible once you put the column and the ceiling up which is acceptable given the inherently limited interior space.


At the other end is the eating area, with a sticker of a portrait of the elves with their boss. As you can see, the elves really love eating waffles, but where are these waffles coming from?

Well, I once again have to applaud the care the designers put into the story! Embedded to the chimney is a functional waffle machine that, surprisingly, is cleverly constructed with some of the most common bricks. I have heard that some people are experiencing inaccurate landings of the waffles in the pan, but personally I have only experienced it once when I put the set on a slightly slanted surface.

Conclusion

Being the 12th entry in the Winter Village theme, I find it particularly impressive that 10275 Elf Club House is still able to bring something new to the table. While the play features may not be particularly complex, I really appreciate the designers’ effort to come up with some relatively original ideas rather than the typical missiles or trap doors. The same level of care can be seen in many other design choices made throughout the set. The end result is a lovely display piece for your Christmas setup, with a very enjoyable building experience. This is definitely one of the best entries in the Winter Village subtheme in my opinion.


However, I still think it would have been better if the set was given an age suggestion lower than 18+. As mentioned I think there is a beauty in the transitional role of the Winter Village subtheme, and a lower age mark would give casual consumers a more realistic expectation of the model’s complexity. Of course, given the time it takes to develop a LEGO set, the designers might not have initially known it would be classified as 18+ by the time of release.

Continue to part 2 where I break it down – literally! – to reveal all the new and interesting parts in the latest Creator Expert Winter Village set.




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3 comments:

  1. That toaster/wafflemaker is hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damn, now I have ti get this set. Looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The light strings look life-size, not minifig-scale. If it wasn't for Brixen and the sleigh, this would make the elves look like they're also life-size, since this is the only set that uses this design for Christmas lights.

    ReplyDelete

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