Have the LEGO Group’s Christmas sets lost their spark?

The most recent LEGO Winter Village sets overlap significantly with previous models – but that might not be such a bad thing.

Every year, LEGO fans have a few major announcements to look forward to. There’s a new Modular Building to unveil, a new Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series set (or two) and – towards the end of the year – some new Christmassy sets. The highlight of these releases is the latest Winter Village set, which are amongst the more charming LEGO sets of the last decade. 

Running since 2009 and straddling a variety of themes, the Winter Village Collection allows you to build an attractive village at Christmastime – with cosy buildings, several brick-built toys and an abundance of Christmas trees. The collection has explored a wide range of subject matter over the years, mixing the obvious (a toy shop, a marketplace) with the more unexpected (a fire station, a minifigure-scale gingerbread house).

• Every LEGO Winter Village set ever made
• LEGO 10308 Holiday Main Street marks a major change from other Winter Village sets 

In the last few years, though, the Winter Village range has been returning to all-too-familiar concepts. 10293 Santa’s Visit has obvious similarities to 10229 Winter Village Cottage, while 10308 Holiday Main Street has clear overlaps with 10254 Winter Holiday Train and 10249 Winter Toy Shop – which was, in turn, a remake of the inaugural Winter Village set. Even upcoming promotional item 40565 Santa’s Workshop is a rehash of 40106 Toy Workshop, a promotional item from back in 2014.

As such, long time fans of the LEGO Winter Village line may have little incentive to follow it going forwards – especially since 10308 Holiday Main Street has a rather incongruous form factor. But that also raises another question: could this overlap actually be a good thing?

One of the problems with LEGO as a toy is that many of its ideas have long since vanished from shelves – and seem unlikely to return again. We have underwater LEGO sets – but we don’t have the likes of Aqua Raiders or Atlantis any more, which were more action-oriented. We have Star Wars, but not more generic space-faring themes like Alien Conquest or Galaxy Squad. And if you’re in the mood for some mining, you have Minecraft – but not Rock Raiders or Power Miners if you want some heavier machinery to work with.

The Winter Village line, meanwhile, seems to be following a similar path to themes like LEGO City – which sees a few evergreen concepts get regular updates. There are exceptions to this rule – we doubt we’ll get another volcano or wildlife rescue subtheme for a while. But the core ideas, like police stations and fire engines, will likely never go out of fashion.

As such, with clear overlaps across its broader subject matter, it’s possible the Winter Village line will see more repetition in the years to come. But that means new generations of LEGO fans aren’t cut off from worthy concepts, and – when we consider that 10308 Holiday Main Street combines some of its predecessors’ best features – later sets could even prove more cost-effective. That’s a major consideration when LEGO has become increasingly expensive over the last few years.

LEGO for Adults 10293 Santas Visit 3

It’s also important to consider that recent LEGO sets have made essential refinements to their core concepts. 10229 Winter Village Cottage is still a highlight of the collection, thanks to its colourful build, generous minifigure selection and variety of supporting models. But 10293 Santa’s Visit (a similar idea) offers better interior access, a more sophisticated design and – crucially – a chimney that can actually accommodate a Santa minifigure.

As such, it seems that the first era of the LEGO Winter Village may be drawing to a close. But with new LEGO fans always on the horizon, that’s not something the LEGO Group (or its broader target audience) may be terribly sad about.

10308 Holiday Main Street and 10293 Santa’s Visit are currently available from LEGO.com. If you’re interested in these sets, picking them both up from December 1 will also nab you 40565 Santa’s Workshop as a gift with purchase. 

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