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[Review] 10254 Winter Holiday Train (with Power Functions)

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SET REVIEW: 10254 WINTER HOLIDAY TRAIN (including Power Functions)

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Introduction

It is my pleasure to present to the EB community a review of the 10254 Winter Holiday Train. This is the latest yearly installment in the Winter Village series of sets from The LEGO Group and promises to be an exciting addition to Winter Village collections which do not have the previous winter-themed train 10173 Holiday Train released in 2006. Since the release of that earlier set, we have seen many other trains released that fall outside the standard LEGO City theme, such as the Emerald Night and Horizon Express. I have been impressed with those models and so my hopes for this set were very high on hearing of the release. For many fans, a winter train that doesn't cost a small fortune on the secondary market is to be welcomed. I hope that this review will assist you all with considering whether to add this set to your collection. I have also included a segment on the adaptability to use with Power Functions, which I think is a really well thought out part of this set, although the set DOES NOT come with the Power Functions parts necessary to motorise it; these are sold separately.

My thanks to EB LUG Ambassador CopMike and the LEGO CEE Team and Designers for the opportunity to review this set for the EB community.

Set information
Name: Winter Holiday Train
Number: 10254
Theme: LEGO Creator / Winter Holiday Theme
Year: 2016
Pieces: 734
Price: USD $99.99, GBP 69.99£, EURO 89,99€, NZD $179.99
Resources: Brickset, BrickLink

Packaging

I'll begin with some images of the packing for this set. The box is of moderate size (479x282x89mm) and features great detail shots on the back.  One side features a layout of the included track including measurements of the size of the train and diameter of the circular track.  The close-up shots on the back of the box give a good indication of the various play features this set has, which will be discussed later in this review.  It also makes it clear that the set can be motorised with certain power functions sets, sold separately. 

Box Front

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Box Rear

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Box Close-Ups

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Box Contents

The box contains 7 plastic bags of parts, 1 for part 1, 3 for part 2, 2 for part 3 and a separate one containing wheels and couplings. There are also 4 sets of 4 curved track pieces and two instruction manuals contained inside plastic packaging to prevent creasing.  No cardboard behind the instruction manuals but they were unbent and in good shape. The set contains no sticker sheet.

Contents Overall

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Individual Contents

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Instruction Booklet

There are two instruction booklets with this set. The first is a small half size booklet containing instructions for the first part of the build: the station and presents. The second booklet is A4 opening along the long edge not the short edge and contains instructions for the full train.

First Booklet

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Booklet Size Comparison

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Inside Sample Pages

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Minifigures

The set comes with 5 minifigures, two children and three adults: the train conductor, engineer and a passenger. There is a nice variety of colours and unique prints here, with one face printed on both sides and four of the five torsos printed on both sides. The train conductor has some nice details such as the gold pocket watch.  The choice of face for the conductor is my one criticism of this selection.  While he could look old and serious, to me he looks grumpy, and this is particularly evident in some of the box art where we see him waving from the back of the train and helping load presents; he doesn't look like he wants to be there at all!  It does at least add some variety to the usual cheery faces however.

The female adult minifigure has the dual-sided face. The first side shows a big enthusiastic smile, perfect for posing with the playing children. The opposite side tells a different story; here we see a peaceful sleeping face, likely happy to have a moment to rest (I'm sure most parents can understand this one!). It works quite well in the box art with the woman sleeping on the train station bench while the children play around her.

There is a good variety of head accessories with several different types of hair, so this set will add a bit of diversity to a Winter Village collection.

Minifigures Front

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Minifigures Back

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Minifigure Alternative Face

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Interesting Train Parts

I thought some of the train parts deserved a picture of their own before we get to building the set. There are a couple of different sizes of train wheel, with the biggest driving wheels in red and the engine leading wheels in red also with some black ones for one of the carriages.  The rest of the carriage wheels are standard black train wheels that connect with a thin metal rod.  The picture below shows one of each size, as well as a couple of other train parts such as the not so common pilot piece (cowcatcher) which will go on the front and the magnetic couplings, of which there are 5 in the set (1 for the back of the train and 2 for each carriage).  I also included the white leaves because why not, I like them.

Train Parts (and white tree piece)

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The Build - Part 1: Platform and Presents

Now let's get on to the build. Part one contains the small station platform, two minifigures and all of the presents in the set. There are some interesting parts including a clear 2x2 domed piece, roller skates, a printed 1x1 tile with a number pad on it and a nice assortment of small coloured pieces. And of course we can't forget an orange brick separator!

Parts contained in Part 1

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We then move to building the station. The station is quite small but has a couple of nice details such as the snow tiles (always nice to have white 1x3 tiles) and the lamp post. As far as lamp posts go I wouldn't call this one my favourite, but it is nice enough and seems to be a compulsory requirement of most Winter Village style sets. This improves on previous single-lamp posts from Winter Village sets, trying a different piece for the glass rather than the two-part sphere pieces and uses the green life saver piece as a wreath, which is nice, with a touch of gold as well to brighten things up. The simple bench finishes the station off. Overall a simple little build, not intended to be a major part of the set but nonetheless it is a necessary one.

Railway Station

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Next we have the present,s which are always a bit of fun. There is a nice selection of presents in the set, with three wrapped gifts, a robot, a boat, a spaceship, a fire engine and a windup toy. The robot is very cute and can hold items with its "hands". The child minifigure also comes with a radio piece suggesting the toys can be remote controlled for a bit of added play/imagination value.  I like the design of these presents; they are recogniseable and also sturdy.

Presents

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The whole first part to the build makes for a nice collection of items that will add to a Holiday-themed scene. There is a nice assortment of colours and presents in here, plenty to be delivered by train to the waiting children!

Completed Part 1 Build

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Let's not forget the spare parts, this section comes with a few.

Spare Parts for Part 1 of the Build

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The Build - Part 2: Locomotive

Part 2 of the build is my favourite as now we get to build the locomotive! This part contains the engine and tender.  The selection of parts for the locomotive presents a nice range of shapes and colours, primarily black, green and red.  Some of the interesting train parts have already been noted.

Parts contained in Part 2

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The engine build was fun, not too complex but with some interesting parts used to create the shape of the train, such as axes and goblets.

Build in Progress

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The driving wheels are on their own block, which includes a technic brick for the pin connection with the tender; no coupling here.

Attaching the Driving Wheels

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The floating leading wheels have a couple of decorative features that stand out from the usual, including multiple colours (red and some small gold 1x1 round plates for a little extra bling) plus the distinctive pilot piece (cowcatcher) which makes the shape of this loco stand out.

The Leading Wheels

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Now we just need to add the cab and finish the boiler!

Completed Chassis with all Wheels

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The completed engine is a polished build with lots of colour and a distinctive small steam engine silhouette. The locomotive is categorised as a 4-2-0 with four leading wheels and two driving wheels. The design is based on a Jervis type engine. The scale is too small to replicate many steam engine features like the Emerald Night manages, but the shape has many distinctive features such as the cone-shaped funnel and distinctive pilot on the front. I particularly like the curve of the boiler which is a nice improvement from the 10173 set with its very angular boiler.

The Finished Engine

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Some of the details include a smoke plume, domed safety valve, a gold bell and the cylinders for the pistons (although there are no moving pistons unfortunately).

Engine Side

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The cab of the engine is quite cozy, with just enough space to fit a single minifigure. There are two brackets for tools and a generic printed train control panel which doesn't really fit the steam locomotive that well. An attempt at some valves and a safety glass would have been nice, although difficult in the limited space (potentially the white bar near the top could be a safety glass, use your imagination!).

Engine Cab

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All in all I do like the profile of this engine, it has some neat colours and details for the size and the shape is easily recogniseable. One or two improvements could be made but on the whole it is an attractive build to have at the front of the train.

Engine Front Profile

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Next in this Part is the tender for the engine. As far as tenders go, I again really like the side profile of this, it has a good shape that compliments the engine,as we will see.

The Tender

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Looking inside, there is a little less detail. We have a single sloped plate with some black round pieces near the top to represent coal. The engine doesn't have anything resembling a firebox inside the cab anyway!  The coal is only near the top edge, to be visible over the sides I imagine.

Inside the Tender

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The back end of the tender has a few nice pieces to add some texture to what would otherwise be a black plate, so this adds some interest to the build.  Her we have our first magnetic coupling piece to connect up to the wagons.

Back of the Tender

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On the whole the tender has some nice colur and details; it serves its purpose. The inside is not as exciting as the outside, but to add any more detail to the coal piles would require a lot of smaller piece (which, with the part to cost ratio, may not have been impossible).  Let's see what it looks like all connected up.

Complete Engine and Tender

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Overall this locomotive is a great build.  It looks good on display and will definitely look impressive with other Winter Village sets. It may be quite small compared to other Lego trains, but it fits well into the theme. I mostly like the colour scheme, although the white at the front stands out at me a bit much. In the design, the biggest flaw in my opinion is the coupling between the engine and the tender, which can be seen more clearly in the next picture. I really dislike that to uncouple the tender from the engine it is necessary to lift the tender off the tracks (unless you are really set on pulling that pin out of the tender piece). Two more magnetic couplings would not have gone amiss here, like on the Emerald Night between the engine and tender.

Locomotive Side View

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Coupling aside, I do like this engine, and it is just the right size for a circular track too (often the bigger trains look very long on a simple circle). Here are a couple of pictures of it on some track before we build the carriages. Some of the genius of this design will become evident in the final segment of this review when I adapt the train to motorise it with Power Functions elements.

Locomotive goes Choo Choo

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Choo Choo Off into the Distance

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And let's not forget the spare parts!

Part 2 Spare Parts

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The Build - Part 3: Carriages

The last part of the set is the build for the two carriages; a flatbed for presents (with a Christmas-train twist) and a small caboose. There is a wide assortment of pieces, shown below.

Pieces in Part 3

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We start building the flatbed first. I like the intricacy of this build for what is essentially a flat wagon, it packs some neat design features.

Flatbed Build Progress

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The gold and dark blue elements on the sides (using a Studs Not On Top building technique) are nice touches, but what I really like about this carriage is that the Christmas Tree and miniature train on top rotate as the carriage moves along the tracks! This is so much fun and uses a worm gear to make sure it doesn't spin too fast.

Christmas Tree Spin Mechanic

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The miniature train itself is very cute and curves around under the tree like so.

Train on a train folks, does it get better than this?

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The presents from part one can be stored in the section on the right. With the tree added, it is a nice carriage, far more interesting than most rolling stock flat beds, the Christmas vibe is impossible to miss (although perhaps not the most practical carriage at other times of year!).

Flat Bed Complete

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Next up is the small caboose, which is a nice carriage to sit at the back of the train. Inside is a small table with two chairs, a cup and what could be a lamp or a flask full of hot chocolate if you have that on your mind!

Caboose Build in Progress

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The completed carriage is nice, small but with features including the raised roof in the middle, gold lanterns at each end and the white leaves with coloured baubles, replicated from the tender. The roof is easily removable to place minifigures inside.

Completed Caboose

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As for swoosh-ability around the track, it gets a pass.

Choo Choo Caboose!

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That completes part 3, so we'll end with the two carriages together. The carriages are good builds and fit the Christmas theme well; we have a tree, a place to store presents and a cozy table to sit around and drink a warm drink (ignoring that it may be a bit drafty with the gaps around the doors with the train is moving!). The single tan axle on the flatbed train really bugs me in terms of colour scheme, but other than that I don't have any complaints.

Completed Part 3 Carriages

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Complete Set

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There we have it, all done! Before I move to the conclusion however, I would like to throw in the optional Power Functions elements, all sold separately.

Power Functions (Sold Separately)

One thing that really impressed me about the design of this set is how easy it is to motorise it. To do so, you will need the following four Power Functions pieces/sets which are ALL SOLD SEPARATELY. Alternatively, if you own a recent Lego City train set, you can raid the parts from that, like I did. For those of you looking to purchase these separately, the set numbers are 8879, 8884, 88000 and 88002.

Power Functions Parts (Sets 8879, 8884, 88000 and 88002)

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The set includes instructions for pulling the locomotive apart to fit in the Power Functions elements. For such a small train, they manage to cram these parts in really well! Here is the disassembled engine to show what needs to be removed so that you can add the powered wheels and remote control hub.

Disassembled Engine

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The modules come apart quickly and easily and the whole thing can be motorised within a couple of minutes. There is a hole in the floor of the cab for the cables to come up through, and then the rest of the cables just.. sort of fit in there. That's the only downside to motorising this set; some of the design features are lost and, due to the size, the grey Power Functions parts can't easily be hidden without changing the shape or using a lot more parts, so some of the aesthetic is lost.

Motorised Train

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That said, the designers did a great job of not only incorporating the Power Functions but making it easy to do so, and easy to switch back too. As noted though, it is quite hard to hide, particularly the cables, which mostly do manage to fit inside the cab with some spillage.

Cables

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After motorising your train, you are also left with a few parts to do with as you will, or to swap back into place for display purposes.

Motorised Train with Spare Segments

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Overall, very impressed with the Power Functions conversion considering the size of the build.

Conclusion

It is necessary to come up with a score for the set, so here are my thoughts below overall.

Design: 8/10 – The set is well designed and has some interesting play features. The spinning tree is notable and there are a lot of accessories to increase play value. This was a 7 as I do think improvements could be made, but I have given it an 8 as the quick adaptability to Power Functions really blew my mind a bit!

Parts: 8/10 – An interesting selection of parts with some good colour options for use in future building.

Build: 9/10 – The build experience is fun and engaging but not too complex. This would be a good set to build in an afternoon with the kids at Christmas. There is nothing repetitive and there are lots of fun features to discover as you build.

Price: 6/10 – The price per piece is unfortunately a downside to the set, coming in at 0.136 USD per piece. That said I still value the build and design so I would not let this discourage you. It is a bit too costly I would say just to buy for parts, but certainly worth it for the build experience and display model (certainly an improvement on last year's Winter Village re-release...).

Overall view: It's a great addition to the Winter Village series in my view. There are a lot of features, a lot of interesting and colourful parts, and the build is fun to do. One more carriage would have been a nice addition but other than that and the few design points noted throughout, the set is a great build and the adaptability to Power Functions is quick and easily done in a few minutes. Of course if you are more traditional and wish to push the set around yourself, it also works well for that. I would recommend displaying without any Power Functions on it if possible as they do remove some of the details and the battery box in particular is not at all concealed. As with many train sets, it does not come with much track (so as to keep the price down), but this can be expanded with additional track sold separately.

Thanks for reading and do let me know your thoughts on this Winter Village installation in the comments below. Will you be buying it? Or have you already bought it? Feel free to share your views and your own pictures!

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Thank you Draggy for this detailed review. It was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to receive mine too. It's a certainly worthy winter addition. :wub:

On some instances, I felt this look like the Toy Story train for the locomotive front. 

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Nice review, thank you! I will slap a 9V motor on mine since I still have about 20 MISB still in my inventory. 

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I think it is an excellent design and will look nice around the Christmas tree at the end of next month.  The only thing that kept me from getting the highest rating is the look of the train when the power functions are installed.  The grey on the locomotive and exposed battery box on the tender makes me want to design an extra car that can somehow hide the PF.  Otherwise, this is a very nice set for a Christmas display.  

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I am glad Lego has brought out a new Christmas train. I just finished building mine yesterday and am in agreement with the points made in the review. I did find the color of the caboose roof to be off so I replaced it with green.  Though smaller than other trains it is overall aesthetically pleasing and a great addition.  I'm planning on setting it up with 9v as I have it already. I may also build another passenger car since it could use some length.  

Edited by SilentWolf

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3 hours ago, SilentWolf said:

I am glad Lego has brought out a new Christmas train. I just finished building mine yesterday and am in agreement with the points made in the review. I did find the color of the caboose roof to be off so I replaced it with green.  Though smaller than other trains it is overall aesthetically pleasing and a great addition.  I'm planning on setting it up with 9v as I have it already. I may also build another passenger car since it could use some length.  

I am thinking of doing 9V myself, it would be much easier to hide! Do let us know if you come up with a passenger car design. :sweet:

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Well done on such a detailed and useful review!

I think the design of this set is very good but I'm not that fond of festive sets, since after the appropriate season, they look misplaced on your display.

Anyway, I give this set an above average, about 7-8 out of ten. Overall, minor improvements could be made but this is a very awesome set.

Edited by The lego fan

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11 hours ago, BrickWild said:

Great set indeed!

Why don't you put it under your xmas tree?

We can always have a train under the tree contest!

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Edited by (1)Stein

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I just built it and its pretty great. However, the big red wheels not he engine do not touch the track enough to spin regularly. Anyone else have this problem?

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On 2016. 11. 25. at 8:46 PM, gotoAndLego said:

I just built it and its pretty great. However, the big red wheels not he engine do not touch the track enough to spin regularly. Anyone else have this problem?

Just move the undercarriage (I'm not sure it is the proper word) a bit. I had the same problem, pushed the brick again and moved the wheels and since then it works perfectly.

 

Great review, Dragonator, thank you! I have mixed feelings about this set. The engine and the coal wagon are very cute, I love them. But the other two wagons are terrible and ugly. And it becomes much worse after motorize...

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has anyone put PF lights on their's?  If so can you share some ideas of how you did so, where you put them etc.  I'm trying to figure out a cable routing, but just drawing a blank so far

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On 10/24/2016 at 11:57 AM, ProvenceTristram said:

I can only speak for myself, but if there was a single word I would assign to the engine in this set, it would be 'pathetic.'

Why?  I disagree... the engine is the only good part of this set (although why they used a technic pin to attack to the tender instead of the magnet couplers is baffling, to me).

I missed out buying the first set from 2006, so I bricklinked it about 5 or 6 years ago; that engine was much more in the MOT vein, and is not prototypically accurate to any real steam trains, as far as I can tell.  Neither is the new one, but it's a lot closer - but if nothing else it looks more Christmas-y and more like the kind of toy train a kid might have (as someone mentioned, like the Toy Story train set).

If anything, the engine is the only good thing about this set, IMO.  I suppose the small passenger car is nice looking... but small.

Combining both sets, I'm using the new engine and tender (modified for 9V) and adding all the cars from the first one to this one.  I've already disassembled the old engine for parts.

I would agree with your statement if it were respect to the set as a whole... a crappy circle of track without even a couple of straights to make it slightly oval, tiny cars, and I actually modified the flatbed to use the normal train wheels (with the metal axle) and not spin the tree because: a) it adds a lot of friction and b) it spins comically fast even at moderate train speeds.

On 10/24/2016 at 11:29 PM, SilentWolf said:

I am glad Lego has brought out a new Christmas train. I just finished building mine yesterday and am in agreement with the points made in the review. I did find the color of the caboose roof to be off so I replaced it with green.  Though smaller than other trains it is overall aesthetically pleasing and a great addition.  I'm planning on setting it up with 9v as I have it already. I may also build another passenger car since it could use some length.  

I don't consider that tiny passenger car as a caboose... to me it's  a tiny passenger car.  Since I combined this set with the cars from the 2006 set, which has a caboose, I'm treating it as a tiny passenger car.

I modded the tender to run 9V; had to extend the length and rebuild it from the bottom up to make it work, but the build is so remarkably simple that it wasn't particularly difficult.

My two cents on this whole thing: old set 965 pieces, including a couple of large train bases and several sets of couplings; new set - more than 200 pieces less, builds two laughably small cars.  The 2006 set built a full size flat bed, a full size passenger car, AND a  caboose.   Why is TLG cheaping out on us?

The only good part of this set is what I mentioned above - the engine and tender (excepting using the technic coupling) are a lot nicer than the old one.  I'd even say the two cars are "nicer," but I would expect that from a set 10 years later.  I definitely like the colors better.

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2 hours ago, fred67 said:

...My two cents on this whole thing: old set 965 pieces, including a couple of large train bases and several sets of couplings; new set - more than 200 pieces less, builds two laughably small cars.  The 2006 set built a full size flat bed, a full size passenger car, AND a  caboose.   Why is TLG cheaping out on us?

This new set comes with a loop of track which explains the fewer number of parts despite the track pieces being a lot larger with more plastic.

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That's not a great trade-off, though.  What's more important?  The track (when you can buy track if you want it) or the train?  You can't buy more Christmas train, you can buy as much track as you want.  When I said "cheap out," it wasn't necessarily price.  Keeping it the same price with no track and two full size cars, or increasing the price to include the track with two full size cars, which I think people would like a lot more.

Like I said, it's not all bad - the new engine is a whole lot nicer than the '06 engine.  It all just seems so small.

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I might be posting in the wrong forum/thread, in that case: I'm sorry!

Anyway, I noticed this set completely disappered (even not visible as retired product, as is for instance 10216 Winter Village Bakery) from the Dutch and most other European S@H websites, while on the US S@H site one can still back order this set. Is it retiring already or sould this just be some website glitch?

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3 hours ago, graafderk said:

I might be posting in the wrong forum/thread, in that case: I'm sorry!

Anyway, I noticed this set completely disappered (even not visible as retired product, as is for instance 10216 Winter Village Bakery) from the Dutch and most other European S@H websites, while on the US S@H site one can still back order this set. Is it retiring already or sould this just be some website glitch?

Hmm, I just noticed that as well (also in The Netherlands).
And the on-line shops i checked that sell LEGO over here have this set marked as "sold out".

That's weird...

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