The Santa with Reindeer (LEGO 1628) was released back in 1989 but I'm going to review it just in time for the Christmas holiday in 2013!
This is another one of my original LEGO sets that I owned as a kid. In fact, this particular set was owned by myself and my younger brother - we probably both received them as a gift in 1989 (though my memory isn't good enough to remember for sure how we each acquired our sets). I do know that I managed to find all the necessary pieces to rebuild both the sets - one for my own collection and the other will eventually find its way to my brother. The only downside, as you'll see, is that we no longer have the original string that came with either set.
The set itself contains two major components - one is an all white reindeer (with a red hat) and the other is a sleigh with a brick-built Santa Claus. In total, the set consists of 63 pieces - and I have all but the 63rd piece (the black string used to connect the reindeer to the sleigh). Luckily, if you are going to be missing a piece it's best to have it be string - that's easily replaced!
As for the pieces used, you don't get a lot of color variation. In fact, you get exactly two black pieces (used for Santa's boots), one yellow brick with printed eyes and red nose, and 14 red pieces. All the remaining pieces are white. In addition, there aren't many unique pieces - probably the two red "hat" pieces are the rarest along with the printed face piece. For the most part this is a good 'ol fashioned LEGO build!
The directions begin with instructions to build the reindeer - and so that's how I'll begin the review.
The reindeer is a straight-forward build with no building techniques of note. In fact, I would say this is one of the worst official LEGO-designed sets in terms of construction - the reindeer itself is extremely fragile. As you build it, you'll more than likely "break" the legs at least once trying to place some of the bricks in steps 4 and 5 above.
Even worse, once you finally have the reindeer completed you are left with a model with extremely fragile antlers - those 1x2 plates are only held on by a single stud...and it's a twisting collection of five of them for each antler. It wouldn't be surprising to me at all if other people who owned this set lost an antler over time - they break off much too easily (especially since the model is designed for ages 7 and up).
After building the reindeer, you move on to the second half of the set - Santa and his sleigh.
Although this portion doesn't have any overly interesting building techniques either, it does have a bit more color. I like the appearance of the brick built Santa - he's got black boots, a white beard, and white hair. The worst part of the Santa is the fact that he has stubby little arms - I don't think they look good at all.
The sleigh itself is almost an afterthought - basically you stick runners on the bottom of a 4x6 red plate and call it good. The two white bricks with the stud on the side are designed to have the string threaded through them and through the two corresponding pieces on the reindeer which serves as a harness of sorts.
All things considered, this is a cute set but ultimately not one that I would necessarily recommend to anyone else. I remember as a kid thinking the set was kind of lame (there are no minifigures so that's always a bummer for a kid). Even worse, it's extremely fragile so you can't even really pretend it's Santa flying through the sky without your reindeer falling apart.
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Play Value: 1
Kid Value: 2
Adult Value: 3
Maybe my judgment is swayed by how I remember this set as a kid (hint: not favorably)...but as it stands, I don't see who would be particularly interested in the Santa with Reindeer and Sleigh set. To their credit, LEGO has done better Christmas themed sets - many of them in fact (and virtually of them must be better than this one). That said, it's still quite a bit of fun to go back and rebuild and review sets from my childhood. I've got quite a few more such sets to review over the lifespan of this blog - so if you like vintage LEGO reviews, keep coming back!
Note: If anyone knows how to fix the discoloration that a lot of the white bricks suffer from, I'd love to hear your solution. Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could display this yellowed set!
We can rebuild him, we have the technology
1 hour ago