Why I Bought this Set
Once I decided to build a winter village, I looked at all the sets that could be incorporated into the scene. This set did come on my radar, but I didn’t pull the trigger due to the price tag. I felt too many elements would have to be removed to make it work. I did keep wavering, though. Those minifigures are ideal for any scene, and I wanted a skating rink. A LEGO store sale ended my indecision, and I snapped up the set immediately when I saw it for 30% off.
The set comes with a 324-page manual and is separated into 13 building stages. The first bag delivers a couple of minifigures and an adorable sled to be pushed around the ice. I find the ice skates that clip onto any minifigure’s feet lovely and genius. The rest of the bag starts the base of the ice rink.
I adore the ice hockey minifigure that came next. His face is angry, and the accessories are practical and brilliant. As for the rink, fish are trapped below the panels, which is a great detail. Later, there will be an ice fishing hole, so I am not traumatized – the fish are alive and well below the ice! When I saw the sparkly panels to be used as the ice sheet, I was skeptical that they would look good. For a couple of days, I wasn’t convinced that they did. However, it grew on me, and I now accept that it was excellent part usage to create a vast rink with minimal pieces. Does it beat translucent blue tiles? No, it does not, but you would lose the fish below. It’s a tradeoff, and I understand LEGO’s choice to go for the panels.
After laying all the ice and the rink’s perimeter, the next few bags add more detail to the base. The initial work is to curve the edges of the rink. This is done by laying small builds flat to create smooth sides. One plus about this build is using the rink to hold the pieces. This prevents my cats from knocking them onto the floor.
Each bag had a minifigure, and this was one of my favorites – the chainsaw lady! I honestly don’t know why there is a chainsaw in a scene with children ice skating (there is only one tree, so it doesn’t make much sense), but it looks highly effective. There is also a cute molded blue penguin that I hadn’t noticed when looking at the box. The exterior of the rink starts to have a path with studs and round tiles. An ice fishing hole is created on the other side of the rink.
The only building in the set – an ice skate sharpening shed – doesn’t disappoint. The part usage to create the skate sharpener is genius, and I appreciate all the decorative elements. There are no stickers in this set – instead, we have a print piece above for the store sign.
The next element to construct is the photo area. The cardboard print piece slots into a well-constructed LEGO frame. What’s better is that it is double-sided, so you can choose which aesthetic works for you. This bag also contains more path pieces, wonderful snowy plants (which gave me an excellent idea for my winter village), and fence elements.
The ice sculpture is arguably the centerpiece of this build, though I wasn’t convinced it looked good on the box. The design is a bit elaborate for my taste, and I proffer that the translucent blue made me feel something was “off” about it. However, I must say, in real life, it looks better, and it was illuminating how the LEGO pieces came together to make a magnificent ice sculpture. I like the ice slide underneath it, and I have pushed a few minifigures down it this week!
To complete the build, only a few elements remain. First, a wintery tree built with limbs and hinges, and then a lampost and sign (again with print pieces). Once again, I learned a new decorating technique that I can use to elevate my winter village. With these final details, the scene is complete and full of elements.
The completed set is substantial and jam-packed with details.
Overall, I am impressed with this set; it looks better in person than the box images or even the ones I have captured here. There are some design aspects that I am not a fan of, however. The tan doesn’t look great against the white to create the exterior of the rink. Similarly, I’m not convinced by the choice of tan and brown for the stepping stones. Likely, blending this color scheme with the translucent blue ice sculpture and red of the Chinese tradition just doesn’t work. It’s too busy and comes across as a messy design. Luckily, I can change all these things by swapping or removing parts.
So, what works with this set? The amount of minifigures is fantastic. Even if most have generic torsos and legs, you get a staggering 13 minifigures. My favorite is the tiger minifig, as it rightfully should be, as this set celebrates the year of the tiger.
The foundation of the set, i.e., the ice rink, makes it highly adaptive to any winter scene, but there is also enough about the set to stand alone. There are a ton of details – from the clever part usage to make the sculpture, the slide, and the photo area. Further, I adore the fish under the ice and the fishing hole. There are also great molded pieces, like the two penguins. These aren’t cheap pieces, so this set’s parts have plenty of value.
Overall, I have to applaud the playability of this scene. With so many minifigures and accessories, it is easy to tell many stories at once. Everyone is having a good time too.
This was never going to be a fantastic build experience, but it wasn’t a bad one either, so I will go down the middle and award it 3/5. It mainly fails as most pieces make the base. However, there was nothing repetitive about the build, so it was always interesting in that sense.
The set does look superior in person than captured in the official images. Sometimes, the sculpture can sparkle a little if the light catches it correctly. The panels to create the ice look far better once the model is complete, though they bother me occasionally. The Chinese elements bring the set identity and are a good celebration of the Lunar New Year. Finally, the set is substantial and can work as a display piece or part of a city. It loses a point as it feels cluttered and has too many mismatched color schemes to credit it with full marks.
I’m rating this on the MSRP rather than the sale price I secured. Some really nice parts in the build are pricey, and it doesn’t look like expense has been spared in the design. The PPP is around 7.6 cents, which is decent for an unlicensed product with 13 minifigures and all printed pieces. I am taking a point off because, unlike everything else, the ice rink feels “cheap” compared to the other details. LEGO made a call here, but the rink looks somewhat unpolished, and for a $120 set, you shouldn’t be left with that feeling.
I’m delighted to have this set in my collection after picking it up on sale. The minifigures make the set for me. I applaud the set’s playability and the detail, as always, is spectacular. I will most likely make a few modifications when it is placed in my winter village, but I hope to use the removed pieces in my future city, so nothing will be wasted. It is retiring soon, so if you want this, snap it up quickly!