Building the 2018 LEGO Employee Gift

Each year for the last decade, The LEGO Group creates a rare, unique set just for the full time employees around the world. These employee gift sets are not easy to come by if you don’t work for TLG, and if you do happen to find one, they’re not cheap to buy on the secondary market. I’ve never seen any of them in the plastic, until now!

This year, ambassadors from around the world were completely surprised, amazed and humbled to receive a copy of the 2018 Employee Gift, 4002018. I’ve had my copy sitting in my LEGO room for the past week or so waiting for Christmas Day, and I’ve finally been able to build it. I happily spent a couple of hours after lunch at my parents house building away. It’s a blown up version of a Santa minifigure, sitting in a sleigh laden with three presents and a classic (but not classic) tree, all pulled by a solitary reindeer.

There’s a stack of detail included, some brilliant build techniques and some very nice surprises in store! The box itself is one of the most beautiful LEGO boxes I’ve seen. There’s some beautiful cartoon vignettes of Santa and his reindeer in little adventures, all wrapped up in a red ribbon and bow, with a 40th Anniversary of the Minifigure tag hanging off it. The printing on this is somewhat textured as well, and it’s exquisite. The box is a collaboration between designer Roberta Sandri and illustrator Sten Platz.

On the back, the illustrations continue, along with some polaroid style images of the build, with a note pinned to the back with a multi-lingual message to the recipient.

There’s four instruction manuals – one each for Santa, the reindeer, the sleigh, and the gifts. There’s also eight numbered bags, and two lengths of hose, to attach the reindeer to the sleigh.

Let’s dive in to the set’s major elements, all designed by Carl Merriam, who has had a pretty great track record, especially with the Saturn V and involvement with the 2014 and 2016 Employee Gifts.

Santa

The brick built figure has articulated legs, shoulders, head and wrists, and while he’s a little skinny in the shoulders and wrists, he’s still a lot of fun to pose! I love the detail in the head and hat – I’m not going to spoil how it’s built, but it’s very clever!

Reindeer

This model is absolutely incredible. There’s some very clever SNOT work in the head, and it’s just so sturdy! The shaping is spot on with a standard LEGO horse, and the antlers just make it so much more special. This is the stand out piece for me.

Sleigh

The more reserved section of the build is still a beautiful model, with enough space to seat Santa, and to carry his payload. It’s got some fantastic bold colouring, and once again, the shaping is stunning.

Presents and Crate

This is where it gets interesting. The crate has an astonishing amount of detail, but the best part lies in what is inside each present.

There’s also a plants-from-plants tree. It’s the first interaction I’ve had with one of these elements, and it’s absolutely no different from the ABS plastic ones. This plant-based plastic is sourced from sugarcane, and it’s the first step TLG has taken towards using sustainable materials in it’s products. Ok, on to the big reveal!

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Minifigure, there’s three classic minifigures included – a 1980s Doctor, an early 1990s Pirate, and my favourite of the lot – a 1980s Blacktron astronaut! They’re presented in a very beautiful way, and is so exciting when I open them up to show people. Those that remember them just want to play!

I’ve included a few comparison photos of Santa, the reindeer and the crate, with the standard LEGO sizing, to show you how much bigger it is.

It’s much bigger than I originally realised! I’m particularly impressed with the crate too – the detail is very particular.

I’ve also made a minifigure scale version of the whole build. There’s a few little differences, but I’m still happy with it. These will be kept together now!

There’s also a diagram in the booklet about how to store them inside the box for next year! It fits quite well.

I’ve honestly never had so much fun with a set before. It’s definitely a prized possession of mine. It’s a stunning set, and if you can find one, definitely do what you can to pick it up.

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