Reviewing the 2020 Employee Gift

Each year, The LEGO Group create a once-off, super special exclusive set just for company employees. These are also gifted to LEGO Certified Professionals, and LEGO Ambassadors like me, which is just amazing.

I’m incredibly grateful to LEGO for providing this as a Christmas present – it’s become a bit of Christmas tradition! I bring the set over to my parents’ house for family Christmas and sit there building away, usually with my eldest daughter or a niece helping. This time it was a bit quieter, so it was just me, but it was still a lot of fun.

This year, the set is not only a brick built Elf Workshop, but it’s also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of LEGO Education. Funnily enough there’s no official name for the set, but there’s mention of “Celebrating 40 Years of Hands-On Learning” inside the box, so let’s go with that.

The box is always a highlight of the set – this year it’s got a beautiful Christmas pattern on it. The back shows the actual build, and talks a bit about it also being the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the first LEGO gearwheel. This set is a very apt tribute to it. There’s so much Technic in it.

Inside the box, on the right inside wall is the customary storage plan. These sets are intended to be partially broken down and stored each year, to be displayed again at Christmas. It’s certainly what I do with mine!

The set is made up of four modules, with each module getting it’s own instruction manual. There’s eight numbered bags in the set, so two bags per module. The mechanisms within this set are very clever. Simple standard gears, splat gears, cams, pulleys, drive shafts, there’s a whole range of different mechanisms, as well as some I’ve not come across before.

Let’s go through some of the highlights module by module, in the order I built them starting from the right.

The Christmas Tree module is really exciting. The large splat gears are unique to this set, and the arrangement like this looks absolutely spot on! I was wondering, while looking at the video footage the Ambassadors received, just how the train rotated in the opposite direction to the tree.

Well, the base of the tree (and the train) rotate thanks to the gearing system underneath the floor, and the tree rotates in the opposite direction thanks to a couple of 4×4 black splat gears connected to the tree itself. One thing I would have liked to have seen is some more roller skates underneath the teeny tiny locomotive.

Also, I like the nod to the super annoying Elf on a Shelf, and I think that’s a GameBoy on the shelf as well (Nope, that’s a Mindstorms brick – thanks Dirk). There’s also a little fireplace at the back wall, but it’s completely obscured by the tree.

The second module is the bearded elf sitting at the work bench. I love that beard! Highlights here are the paint drip and puddle from the teal paint on the shelf at the back, that beard, obviously, and the clock. The arms on this module are pushed using a couple of offset cams that also connect to the clock.

Module number three is the angled module. This one has a standing elf carrying a present who rotates at the torso, thanks to a push rod connected to a ball joint on a larger Technic gear. The arm lifting mechanism is deceptively simple, using a macaroni tube against the sloped surface of a 2×2 inverted roof brick. As the torso rotates, the arm slides across the sloped surface, pushing the arm down. It’s brilliant. There’s also a little robot sitting in front of the elf, plus a rat!

The final module is the conveyor belt module, presumably there to load the freshly wrapped presents into Santa’s sleigh.

This has a lot more moving parts, but the highlight for me is the way the different height presents (the white and gold one and the large red one) push the Technic beams just that little bit higher to push the little elf hanging over the top. He just hooks over the top loose! This module, with the plaque just finished the set off so well for me.

All in all, this set is such a wonderful thing to build. I am so very thankful to LEGO for sending this to me! If you want to get a copy of this for yourself, be prepared to spend a bit of money. At the moment this is fetching around $300 on secondary markets.

Edit: I completely forgot to include the video of it running! Here it is…

A special thank you to LEGO for sending me a copy. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.

2 thoughts on “Reviewing the 2020 Employee Gift

    • John Post author

      Haha that makes way, way more sense. Not enough experience with Mindstorms to recognise it!

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