**WARNING: This Post Contains Some Spoilers for the LEGO® Star Wars Advent Calendar. While the Minifigures present are revealed on the box, the box doesn’t show you the faces behind the masks.**
I was a little torn when I was offered the LEGO® Star Wars Advent Calendar to Review back in August. I mean, was I going to hold on to it until December, by which stage the set would be sold out (and so the review would benefit nobody)? Or open it up and spoil it all, months in advance? Not that the images on LEGO.com work to keep the contents a secret.
And so, prompted in part by the existence of this article on Medium.com, bemoaning the relative at the relative absence of female minifigures in the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendars, I was promoted to open mine, to see if there were any surprises to be found inside. I’ll reveal my discovery later.
As it is also the VIP Weekend (2x VIP Points at LEGO.com), and with Black Friday Sales next weekend, it might just be the time to pick up that Calendar you were wondering about, before you need to start opening those doors on a daily basis.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the calendar experience, so I didn’t open up the doors. I just removed the recyclable tray from the box and picked out the bags containing minifigures. I can’t even remember where they came from: I just picked them all out and closed the box again. I’m sure this won’t cause any real problems…
This year seems to have become unreasonably busy, for reasons I do not fully understand. As such, I have not had the chance to sit down on a daily basis to Build, photograph and describe the LEGO City Advent Calendar’s builds. In this era of binge watching and instant gratification, where we cannot bring ourselves to wait a whole week to see how this episode’s residual issues get resolved, but follow straight on, I have taken a similar approach to the Advent Calendar.
I will almost, but not quite complete the calendar in this post.
A quick recap:
One of the advantages of binge building the advent calendars is that you can see how the narrative threads develop and resolve. Last time, we saw a number of random activities out side, as well as a small boy looking at presents under the Christmas tree, while eating a biscuit. We were left with 2 developing scenes, somewhat like this…
Where will our stories go now? Will we see new characters and situations? Will we see the source of the cookies? And will we understand why the smiling man in blue is carrying a broom, despite standing outside, with lots of snow around? Hang around as we set out to complete the stories over the next couple of days…
This collection of elements struck me as a little odd, until I realised there was a giant target drawn on the frozen lake. It looks like a curling match is in progress: sliding these polished stones towards the target, our man with the broom must be trying to sweep the ice clear to get his closer to the centre of the target.
Behind window number 12, we find ourselves moving inside again: a few telescopes, a chair and some inverse curved slopes: without a doubt, this is a rocking char, and lamp on a table. I certainly remember seeing this kind of set up in days gone past…
And on day 13, we find someone to sit in the rocking chair, by the lamp, and read a book. The Tile, reading “Once upon a Time” looks great and makes it feel like a real book. I wonder if this lady is the cool Grandmother, or aunt, of the child we met earlier in the month. The cardigan torso has been previously seen in the 70657 Ninjago Docks, as well as the recently release 60203 Ski Resort
To add to the effect, while sitting in her rocking chair, Grandma now has a cup of milk, and a cookie, while sitting in her chair reading. Or has it been left for Santa to find by candlelight? I’ll let you be the judge.
A couple of skids, small Technic elements, handlebars and some small slopes brings us a snowmobile: I suspect we aren’t in the lounge room anymore!
A mixture of elements today, including a disk missile launcher and a frying pan, resolves itself into a stove, employing the open studs on the front of a SNOT Bracket as gas dials. Now we know where the cookies are coming from!
Another figure today, but where does he below? Inside our out? This older man might have a real thing against candles. Perhaps he wants to ensure the fire is out before Santa Claus comes to visit. Or perhaps there has been a nasty accident with the snowmobile in the snow.
We have a small, elegant table setting behind the 18th door. With a table wreath and drumstick, it has the makings of Christmas dinner. For one…
Just in time to help us keep time, we build a grandfather clock. This relatively recent clock face tile shows us that it is a little after 10 minutes to midnight. The kids are staying up really late tonight!
Today, we have another figure with a torso from the Ski resort set – calling back to the X-Treme Team sets of the late 90’s. This child is enjoying the chance afforded by the weather to go snowboarding.
It all depends on how you look at things… and this looks like another night time activity: a telescope. Perhaps all the better to try and find Santa flying through the sky in his Sleigh.
Perhaps this is what Grandpa was worried about back on day 17: this fireplace, still ablaze, with a number of NSOT bricks, Stafford slippers and profile bricks, this is a really elegant representation of a small fireplace, with trans orange tooth elements as the fire. (or is is a gas heater… a fire place will be more practical for Santa, wherever he’s gotten to!) We must be pretty close to the end of the story inside the house.
And just to throw us off the scent, day 23 sees us putting together a few clip elements to make a sled, being pulled by a single husky.
And this almost brings us to the end of our stories. There seems to be a fairly coherent narrative inside the house, with the family relaxing: eating, playing, reading, and extinguishing the candles with extreme prejudice, while waiting for Santa to arrive.
Meanwhile, outside, it seems a little more disjointed: we have a number of activities underway, with people well dressed and rugged up to keep warm. We seem to have a disproportionately large number of modes of transport, compared with the minifigure count. We also have a number of activities – snow ball hurling; curling and stargazing/Santa Spotting, as well as snow boarding. We have certainly had some interesting builds, and some quite unexpected. The outdoor narrative is well suited to the design on the box.
Will the next day go inside or out? Will it be a minifigure, or something else?
And I am going to leave it there for now: I want to avoid spoilers for the final build – so come back in a day or so, when we shall be able to see all our final builds, perhaps along with a little something Xtra.
This year, I have felt as though I have been busier than ever. Sometimes when life gets busy, it becomes harder to find a little time to sit down and dedicate regular time to a project.
Just As I am now more likely to binge watch a television program via a streaming service, rather than a weekly viewing commitment, I have decided to take this approach with the LEGO City Advent Calendar this year.
Looking at the box, however, it seems to give us a great idea of what to expect as we open the windows: minifigures, vehicles and other snow based activities. In previous advent calendars, we sometimes see sequential builds develop into a larger structure, or to tell a story – for example, presents under the tree, while the family gather around the fire. Perhaps there are some hints to this as we look at the front cover of the box.
As I proceed with my binge building, I am curious to see whether the daily builds contribute to the build from the previous day, in one long narrative, or if we will see stories with parallel threads, waiting to be drawn together at the last minute? Let us start, by taking a look through door number one.
Here we are, and it is the twenty fourth of December. Since the first of December, we have been visiting the ways in which different LEGO® sets have been but together to celebrate the Christmas Holiday Season. Why have I been doing this? This year is the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first LEGO Advent Calendar. If nothing else I would have just reviewed an advent calendar from each year. But in fact I have found myself spoiled for choice. And I have left things out – I have not really tackled Brick built, non Santa decorations from the early days of the century; I have not mentioned the baubles containing seasonal micro builds; and I remain puzzled about the LEGO Japan exclusives from Christmas 2004. So today, I have chosen a subject that has been getting more and more interesting every year: The LEGO Employee Christmas Gift.
These sets have been produced since 2008, although the 2008 and 2009 sets appear identical, despite seperate set numbers. Initially a simple heart, the constructions have become more elaborate: with subjects having historical significance to the company – either through their direct subject matter, or commemorating a significant anniversary within the company. And you know how I love my significant Anniversaries. [ please note: if you read past the break, there is a spoiler shot of the Box for this year’s Employee Gift. The content will not be revealed.]
As I’ve previously stated so many times that its making my head spin, this year represents many significant anniversaries in the the history of the LEGO group: Sixty years of the brick; forty years of the minifigure; twenty years of Mindstorms; fifteen years since the colour change was rolled out, ten years of Architecture…. and Twenty years since the release of the first Advent Calendar. Today, I thought I’s take a look at two of the enduring Advent Calendars: LEGO® City and LEGO Star Wars.
LEGO City, as we now know it, has had an annual Advent Calendar since 2005. Typically rich in minifigures, it has evolved over the years: Initially focussing on showcasing the sub themes of city – e.g. police, fire, healthcare, construction/civic maintenance; mechanics; cooking and domestic life, with a figure and several mini builds (occasionally integrating together to put together a larger build) and culminating with a Christmas type build – either Santa, with some form of transport; or a Christmas tree on the 24th of the month.
We have a few days to go, and a couple of themes to look over as we approach the end of our Advent-ure. Regular readers might recall that this is the 20th anniversary of the first LEGO Advent Calendar, and we have been surveying Christmas holiday themes and set from across the years.
We have seen a number of different brick built Santas over the last couple of weeks and today I would like to look at a subject that has been across many licences and themes in 2018: Brickheadz. This year we have seen a Brickheadz double pack featuring Mr. and Mrs. Claus – 40274 A hot seller, it has been difficult to track down, frequently being out of stock at the LEGO online store.
As we approach the end of our journey, I thought I’d take a look at one of this year’s Seasonal Gift’s With Purchase: the 40292: The Christmas Gift Box.
Cunningly disguised as a present wrapped in sand green and dark red ( special treats in themselves), when you remove the lid from this set, you reveal a Christmas living room vignette inside. With two minifigures and three hundred and one pieces, this model certainly looks to be inspired by Christmas.
The build is simple and satisfying, and I have to admit that I love the use of the pearl gold elements to complete the box on top of the present.
Yesterday, I struggled to work out the nature of the the decoration that was unwrapped in yesterday’s Friend’s Advent Calendar, and an astute reader pointed out that his daughter felt it was a micro version of the 40139 Gingerbread House released in 2015. Having had that pointed out to me, I cannot unsee that version of the truth. So today, I thought I’d have a quick look at some of the gingerbread houses that have been produced as seasonal sets over the years.
According to Wikipedia, baking gingerbread was exclusively the domain of specialised gingerbread bakers, except at Easter and Christmas times, when anybody was allowed to bake it! Ginger bread houses became a popular construction in Germany during the early 1800s after the publication of the Brother’s Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel, where the witch’s candied house became the centrepiece of the story. Some food historians claim they were already popular at the time, and the the Brothers were writing about something they had regularly seen.
Today, as we continue our adventure, I thought I’d briefly consider some sets that money can’t buy. Except on the secondary market. Let’s have a look at some sets that have only been released as Gifts with purchase, but designed to help build up the winter Village.
3300014 Winter Sleigh Ride was released in 2011, along side the Winter Village Cottage, and available as a gift with purchase. It again features a lamp post as well as four minifigures, although one has to wait, as the sleigh only has room for three!
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