No sooner is Christmas in the immediate past ( as I write this, it was yesterday), but the LEGO Group have a new range of seasonal sets to release. Back in October, it was announced that following the unprecedented success of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival sets last year, that there would be a follow up this year as well, focussing on the Temple Spring Market and Lion dance. These are now available in the Asia Pacific markets, with global release following in January.
But wait, there’s more. Just as last year we had the Brickheadz Dragon Dance Guy, this year we have another Asian cultural icon, 40436 Lucky Cat. Perhaps the relative paucity of BrickHeadz sets in 2019 was a correction, after filling the market with licensed characters. Perhaps the seasonal Brickheadz, with the occasional licensed character will be the new norm. This set is due for release on January 1st, and I was fortunate enough to have been sent a preview copy by the AFOL Engagement team of the LEGO Group.
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.
Earlier this year saw the release of the first wave of sets in the Hidden Side theme. A theme working on combining the best of LEGO brick based play with an Augmented Reality based game, Hidden Side seems to have hit close to the right balance with great set design, as well as an appealing underlying story.
When I first saw the sets at a Melbourne Toy Show preview in March this year, there were some new elements that caught my eye, in one set in particular: new train bearings and wheels. The thoughts of those present immediately turned to whether or not this was going to be a new feature across LEGO trains. Now that they have also appeared in the recently released Disney Train, it now appears that this is the case. Today I would like to look at the new Train bearings, a new rail element as well as a look at the Hidden Side set 70424: Ghost Train Express.
I have been frustrated, waiting for the ability to control the new Technic® Smart Hub (used in the 4×4 and Liebherr Excavator) with the Powered Up App. This will allow us to control that hub using programs created in the Powered Up Software. Seriously, the first hardware came out in August, and we can’t control it using any method supplied by LEGO® except for the Control+ App – which is designed to only control the principle model in the sets that include that hardware.
Therefore, I got just a little excited when the following communication, announcing the next update for the Powered Up App, arrived via the LEGO Ambassador’s Network:…
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.
The Creator Expert Modular Buildings have been going from strength to strength over the last few years, since the controversial decision to move from the ‘Classic Smiley’ face to a style consistent with the contemporary LEGO Graphic design language. Last year we saw the corner garage, and today we see the announcement of the latest in this series: the 10270 Bookshop. Due for release on the 1st January, 2020; this set has 2504 pieces, is recommended for builders over 16 years of age, and will cost US $179.99–CA $199.99 –DE €159.99 –UK £149.99 – FR €159.99 – DK 1299DKK. This is $USD10 more than the Downtown diner, and as such is probably reasonable to assume that it will be similar to that set’s $AUD250 price tag. Give or Take.