Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Our Final Thoughts!

With the battle now concluded, our reviewers share their final thoughts on this year’s advent calendars:

Stephen Churchill (MCU Reviewer): In the end, the MCU couldn’t keep the momentum it started with. Some odd choices (the BBQ and table) and questionable micro builds (Hovercarrier and Quinjet) hurt the MCU in matchups.

Harry Potter was relentless this year, with EVERY fig being unique, and by including new prints – two things no advent calendar has done before. Additionally, the board game theme really seemed to help Harry Potter, since there were no microbuilds included.

All three calendars suffered from spreading good builds across multiple days, a precedent I could do without for future years.

Patrick Barnes (SW Reviewer): If you had asked me a year ago if a Mandalorian-themed Lego Advent Calendar was a good idea, not only would I have agreed, but I probably would have stockpiled the inevitability amazing advent calendar. However, this year the calendar detailed what happens when you pull your source material too thin, while still trying to check the boxes of a conventional Star Wars advent calendar.

Automatically, the glaring inclusions in the advent this year are the 5 or so days we received weapons racks, as well as the stud-shooter targets and some obscure, mid-scale builds like the Tusken Ballista. Having a fifth of the advent dedicated to these TLG-designed builds really stung, as they took away from other builds potentially way better, or other minifigures.

And on that note, that was another department the calendar was seriously lacking in; figures. Though finishing strong as Star Wars does, the calendar (outside of IG-11, Mando, and Grogu received in the final week) is surprisingly skint on minifigures, and the ones included would arguably have been included regardless of the theming. It really lacked one more solid, pseudo-rare figure that was difficult to find otherwise; it’s probably IG-11 this year, but compared to Bespin Guards and Cloud-Car Pilots received in the past, it seems weak.

To touch on this aforementioned theming again, a huge problem I noticed this year was how many days were Imperial designed. While this qualifies for “Mando themed”, it seems super lazy to spend 10/24 days on designs that, again, would have qualified for most any calendar. The Scout was a great inclusion, but otherwise the Imperial stuff was mixed for me.

Overall, while it was a great trial run this year, I hope next year if Lego decides to release a restricted-theme Star Wars calendar, it can do the theme justice. Otherwise, I would be fine to return to a broad calendar like in the past, or even a game-style calendar like HP received this year.

Matt Zwicker (HP Reviewer): This is the third year for the Harry Potter Advent Calendar, and second year that we’ve run a seasonal “battle” (for fun) on NewfoundLUG.ca. I’m glad MCU entered the battle this year as it made each day a bit more entertaining with more points to be had.

The box art for this year’s HP calendar was a little deceiving. I didn’t expect it to perform as well as it did. I wasn’t a huge fan of last year’s (2020) calendar, as I thought they stuck to the Christmas/Yule ball theme a little too much at the expense of other great offerings from the 4th novel/film.

This year, it was refreshing to see HP not rely heavily on Christmas themes which are pervasive in each of the novels/films at some point. Interestingly, while we had a year one themed calendar in 2019, we went back to year one this time, albeit with a purpose- to build our way to Hogwarts chronologically. I did appreciate this approach and telling the story of the film through each day. That brings me to the game-board- obviously this is a value-add for kids and teens, as it gives them something to do once the calendar is complete. It also allows the builds to survive a little longer before being parted to the bulk bin. Having a designated space on the calendar box for each build was also neat, and I give TLG credit for this new idea.

That said, while the majority of the characteristics of this calendar were a plus (e.g. game board, storyline, unique figs, scale builds) there were a couple drawbacks. I think excluding Hagrid from this calendar is a massive oversight- if we’re gonna talk about the journey to Hogwarts, he is so instrumental in Year 1 especially prior to Harry arriving at Hogwarts. A white bearded, festive trench coat wearing Hagrid on Day 24 would have been the perfect ending to a great calendar. Speaking of which, HP continues its trend of finishing out calendars poorly as they’ve done in the past. The spinner device on Day 24 was a sad ending to an otherwise great calendar. I would have preferred to get this on Day 1, so we had it in our hands and out of the way- not on the “best/last” day of the calendar. Oh well.

All in all, I think I’d rank this year’s HP calendar second all time, just behind 2019 but ahead of 2020. I’ll be really curious to see where they go with next year’s calendar, and if they tackle “year two” with a game board approach. That would have a lot of potential in my opinion.

That’s it folks! I’d like to take this time to thank both Steve and Patrick for their insightful reviews and commitment to the Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars on NewfoundLUG.ca. I hope that you, the reader, enjoyed following along with our daily matchups for a laugh, and if you have any thoughts or suggestions of your own, we’d love to hear the feedback!

On behalf of my fellow reviewers and the rest of NewfoundLUG, we’d like to wish you and yours a safe, relaxing, and brick filled holidays!

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