Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 9

Day 9 begins with all three calendars still neck and neck. Let’s see how it shakes out on this Thursday:

Day 9- MCU

Steve: Day 9 for the MCU LEGO Advent Calendar – can we hold our lead?

Today’s door gives us a Christmas present and a snowglobe. It’s a small build, but well done and on-theme. The bow of the present is a small arc reactor, which is a nice touch to tie the build to the MCU. The snowglobe actually could be the “Proof That Tony Stark Has a Heart” gift that Pepper Potts gives to Tony in “Iron Man” which would be a nice throwback to the original MCU movie (as well as being present in hs funeral scene in Endgame). Overall, solid if small build.

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Day 9- SW

Patrick: Day Number 9 of the Star Wars advent provides us with an accessory for yesterday’s Tusken Raider, as well as a bit of terrain for him to stand on. While the sandy terrain and clip build is unimpressive, its a practical way to create a weapon holder naturally. And speaking of the weapon, the one included here is the traditional weapon and tool of Tusken Raiders, the Gaffi Stick. Its an effective enough build, though I would have liked to have gotten the Gaffi Stick yesterday and ditched the sand build altogether.

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Day 9- HP

Matt: On Day 9, we get…a wall. All in all, it’s just a…nevermind.

Ok, not just any wall. It’s the magical entrance to Diagon Alley, found out back of the Leaky Cauldron. We are still proceeding chronologically through the first novel/film at this point so that’s nice to see. The build itself actually contains nice colours, but more importantly, employs some neat building techniques. The inverted 1×3 dark brown tile is definitely a rarer part, and it allows us to build the right-half of the wall upside down. Really cool to see. By doing this, we get an entranceway that’s able to split in half, just like the film, bringing an element of functionality to today’s build. It fits nicely on to the game board, and would arguably be one of the cooler functions when playing through the game, as your character passes through the entrance. Overall though, a shaky entry for HP today that will likely divide fans. Heading into discussion phase, I honestly don’t know which gift will come out on top today.

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Verdict

All reviewers agreed that the builds from all three calendars today were disappointing in their own way. That said, we made a rule from the start to select a first, second, and third place finisher each day- so we had to form a consensus. All builds are “on theme” and to scale today, so each one tied across those metrics. MCU/HP have either a functional element (ie. the wall splits and opens) or festive element (presents for Christmas). SW lacked both, and also split the Tusken Raider and his accessory over two days, similar to HP’s fireplace from Day’s 3 & 4. For that reason, SW finishes in 3rd place.

It came down to function vs festive. Buildable gifts are a common occurrence in advent calendars, but MCU has some neat parts. However, HP’s does too. The slightest of edges was ultimately given to HP, due to the building techniques employed to achieve the final result along with its functionality. MCU therefore gets 2nd place while HP edges out the full two points.

As such, we are floored (or rather, walled) that HP came out on top today, and Day 9 will forever live on in advent calendar infamy as one of the darkest days during the 2021 season. With today’s abysmal results, the score is now:

MCU- 10

HP- 10

SW- 7

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 8

MCU/HP are neck and neck, but SW has slipped behind. Can they get back into the mix today? Read on:

Day 8- MCU

Steve: We’re ending off the first 1/3 of the calendars today, and the MCU entry comes in festive with a gift-wrapping station.

It’s a nice build that can clip into the Hall of Armour set (like the previous wreath entry). This also means the two builds connect to make a background for your figs.

The build itself has some creative part usage (love the door element as a roll of gift wrap!) and definitely returns the MCU entries to the Holiday Season.

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Day 8- SW

Patrick: Cluing up the first third of the calendar, day number 8 for Star Wars gives us another great army building figure, a Tusken Raider. These guys are seen in both seasons of the Mandalorian, though more prominently in season 2, so his inclusion is welcomed. This version of the Tusken has been seen in 4 sets in the last couple years, and has great torso and leg printing, as well as an awesome molded head. While he is a great figure to get, the advent calendar is actually the most expensive set he appears in, meaning he’s a relatively common figure. Its also too bad he doesn’t have an item to hold like a Gaffi Stick, but after the unarmed Stormtrooper I’m not surprised. This seems to be the start of a transition into Tatooine builds from Imperial, and I’m all for it!

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Day 8- HP

Matt: Coming off the heels of three consecutive days of strong entries, HP looks to keep it going. Unfortunately, today’s entry cannot live up to expectations. On Day 8, we get a small table complete with a bottle and two mugs. I know what LEGO was trying to go for here- a continuation of the Leaky Cauldron scene (“Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can’t believe I’m meeting you at last”). This is in line with the calendar’s “Journey to Hogwarts” theme- but today’s entry doesn’t impress. I do like the flat silver mugs, and if you owned previous HP advent calendars, these do match the plates we’ve received before. So you could be building your own silver place settings by now. That said, the entry must be judged on its own merits, and as such, it’s disappointing especially versus today’s competition. Pour one out for ol’ Harry, cause this one is a bust.

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Verdict

SW gets a much needed two points today with its Tusken Raider minifigure. In “The Battle of the Tables”, MCU gets the 2nd place point, with a festive offering that also connects to a previous day’s entry. In 3rd place, the cauldron is certainly leaky as HP can’t offer much today. The scores are now:

MCU- 9

HP- 8

SW- 7

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 7

Rounding out the first 7 days of Advent, we still have a very closely contested battle on our hands. Onward to the results:

Day 7- MCU

Steve: Marvel ends the first week with a strong entry – a unique Spider-Man mini-figure!

Spidey comes with a mug for hot chocolate and a churro for snacking on. The torso print is new, a letterman-style jacket with a “Spider-Man” logo across the back (even Spidey needs a jacket in that New York winter weather). The head print is crisp, with printing front and back, and while I wish the legs had some print, overall this is a great figure.

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Day 7- SW

Patrick: Day 7 of the Star Wars advent reveals another obscure micro vehicle build, though I like this one quite a bit more. I’m pretty sure what this is is Mythrol’s Speeder from Chapter 12: The Siege of the Mandalorian. It’s what Mando, Cara, Greef, and Mythrol pull up to the Imperial Outpost in, and funnily enough, it gets destroyed by the Imperial Marauder, the micro we received yesterday during an escape attempt! The speeder is similar to Luke’s X-34 Landspeeder from Episode 4 except blue, and the windscreen only covers the drivers seat. This was honestly a complex little build and has great shaping. It’s cool to expand the micro speeder fleet, especially with ones as obscure as this. However, it’ll have some tough competition.

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Day 7- HP

Matt: After stellar performances over the last two days, I’m expecting HP to fizzle out shortly. However, that day is not today! Behind Door #7 is an exclusive, printed sign of The Leaky Cauldron! This is the first time that the wizarding pub has truly been alluded to in LEGO form. I am a sucker for unique printed tiles and signs, especially on this 2×3 flag tile. This print would be a perfect companion piece to Diagon Alley or any HP layout/scene in general. I think it is one of my personal favorites from the calendar so far, and a total surprise to me.

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It’s worth noting that the HP calendar continues to follow the chronological order of the first novel/film. The Leaky Cauldron is of course the entrance to Diagon Alley, the wizarding world’s premier shopping grounds. Perhaps we will see some builds related to the famous street? Stay tuned.

Verdict

With its exclusive minifigure, MCU takes another clear win today. In 2nd place, HP grabs the single point with its unique printed sign, and has put up three strong entries in a row. In 3rd place, SW, with another microbuild ship- there’s been a lot of those so far.

A small gap has opened up between frontrunners MCU/HP and trailing SW. The latter will need to bounce back with a good showing tomorrow to stay in the running. The scores are now:

MCU- 8

HP- 8

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 6

After a back and forth weekend, all calendars are still in the running as we begin a new week leading up to the holidays. Let’s see if MCU hangs on to the lead or if we have a new frontrunner on Day 6:

Day 6- MCU

Steve: MCU comes into the first full week with a lead – can they hold on? Door #6 is a table set for a BBQ. Like yesterday, it is a good build – the hamburger in particular is made with an interesting technique – but again, like yesterday, it doesn’t fit the theme or the season. Good build, odd choice.

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Day 6- SW

Patrick: Behind the door for day number 6 is another micro build that stays on theme with the Imperial stuff we’ve been getting over the last few days. This 20-piece rendition of the Trexler-6 Armoured Marauder, seen in Chapter 12 of the Mandalorian, is well shaped and solid, much like its official set, 75311. Unfortunately, while it is accurate, its pretty unimpressive, and outside of some nice ingots and SNOT (Studs Not On Top) pieces, there’s not much here to scrap for either. Star Wars, again, relies on the other calendars being disappointing for the micro build to clutch out some points.

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Day 7- HP

Matt: After snagging first place yesterday to stay in the running, HP looks to keep the momentum going. Behind Door #6 is none other than Dudley Dursley. Continuing the island scene, Dudley is presented to us in his stripped pj’s and cowlick-style hair, accurate to the film. This is one of the first real fun moments of the movie where Dudley begins eating the cake gifted to Harry on Day #5, and Hagrid hits him with a “pig tail” spell (“I shouldn’t have done that…”- Hagrid). I love the fact that the pigtail is represented on the back of the torso. A dual molded face is included as well, expressing Dudley’s shock and horror at his new tail. This is a unique, exclusive print for Dudley and as far as I know only the second time he has been represented in LEGO form. An accessory may have been nice but this figure should receive top marks on the day.

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Verdict

For the first time this season, HP puts up back-to-back strong entries with an exclusive Dudley Dursley minifig and as such, wins its second consecutive day. In 2nd place, SW offers a microscale build that has just enough to edge out MCU, with another backyard BBQ themed build.

With that, the overall lead switches, and the scores are now:

HP- 7

MCU- 6

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 5

As we round off the weekend, only two points separate 1st place from 3rd. Let’s see how Day 5 plays out:

Day 5- MCU

Steve: Day 5 of the MCU Advent Calendar is a… BBQ? This is a perfectly well-designed minifig-scale grill, It includes a chicken leg for cooking as well as a fire extinguisher. It’s just an odd choice as it does really fit in the Marvel theme or the Christmas theme.

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Day 5- SW

Patrick: The build behind door number 5 of the Star Wars advent makes a weapons rack look like a UCS. These targets for Day 4’s E-web are a decent idea in theory, but getting them on their own day kinda kills them; they would have been nice to see included with the turret itself. In addition to this, it would have been nice to see some prints on the tiles for targets or bullseyes, or even the Imperial logos found in the brief Action Battle series Lego did a couple years ago; those were red AND had the Imperial Insignia. The only saving grace is the use of those nice torch pieces for the target bases and the new-ish 1×1 snot plate for the connection. All in all, these will be in my bulk by New Years.

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Day 5- HP

Matt: After failing to secure any points over the last 2 days, HP really needs to bounce back to stay in the race early on. Behind the door on Day #5 is the “HAPPEE BIRTHDAE HARRY” birthday cake, given to him by none other than Rubeus Hagrid in book/film one. This is an exclusive print on a 2×2 round tile, and arguably the first time TLG has addressed this scene in the franchise. Even as a kid reading the novels I really enjoyed this scene, as it was the first time Harry’s birthday had truly been acknowledged by anyone, the Dursley’s included. In addition to that, it also was a symbolic introduction to Hagrid who would go on to form an important relationship with Harry and Co. throughout the series. The pink frosting and green wording are true to the film and novel as well (I believe). The box it fits in is designed well enough. I think the 3×3 white plate, while welcome, is a little too “clunky” for the build, but nevertheless does the job. I wonder if this will be all for the “island” scene where Hagrid tracks down Harry and the Dursley’s, who are “on the run” from the constant Hogwarts acceptance letters. We shall see tomorrow but for now, it should be a cakewalk for HP, pardon the pun.

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Verdict- After two straight losses, HP takes the cake on Day 5 (ok, puns end now) with its exclusive 2×2 printed tile. In 2nd place, MCU, with a grill that while not festive or thematic, is well built. In 3rd place, not much of anything from SW, with lackluster targets. At least it gives the entry on Day 4 something to shoot at. HP and SW swap places, while MCU retains the lead. The scores are now:

MCU- 6

HP- 5

SW- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 4

Everything is tied up heading into the weekend. Something’s gotta give on Day 4. Let’s find out:

Day 4- MCU

Steve: For Day 4 the MCU Calendar gives us a minifigure – Black Widow. It’s not a unique figure, but it is a good one. Metallic printing on the torso looks really sharp, even though it isn’t a unique print. A very nice touch is printing on the arms, something often left off Advent Calendar figs. Rounding out the figure is a pair of her trademark electric fighting sticks and a marshmallow on the end for roasting.

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Day 4- SW

Patrick: Behind door Number 4 is, in my opinion, the first stellar build for this advent calendar. This small E-Web Turret build is a great scale and has great shaping with the lightsaber and the BB-9E dome piece towards the barrel. I could give or take the stud shooter on top, but that can be omitted and the build still looks solid. An extra white stud is included, I guess its a snowball launcher? Either way, great minifig scale gun build and nice addition to my Imperial collection!

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Day 4- HP

Matt: After a fireplace entry yesterday, I expect something to adorn the side clips. Unfortunately, I am correct. Behind the door is…err…an accessory pack. A broom, shovel, festive wreath, and three 1×2 printed envelopes are included on Day 4. It’s hard to be happy about this as an advent calendar gift, but having followed the HP calendars over the last couple years, I’m not surprised to see it. HP has a tendency to combine entries over multiple days to form a complete build/scene. Personally, I feel like this strategy “cheapens” each offering individually, but as a whole, the result is pretty cool. We now have a festive fireplace, with functioning chute, and accessories. I just wish this happened over one day rather than two.

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Verdict

MCU is the clear winner here today with the Black Widow minifigure. SW takes 2nd place due to its scale build and function. HP brings up the rear again for the second day in row, although the completed fireplace build is now pretty great. As such, the scores are now:

MCU- 5

SW- 4

HP- 3

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 3

The opening days saw all three calendars remain close. Let’s see what the final day of this week brings us heading into the weekend:

Day 3- MCU

Steve: Marvel has some catching up to do to get back on top for Day 3 – let’s open that door! Door# 3 gives us a Hall of Armour Wreath. It’s nice to see a little festive and seasonal build from the MCU calendar. The build itself has the connections to be integrated into the larger Hall of Armour set (set #76125), which is a nice touch. I also like to see minifig-scaled builds instead of micro scale.

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Day 3- SW

Patrick: After a couple of micro builds, getting a minifigure behind door number 3 of the Star Wars advent is a welcome change! This Stormtrooper is the newest version Lego has been using since 2019, and while there are some valid complaints about the size and depth of the helmet, as well as lack of articulation, this is still a solid inclusion as an army-building figure. The dual-molded helmets Lego have been doing recently are great, and the torso and leg print is accurate as always. However, my main concern is not with the figure possesses, but what it lacks: a blaster. Since 2016, the advent calendar minifigures, in Star Wars at least, have been included WITH their accessories. However before that, “weapon racks” were included on their own days, containing a couple accessories for figs without. I worry the unarmed Stormtrooper might mark the return of weapon racks, but only time will tell…

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Day 3- HP

Matt: After two days of solid entries, HP looks to keep the momentum going as it begins to build its board game style scene.  

Behind Door #3 is a… hearth/mantle/fireplace? It’s not immediately clear what this build is, which is always a concerning sign. Steve pointed out that initially I had it photographed lying on its back, rather than upright. After orienting it the correct way, I did like the result slightly more, but all in all, there’s nothing inherently “HP” about this, in my opinion. Patrick pointed out that the hearth, while not festive, does contribute toward building the scene where Harry receives hundreds of Hogwarts acceptance letters into the Dursley’s living room. I suppose in that way it is related.

Arguably the most redeeming aspect of this build is the play feature- you can insert the 2×3 black “flag” tile into the slot above the fireplace, to stop the letters from coming down the chute. This adds some synergy with the 1×2 envelope tile from Day 1. All in all, it’s fun, but just ok.

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Verdict

SW captures top marks for the first time in the battle with its Stormtrooper minifig entry. The battle for 2nd place was contested today, with both MCU and HP offering mediocre builds. Ultimately we favored the MCU build, as it incorporated a “festive” element that HP does not. HP takes 3rd place today with a confusing build, albeit a neat play feature.

Heading into the weekend, we’re all square:

MCU- 3

SW- 3

HP- 3

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 2

After a great opening day for each calendar, let’s see how things shake out in Day 2:

Day 2- MCU

Steve: MCU comes off a Day 1 win. Can they keep the momentum?

No.

No, they can’t.

Day 2 reveals an energy blast pack. It’s impossible not to feel disappointed by this, it’s not even a build. It works great as accessories for the Day-1 Tony Stark figure, but in terms of being excited at what we saw when we opened the door, this day was a bust.

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Day 2- SW

Patrick: Behind the door for day 2 is another micro ship build, though this one is a little less recognizable than the Razorcrest we got on day 1. What this is is a micro version of Riot Mar’s Starfighter seen in Season 1: Chapter 5 of the Mandalorian – he’s the bounty hunter who Mando is engaged in a dogfight with at the beginning of the episode. Considering who comes out on top there, I’m surprised to see this ship included in the advent calendar. The design is fine I guess, but its barely seen on screen and theres hardly a reference image online to compare it with. What saves this build here is its length and wingspan, taking up a pretty big space for a micro build. Its also pretty nice to get a micro bounty hunter ship as most micro builds are good guys or bad guys.

The Star Wars advent seems to be off to a slow start, but its still early!

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Day 2- HP

Matt: HP’s Day 1 offering went back to the series’ roots with the Privet Drive sign. The build has been placed in its appropriate spot on the board game mat. We don’t know how it all will come together just yet, but let’s see where Day 2 takes us.

Behind the door is the Boy Who Lived himself, Harry Potter. Despite the numerous iterations of Harry in LEGO form, you can’t really have an HP calendar and not expect to see the main character himself show up.

It appears we are sticking to the Year 1 theme again, as this iteration of Harry represents his Pre-Hogwarts form from the first novel/film. This explains the baggy, oversized clothing he is wearing, arguably a hand-me-down from Dudley Dursley. This would also explain the exclusion of his typical dark brown wand that often shows up with his character in LEGO form, as he doesn’t know he is a wizard yet (“You’re a wizard, Harry!”).

What’s particularly awesome about today’s entry is that this figure (in particular the torso piece), has only appeared once before, in set 75978 Diagon Alley, a massive, super-expensive, but awesome LEGO set. So to be able to get this variant of the figure in an advent calendar represents extremely great value. You could even argue it is unique/exclusive, as his dual-sided head is different than the one in Diagon Alley (albeit, still commonly used for Harry).

All in all, I’m happy with today’s entry and I believe HP fans will be too!

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Verdict

With HP presenting a unique minifigure today, it’s gets the top spot to take the full two points today. In second, Star Wars gets on the board with its first point of the season with its ship microbuild. In last place, MCU, providing a basic accessory pack that’ll likely still be popular with kids.

The score is now:

HP- 3

MCU- 2

SW- 1

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 1

It’s that time of year again, and we’re back with our annual Head-to-Head LEGO Advent Calendar Battle, for NewfoundLUG.ca. After beginning the battle in the comments section of Brickset.com in 2019, this is now our 2nd year running the battle on our own LUG website. We’re thrilled to get the ball rolling on this year’s battle and we hope you follow along, share your thoughts, and most of all have fun.

Day 1- Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

Stephen Churchill here, and I will be reviewing the 2021 MCU Advent Calendar this year, making its debut on the licensed advent calendar scene. Based on the spoiler builds revealed on the box art, we are sticking to the Civil War to Endgame section of the MCU timeline, but nothing from the TV shows (which were covered by the CMF series) or the more recent movies. Let’s jump in with Day 1.

Marvel starts the 2021 advent season with a unique and festive mini figure- Holiday Sweater Tony Stark The figure has both helmet and hair, always a welcome addition. The print for the holiday sweater is unique and includes “Tony” across the back. Add in some transparent light blue pieces for repulsor blasts and foot jets, and it’s just a solid fig all around.

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Day 1- Star Wars (SW)

Hey everyone, I (Patrick Barnes) will be reviewing the daily Star Wars advent calendar builds. This is my 11th consecutive year purchasing the Lego Star Wars advent calendar, and its become a telltale sign of Christmas approaching at home! By the looks of the box, this year will have advent builds mostly correlated with the two seasons of the Mandalorian. Follow along at home and get active in the NewfoundLUG Facebook group if you disagree with our picks or would like to review the advent build of the day yourself!

Behind door number 1 of Star Wars’ advent calendar is this neat little Razorcrest build using a whopping 25 pieces. While this is a great and effective model that properly captures the angles and colours of the in-universe ship, it is hindered by the inclusion of a very similar model in the 2020 advent calendar. This model does utilize some new and improved techniques to recreate the engines, and I don’t know if dark tan tiles were the best colours to use on the sides, but otherwise it is a great little build. Especially surprising to see it included again here considering (SPOILERS FOR MANDO S2) its fate in the show.

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Day 1- Harry Potter (HP)

Entering the ring for the first time and making its advent calendar debut is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) theme. We decided it would be fun to allow MCU to join incumbents Star Wars (SW) and Harry Potter (HP), and let the three themes duke it out for licensed festive supremacy.

My name is Matthew Zwicker and this is my 3rd year reviewing the HP calendar. For the 2021 season, I find myself at somewhat of a crossroads. In 2019, HP made a fantastic rookie debut with a great calendar full of unique offerings and a breath of fresh air on the advent calendar scene. I felt that 2020’s “Yule Ball” themed calendar took a slight step back, but it was still widely well-received by the general population (so maybe it was just me). This year, I’m curious to see which direction HP will take- will they stick to each novel individually or will they leverage their Christmas theme pervasive throughout all books? Let’s take a look.

Upon opening the box, we initially see that the calendar is attempting to incorporate each build into a board game, where each build has a designated space on the board. I’m going to be very curious to track this progression and see how the game plays out. But for now, let’s check out what’s behind Door #1.

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Today’s offering is a rendition of the now-classic Privet Drive sign. Going back to the very roots and opening scenes of both novel and film series, the sign is presented on a 1×4 printed tile. It’s curious to note that retail set 75698 (4 Privet Drive) does NOT include a printed tile but uses a sticker instead. This distinctly reminds me of 2019’s calendar which gifted us with printed tiles in place of their sticker counterparts in other sets. It’s a curious trend but obviously a welcome one, as printed tiles are infinitely more valuable/desirable than stickers. Add in a 1×2 printed envelope tile, and today’s offering is usable scale build, if not the strongest entry possible. An owl would have been ideal to accompany the sign.

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Verdict

The battle had begun with a bang, the loudest of which is clearly MCU, blessing us with the gift of a unique festive Tony Stark- checking off all the boxes that you love to see in an advent calendar gift.

In second place, HP ekes out a point owing to its printed 1×4 tile and offering a “to-scale build” that can be implemented in HP sets/layouts.

Third place goes to SW. A decent microbuild that was represented in last year’s calendar yet offers a welcome entry to those who may be just jumping on board this year.

After Day 1, the score is:

MCU- 2

HP- 1

SW- 0

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars Begins Tomorrow!

Our 2nd annual “Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars” begins tomorrow! This is our annual December Advent Battle running on NewfoundLUG.ca, typically pitting the Star Wars Advent Calendar against the Harry Potter Advent Calendar. This year however, a new entrant joins the battle- the Marvel Advent Calendar- making this the first 3-way battle to date!

This daily battle runs until December 24th and is just a fun way to compare the daily advent calendar gifts that come in each of the three calendars.

Each daily offering will be ranked by the reviewers and earn points as follows:
1st Place- 2 points
2nd Place- 1 point
3rd Place- 0 points

At the end of the 24 days, the calendar with the most points wins!

Our daily reviewers for each calendar are Stephen Churchill (Marvel), Patrick Barnes (Star Wars), and Matthew Zwicker (Harry Potter).

Best of luck to all advent calendars and see you tomorrow for Day 1!