Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 8

The battle of the microbuilds is alive and well between SW and HP, with poor ol MCU on the outside looking in. Let’s see if these calendars can start putting up some good entries as we complete the first third of the seasonal battle.

Day 8- MCU

Steve: On the eighth day of Christmas, the Guardians gave to meeeee….

…a turkey.

Look, if they are not going to put effort into the builds, I am certainly not putting effort into any rhymes.

The MCU is slipping more and more behind and needs to really step up their game with door #8.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.  We get a festive (?) turkey and a flame for day 8.

There’s literally nothing I can say here.  It’s a turkey.  It’s not a cool, sci-fi Marvel-esque turkey, it’s a cooked bird.  The flame was confusing, and only by looking at the box do I see that it’s supposed to be used as a flame effect of Rocket’s gun build – arguably extending the Rocket minifig to a THREE day build.

Day 8- SW

Pat: The microbuilds continue for Star Wars, and this one is ALMOST as perfect a microbuild as I could ask for. See, the problem with the microbuilds, in my opinion, is I can’t easily add them to my existing Star Wars battles or collections, due to them being seriously scaled down. Some really tiny ships could make cool minifig-scale toys, dioramas, or holograms, but they don’t lend themselves as well to the theme as say, Harry Potter micros fleshing out the UCS Hogwarts, for example. If there was ever going to be an ideal Star Wars micro though, its what we got behind door number 8, a T-16 Skyhopper. This is a ship we’ve seen a couple times before as system-scale sets, once as a microfighter, but never as a micro calendar build, so its cool to see. The build is solid, albeit too front-heavy to stand up, and effectively achieves the angles and fin of the in-universe ship. The second spare ski pole of the calendar is a sweet bonus too!

So why is it a near-perfect Star Wars microbuild? Well, in Episode 4 in 1977, during the Death Star briefing, Luke exclaims hitting the thermal reactor port isn’t that hard; “It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two meters”. Many fans assumed Luke was referring to his Landspeeder he sold to get off Tatooine, but in reality, he’s referring to this little recreational ship seen incredibly briefly in the background of Luke’s subterranean garage, and also as a small toy ship he is seen fooling around with. The toy prop was introduced in 1977, and since expanded on in the Obi-Wan Kenobi show as a gift to Luke. A screenshot of the scene can be seen below; if the build was just a little smaller, it could be an effective toy held by a figure.

Day 8- HP

Andrew: Today’s microbuild represents a pivotal part of the Prisoner of Azkaban story, depicting the Dementors by the forest lake. The highlight for me are the Dementors themselves, represented by the same “cloaked microfig” that were used for Dementors in the big Hogwarts Castle (71043) set. Those pieces have appeared in a number of Star Wars sets in trans-light blue and black, but this was my first time getting my hands on them and I was delighted by them.

The scene itself uses a few small limb elements and some brown bars to make trees, and the use of some basic plates in 2 colours simply conveys the sense of the forest and the lake water. I appreciated the use of a pair of wedge plates to make for a more interesting shoreline in the limited 2×4 space this build was working in. Overall, this is a pleasing combination of colours, continuing a trend started yesterday with the Knight Bus.

The “floating” of the Dementors is also nicely achieved through use of a trans-clear round 1×1 and through attaching to the tree branches. It immediately evoked images of the Dementors closing in on Sirius on the lakeshore. This is definitely my favourite of the microbuilds so far, but I will admit I’m already planning on stealing the microfigs to represent Darth Vader toys in the custom toy store I’m planning for my Lego city.

Verdict

Microbuilds continue to steal the show in a manner of speaking. Today, the edge goes to HP with one of its better microbuilds to date. In second, SW, with one of their best entries as well. And for fear of sounding like broken-record (or Quill’s cassette player?), MCU finishes off the scoresheet once again.

The scores are now:

SW- 10

HP- 10

MCU- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 7

HP and SW remain close, but seem to be pulling away from MCU a bit early on. Fortunately, there’s still tons of runway left for all three calendars. Let’s see how today played out:

Day 7- MCU

Steve:  On the Seventh day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeee…. A gun that goes with someone previousleeee.

(The rhymes are getting harder)

Door 7 for the MCU brings us a buildable weapon for Rocket. It’s no surprise, we saw it on the box, but it is still disappointing when they spread one build over two days. 

The gun is appropriately, hilariously oversized for Rocket, and looks pretty good in his hand. The build has some interesting ideas – using a thicker droid arm as a shoulder stock is nice, something I might try on some other blaster designs. 

Overall, MCU needed a win to stay competitive but I don’t think this door delivers. 

Day 7- SW

Pat: Day 7 for Star Wars brings us the best micro version of a ship we’ve seen countless times before, Luke’s Landspeeder! Like clockwork, it has been 4 years since we’ve gotten our last micro Luke’s Landspeeder (2018), and it was 4 years before that we got the first (2014). Peppered between the years are Luke’s Landspeeders in System scale, macro scale, even Ultimate Collectors Series scale – so how does this Landspeeder stand above? Well for starters, they correctly achieve the busted engine on one of the side thrusters, like Luke’s full sized one has in Episode 4. We also get a little white stud representing Luke, and a little gold stud representing C-3PO, which is cool to see. This version is missing a few of the colours of the other ones, like the dark red used in previous years for the base, and its super hard to say if I think it looks better or worse without it – it looks more accurate for sure, but kinda less Lego-y? Super minor gripe though, solid build all around for what is supposedly the calendar’s stop at Ep. 4 as it progresses through the canon (so far episode 2 builds, followed by episode 3 and bad batch, followed by episode 4, implies the calendar is going chronologically.

Day 7- HP

Andrew: Day 7 predictably brings us back to another microbuild, but this time featuring a Prisoner of Azkaban scene, specifically the Knight Bus.

The build of the bus is quite simple (a stack of mostly 1×2 plates), but brings some much needed colour after 2 days of blacks and greys. The build also makes use of its game-piece base to flesh out the environment of the bus, providing a sidewalk with a lamppost as well as a section of road the bus is driving on. As a result, despite the overall simplicity of the build, I found it very evocative, and looking at the finished build immediately brought to mind the first time I saw the Knight Bus on screen long ago.

While I’m not the biggest fan of microbuilds, this one strikes me as better than average, being an unmistakable representation of an early scene in this story. As such it deserves some praise. But it remains to be seen if it can beat the competition.

Verdict

Two microbuilds for SW and HP again, but this time the edge goes to SW with its landspeeder. A close second goes to the Knight Bus. In third again is MCU with a cool gun for Rocket, but ultimately feels like one gift spread out over two days.

As such, the scores are now:

SW- 9

HP- 8

MCU- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 6

After capturing a full two points yesterday, MCU is right back in the thick of things but still trails HP and SW. Let’s see how it all plays out on Day 6.

Day 6- MCU

Steve: On the sixth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeee….a box of junk I didn’t want to seeee…

Marvel comes off a win on day 5, let’s see if they can keep the momentum going!

In a word….Nope.

The MCU’s entry for day 5 is literally just a box of… stuff. Bricklink says it’s a “tool box”, making it the second tool storage in six days. A few mildly interesting parts don’t save this build –  a gold arrow for Yondu/Kraglin and an eyeball print  (with a spare) that I assume represents Rocket’s ongoing obsession with collecting prosthetics. 

This one is destined for the sorting bin. 

Day 6- SW

Pat: The prequel train slows down with our build behind day number 6, but its a super cool build nonetheless! The Star Wars calendar gives us our first micro version of the Bad Batch Havoc Marauder Shuttle with an impressive 19 pieces. It uses some sweet sand blue plates and bricks, and effectively captures the shaping of the in-universe ship. This is also surprisingly only our third “set” from The Bad Batch, with the two previous being the full sized Bad Batch Shuttle 75314, and the newer Justifier set, 75323. I’m doubtful we’ll get anything else from the Bad Batch in the calendar, though a figure could have been sweet. Oftentimes, the Star Wars calendars include a non-festive unique figure, such as Young Boba in 2013, U-3PO in 2016, General Merrick in 2018, and Ep. 8 Luke Skywalker in 2019. A Bad Batch figure in line with that would give this calendar a serious bump over previous years’,

Either way, great micro build, super happy to add it to the collection!

Day 6- HP

Andrew: For Day 6 we get some more relief from microbuilds in the form of Moaning Myrtle. A bit of searching tells me that the last (and only other) version of Myrtle was from the 2020 Harry Potter Collectible Minifigure Series 2, and this new one is quite different from her earlier appearance.

While the print on the torso and hair piece seem to be the same, they are both in a more greyish colour compared to the bluish tint on the CMF version. While the version included for day 6 has a new face print for this character, the lack of print on the legs makes the calendar version decidedly inferior to the previous release. That said, this would seem to count as an exclusive version of the character, and is a good way to add her to the collection for anyone who missed the 2020 version.

Myrtle is a nice figure to get, and one that ties in with the run of Chamber of Secrets-themed microbuilds, but is completely lacking in any accessories. Her drab ghostly appearance is also somewhat lacking in visual excitement. As such, if she is up against another calendar’s minifig in today’s shootout, she may have a hard time taking the win.

Verdict

With an exclusive figure only represented once in LEGO before, it’s a no brainer today as HP grabs the full 2 points. In second place, SW with a Bad Batch microbuild. In third, MCU can’t gain any momentum with an absolutely poor entry.

The scores are now:

SW- 7

HP-7

MCU- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 5

After one of the worst days across all calendars in recent memory, the competition is looking to get back on track and put that pain behind us. Also, we have a new special guest reviewer and fellow LUG member Andrew House who will be covering the HP reviews over the next few days! Hopefully a strong entry emerges from at least one calendar today. Let’s find out.

Day 5- MCU

Steve: On the fifth day of Christmas the Guardians have to meeee…. A raccoon who’s always angry.

The MCU needs a “W” to keep up with the others, and door #5 finally puts them back on the board with a Rocket Raccoon mini-figure!

He’s not unique, but this version has only been in one set before. The torso print is solid although no arm print. The tail piece looks great as well.

My only complaint is that there’s no weapon or accessory included a possible portent of a weapon rack to come I fear. 

Day 5- SW

Pat: Ah, so I was close. Day 5 gives us a classic Star Wars Battle Droid with a gun metal grey blaster. This is an almost-obligated inclusion in advent calendars (we didn’t get one in the Mando themed calendar), but as I mentioned yesterday, it’s a bit of a letdown get. It’s also strange the builds flipped factions there, like if day 3 was the Republic Assault Ship day 4 build, then there would be 3 Republic gifts forllowed by 2 or more Separatist gifts – Lego generally bunches the faction gifts in sets. Not a complaint or anything, just an observation. Either way, solid Battle Droid minifig, this makes his 50th inclusion in a set, and I hope to see 50 more.

Day 5- HP

Andrew House (Guest Reviewer): As a new participant in this process, I want to state up front that what I like most out of are little minifigure-scale builds that I can use to accessorize other larger sets and enhance the worldbuilding and storytelling of my collection. As such, this year’s Harry Potter Advent Calendar fully leaning into the buildable “game” experience is leaving me somewhat unsatisfied.

For day 5 we get a microbuild of the Chamber of Secrets, specifically the Slytherin statue’s face with the basilisk emerging from its mouth. It is… grey. With an accent colour of… grey. It has a small part count, with the only interesting pieces being the snake decoration representing the basilisk and the hinge plate being used to make the statue’s nose.

You may be getting the sense that I am underwhelmed, and you would be correct. After building an enjoyable minifigure-scale representation of this scene in the Hogwarts Chamber of Secrets set (76389), this microbuild is unimpressive. If it weren’t for the snake piece I wouldn’t even know what I was looking at. At least most of the pieces are pretty plain and will be easy to use for something else.

Verdict

With its Rocket Racoon figure, MCU grabs the top spot on Day 5, coming at the perfect time and keeping it in the running early on. In second place, SW grabs a single point with its Battle Droid. Finishing off the scoreboard is HP with its Statue of Slytherin microbuild.

The scores are now:

SW- 6

HP- 5

MCU- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 4

After the first three days, it’s perhaps fitting that each calendar has secured a victory. Who will be the first to obtain their second? Read on!

Day 4- MCU

Steve: On the fourth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeee…. I gift I didn’t want to seeee…

I said yesterday that “presents are the weapon rack” for the MCU, meaning a lacklustre build with not much going for it.

Well, for 2022 the MCU gives us a tool rack for day 4. Not much to discuss  here, there’s not many parts (7 total) and a very simple build. The only thing it has going for it is a relatively rare (to me) dynamite piece.

I’m not liking the trajectory this calendar is taking. 

Day 4- SW

Pat: I could’ve sworn after yesterday’s Droid Tri-fighter, today we would get the dreaded standard Battle Droid today (not a bad figure to have lots of, but admittedly feels like a letdown of a calendar gift). However I was surprised to see a Republic Assault Ship behind day number 4, marking our 3rd time getting this in small-scale from Lego. Less popular than its Venator or Arquitens – Class counterparts, the Acclamator-Class Republic Assault Ship was seen sparingly in Star Wars Episode 2 and 3, as well as the Clone Wars.

We’ve seen this ship twice before; once in the 2013 calendar, and once in the Coruscant Planet Series where it was a little bit larger of a build. Though all have been solid, including this one, it’s hard to get excited over a design that hasn’t been made into an official, proper set, and is barely seen in the movies. The new 2 x 3 ⅔ wing plates are nice to get more of, and it’s always nice to expand the Republic fleet, but overall it’s only a ‘pretty good’ build on a day filled with mediocre gifts across all calendars.

Day 4- HP

Matt: HP is finally on the board in a proper way courtesy The Chosen One himself on Day 3. With seemingly random entries to date, I’m curious to see what’s behind Door #4.

Today, we get a microscale Whomping Willow with Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia. This is of course a reference to the opening few chapters (or movie scenes) of The Chamber of Secrets where Ron and Harry miss the train (I see u Dobby) and “borrow” Mr. Weasley’s flying car to get to school on time- only to crash it into Hogwarts’ infamous tree and wind up in more hot cauldron water than they might have been before. 

Funny enough, this ISN’T the first time we’ve seen a microscale Whomping Willow and Ford Anglia depicted in LEGO. It was included on this scale in the massive set 71043 Hogwarts Castle from 2018- another insanely expensive, but fantastic display set.

There are however some notable differences- here, the Whomping Willow is not near as detailed/robust as it is in 71043, notably lacking the “swinging limbs” functionality of its predecessor. The absence of that aspect of the build can be forgiven in the calendar version in my opinion, and I think the tree is at least reminiscent of both the movie and its microscale counterpart in 71043.

What CAN’T be forgiven however is the design of this particular Ford Anglia. Although it is ALMOST identical to the one in 71043, it’s missing one crucial element- the 1×1 transparent plate, representing the windshield/windows of the car. Without this piece, I feel the car is missing a critical component that makes it recognizable. Would it really have been too much to ask to include it again here? It’s deja vu all over again, and I’m getting that LEGO “cutbacks” vibe once more…

Day 4’s entry (left) versus its predecessor in 71043 Hogwarts Castle (right). Image courtesy Brickset.com.

All said, it’s another microbuild which typically ranks lower on our battle scorecard. I wouldn’t have minded this build if it was a part of the chronological retelling of The Chamber of Secrets story, as this calendar’s main theme. But with the presence of Ollivanders and a random quidditch pitch, that doesn’t appear to be the case. This build may prove novel for those who understandably didn’t spring for the $500+ set, but ultimately it is destined for my bulk pile at the end of the season- and perhaps yours, too.

Verdict

A pitiful day across all calendars resulted in tough choices for us reviewers. In the end, by virtue of its somewhat faithful recreation of a movie scene, HP squeaks out a seemingly improbable two points. In second place, SW grabs a point with its Republic Assault Ship. Bringing up the rear in what’s becoming a troubling trend, MCU with a poor entry.

As such, HP moves into a tie with SW, and the score is now:

SW- 5

HP- 5

MCU- 2

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 3

MCU has a win. SW has a win. Can HP butter hes boots? Lets find out.

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars 2022- Day 3

Day 3- MCU

Steve: On the third day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeee…. A question about what could it be…?

It’s never a great feeling when you open the build and you don’t know what you’re looking at. I had to check the listing on Bricklink to determine this was supposed to be a “Prison Drone.”  That’s an odd choice, as the Guardians haven’t been in prison since the first movie, so it has no Christmas tie-in at all.  It’s an OK build, but no parts or special pieces make this a “meh” entry at best. 

Day 3- SW

Pat: Day number 3 for Star Wars thankfully keeps with the Clone Wars theme, but no longer Republic unfortunately. We get a sweet little Droid Tri-Fighter seen in Star Wars Episode 3 and the Clone Wars, and it’s an effective enough microbuild of a tricky ship to replicate. This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a micro scale of the Droid Tri-fighter, though the technique is pretty basic. The ski pole makes a great little turret, and this is my first time seeing the little 1×1 clip in dark blue (though its pretty common), but something about the build feels pretty weak. Might be because it’s a bit spindly, or might be because its lacking the proper tri-fighter interior “dome”, but this one feels like it may end up in the bulk parts before too long.

Day 3- HP

Matt: After two mediocre builds, Harry Potter has limped into the 2022 battle. Both MCU and SW have secured victories already, so HP is looking to right the Durmstrang ship and get its first win of the season.

Enter The Boy Who Lived. Who else? The titular character arrives on Day 3, which is a couple days late to the party by my count. But no time like the present. We figure Harry will always grace us with his presence and rightfully so. Since Harry is THE most common figure of the theme, we’re always looking for whether this is an exclusive variant or hard-to-find, meaning it hasn’t been in many sets. 

Fortunately, that is indeed the case here. This particular variant of Harry (ie. Gryffindor Robe Open, Sweater, Shirt and Tie) has only appeared in one other set before- 76389 Chamber of Secrets. That retail set is a large and expensive set too, so getting this variant here in the calendar represents great value and something we’ve seen in the past.

I don’t want this to become a sideshow, but I must note the presence of the 2×4 tan plate, who’s exclusion on Day 1 & 2 in favour of 2×2 tan plates was a gripe of mine. While I had chalked it up to LEGO “cutbacks”, now I’m truly lost. If you can include it here, why not on Day 1 & 2? Am I missing something? In any event, it appears we are now adding a “player piece” to the board game, though I haven’t read the rules yet. I’ll make a point to check out the box more as we progress through each day.

Verdict

With its first minifigure of the season, HP also takes its first daily win. In second place, SW with its Droid Tri-Fighter. In third, MCU, with another visually-disheartening entry. After three days, the score is now:

SW- 4

HP- 3

MCU- 2

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 2

After MCU got off to a hot start to kick off this year’s battle. Lets see what happens here on Day 2.

Day 2- MCU

Steve: On the second Day of Christmas, The guardians gave to me – the fall from place one to place threee.

If Star Wars has it’s weapon rack as their downfall, the MCU offerings have had the days of wrapped gifts. After a strong opening, the present of headphones with… cookie? Disc? I’m not sure?  is a big fall.  We also get a minifig-scale build that is supposed to be Peter Quill’s Sony Walkman, but it’s not a great build, and even a new print can’t save this.

Day 2- SW

Pat: Star Wars keeps the prequel train going with an awesome Minifigure inclusion to go with yesterday’s Gunship, a Clone Trooper Commander! This is a hard-to-find minifigure that was originally exclusive to the 75309 UCS Gunship, before reappearing in the 40558 Command Centre Blister Pack and this advent calendar. Due to the difficulty of finding those sets, however, this will be most peoples’ first opportunity to get this fig! He is based off the Episode 2 “Commander Ponds” Clone Trooper design, seen talking with Yoda in the Battle of Geonosis, and features fantastic helmet, torso, and leg print. It is also a relief to see him with a blaster, meaning we may not have weapons racks in this years’ calendar. 

With bright light orange markings on the torso and helmet, and the new standard Clone Trooper face print, this fig is sure to be a worthwhile addition to anyone’s Clone Army!

Day 2- HP

Matt: After possibly one of the most underwhelming starts to a calendar to date, HP is looking to take a mulligan and try again on Day 2.

Did they succeed? Not really.

Behind Day 2 is another microbuild, this time of a quidditch pitch. The pearl-silver piece used for the rings is a relatively (?) new LEGO piece, appearing more frequently in the last few years, so getting three copies here is great. Aside from that, we have Gryffindor and Slytherin colors adorning the base of the platform. I wouldn’t say this pitch is attempting to replicate anything canonically accurate from the novels or  films- we know quidditch rings would be much higher up in the air, even at this scale. That likely not realistic for an advent calendar all the same. 

Overall, not much more to say here. It’s a unique new build that hasn’t been replicated in past HP advent calendars but apart from that, there’s not much to see here.

Verdict

With it’s hard-to-find minifigure, SW clearly takes the full two points and has secured their first daily win of the season. In second place, a (pearl) silver lining for HP to get on the board with a singular point. A meager effort from MCU results in no points scored on this day.

As such, the points are now:

SW- 3

MCU- 2

HP- 1

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars Begins! Day 1

Welcome back to another year of the Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars! What’s become a sort of tradition for us is now in its 3rd year on newfoundlug.ca. The battle pits the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Star Wars (SW), and Harry Potter (HP) advent calendars against each other in a just-for-fun comparison to determine the winner for the holiday season. Each day, the consensus best build gets 2 points, the second best build gets 1 point, and the remaining build scores 0 points. After Day 24, the calendar with the most points is crowned champion. Follow along with us as we embark on our 24 day journey. May the best calendar win!

Day 1- MCU

Steve: On the First Day of Christmas the MCU gave to meeeee – A unique Star Lord Miniiii!

Stephen Churchill returns as the MCU Advent calendar enters its sophomore year with “Guardians of The Galaxy” theme to tie into their new Christmas special. Disney got to get that market synergy! As only their second year, we still don’t have a lot of history to judge the MCU entries by – lets open door #1.

They start things a bang again – opening up with Peter Quill as Star Lord in a unique minifig.  The figure has a solid torso print, and includes gold parts for the jet boots.  The lack of arm or leg printing is a letdown, and the alternate face is a frown instead of the armoured “faceplate” some other Star Lord figures have used.  It’s true to his appearance in the Disney+ Special though, and is overall a solid fig.

Day 1- SW

Pat: Seasoned and salty Star Wars advent reviewer vet Pat here back with another year of the battle of the licensed advent calendars. This is Star Wars’ 12th year of LEGO advent calendars, and with it my 12th year of purchasing them. Though the quality of contents and calendar have fluctuated over the years, they have always been great additions to Star Wars collections (in my opinion), and are synonymous with the Holiday season.

As mentioned, the Star Wars advents have historically been good, even great, but suffered from a weak year in 2017 and only pretty good calendars since, more or less. This is indicated by its standings in the battle of the advent calendars, where it is yet to win 1st against the ever-festive Harry Potter and the fresh ideas of the new Marvel advents. Despite a strong finish in last years’ “The Mandalorian”-themed calendar, the Star Wars advent calendars are frequently held back by their inclusion of weak microbuilds, non-festive elements and generic minifigures. Hopefully this year Star Wars will finally bring home the gold!

The calendar is off to a good start with nicely stylized boxart featuring the three minifigures I believe to be the exclusives of the calendar (though more on them at later dates) and an AT-AT walker in a Santa hat and beard. Looks like they could be celebrating Life Day on Endor! Traditionally, the Star Wars boxarts have been a bit cartoony and attempted to fit in a variety of builds of the advent, but I found this A) ruined the surprise sometimes, and B) ruined the festive artwork of the calendar. So this is a welcomed progression for the box!

Now, to check behind door/day (I use these synonymously) number 1!

We kick off the calendar with a microbuild – it would have been uncharacteristic of the Star Wars advents not to! Here we have a pretty sweet build for a Republic Gunship seen in Episodes 2, 3, and The Clone Wars. This is a model we’ve gotten a few times before from advent calendars in 2011 and 2013, but both of those used an identical, basic build, which this 24-piece behemoth puts to shame. The build utilizes some nice Studs-Not-On-Top building (SNOT) to create the hull of the ship, and a window to achieve the open-concept cabin design. The bucket handle used for the cannons is effective enough, and the 1×1 trans clear tiles on the wings used to reflect the Clone bubble-turret laser cannons are a nice touch. I don’t really think the technique for the engine intakes is effective; White bars are a bit too thin and “hover-y” off the build for my liking, but its still a very effective micro. Special shoutout to this little modified 1×1 I’ve never seen before and would have been such an asset in building custom droids in the past.

Overall, solid start for Star Wars! Hope it keeps it up!

Day 1- HP

Matt: This is the 4th year of the Battle and also Harry Potter’s 4th Advent Calendar. HP is no longer the new kid on the block (that goes to MCU) and with that comes the risk of repeating certain builds. HP has historically put off strong calendars, though I would argue that the quality has been slipping since its inaugural 2019 calendar.

Last year, HP started a new concept by making the calendar into a game board with their calendar mini-builds. This was a novel idea that no other calendar has pursued to date. While I think this does add another level of play and intrigue and certainly brings value to the product, it likely doesn’t factor in much for the basis of this Battle. 

More than anything, I’ll be looking to see if a common theme or trend develops. In 2019, the calendar focused on Year 1 of HP. In 2020, the focus was the Yule Ball in Year 4. Last year’s 2021 calendar sort of “reset” with a Year 1 “Journey to Hogwarts” emerging as the main theme. So overall, we can’t say there’s been a trend to date- in fact, I’d call it sporadic at best.

That said, let’s see how HP kicks off the 2022 season.

Behind door 1 is an espresso maker. Nope, wait, let’s check that again. It’s 12 Grimmauld Place, the ancestral Black family home. Wait, scratch that, this is the Hall of Prophecy in the Ministry of Magic. Yes, surely that’s what it is. No? Then what is it?!

Answer: Ollivander’s wand shop on Diagon Alley.

Wow. Never before have I been so bewildered by an HP microbuild to the point where I didn’t actually know what it was attempting to represent. I’ll be frank, I had to search the internet to get other opinions on what this build is. The consensus is that it is the famous Ollivander’s, represented here in microscale.

A couple things to point out here. If you didn’t own the massively expensive Diagon Alley set, you’d have a hard time comparing the similarities between this rendition and the “to scale” version found in that set. I do own Diagon Alley, and even I couldn’t make the connection. Apparently the “drainpipe” and the 1×2 transparent cylinders “gave it away.” I beg to differ. 

Ironically, this was one of the more complex micro builds I’ve had to make to date in an HP calendar. Yet the phrase “much ado about nothing” springs to mind. Another minor gripe for the hardcore enthusiast- why use two 2×2 tan plates together, when a single 2×4 tan plate would have sufficed, and given the build more structural integrity? Minor gripe, but maybe it says a bit more about LEGO “cutbacks” than anything.

Overall, I’d consider this one of the weaker entries to start a calendar in recent memory. Microbuilds always rank lower on our homemade hierarchy of rankings (minifigures first, everything else behind them) because they usually end up in the bulk pile. A small build can be great when it’s to scale, or usable for a minifigure (e.g. a piano, a table, etc.) but in this instance, that isn’t the case.

Verdict

A clear order emerges today, with MCU taking the first full 2 points of the season with a Peter Quill minifig, followed by a faithful SW micro build. Pulling up the rear in a distant third place is HP’s micro build offering.

With that, the score starts off as:

MCU- 2

SW- 1

HP- 0

To be continued…

What is a LEGO Room?

by: Chris Mitchell

What is a LEGO room? This is a question I get asked quite frequently.

Over the past several months I have displayed at numerous shows throughout the province. One of the most common groups of questions I get asked is:

You have a Lego room?
Is it a room built out of Lego?

Well the answer is yes and no. Let me explain.

First off NO I don’t have a room built out of Lego. Do you even know what the cost of that would be?

Oh, this is a great time to toss in an interesting fact.

Lego is made from ABS plastic. It is one of the best insulators around. So it probably would be an efficient way to keep your place heated. However, trust me I get really hot in my room and because of that I have a fan on all the time I am in there winter or summer.

Back on topic.

As AFOLs most of us have a room that we call our “ Lego Room” or “ Build Room “. For some this could be an entire basement , a rec room, a small spare bedroom or even just the kitchen table. Unless your partner is in the building game, they never seem to be too happy with the “ Kitchen Table “ as a set up. However, it isn’t about the size of the space you have but more about how much enjoyment you get out of the space you got.


For some AFOLS they have a separate display area apart from their Lego Room. This is done to show off their creations. For me I would rather have them on shelves surrounding my Lego room so that I can enjoy them as this is where I spend most of my time. Unless I want to watch something on the big TV. Otherwise, I am happy with my 19” screen that I have grown accustomed to watching while I build.


I have had people in the past tell me “Oh, Lego is for kids” and “ Why don’t you get a real Man Cave”. Well it is like this. A “Man Cave ” or “ She Shed” is simply this. It is a space that you fill with the things you enjoy.


Sure, I have the Hockey paraphernalia, the band flags, Star Wars items and other things around my room that interest me. I also have a small bar section and other things that you may find in a typical adult’s room. However, the main focus is on Lego.


I say all this to make this point.


If it is something that you enjoy then surround yourself with it. It doesn’t have to be a lavish set up or even a set up that makes sense to others. It simply has to be pleasing to yourself.


Happy Building,

Chris

LEGO Theme Throwback- Adventurers- Part 4 + Final Thoughts!

By: Matthew Zwicker

We’ve arrived at the final subtheme in the Adventurers line- Orient Expedition! Read on for an overview and my final thoughts on the complete theme.

Orient Expedition (2003)

After a two year hiatus, Adventurers made its return with Orient Expedition. To this day, I am not sure why there was a two year gap between Dino Island and Orient Expedition. Perhaps LEGO was making a foray into other themes from 2000-2003. As we know, this was around the time of TLG’s near financial collapse. Lost in the shuffle of that timeframe is one of the best Adventurers subthemes ever, and hopefully I can illustrate why.

High Adventure with Johnny Thunder. The last hurrah (Mar/Apr 2003).

The final subtheme in the Adventurers lineup was well worth the wait. In the closing chapter, Johnny Thunder and his team are off to Asia in search of the Golden Dragon. Continuing from Dino Island, Lord Sam Sinister is also back as the main villain. I’m convinced LEGO had no clue what to do with Baron Von Barron and Sam Sinister- essentially a hybrid character used interchangeably throughout the series. Their solution? Merge both them together for the final chapter- I think? It’s all still very confusing.

From left to right- Baron Von Barron, Sam Sinister, and “Lord Sam-Sinister-Von-Barron.” Does this make any sense? Images courtesy Brickset, retrieved from Bricknerd.com.

In addition to the 20 sets released (second only to Desert), the Orient Expedition line included stat cards, a die, and game board pieces in certain sets (typically, the bigger ones). As you collected and built the sets, you also received pieces to a board game, which added a unique twist on this theme. The instructions in the box showed you how the game was meant to be played.

The theme’s “Big 3” Sets-7419 Dragon Fortress, 7418 Scorpion Palace and 7417 Temple of Mount Everest, connected via board game tiles included with each set. Courtesy Brickimedia.

The board game aside, I felt as though the narrative and storyline within Orient Expedition was the strongest yet. In the story, a series of smaller treasures had to be obtained in order to unlock the secrets of the Golden Dragon and gain access to its location. The three main treasures were a Golden Sword, Golden Shield, and Golden Helmet. Each one was located in the theme’s 3 largest sets- 7417 Temple of Mount Everest (sword), 7418 Scorpion Palace (shield), and 7419 Dragon Fortress (golden helmet).

What’s unique about this subtheme is that it wasn’t confined to a single geographic location like the subthemes before it (Desert, Jungle, and Dino Island). Our heroes traversed several locations in Asia (India, Nepal) on route to the final destination in China. I think this allowed the subtheme to explore different ideas for architecture and culture and to express those ideas through the sets. We also, for the first time, got different iterations of Johnny and his mates throughout the sets.

Different variants of Johnny Thunder from the Orient Expedition sets. Images via Bricklink.

Speaking of the locale in China, Dragon Fortress was the marquee set in this line and climax of the story. It was the final battle with Lord Sam Von Barron, the Emperor, and the location of the Golden Dragon. It also happens to be one of my Top 10 Favorite Sets of All Time, but that’s an article for another day!

7419 Dragon Fortress, the subtheme’s largest and most impressive set. It contained the final treasure (Golden Helmet) as well as the Golden Dragon.

This subtheme of the Adventurers line likely resonates with me the most as I was fortunate enough to own all three of the largest sets listed above back in 2003-2005. As such, I was able to create the board game layout and follow along with the story through the LEGO magazines. It was a lot of fun at the time and cemented the theme as one of my favorites ever created by LEGO.

Conclusion

I feel as though the Orient Expedition subtheme was one of the most complete, self-contained subthemes in the entire Adventurers line. It gave us three distinct locations- India, Nepal, and China- in which to explore. Each location had a purpose, and housed a treasure that was needed to unlock the Golden Dragon as part of a robust storyline.

The final conclusion of the Orient Expedition saga via the comics in the LEGO Magazine (November 2003).

More importantly, it articulated the essence of the entire Adventurers line- one of exploration, mystery, discovery, villains, side characters, and storyline. I didn’t know it at the time, but 2004 would mark the end of the Adventurers theme. Perhaps this coincided with the other issues facing TLG at the time of near collapse, or maybe they felt Johnny Thunder had run his course after four subthemes. Either way, it’s hard to go out on top but the final Orient Expedition subtheme was arguably the most complete and fun to date. I encourage everyone to go check out the complete line of sets from Orient Expedition.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I believe the Adventurers theme was an amazing line of sets for The LEGO Group and for fans of LEGO. I think it encapsulated the characteristics that make LEGO great. It showed that adding the ingredients for the imagination to flourish is just as important a part of the puzzle as the sets themselves. I think in this way, LEGO proved it could add depth to its products and bring more than just plastic bricks to the table.

They say setting is the time, place, and circumstances in which an event takes place. If that’s the case, I think the setting for Adventurers was just right for me as a LEGO fan in my youth. 

Will there be another Adventurers line, or will Johnny Thunder make a return? It’s hard to say. A revised take on Johnny was recently done in Collectable Minifigures (CMF) Series 19. It inspired me to make a little MOC as well (pictured below).

“Jungle Explorer.” From Brickset.com.
“The Legend of Johnny Thunder” by Matt Z.

That just about wraps up my trip down memory lane! For more insight into the Adventurers theme, I strongly recommend checking out the following sites:

Miniland.nl– A site based in the Netherlands with archives of LEGO Magazines from the 90’s-2000’s.

Everything You Want to Know about LEGO Adventurers– A comprehensive deep dive article on the theme, on Bricknerd.com.

Brickset.com- A complete catalog of the Adventurers theme.

Brickmedia.com- An Adventurers Wiki website.

Hope you all enjoyed the Theme Throwback series on Adventurers. If you’d like to write for Newfoundlug.ca or want to get in touch, reach out at newfoundlug@gmail.com.