Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 17

After yesterday’s point, HP has squared things back up again with SW as we approach the back 9 of the Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars. Who will be our new leader after today? Let’s dive right in:

Harry Potter- Day 17

Matt: After a string of mediocre offerings, HP has somehow managed to tie the competition up, winning strategic daily matchups when they count. Behind Door #17 is a piano! This build continues the Yule Ball trend despite not screaming HP outright, in my opinion. Eschewing the standard black colour that’s associated with pianos, the designer has opted for dark grey with pearl-silver 1×1 cones for the feet. I actually think this colour choice works here, offering something slightly different while blending with the overall color scheme of the Yule Ball. The highlight for me is the 1×4 printed (yay, no sticker!) piano keys tile that adorns the front. In terms of scale, the piano is not too far off minifig scale, albeit not quite there, as this build is slightly too small. Nevertheless, today’s offering is a usable build that can be transferred to other themes as desired. Overall, a unique, solid offering today and one of the better ones of the last five days.

Star Wars- Day 17

Steve: For Day 17, Star Wars gives us a buildable Pit Droid minifig. While the Pit Droids go all the way back to Episode I, they have been seen most recently on-screen in “The Mandalorian”. This is a unique version of the figure for the advent calendar, as previous versions have used a slightly different build. In my opinion, this new version is the most screen-accurate as well. It’s a good build, but if we are not counting buildable figures for our automatic win criteria (and I don’t think we should) then I think the piano build from HP is better today – it’s a nice, compact build with a relatively rare printed piece for the keyboard.

Verdict

Both calendars offer solid builds today which is a refreshing change of pace as we enter the single digit countdown to Christmas. Based on its compact, clean build and printed 1×4 tile, HP takes the point today and with that, its first lead since Day 7! The score is now:

HP- 9

SW- 8

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 16

After getting one back yesterday with a marvelous entry, HP moves within striking distance of SW. Can HP square things up again, or will SW blast off to another two day lead? Let’s find out:

Harry Potter- Day 16

Matt: After arguably the best entry of the calendar season yesterday with Padma Patil, will we see the other Patil twin today? Behind door 16 are two small yule ball-ish trees. These are companion trees to the previous “large” tree we received on Day 13. Just like its inaugural 2019 calendar, this year’s HP Advent Calendar now includes 3 trees, albeit in different shapes. This now feels like a disturbing trend, and today’s model disappoints if only for the fact that we’ve already received a tree this year. The recycled nature of entries from year on year may not bother new HPAC fans in 2020, but if you took part in last year’s calendar, today’s entry feels like a direct rehash. The trees themselves are eerily similar, although last year’s small trees had stars mounted on top. Furthermore, we see the use of the 1×1 trans light blue and trans-clear cheese wedges here to stick on the “icy, yule ball” theme. Overall, can’t say that today’s offering is impressive at all, but at least it’s festive and on theme. That’s about all I can say.

Star Wars- Day 16

Steve: Star Wars presents us with Anakin’s pod-racer. It’s not a great representation of the craft from the movies. The lack of transparent pieces mean the build appears to be all connected, rather than the floating engine effect of the movie version. Honestly, if not for the yellow-and-blue colour scheme I would have had difficulty being sure what it was supposed to be. I’ve seen much better microscale versions of this craft, so the scale is no excuse. Easily the worst build from Star Wars yet.

Verdict

Today’s entries on both sides were strikingly mediocre, bordering on awful; a trend we’ve seen too much this season. In an awkward matchup today, HP pulls a “reverse battle droid” and steals the sheepish of points from SW, owing to its festive and on theme entry. With that we are somehow all tied up, and the score sits at:

HP- 8

SW- 8

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 15

After two weeks, SW has been the superior calendar and holds on to a two point lead. With just 10 days remaining, can HP make it interesting or will SW run away with the competition? Let’s see what’s behind the doors of Day 15:

Harry Potter- Day 15

Matt: Trailing by two points entering Day 15, I’m not near optimistic about how the battle is progressing from HP’s point of view. However, with the mantle/windowsill scene complete, I’m anxious to move on to something else. Behind door #15 is Padma Patil! Not only is she an exclusive minifigure but this is also LEGO’s first attempt at representing her in brick form, and in my opinion, there’s no better time to do it. You could argue that while the Patil twin’s (who, fun fact, are in different Hogwarts houses) are mentioned throughout the series, they are minor characters at best. That said, they’ve never been more prominent than at the Yule Ball, where they are the dates of both Ron and Harry. Initially, I was confused as to which Patil twin we have on our hands today, but judging by the art on the actual HPAC box, Ron is standing next to this minifigure, making today’s entry Padma Patil. My sources tell me this is also consistent with the on screen rendition, based on the dress colours. This also suggests that her twin sister Parvati will show up at some point in this year’s advent calendar, which is something worth noting and getting excited about. Anyhow, getting back to the actual figure, I think it’s splendid and faithful to the film. Highlights for me include the magenta torso and printing, the coral colour 1×2 brick with silver printing to represent the medium legs/dress, and the rare dark orange wand (with an extra sprue). I also like the metallic gold bindi printing on her forehead. All in all, this is a much needed bounce back for HP today, if only to keep the competition interesting. HP fans of all ages will be happy with today’s offering, and might just be the best entry of the season to date.

Star Wars- Day 15

Steve: Star Wars reveals a Trade Federation Droid Control Ship in microscale. It’s a good model, and one we haven’t seen in LEGO official models before in any scale. I wish the arms were a little more rounded, as the movie model is more circular, but at this scale that is really looking for faults. Overall this is just a good microscale capital ship, and I’d like to see more of that. It’s clearly no contest, however, as Harry Potter puts up a good minifig of Parvati (or Padma?) Patil, with lovely silver printing.

Verdict

With the exclusive, and first Padma Patil minifigure, HP gets one back today, moving within a single point of SW. The score is now:

HP- 7

SW- 8

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 14

Steve is back to kick off the week.

As we hit the two week mark of the month, SW has the lead by 1. Will this be the day they separate from HP or will HP claw its way back to a draw? Read on to find out:

Harry Potter- Day 14

Matt: We’ve had a serious string of mediocre builds so I am not too sure what to expect from HP on a go forth basis. Behind Door #14 is ANOTHER window/festive sill. I still can’t believe this got through to production. These mantle/sill combos do not evoke anything HP in my opinion, and take up precious space in a calendar. Furthermore, today’s offering is almost a repeat of the previous window frame. The only redeeming addition is the chocolate frog included in today’s offering. We now have a mantle and two frames that can all be connected to one another, forming a somewhat decent scene, but one which we may not have even wanted. All in all, a real disappointment for me personally, as I was really rooting for this calendar to get back on track.

Star Wars- Day 14

Steve: We knew it was coming, they warned us on the box, and on Day 14, it’s Battle Droid Day for the Star Wars Calendar. What can we say? its the same figure that’s been in every Advent Calendar, the same extra arms, not even a splash of colour printing to mark it as a different class of Battle Droid. The only thing new-ish is that it has a gun-metal pearl grey blaster instead of a black one.

Verdict:

Both camps are not overly impressed with their daily offering on this day, but at least SW presents us with a new build/fig for the calendar. On the flip side, HP’s felt cheapened, as it is essentially a repeat of a previous offering. With that, SW takes another point today, and take a two point lead for the first time this season:

HP- 6

SW- 8

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 13

Coming into Day 13, SW retains a one point lead over HP. Will SW increase its margin today or can HP find its footing to square things once again? Let’s find out:

Harry Potter- Day 13

Matt: After the subpar offering yesterday, HP has established a recent string of middling builds that are really zapping the excitement out of the competition. Let’s see if they can do better today. Behind Door #13 is a Yule Ball Christmas tree. This offering is both festive and (somewhat) HP related. While it doesn’t necessarily scream HP, fans will recall that the courtyard/grounds were decorated for Christmas during the Yule Ball. LEGO doesn’t necessarily do trees well and to me, this isn’t something ground breaking. Comparing it to 2019’s HPAC tree, I feel like the 2019 version is better. That said, this one does a decent job at this scale. The highlight from a pure parts perspective are the 1×1 trans light blue pyramidal pieces adorning the tree, as these are relatively rare. My colleague Patrick points out that the grey piece used to mount the star on top of the tree is a bit of an eyesore, and I’d have to agree. Using the same part in white would have been a much better call. I’d also argue the transition to the 2×2 conical piece is slightly off-putting based on the bottom part of the tree’s design. Nevertheless, I’d argue today’s offering is still floating around that “middling” territory that HP has been reluctant to get out of all week, but at least offers an on-theme, festive build.

Star Wars- Day 13

Patrick: Day 13 of the Star Wars advent calendar revealed a micro-scale Republic Cruiser, as seen in the Prequel movies and the Clone Wars tv show. This model makes efficient use of 18 pieces, most of which in the elusive dark red colour, with some nice attention put towards capturing the engine pod and satellite dish segments. This model actually hits close to home, as its an update of the first advent calendar build of the first Star Wars advent calendar back in 2011. Day 1 that year was also a Republic Cruiser, but I actually think that one was nicer opting for the Episode 1 design in all red rather than a more Clone Wars-era white and dark red. The 2011 model also had a portion built up representing the cockpit, which this build lacks and could’ve really used, as the entire front portion is flat without the suggestion of the cockpit. Nonetheless, this is a ship I’m happy to receive twice in a decade, and I hope it’s a sign of more Prequel-era builds and characters to come.

Verdict

After much debate, both sides felt that there wasn’t a standout, clear winner in today’s matchup. With that, our second (and hopefully final) tie of the season is being awarded. With the draw today, SW retains its one point advantage over HP, and the score is back on round numbers, at:

HP- 6

SW- 7

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 12

Patrick Barnes is back with the weekend SW reviews!

After the first ever tie was given out yesterday, both HP and SW are hoping to break the gridlock today. Let’s see what Saturday has in store:

Harry Potter- Day 12

Matt: After a peculiar day yesterday in which both calendars provided lackluster offerings, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out of the weekend with the lead. Behind door $12 is…another horcrux. I’m kidding. It’s another appalling offering, this time in the form of a window sill/frame/thing? There’s one thing to be said for attempting to make a coherent scene, and another thing to provide random, non-HP oriented offering. Today’s model actually connects to yesterday’s which might be the only redeeming highlight, save the festive wreath atop the model. Overall, I’m too tired of subpar models to really run this one into the ground but needless to say, we’re gonna put this day behind us.

Star Wars- Day 12

Patrick: Behind the door for day 12 is a Porg, as seen in Star Wars Episodes 8 and 9. This is the 5th version of the minifigure-scale Porg Lego has done, and coming off a Christmas coloured one from 2019 this one feels pretty underwhelming. Though its technically exclusive to the set, all that changes is the colour of the tail/wing/body pieces in most versions of the animal. However, as they’re usually seen in numbers in the movies, its a nice creature to get multiples of, and they generally do a good job with the design, using a reprint of the BB8 head piece. Overall, this advents first animal addition isn’t amazing, but appreciated nonetheless.

Verdict

Clearly, SW takes the point today as HP struggles to find any momentum midway through the season. WIth that, SW takes the lead once again, and the score is now:

HP- 5.5

SW-6.5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 11

After 10 days, both HP and SW are knotted at 5 points apiece. We’ve seen some highs and lows on both sides so far, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen in the remaining two weeks. That said, lets’s take a peak behind Door #11:

Harry Potter- Day 11

Matt: Thankfully, the emergence of Ron Weasley yesterday snapped a losing streak which we will now put in the rearview of the Ford Anglia. I’m looking forward to great things (terrible, yes…but great) from HP over the remaining two weeks. Behind Door #11 is a classic fireplace + mantle combo, presumably from the Gryffindor common room. Mantle/Fireplace settings are commonplace in various themed Advent Calendar’s, and HP itself featured a very similar entry in its inaugural year (2019). Again, a build like this is not intrinsically “Harry Potter” so I’m disappointed from a pure fan perspective whenever this occurs. That said, the build is festive with a brick built stocking that is quite appealing hanging above the mantle. I like that it features an open-back chimney as opposed to a closed chimney (2019) as I believe the trans-orange flame “pops” more. The black bar in front is also new for this year and I like this style as opposed to 2019’s entry. Worth noting the presence of “1×1 bricks with clips” on the side of the fireplace, either hinting at future add-ons to this model, or a place to store accessories we may see down the line. In summary, it’s hard to get overly excited about a build like this when it’s lacking a definitive HP imprint- but the festive nature of the build is welcome. Furthermore, we’ve strayed off course from the Yule Ball, but not sure it should be penalized for that. All in all, “Good, not great” or “pleasant but not astounding”, would be how I’d describe today’s HP offering.

Star Wars- Day 11

Steve: Star Wars puts up a solid microbuild on Day 11 – The Millenium Falcon. The round radar dish means this is either a Rebellion-Era Falcon or a post-“The Last Jedi” version. This build is just a really good microscale of the Falcon. It’s a great example of how a designer doesn’t need new and specialized parts to really evoke classic designs. It’s out of scale with the other microscale ships in the calendar, but that’s a clear limitation of the size of the builds, so I won’t penalize it for that. I WILL say, however, that the instructions may have been the worst I have seen in an Advent Calendar. This is a build that needed a “step 2” instead of trying to do it all at once. I am not sure it’s a cut-and-dry winner today. The Falcon is good, but not amazing.

Verdict

Both calendars put up less than stellar offerings today. HP strayed off theme but remained festive, while SW reinvented a build that, like the fireplace, has been in advent calendars before. Both camps were less than enthusiastic about the offerings today, and felt that there wasn’t enough evidence to declare one build a clear winner over the other. Therefore, a tie is being awarded for the first time this holiday season. The day will be split, with half a point awarded to each. The score therefore remains tied, with:

HP- 5.5

SW- 5.5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 10

After dropping three straight days, HP finds itself behind SW entering Day 10. Can SW extend its lead or will HP be able to break out of its funk? Let’s check it out:

Harry Potter- Day 10

Matt: To say the last 3 days have been a disappointment for HP fans in the seasonal battle would be an understatement. Capped by the dreaded side table (which my sources tell me is used to mount the gramophone- big whoop), HP is definitely on a cold streak. I’m hoping today’s offering stops the bleeding. Behind Door #10 is a Yule Ball variant of Ron Weasley! As far as I can tell, this figure has only appeared once before, so it definitely has a rarity factor, making him a great get here. Ron has a two sided face, with both happy and sour-ish looking expressions. This is true to his Yule Ball form, as he is memorably twisted during the ball- probably due to his jealousy of Hermione/Viktor Krum and his shabby dress robes. Speaking of which, I love his dark green bowtie and printing on his dress robe attire. Capped with medium legs and an extra sprue of wands, this is a great bounce back for HP on Day 10, albeit after conceding three straight points.

Star Wars- Day 10

Steve: Here it is – the first minifig to minifig matchup for the year – and Star Wars put up a holiday version of D-O. D-O is a droid introduced in Episode 9, and doesn’t have a lot of screen time. This is a minifig only by technicality, as there’s no articulation, it’s just a single molded piece with printing. It’s nice that they included the Santa Hat (Life Day Hat? The holiday continuity gets a little fuzzy here), but overall I think this is a figure only of interest to collectors and completionists. With Harry Potter veering back to the Yule Ball theme, it’s an easy win for HP today.

Verdict

While technically this is out first minifig matchup of the season, it’s really not a true blue head to head matchup. With its rarity and significance to the Yule Ball theme and overall calendar, HP comes away with the point today. With the win, HP breaks out of its cold streak, and not a moment too soon, as the score is all tied at:

HP- 5

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 9

Entering day 9, we’re all square for the third time this holiday season. Either HP or SW will take the lead today! Who will it be? Let’s find out:

Harry Potter- Day 9

Matt: After two less than stellar entries, HP has let its early lead slip. I’m expecting a solid entry today, as HP badly needs it. Behind door #9 is…a side table. Ah yes, the infamous side table, one of the 7 Horcruxes that Harry is tasked with destroying using…ah, nevermind. There’s no way to sugar coat this entry today. By far the weakest of the season, this is a new low for HP for 2020, making yesterday’s irrelevant couch look like Albus Dumbledore himself. As for the build, the legs are ok, making decent use of dark brown 1×1 cylinders, but that’s where it ends. The 2×2 circular jumper plate in dark tan mysteriously adorns the center of the table, perhaps suggesting there is something else to go on top in the coming days? We can only speculate. The only redeeming accessory today is the clear bottle of what I presume is Pumpkin juice owing to the orange 1×1 flower plate on top. Hard to tell whether this table is intended for the Yule Ball or in the Gryffindor common room. With entries like these, HP is going to have an exceptionally hard time competing and keeping up with SW this season. This one hurts.

Star Wars- Day 9

Steve: Day 9 of the Star Wars Advent Calendar brings us a minifigure – Rey in her “Rise of the Skywalker” outfit. This is another good figure with both leg and waist printing – I feel the lack of arm printing is a wasted opportunity since the character wears armbands in the movie, but that’s a nitpick at best. While not rare or unique, the figure has only appeared in 2 sets before this, so it’s a welcome addition to my collection. Even without the “minifigs win over builds” rule, I think Rey would easily beat HP’s offering of more furniture.

Verdict

HP’s Day 9 offering beats its own record for worst advent offering yet, set only yesterday with the couch. Another lopsided point goes to SW. With that, HP has been hit with a Petrificus Totalus spell and has completely seized up, while SW is white hot, with a 3 day win streak. With the win, SW takes its first lead of the holiday season, and the score is now:

HP- 4

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 8

After a full week of advent, it’s HP clinging to a one point lead after giving up yesterday’s point to SW. Can HP bounce back, or can SW shake off its two point deficit to square the battle at 4? Let’s take a peak behind the doors 8:

Harry Potter- Day 8

Matt: After losing yesterday’s battle, I’m looking for a strong bounce back from HP on Day 8. Behind the door, is a…couch. Yup, that’s right. A couch. Presumably from the Gryffindor common room owing to it’s dark red colour, there is very little, if anything, redeeming about this advent entry- save for the metallic gold egg, a very rare piece found only in the likes of 75946 Hungarian Horntail Triwizard Challenge. Considering the sets’ retail price of $40 CAD, you could argue the metallic gold egg is a “good get” here. But realistically, it can’t do enough to elevate this model. The couch is somewhat minifig scale so that is something, but is a departure from the Yule Ball theme. This entry makes yesterday’s gramophone look like Albus Dumbledore. Overall, a slight disappointment on Day 8.

Star Wars- Day 8

Steve: Star Wars Day 8 brings us a Rebellion-era X-wing fighter in microscale. The X-wing has made several appearances in the last few calendars, and what’s interesting is that it’s not quite the same model – each version has made small improvements to the previous one. 2020’s version is the most accurate yet, with excellent use of scale and even a small play feature with folding attack foils. An excellent addition to your micro-scale fleet.

Verdict

In one of the more lopsided battles of the season, today’s matchup is a slam dunk for SW. With the victory, SW catches up to HP and looks to take its first lead of the season tomorrow. The score is tied at:

HP- 4

SW- 4

To be continued…