Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 19

The battle remains tight and HP has a two point buffer. Can they extend this, or will SW stay locked in? Will MCU bow out or die another day? Read on!

Day 19 – MCU

Steve: On the nineteenth day of Christmas, the Guardians gave to meeeee – a dude who is looking like a treeeee….


First of all – let’s talk numbers.  Counting today, there are 6 days left.  The MCU enters those final 6 days with 12 points, so that means to still be POSSIBLE for the MCU to take the overall win, the MCU needs to post 6 days of wins.  In a row.  No second places, 6 wins.

Let’s see how we start that final sprint!  Door #19 for the Guardians gives us The Flora Colossus himself – Groot!

Bricklink lists this as a unique figure, but a careful eye reveals that the prints and head moulds are not new or unique, it’s the addition of the neck bracket that marks it as “new.”  However,  the no-neck-bracket version is only available in The Guardians Ship, which is a pretty expensive set.  It’s a good figure, with detailed torso, leg and foot printing.  The prints have some sand green mixed in which makes the print really pop.

We also get a white figure stand to represent some fluffy snow and a cell phone print (likely to represent the hand-held video game from the Guardians Christmas special).

Given that the only other source for this fig is a very expensive set, this is a great find for an Advent calendar.

Day 19- SW

Pat: Star Wars continues its Hoth meander with another micro build, and unfortunately, the bogged-down back half of the calendar seems to continue. We get another Hoth micro build on day 19, and this time, it’s an AT-ST walker. While not it’s most popular appearance in the Star Wars original trilogy, the AT-ST “Chicken” Walker was indeed featured in the background on Hoth and appeared with a slightly different design from its Episode 6 counterpart (the real-world explanation for this is the usage of small, stop-motion models versus larger designs in the Endor forest set, but the Hoth version also has further apart feet, different weapons, and no slits in the cockpit for snow terrain).

The build itself for the AT-ST is fine. They achieve the “chicken” shape nicely by hinging the legs at the back of the build, giving the head/cockpit the illusion of being before the legs, which is appropriate. We get more of those cool new 1×1 plates with a clip on each side for the legs, and a white modified plate on bottom as a base for the walker to stand up. The build uses a Travis brick for the cockpit and some cheese wedges, studs on bars, and a rollerblade to achieve the shaping, which I think works! Pretty well! To be honest, all aspects of the build are quality and accurate to the in-universe vehicle, it’s honestly the awkwardness of the vehicle design that holds this build back. It’s spindly and topheavy, needing the base to even stay up. We’ve seen 16 iterations of the AT-ST now from Lego, with half of them being micro or polybag scale, and honestly, not one of those 8 look great. So yea, valiant effort by Lego on an iconic vehicle, but still not a perfect micro. At least the extra pieces are great!

Day 19- HP

Matt: With three figures over a four-day span, this might be HP’s best run of the season. I find myself again in the “cautiously optimistic” camp with respect to HP’s performance in the Battle. Let’s find out what happens on Day 19.

Behind door 19 is a microscale version of Hagrid’s flying motorcycle. More accurately, it’s the motorcycle Hagrid inherits/borrows from Sirius Black. Fans of the series may remember that in Film 1, Hagrid brings The Boy Who Lived to Albus Dumbledore and the Dursleys doorstep in the dead of night, the child having just defied one of the most dangerous wizards to ever live. More on this later.

As an advent calendar gift, it’s unimpressive in my opinion. We get a different colored 2×4 plate today, signifying the start of the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) in our chronological calendar. I’m not a huge fan of microscale, and I feel that trying to represent this is really tough, especially since it’s not a huge item/asset overall (yes, it was used in the “7 Potters” extraction, which might be its most significant role). I don’t mind some of the techniques employed and it’s actually a parts-intensive build today, which is nice. My colleagues and I note that the angle NOT showing the sidecar actually makes the bike a bit more aesthetically pleasing (see additional photo below).

Overall, I’m not going to get too amped up over most microbuilds in the best of times and here, I feel HP selected a more obscure item to represent this late in the game. 

P.S- Circling back real quickly, I suppose the more romantic aspect of today’s build touches upon Harry coming “full circle” in some respects. He was dropped off at 4 Privet Drive as a child by Hagrid. For years, Harry endured a lot of pain and sadness at that house- it was never a home. In some respects, it seems fitting that when it came time to leave for the final time, it was the same man- Hagrid- there to take him away on his bike. In that light, maybe it’s viewed more favorably by the hardcore Potter fan.

Verdict

With perhaps its best minifigure of the year so far in Groot, MCU cruises to a daily victory and remains mathematically still in the Battle. In second place, SW snags a sheepish point with its AT-ST micro. In 3rd, HP’s motorcycle micro just didn’t have enough to finish on the scoresheet today.

With that, HP’s two point lead is back to one, and the scores shift to:

HP- 22

SW- 21

MCU- 14

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 18

HP and SW remain deadlocked in what’s turning into a great two way battle. MCU needs to finish on the scoreboard to remain mathematically in the competition. Let’s see what happens today.

Day 18 – MCU

Steve: On the eighteenth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeee… a spaceship to fly in gracefulleeee

Day 18 and the MCU is still clinging to life despite some bad matchups. Todays door give us a micro scale “Milano” – the Guardians first ship. 

This ship is destroyed at the end of Volume 1 so it’s a bit odd to see it here. No festive element or unique prints to elevate the build leaves it solidly in the “OK” column.  I think it’s a better build than the other ship from the calendar but it’s not exciting me.  MCU needs SOME points to stay alive, so it will come down to the matchups today. 

Day 18- SW

Pat: The Hoth gifts continue with day 18 of the Star Wars Calendar, this time for the good guys. We get a Hoth Defense Turret, an iconic Hoth Rebel weapon seen in many Lego system sets, and twice now in advent calendars. This model is a huge improvement of the 2016 version and scaled up a size, from 1×1 cylinder bases and a 2×2 dish top, to 2×2 cylinder bases and a more complex top, finished with a new 3×3 tile piece, which is cool to see and not a part I recognize. The centre build of the top uses a reddish brown Travis Brick (1×1 brick with a stud on each side) and some slanted rough bricks to achieve a rounded shape, which I think works really well, and the telescope piece as the turret itself works well enough too. Unfortunately though, a cool enough turret might not be enough this late in the season…

Day 18- HP

Matt: Taking a moment to pause on HP so far with a week left, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I’d be based on the box artwork. A string of decent daily gifts in the mid-game has kept this Battle close. That said, if history tells us anything, it’s that HP typically finishes calendar’s very poorly. I’m curious to see if they can buck that trend this year. Let’s check out Day 18.

Today we get another minifigure in the form of Severus Snape. I’ve always got tons to say about the potions master and his place in the entire story, but maybe for today I’ll focus on the build for now. From what I gather this isn’t an exclusive variant of Snape, but it is rare, having only appeared in two other retail sets to date. One of these is a larger set so getting him today represents good value. As appears to be the trend of the calendar, we don’t get any printing on the legs but the torso is great. Snape comes with a black wand sprue, which is a rarer colour for wands.

Overall, I really like getting Snape here in the 2022 calendar. It’s a figure that is shockingly only available in 9 variants. I would have thought that number would have been a little higher in 20+ years of LEGO Harry Potter, but alas. Great gift this late into the season.

Verdict

With a rare minifigure of a main character, and no challengers in sight, HP and Snape take top marks. In second place, MCU, with a strong microbuild of its protagonist’s ship. In 3rd, SW with a micro hoth turret.

The Battle remains tight and with the win, HP grabs a quick two point lead, and the score goes to:

HP- 22

SW- 20

MCU- 12

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 17

After two huge wins from HP, is this a turning point or a mere mirage? Can SW match HP? Can MCU remain mathematically in the fight? After solid reviews from Andrew House once again, I (Matt) am back with the HP reviews. Read on!

Day 17 – MCU

Steve: On the 17th day of Christmas, the Guardians gave to meeee…. Some Thanos Armour looking snoweeee…

Day 17 and the MCU Calendar is hanging on – 1st place overall is still within reach (but it is going to be QUITE a reach).  Marvel needs to score today.

Today, we find a snowman wearing Thanos’ armour!  It’s a cute and festive little build, and getting that pearl gold helmet is nice.  Using the 1×1 modified tiles with clips as the shoulders/pauldrons looks great – its too bad you can’t use that effect on an actual figure!

According to Brickling this is NOT a minifigure – this remains a point of contention with me, as Bricklink doesn’t seem to follow the same rules for MCU and Star Wars.  Buildable droids and snowmen both seem to get figure numbers for Star Wars but NOT for the MCU.  Or worse, they only get classified as “minifigures” retroactively – see the Iron Snowman from the 2021 calendar. Show consistency!

With Star Wars putting up an actual figure, the Guardians won’t claim the full two points for today, although the festive element should still put us in the running to score some points.

Day 17- SW

Pat: As the advent calendar competition approaches its final week, Star Wars falls behind HP by a small margin, and needs to keep up the ante to secure a win (for once) in this year’s competition. Thankfully, we’re doing better than a weapon rack today with Day 17 giving us a nice minifigure –  an Imperial Snowtrooper with a blaster! This is the new model of Snowtrooper introduced in the 2020 75288 AT-AT Walker with thicker torso lines and dark tan hands. Traditionally, Snowtroopers have been abundant minifigures, appearing in multiple battlepacks and sets across Lego’s history. However, the version introduced in 2020 (which there are 7 versions of in the last 2 years, with 7 different head prints) has been surprisingly hard to come by in the casual aftermarket, having mostly only appeared in awkward, unpopular sets like the 75239 and 75241 Action Battle Hoth sets, or large, expensive sets like the aforementioned AT-AT Walker and the UCS AT-AT Walker. So basically, getting one in the advent is great, and even better – it’s one of the versions previously exclusive to the UCS AT-AT!

The fig has sweet leg and torso prints with a printed survival pack on the back and printed kama on the hips and legs – unfortunately, as of the 2020 Snowtrooper, Lego seems to be moving away from cloth kamas, which were seen on Imperial Snowtroopers from 2014 – 2020, as well as First Order Snowtroopers. The print is good, but the cloth was better. The helmet/mask piece is super nice and has been used since the 2014 update, but I’m not sure how I feel yet (8 years later, lol) on the change from the one piece Snowtrooper helmet and backpack piece. It wasn’t versatile, and Snowtrooper minifigs couldn’t sit or turn their heads properly, but it was a nice piece. The blaster is a relief to see too, meaning yesterday’s “ammo rack” stud-shooter isn’t meant for a specific fig, or not this one at least. So what makes this fig otherwise exclusive to the UCS AT-AT?

The minifig uses a nice new head print reserved for only a couple Imperial minifigs; this one and the Scout Trooper in the 2022 4+ 75332 AT-ST. That means that unless you were buying the head loose online, or buying the AT-ST for the head, there was no way to get this Snowtrooper minifig without buying the $1,049.99 UCS AT-AT set. As someone who does not have that set, I’m happy to get this fig! It’s one less head I need to track down to fill that minifig’s spot in my collection independently, as the torso, legs, and helmet can be acquired relatively easily. So overall, yea I’m happy to get this one!

Day 17- HP

Matt: Coming off their best showing of the season, HP is back in business. However, with two days of “minifigures”, I’m apprehensive of today’s offering. Let’s check out what’s behind Door 17.

Today we get a rendition of the Pensieve. This is of course Dumbledore’s unique device for storing and viewing memories. I guess it’s kinda like cloud storage, but far more profound. In any event, this entry is well built. For starters, it’s to-scale which is always appreciated as it can be slotted into any HP MOC. I really like the base of the stand and its design. The actual “bowl” piece which is the main part of the pensieve employs a cool design technique. The 2×2 trans dark blue round tile is attached to an inverted white dome. While I think this is a fair way of representing the Pensieve, I myself favour the pearl silver dish that comes with the CMF Series 1 Dumbledore (seen below). Using that exact dish piece in conjunction with today’s stand design would have been an ideal scenario and provided us with a hard-to-find accessory. Nonetheless, I appreciate today’s effort and while I don’t think it makes the scoreboard, it’s certainly worth keeping intact after the holiday season concludes.

(Top): Day 17’s gift. (Bottom): Pensieve from HP CMF Series 1 Albus Dumbledore (courtesy Bricklink).

Verdict

With its rare minifigure and no challengers in sight, SW cruises to a two point victory today. In second place, MCU, whose snowman wearing Thanos armor might fall under the “quasi-minifigure” category under different scenarios. HP finishes off the scoresheet, but can hold its head high with a respectable rendition of the Pensieve.

With the win, SW coolly ties the Battle and keeps HP on a leash, and the scores are now:

SW- 20

HP- 20

MCU- 11

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 16

Coming off the heels of one of its best entries to date, HP tied the overall score with SW. Who will take the lead today? Read on to find out.

Day 16 – MCU

Steve: On the 16th day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeeeee…..  A boom box scaled… figural…eeeee?

(I’m on the 16th one, they are not all going to be winners)

The MCU is reaching do-or-die status here.  We are not mathematically eliminated yet, but….let’s crunch some numbers.

The minimum “win”  is a three-way-tie of 24, so the MCU needs to score at a minimum of 15 points in 9 days to even have a chance.  That means we can only give up 3 points from day 16 to 24.  That’s a tough hill to climb, and the MCU can still lose with that 24 points.

Ouch.

Day 16 offers up a minifigure-scaled boombox!  This is a nice build, actually.  It’s well scaled and the speakers are detached for posing it in your scene if you choose to keep it after the holidays.  Several printed tiles are included, including a second copy of the unique-to-the-calendar “tapedeck” printed tile, which is a great addition.  Simple, but effective.

Day 16- SW

Pat: Remember when I said a few days ago that Sand Vader’s Castle was arguably Star Wars’ first “miss” of the calendar? Well, this one isn’t arguable. Day number 16 for Star Wars gives us an Imperial… wall? Gun storage? Firing Range? Bricklink calls it an “Ammo Rack”, which I suppose makes sense given the presence of a stud shooter and a couple spare studs… just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in. Star Wars pulls through with the infamous weapon rack this year again, and in the latter half no less. 

To be fair, this is a slightly better weapon/ammo rack than some in previous years. The days of a couple clips on a single brick or implement are over, and at least Lego makes an attempt to incorporate a scene now. This is clearly an Imperial build based on the provided tiny, but minifig scale, Mouse Droid build, plus the grey walls. There is a small mousehole in the wall, which is a cool inclusion based on its presence in the original Death Star set, and its usage by the mouse droids for delivering messages between walls, but it’s actually too small to fit the mouse droid, which kinda sucks. There is also a small peg off to one side to hold the single stud-shooter (weak weapon for a weapon rack), and a container to hold a couple spare studs. Overall, it’s a valiant attempt at a weapon rack by creating a usable scene or build around the rack, but at the end of the day its still a weapon rack. Last year, we got something similar in the Tusken Raider Weapon Rack, among other gifts, and this is a further improved version of that. And at least you get a second mouse droid from the spare pieces!

There are a couple brief points I would like to address of the build, which neither improve or hinder it’s quality in my opinion. First, this is our first time seeing a Mouse Droid to proper scale using a rollerblade, but it has been done in many MOCs before, though usually with a cheese wedge (Steve did in his Imperial Hanger years ago, for example). It is probably better with the cheese wedge instead of the 1×1 tile. I’m just hoping they didn’t opt for the 1×1 so it could fit in the hole, because it didn’t work. Secondly, this is our first Mouse Droid not to have a Bricklink ID#, which is super fair, it’s only two parts. However, it’s no less a mouse droid than the previous 5 iterations, which received the minifig entry (and can be seen here). That’s speaking more to the crazy definition Bricklink uses for a “minifig” (which moreso, in Lego Star Wars, just means sentient creature, humanoid or droid) but I’d still include it on my minifig wall. And finally, I don’t know what the deal with the hole is in the build, I guess its a window for shooting through? I just pray that doesn’t mean we’re getting targets like last year.

Day 16- HP

Andrew: Coming off yesterday’s high of Nymphadora Tonks, we have a delightful fusion of a build that is both a minifigure accessory and a minifigure: Professor Horace Slughorn… as an armchair! Hearkening back to Harry’s first meeting with Professor Slughorn who was hiding from Death Eaters, this build/figure captures Slughorn in transition from full armchair mode back into human form.

Slughorn previously appeared in 2018 in a Toys ‘R’ Us Bricktober minifigure pack, then in 2020’s 75969 Astronomy Tower, and given his rarity it is a shame that no minifigure body was included for this day. This version appears to use a similar or identical main face print and hair piece to the two previous iterations, which is perhaps a bit disappointing. However, it does have an alternate frowning face (that I forgot to take a picture of), which is nice.

As for the armchair build itself, it is pretty basic. I do like the curved slope pieces used for the armrest, but there’s only 2 of them in medium lavender so there’s not much else I could do with them. The seat of the chair is also shallow compared to most Lego seating builds, and with no studs, I think trying to actually use this as a chair for a minifigure is going to be prone to lots of slippage.

Anyway, as delightful as I find the concept of today’s build, I’m a little torn on how much I like it. As a minifigure, today’s offering is lacking (specifically, a body). As an accessory for a figure, it is also sub-par. But, as a representation of Slughorn in armchair form, it kind of works for me, so I think this build is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts. Whether this can beat a proper minifigure offering from a competing calendar (if there is one) is an open question.

Verdict

By virtue of HP’s unique entry, and its classification as a minifigure, HP takes back to back daily wins in the battle for the first time this season. In second place, MCU with a three-piece boom box set and tile print. In 3rd place, SW with a disappointing return to the weapon rack.

With that, HP grabs an ever-so slight edge in the race, and the scores are now:

HP- 20

SW- 18

MCU- 10

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 15

SW grabbed top marks yesterday while MCU kep HP off the scorecard. Let’s see what happens on Day 15.

Day 15 – MCU

Steve: On the fifteenth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to me…..  A cane made of plastic candeeee.

We enter Day 15 on the high of scoring some points twice in a row for the first time, and door 15 presents us with a Candy Cane.

It’s nice and festive, and at least relevant to the season (looking at you, tool box…), but even as a minifigure-scale standing decoration this feels underwhelming.  The build itself is clean, if simple, but there’s no print or exceptional parts to make it stand out.  It’s at best a middle-of-the-road entry at a time the MCU needed to make up some ground before being mathematically eliminated from contention.

Day 15- SW

Pat: The stellar micro builds continue for Star Wars with an awesome 24-piece TIE Interceptor build seen in Episode 6. This is a ship we’ve received criminally few proper iterations of in the past, with our last system scale of the ship coming in blue and black in 2006, and a UCS scale in 2000. Otherwise, the last 16 years have been peppered with polybag builds, a planet series micro, a microfighter, and a subpar advent appearance in 2016 (plus its appearance as a micro in at least one set I can think of, GWP 40407 in 2020). You’d think I’d be sick of the Interceptors, but really I just want a good one, as most we’ve received have been awkward, stubby, and poorly angled. This one is thankfully neither!

Using the new 4×2 wedge plates in black, the wings of this build are really sharp and menacing, as the in-universe ship is. Black ingots used on the wings provide some nice shaping, and the cockpit using a dish really helps the build (which the 40407 build was lacking). The build doesn’t rest flatly, which is to be expected, but it does rest back on its heels on the groove of the wing plate, providing it with a cool attack angle seen below. Not much else to say; super nice build signifying, hopefully, an upcoming system scale set. 

Day 15- HP

Andrew: After a few days of “meh” from the HP calendar, we come out swinging with a minifigure of fan-favourite Nymphadora Tonks! This appears to be an exclusive variant, similar to her appearance in Lego set 76408 (12 Grimmauld Place) but with a different torso print and lacking leg printing. These figures seem to have similar main expressions as well, but the calendar version offers an alternate face with a duck beak (whereas I believe 76408’s has a pig-snout alternate). The only other version of Tonks was from 2020’s Attack on the Burrow set, where she featured a much different (and plainer) look.

The figure looks good, although it continues the trend of no printed or dual-molded legs that seems standard in this calendar. The design of the torso print is nice, but the printing could be a bit brighter—the printed flesh tone on the torso doesn’t quite match the face. Still, this calendar is by far the least expensive set to feature Tonks, and an exclusive variant at that, and so this is a solid contender for today’s victor. I think only a more holiday-themed figure could stop Nymphadora Tonks from taking the top spot today.

Verdict

With its calendar-exclusive and overall rare minfigure, HP takes a no-doubter today and snags top marks with Nymphadora Tonks. In second place, an impressive SW microbuild edges out MCU who fall to the basement, a familiar place for the calendar this year.

HP and SW continue to flip-flop the lead, and the scores are now:

SW- 18

HP- 18

MCU- 9

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 14

HP and SW are still locked in a dead heat, while MCU clings on for dear life. Can MCU keep the momemntum going? We’re in the back half of the Battle, and every day matters!

Day 14 – MCU

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

A mini-spaceship flying freeeee

The MCU comes off a win on lucky day 13, can we gain some momentum?

Day 14 is a micro build of the Guardians Ship. This is a tough ship to capture well at this scale, and I think they do well. The orange parts make the build really pop. 

My main criticism is that the main wing shape isn’t captured all that well, but I’m not sure I could have done it any better. 

A good recognizable build feels great to see after some misses in the early days. It’s also lovely to see a build that feels important and relevant to the film canon. 

Day 14- SW

Pat: Star Wars rebounds from a rough build yesterday with, what I believe to be, one of the best micro ship builds of the calendar so far; it’s the Rebel B-Wing Starfighter! This bulky starfighter is definitely one of the least recognized of the traditional Rebel alphabet roster, and as a result, this is its first time appearing in a Star Wars advent calendar! We’ve seen the ship in some scale in 7 sets across 22 years, including a UCS scale set and larger magazine polybag and larger planet series micro-scale sets. However, it’s been a solid 8 years now since a quality, system scale B-Wing dropped, which was 75050 in 2014 (or even arguably 16 years since a good one, 6208 in 2006), but the ship is really due a rerelease in some capacity in a new set. I would personally like to see a new episode 6 B-wing, maybe with an updated General Madine or Admiral Ackbar, but I would also like to see the Prototype Blade-Wing from Rebels in a set, it would be a super unique colour for Lego Star Wars, and they already have the Quarrie minifig, who designed the ship (and seems to have gone up in value..?!)

This chunky, 19 piece build isn’t perfect, but it captures the angles well enough and has some hinges where the wings can fold, as the in-universe ship does. In the movie, the cockpit is gyroscopic and therefore always upright, but that portion of the lego build doesn’t really rotate unfortunately. For displaying, you can balance it upright in attack position:

Or, you can collapse the wings down, and lay it flat for landing positon.

In its landing position, the body and cockpit of the build is too topheavy for the ship to lay flat and therefore tilts upwards. An unfortunate problem with the physics of the ship design I think, being so long and thin on one side by bulky on the other. Oh well, I prefer its attack position anyway. Overall, very solid first run at an advent b-wing!

Day 14- HP

Andrew: After an okay microbuild yesterday, we get… an arch. A black and trans-light blue arch. After much guesswork from various family members, I finally caved and consulted Bricklink which informed me this is the Hall of Prophecies. This did bring back vague memories of a chase scene in the Order of the Phoenix movie in a black warehouse full of glowing orbs, which I guess this is supposed to represent a portion of, but I am thoroughly underwhelmed.

Even though this is a microbuild with very few pieces I was still bored putting this one together, since it is just stacking of plates and studs and capping them with some arches. For such a pivotal location to the story, I would have liked to see something a bit more interesting—maybe an intersection of corridors, or some microfigures, or something. This build doesn’t even have any interesting pieces to redeem it.

I’ve got nothing else to say on this one. I’m having a hard time imagining something worse from our competing calendars today, and fully expect this least favourite of the HP calendar to be today’s loser.

Verdict

Today was a toss up between MCU and SW in a mini battle of microchips. Ultimately it was determined that SW had the more screen-accurate model, and takes top marks. In second, MCU with its Guardians ship. In 3rd, HP, with a poor design that will make its way to most bulk bins post-calendar.

The scores are now:

SW- 17

HP- 16

MCU- 9

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 13

SW and HP remain tied heading into the back half of the festive battle. Guest reviewer Andrew House is back with some HP reviews for the next few days. MCU is in dire need of scoring today. Read on!

Day 13 – MCU

Steve: On the thirteenth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeeee….. some points to score finallyeeeee!

As we turn the corner and enter the back half of the calendars, the MCU is hurting. The juggernauts of Harry Potter and Star Wars have been battling and leaving scraps for the Guardians.

Day 13 is a turning point, I hope! We get a Mantis mini figure behind door 13. 

The print is solid, although no leg or arm prints. The hairpiece is the softer, flexible plastic (no doubt to prevent the thin antennae from snapping off). Dual sided head has a happy and an angry face, but I feel the eyes should be larger for this character.  Rounding out the fig she has a guitar accessory to tie into the musical Holiday special. The figure itself has only appeared in one other set – 76193-1 The Guardians’ Ship.  That’s an expensive set so getting a copy here is great value.

Great fig, much needed at this stage – let’s hope it’s a portent of things to come!

Day 13- SW

Pat: We’re continuing the Star Wars Beach Party with a cool little build of a sand castle seen being built by Finn in the Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation. It’s actually a sand castle build of Vader’s Castle seen on Mustafar, and comes with a bucket, a shovel, and a couple of blue plates to simulate the nearby ocean. This is a cool enough accompanying piece to yesterday’s Summer Vader, and the bucket and shovel are better accessories for him than the soccer ball (as the ball is too difficult for a minifig to hold), but overall this feels like a pretty weak get today, and arguably, the first miss of Star Wars’ calendar. The “mandibles” of the sand castle are too far apart, and there’s no great parts included, so unfortunately this build sticks out in the grand scheme of Lego Star Wars, and doesn’t provide a whole lot of usable parts if scrapped either. (A full-sized version of the set, 75251, better captures the angles. Maybe I’ll put it in the sand on set 75171?) 

Day 13- HP

Andrew: After a few figures and minifigure-scale builds, we find ourselves back in microbuild land with… a building facade. I will admit this one was lost on me as I built it, and I was guessing maybe it was a Ministry of Magic building or something, but Bricklink informs me this is a build for the Room of Requirement!

Once I read that, some of the details make a bit more sense to me—the microfigure on the roller skate base is a clever representation of the Mechanical Death Eater training dummy Dumbledore’s Army used as part of their practice. The rest of it does not convey much sense of a “room”, however. I guess the corner arch pieces are meant to try and represent the depth of the space.

There are some interesting parts here. I’m always a fan of getting microfigures or trans blue pieces, and the tan arch 2×2 corner pieces were new to me. The half-pyramid slope pieces are also nice for detail work.

There’s not much else I can say about this microbuild. Of the comparable days we’ve seen so far in this calendar, I’d rank think build around the middle, mostly on the strength of the interesting arch pieces and dummy build. It wasn’t obvious to me what it was trying to depict, so it keeps it from ranking too high; but likewise it wasn’t so poor I’d put it near the bottom. So overall this microbuild is just… okay. I think it would have to be up against some actively poor builds from the other contenders to take the top spot today.

Verdict

With a MCU minifig entry today, MCU takes a full two points, something we haven’t been able to say much this year. In second place, HP grads a point with its Room of Requirement build. Finishing off the scoreboard for only the first time this season, SW.

The scores are now:

HP- 16

SW-15

MCU- 8

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 12

HP took its first lead yesterday but SW continues to score a point each day. MCU will need a Christmas miracle at this point. Let’s find out how it all shakes down on Day 12.

Day 12 – MCU

Steve: On the twelfth day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeeee… drinks and snacks for you and meeeee. 

Marvel and the Guardians stay on the ropes coming out of day 11… can day 12 save us?

We find a nice little drink and snack bar behind door 12. It’s actually one of the better minifig scaled builds from the MCU this year. We get an orange-slice print (with a spare) and some good food and drink related parts.

On another day this might have scored a point but Potter and Star Wars both put up monster figs so I fear we remain in the basement.

Day 12- SW

Pat: Wow this years’ Star Wars calendar is totally throwing me for a loop! After getting a sweater 3PO last week, I figured the calendar could change things up and provide a Summer-y figure for the final day with Tank Top Vader. But yet, another loop thrown, here he is! Day 12 gives us a fantastic exclusive figure in Summer Outfit Darth Vader with a soccer ball! Vader has become pretty synonymous with the Star Wars Advent Calendar, with a Santa Vader appearance in 2014, a Christmas Sweater Vader in 2020, and now a Summer fit in 2022!

This outfit is a reference to the Star Wars Holiday Special we got this summer, where Palpatine and Vader took a trip to Scarif for a vacation. It’s a great little special, with music by Weird Al Yankovic and plenty of burnt Anakin jokes to accompany, and I’m glad to see it referenced by Lego in this years’ calendar. Vader has super crisp leg and arm print seen on the newest versions of the figs, and he comes with sweet black flippers that really suit the outfit. On Vader’s torso, we get an awesome print of a red sleeveless shirt featuring a Death Star Sunset on Scarif. We get little Tie Fighters, some palm trees, and twin “suns” on the front of the torso (with one sun being the Death Star), and on the back we see some more Ties and the Scarif Citadel Tower. It’s a super detailed fig!

Vader also comes with a soccer ball, which is cool to see (eat your heart out GBC, as Matt said), but I had to look up the fig to make sure I got the right part. The instructions depict the ball provided with thick lines, making it resemble a soccer ball, however the ball provided is matte white. I guess the soccer ball lines show up as thick as the regular lines on the instructions? Weird, but super minor gripe, the alternative was no ball at all so I’m glad to get it! 

Day 12- HP

Matt: After three straight days of decent builds, would I call myself cautiously optimistic or simply waiting for the Yule Ball to drop? Hard to say. Let’s see what Day 12 brings us.

On the 12th day of Christmas, we finally get a minifigure making his long awaited debut on the HP Advent Calendar Scene. Coming in at a soulless 5 foot 11 inches, the pride of the Gaunt family, Heir to Salazar Slytherin, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and the wizard formerly known as Tom Marvolo Riddle, it’s Looooooooooooorrrrrrrrddd Voldemort! 

I’ve been vocal about the antagonist’s notable absence in HP calendars since their debut in 2019. While SW routinely gets Darth Vader and MCU got Thanos last year, it’s really something that this is the first time Voldy graces us with his presence (ie. four years in). Could it be because, unlike the other two, this character truly is a categorically irredeemable, sociopathic narcissist who never knew love, and basically represents the antithesis of the Christmas season? Yeah, I mean, maybe. 

That said, let’s talk about the actual figure. For those who are new to the growth and evolution of HP figures throughout the years, Voldemort has come a long way since his first depiction on the back of Professor Quirrell’s yellow head minifigure in 2001. From a glow in the dark head to a baby variant, we’ve seen a few takes on the infamous character over the years. The most accepted version these days is a white headed ghostly figure with robes as he appears in the movie. Today’s figure is more along those lines. The torso printing with subtle greens on both sides is fantastic although I wish we got some printing on the leg/skirt piece. However, some research tells me this figure is indeed an exclusive variant owing to his torso and head.

Speaking of which, let us take a moment to address that facial expression. According to Bricklink, it’s officially called “White Minifigure, Head Alien with Black Eyebrows and Nose Slits, Light Bluish Gray Contours, Tan Teeth, Red Tongue Pattern.” That’s a great description, but the choice to give Voldemort an expression with his tongue out here is a little corny (my 2021 word of the year). It’s not that it’s a bad facial expression to add to the collection- it’s just I prefer my Voldy a little more “Dark Lord” and a little less Detroit Rock City

Overall, a long winded review for HP Day 12, but I felt the need to cover all the bases with Voldemort’s first HP Advent Calendar appearance. Great exclusive fig, but unfortunately loses out to his counterpart in the SW column today. Perhaps they’ll give him a Santa hat next year. We can only hope.

Verdict

A mid-season battle of the antagonists goes in favour of SW with its exclusive summer outfit Darth Vader. A silver lining for HP’s baddie as we finally get a Voldemort in an advent calendar. In third it’s the same old song and dance for MCU, unfortunately. 

With that, SW/HP remain tied, and the scores are now:

SW- 15

HP- 15

MCU- 6

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 11

Entering Day 11, both SW and HP continue to trade daily victories atop the leaderboard while MCU slowly loses runway. Can it begin a streak and bring this back to a three-way race? Read on.

Day 11- MCU

Steve: On the 11 day of Christmas the Guardians gave to meeeee….

…. Ugh, more drone…. pod… things?

The lack of recognition when I opened door 11 is a repeated refrain for the MCU this year. Today we have two small micro(?) builds that Bricklink identified as “Mining Pod and Escape Pod).

I can’t judge the accuracy of the builds because I am unsure where in the MCU/Guardians canon they come from.  No prints or unusual techniques to set them apart – in fact one of the builds is practically a smaller version of the Drone from day 10. 

It’s a disappointing day, but I’m increasingly used to that by now. 

Day 11- SW

Pat: Star Wars stays on Tatooine for day 11 with an even more obscure build than yesterday’s, this time with a micro speeder. This is a pretty obscure ship, possibly the most obscure in memory for recent Star Wars calendars – its the V-25 Courier Landspeeder seen originally in Episode 4, but peppered throughout Star Wars since. The build is nothing special, but it’s our first time we’re getting it in micro scale, so it’s welcome enough. This comes not long after our first time ever seeing it from Lego, which was to scale in the 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina. Overall, nothing too special in this obscure micro, but a welcome addition to our Tatooine theme.

Day 11- HP

Matt: It’s been a two-day break from microbuilds for HP which has been a much needed change of pace in my opinion. However, based on the sheer number of microbuilds this year, I’m afraid of the calendar slipping back into that trend soon.

But not today. Day 11 gives us a system scale Triwizard Cup. Coming off the Goblet of Fire build from yesterday, these two items were touchpoints from Year/Film 4. Today’s build played an especially significant role as a portkey toward the end of the movie. As an aside, I’ve always marked the 4th novel as a pivotal point in the entire saga, as the atmosphere of the first three novels gives way to a decidedly darker tone from here on in. One could argue that the Triwizard Cup is a symbol of that. Once Harry touched that cup, there was no going back- literally or figuratively- to the ways things were before.

Back on topic. Today’s build employs some new and rare-ish parts. The new 1×1 plate with bar handles on both ends leads the charge here, but I’d like to point to the transparent dome top, as well as the angled bars in light grey (typically found in transparent variety, often to “pose” minifigures such as CMF’s). These are cool parts and are used in a neat way here to create a system scale cup. We had a previous variant of the cup in 2020’s calendar but I think this version is far more accurate and well made. Ironically, 2020’s goblet of fire was superior to this year’s version (printed tile notwithstanding). Oh well, at least if you bought both calendar’s, you now have a solid copy of each.

Verdict

With it’s system scale build and unique design, HP takes top marks today. IN second place, SW grabs a point with its landspeeder micro. In 3rd place, and we’re really not making this up folks- MCU finishes with zero points again.

With this result, HP takes its first narrow lead of the season and the scores are now:

HP- 14

SW- 13

MCU- 6

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 10

A day to remember in the battle is over and it will be hard to top yesterday’s gifts across all calendars. MCU gets a much needed win to keep itself in contention. Let’s see what happens on Day 10.

Day 10- MCU

Steve: On the 10th day of Christmas, the Guardians sent to meeeeeee…. Onnnnnnne Golden Pod!

Day 10 sees the MCU coming off a high, but I’m not sure we can maintain it – The 10th gift is a Golden Pod from a space battle in “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2”.

It’s an OK build – the pods move really fast in that scene so it’s hard to get a good look at them on-screen to compare them to the micro-sized version (although they have been seen in LEGO form before, in set 76080 – “Ayesha’s Revenge” – photo credit Jays Brick Blog)



The micro build here is fine, although the parts and techniques are nothing unique or special.  The main strike against it is that it’s just not a memorable ship from the films, and, like many builds so far in this calendar, it suffers from a recognition problem.

Day 10- SW

Pat: Looks like we’re staying on Tatooine for another build, as day 10 of the Star Wars advent gives us a sweet little build of the moisture vaporators as seen in Episode 4. These are mostly seen in the barren parts of Tatooine, with a few dozen surrounding the Lars Homestead, but Lego has included them in a variety of sets and advent calendars in the past. We received a decent moisture vaporator build in the 2014 advent calendar, and a colour swap of that one in 2018 to resemble a Christmas Tree, but this is definitely the better design. Even though its downsized, I like including these in my Tatooine display as they still effectively depict weather vanes or structures in the sand. Overall its a solid micro build, I prefer something static over the ships like we generally get from Star Wars.

Day 10- HP

Matt: Day 9 was likely the best day we’ve seen since starting our seasonal Battle in 2020, courtesy three exclusive minifigures. Unfortunately, HP ended up on the outside looking in. Let’s see how they fare on Day 10.

On Day 10, we get the Goblet of Fire. So we’ve moved on to Year 4 now, and the Goblet of Fire itself kicks us off. I appreciate a gift that is “somewhat” to-scale in place of a microbuild. This is typically because we can use these builds in our MOC’s and displays. We’ve actually seen a more robust rendition of the Goblet in a previous calendar. 

All that said, the main draw today is the exclusive 1×2 transparent-tile with a Harry Potter parchment print. For those that remember the movie, this represents the moment when Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet after all school champions were already selected. An exclusive printed tile is definitely something we want to see out of these calendars.

Verdict

Based on its quasi-to-scale build and exclusive printed tile, HP grabs full marks today. A battle of microbuilds occurred between SW and MCU, with SW ultimately squeaking out second place. In third, a line we’ve used too often this season, MCU finishes in 3rd.

With that, the score is now:

SW- 12

HP- 12

MCU- 6

To be continued…