Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 13

After a strong weekend for HP, a new week begins and all calendars are still in the hunt. Let’s see the opening gifts for Monday:

Day 13- MCU

Steve: Opening the second half for the MCU, on say 13 we get a present and a stocking!

The colour scheme for the present says “Captain Marvel” – maybe a hint of a figure to come? The stocking is big and green and definitely belongs to The Hulk.

We’ve seen presents before in calendar builds, and they are often a bland day – I think the injection of humour with the massively oversized Hulk stocking (it even has a crane attachment point…). takes it up a notch.

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Day 13- SW

Patrick: Day 13 of the Star Wars advent contains, in my opinion, the first (and hopefully not last) great minifigure of the calendar, the Imperial Scout Trooper! While not unique, this is only the third time we’ve received this newest version of the Scout Trooper, which has great torso and leg printing, and a brand new helmet mold! Outside of the Razor Crest and the unpopular Action Battle Endor set from 2019, this is the only set containing the Imperial Scout with this new armour, and it’s an awesome inclusion!

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Day 13- HP

Matt: After back-to-back strong entries over the weekend, HP has opened a surprising although welcome mid-calendar lead. I;m really enjoying the chronological progression to Hogwarts, so let’s keep it going!

Behind the door on Day 13 is the entrance to Harry’s vault at Gringotts. The build is mid-scale, with an opening/functioning round door, like the vault depicted in the movie. I like the quarter round tiles and how they have been implemented here. With a bit of imagination, the modified 2×3 brown plate with hole provides a keyhole for the key previous provided on Day 11. Placing today’s build on the gameboard puts it near the mine cart and the tracks. The board tells us to place day’s “13+14” on the same spot- perhaps providing a clue for tomorrow’s gift. All in all, I like the vault door and certainly not the worst entry we’ve seen this year, albeit not quite up to HP’s “lofty weekend” standards.

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Verdict

With its Scout Trooper minifig, SW takes an easy two points today. 2nd/3rd place was a more controversial discussion. Ultimately, the majority felt as though the festive nature of MCU’s offering trumped HP’s functional vault door. Therefore, it’s MCU taking 2nd place, and HP left on the outside looking in (to the vault) in 3rd.

With the win, SW catches up to MCU, and the scores are now:

HP- 15

MCU- 12

SW- 12

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 12

Entering Day 12, HP has a two-point lead over MCU, and a four point buffer on SW. Will that lead expand today, or will the other calendars close the gap? Read on as we wrap up the weekend:

Day 12- MCU

Steve: Day 12 for the MCU – the first micro-build from this calendar, it’s the SHEILD Heli-carrier.

This is really just an “OK” representation of the in-universe vehicle. I feel the build doesn’t quite nail the shape of the angled upper flight deck. Colours are OK, but overall – I was happier when the MCU was avoiding micro-scale builds.

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Day 12- SW

Patrick: Day 12 of the Star Wars advent calendar provides a vehicle to fight opposite yesterday’s Rebel X-Wing; an Imperial TIE Fighter! This is a bit less common of a design to see in advent calendars, but effective and welcomed nonetheless. TIE advent builds have come a long way since two 2×2 plate wings and a centre travis brick!

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Day 12- HP

Matt: After a big minifig battle win yesterday for Griphook, HP looks to keep the momentum going.

Day 12 reveals a Gringotts mine cart. Now that Harry has his vault key, we are entering the Gringotts vault courtesy this cart, just as in the film. I like that it has seating for 2, and functions with the 4 attached wheels. The headlights are nice, especially the front with the gold clip, as they are also present in the film, albeit for a quick scene. I think I will keep this build for my dwarves mining scene I currently have on display.

The HP calendar has held fast to its chronological order so far, and this mine cart has a dedicated position on the developing game board. Overall another solid, film-relevant, functional, and to-scale build offered up today by HP.

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Verdict

With its function and to-scale design, HP takes another big two points today to extend its lead. In the battle of the microbuilds, SW comes out on top owing to an efficient redesign of a microscale TIE. In 3rd place, the Helicarrier- immediately recognizable but perhaps some odd color choices for today.

With that, HP has surprisingly opened up a mid-calendar lead with SW trailing MCU by a single point. The scores are now:

HP- 15

MCU- 11

SW- 10

To be continued..

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 11

Heading into the weekend, we’re in a familiar place, with all advent calendars still in the race. Let’s see what Saturday brings us on Day 11:

Day 11- MCU

Steve: Day 11 in the Marvel Universe brings back a Minifig!

We have Thanos here in figure form (#ThanosWasRight), but it looks like he got coal for Christmas.

He has a sack (no doubt for stealing half of Christmas) and comes with a minifig scale Infinity Gauntlet. Torso print is crisp with metallic printing.

I’ve always felt the big-fig version of Thanos was too big so I’m glad to see him in this scale. He’s technically unique to the calendar, but a glance at Bricklink says that’s only because this print comes in a set with his helmet.

Good fig, glad to see the villains represented for the MCU.

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Day 11- SW

Patrick: Day number 11 for the Star Wars advent shows a departure from Tatooine, in an X-Wing! This great little micro design is almost a staple of Star Wars advent calendars, with some variant on it appearing in almost half the calendars released. I guess this is Luke’s X-Wing from the final episode of the series, meaning hopefully there’s more Gideon’s cruiser or season finale builds coming. Its a cool one to get duplicates of, to flesh out the micro rebel fleet, but it still might have some tough competition against HP and MCU today.

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Day 11- HP

Matt: After a couple low points across all calendars, we’re all looking for something exciting on Day 11. It appears we’ve gotten our wish- the first head-to-head minifig battle of the 2021 season!

Behind Door #11 is Griphook the Gringotts goblin. This was somewhat expected based on yesterday’s service counter with built in stool, but you love to see a figure pop out on any day.

Griphook is the goblin that escorts Harry and Hagrid to Harry’s vault in Gringotts during the first film. He would go on to play a larger role down the road in the series. This iteration of Griphook is unique owing to his dual-sided face with sneering smile. The only other variant of this figure is found in Series 2 of the HP Collectable Minifigures “blind bags”, making this figure fantastic value in this advent calendar. His torso only appears twice before as well. The dual molded head piece with hair is fantastic, and it could totally be used on a custom elf elder in the MOCing world. He is holding Harry’s key to his vault here, and we get an extra one on the sprue. Overall, gifts like this are great for any advent calendar, giving the builder an opportunity to collect exclusive or hard to find figs.

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Verdict

Our first head-to-head minifig battle of the season pits MCU vs HP. In discussing our verdict, we consider the figure’s exclusivity (unique) as well as rarity in our ratings metrics. Thanos, while technically unique owing to the lack of helmet, appears in more sets (10) than Griphook (2). Further, Griphook is a exclusive figure thanks to his dual-sided head. While we all agree Thanos is a larger figure in each respective universe, it is Griphook that takes the two points today, as he is much more exclusive/unique/rare across the LEGO universe. 2nd place of course goes to Thanos and MCU, while SW takes a 3rd place with its X-Wing microbuild.

We hope today’s minifig matchup is the first of many more to come this season. With today’s results, the score is now:

HP- 13

MCU- 11

SW- 9

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 10

MCU/HP have again opened a gap on SW. Can the latter win another important two points to stay in the hunt? Read on:

Day 10- MCU

Steve: Marvel Day 10: Another day, another minifigure scale build.

I actually had to look this one up, I wasn’t 100% sure what it was – the is an E.D.I.T.H. drone from “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”

The bright blue and red colour scheme means its not screen-accurate (the drones are white in the movie). No unique parts or particularly interesting techniques put this solidly in the “meh” column.

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Day 10- SW

Patrick: Behind door number 10 of the Star Wars advent is another add on for the Tatooine theme, and this time its a miniature Tusken Raider Ballista seen in the beginning arc of Mandalorian Season 2 fighting the Krayt Dragon. While the shaping is effective enough with the tan teeth and brown studs, it doesn’t really look much like the in-universe design with the clunky stud-shooter and questionable white stud, as well as a 1×3 brick base that should probably be wheels. Unfortunately, this is another tough build in a dry streak for the Star Wars calendar.

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Day 10- HP

Matt: Having just entered Diagon Alley through the magical wall/door in The Leaky Cauldron, Harry will need to take out some cash prior to hitting the shops. Next stop? The bank.

Day 10 gives us a service counter at Gringotts bank in Diagon Alley. This build reflects the one in the film, most notably the lamp on top of the counter. Gringotts, run by goblins, is the primary bank in the wizarding world. On the reverse of the counter, there’s a built-in step for what I suspect will be a goblin minifig (“And does Mr. Harry Potter have his key?”). The counter is arguably to scale for short-legged Harry forcing him to look up at the goblins, as seen in the film. The modified 1×1 reddish-brown “scroll” bricks are nice to get here and add a good touch. Overall, not the most exciting entry today but definitely not the worst we’ve seen so far this calendar season.

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Verdict

Another day with no standout winners makes today another calendar disappointment. However, with its play-feature, on theme vehicle, and midi-scale build, the Tusken Raider Ballista takes the full two points keeping SW in the mix. In 2nd place, HP grabs a point with its screen-accurate Gringotts service counter, while MCU grabs 3rd place with its somewhat-to-scale EDITH drone build.

The race tightens up once again, and HP grabs a one point lead over MCU. The scores are now:

HP- 11

MCU- 10

SW- 9

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 9

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

Day 9- MCU

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

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

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Day 9- SW

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

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Day 9- HP

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

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

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Verdict

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

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

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

MCU- 10

HP- 10

SW- 7

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 8

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

Day 8- MCU

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

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

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

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Day 8- SW

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

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Day 8- HP

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

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Verdict

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

MCU- 9

HP- 8

SW- 7

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 7

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

Day 7- MCU

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

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

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Day 7- SW

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

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Day 7- HP

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

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

Verdict

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

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

MCU- 8

HP- 8

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 6

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

Day 6- MCU

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

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Day 6- SW

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

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Day 7- HP

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

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Verdict

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

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

HP- 7

MCU- 6

SW- 5

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 5

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

Day 5- MCU

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

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Day 5- SW

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

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Day 5- HP

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

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

MCU- 6

HP- 5

SW- 4

To be continued…

Battle of the Licensed Advent Calendars- Day 4

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

Day 4- MCU

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

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Day 4- SW

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

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No description available.

Day 4- HP

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

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Verdict

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

MCU- 5

SW- 4

HP- 3

To be continued…