Well here we go again, I blinked and most of 2017 decided to disappear and leave Christmas staring right back at me! In case I didn’t realize the kids are also making it their life goal to tell me daily that they want ALL the LEGO at the local shops because they have been good (yeah right kids)! After the massive sets LEGO released this year surely it’s time my wallet took a well earned rest! In addition to my pain this time of year also marks the time when I commit to a daily LEGO build and review for 24 days – Yep you guessed it the fabled LEGO Advent Calendar. Last year marked my first jump into the LEGO tradition (well Christian tradition) with the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2016.
This year’s offering from LEGO kept to the previous trio of themes – LEGO City, Star Wars and Friends. To keep it fresh I decided to jump on the LEGO City band wagon (committing to all 3 is a bit of a stretch for me). The box is well detailed and Christmas themed (stating the obvious) and gives you a hint at what we can expect over the next 24 days.
The box maintains the tried and tested flap/mat style that is great for adults (umm I mean kids) to display the daily builds. Shame they can’t bring back the flap into some of the big sets now like a lot of the sets from the 90’s and earlier! Anyway it’s the 1st of December let’s get the excitement going and open our first build!
DAY 1 – TOY TRAIN
This year I’m better equipped with the dreaded cardboard doors. I ripped multiple doors last year and being slightly OCD it kinda upset me. Well I’ve worked out to open the doors perfect with no tears you push inwards (not outward). Just look at the beautiful clean break :). Drum roll please… and welcome our first build a cute little toy train.
The toy train is designed to be a minifigure scale toy and captures the essence of a train perfectly in only fifteen elements. The colour scheme evokes the christmas cheer with red and forest green. Hard to imagine how the design could be improved other than using one of those LEGO white ice cream elements to depict steam (only minor). All up our first build is cute and puts a smile on your face. Hopefully we see more mini toy builds!
DAY 2 – SNOWBOARDING MINIFIGURE CHILD
“On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me” – a snowboarding minifigure kid! Being a minifigure and stating the obvious the element count is low and nice and simple to build (I let my 2 year old build this one). It also works on the proven formula of minifgures kitted out for Christmas/snowy outdoor activities as seen with previous Advent Calendars.
The elements are pretty standard (nothing too exciting), but it’s nice seeing the less common use of Flame Yellowish Orange for the Snowboard accessory. The green torso has a nice level of detailing and is capped off nicely with the blue pants. Lastly who doesn’t love some innocent freckles (interestingly not shown on the printed door)!
With our first minifigure making appearance now our toy train won’t feel so lonely with minifgure on hand to play with it when not hitting the LEGO slopes!
DAY 3 – FIREPLACE
Living in Australia and sitting in a house with the aircon on I can’t really appreciate a cozy warm fireplace at the moment – I’m trying. Well I need to try a little harder as day three of our Advent journey has just dropped one of these on my lap!
The fireplace is a standard mini build made from 18 elements (+ 1 spare). The gold pearl elements add a bit of interest in an otherwise slightly dull fireplace (bit like my dull picture – promise to sort lighting out for day 4). With this being christmas maybe the incorporation of green elements for a garland or some red for stockings would have lifted this little build.
With the house now warming up with the fireplace maybe it’s time to bring mum and dad minifigures into the mix! Note – my Nativity display sneaking into the frame is not part of the Advent Calendar.
DAY 4 – CHAIR & SIDE TABLE
After a long day on your feet there is nothing better than getting home and crashing on that comfy chair or couch. This is no different for our growing winter home theme slowing growing on our LEGO Advent Calendar matt.
This simple little build is built using only 8 elements and instead of a brick built couch utilises the standard chair mold. While it may be simple, the side table with lamp and finally some christmas ornaments (little Xmas tree) helps pull together the build and match it well with the scale of the previous day’s fireplace.
To keep everyone in the loop tomorrow may be delayed slightly due to work commitments.
DAY 5 – GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Firstly sorry been travelling for work and the christmas season brings on a crazy amount of client functions – Poor Me! Day 5 brings a LEGO classic the Gingerbread house.
This delightful little build seems to capture the magic and excitement so easily using only 13 elements. Thanks to the recent release of the LEGO Batman Movie Clayface (70904) set this model is able to use the new medium nougat Rocker Bearing 1X2 element to represent the gingerbread walls of the house.
To cap off the roof lime green and red round tiles are used as sweats (Lollies in Oz). While the build has a pretty substantial hole either side of the roof, at this scale it surprisingly doesn’t distract from the overall quality of the build.
DAY 6 – TOY PLANE (RED / BLACK)
Day 6 is quite app as I’m sitting in an airport lounge about to jump on a plane back to Perth! You guessed it a cute little toy plane is next up to keep our toy train company from day 1.
The toy plane has a strong resemblance to the racing planes used in the Red Bull air race that does its circuit around the globe. Colour scheme of red and black works perfectly and makes clever design use of the trans light blue wedges for the cockpit. I also love the use of the trans clear dish as a propeller!
Along with the train I have to admit that the little toy models are my current favorites so far in the Advent Calender – so much playability paired up with the minifigures.
DAY 7 – SNOW SLED
After the flurry of toys and indoor trimmings it looks like day 7 is bringing a big dose of outdoor fun with a traditional wooden snow sled.
The iconic shape and blades are created using the LEGO hockey stick elements clipped in either side of the sled (common and previously used technique). What makes this outing a little more interesting is the new brown colour variant allowing for the more traditional wooden appearance.
The size is good and the footprint plate (3×2) gives ample space for our little man minifigure to jump onboard and allow him to sit comfortable.
DAY 8 – GRANDMA / NAN / NONNA
With one week down we’ve had some awesome little minifigure scale toys, home creature comforts and our 1 and only minifigure. What better way to cheer him up than to bring good old Grandma / Nan / Nonna (depending on where you live).
Grandma comes with a tray packed with home baked cookies (4 + 1 spare) and her torso has a lovely festive printed cardigan. And who couldn’t fall in love with her oversized spectacles?!
If you measured the scale of awesomeness in cuddles then good old Grandma is off the scales. I almost feel emotional thinking of my own deeply missed Grandma – cue sad face 🙁
DAY 9 – SNOWBLOWER
If you fortunate (or unlucky) enough to live in a country that experiences heavy snow, then day 9 is an essential part of the arsenal to keep on top of the snow clearing battle.
The Snowblower is not something I’m familiar with growing up in the UK (when it does snow it’s less than 0.5″/1cm but still brings the country to a laughable halt), but a quick google does show this is a good representation.
The build is compact and is actually usable with wheels incorporated into the design to allow the minifgure to move the Snowblower. Another nice point to note is this is the first time a Snowblower has appeared in a LEGO City Advent Calendar set.
DAY 10 – TOY PLANE (YELLOW / BLACK)
Looks like this year is a bumper crop of planes with our second toy plane to join the Advent Calendar.
Interestingly this toy plane adopts a very different design. With the lack of props or jets and the underbelly design maybe more designed around a glider (though a bit chunky) or a sea plane.
Move over famous Yellow Submarine! It’s time for a new player in town and boy this plane looks good in yellow!
DAY 11 – SNOWMAN
Nearly mid way through and it’s time to throw in one of our traditional builds found in every year’s Advent Calendar – The Snowman!
This years outing is more akin to a bulldog (butch and squat) with a very chunky but simple appearance. I don’t think I would be very happy if one of those tree trunk arms swung round and smacked me one in the face!
Fairly plan affair with the most notable item being the tooth element in flame yellowish orange as a scarf. If it was my first LEGO snowman I think I would have been slightly disappointed, but as a collective with previous years it looks good and adds variety.
DAY 12 – KITCHEN BENCHTOP
Well that went scarily quick – half way through the Advent Calendar and racing towards Christmas! What better way to ponder and look back over the last 12 days than to grab a coffee.
Next up is a nice little festive looking Kitchen benchtop with coffee cup (maybe for Santa – though it would be filled with Whiskey in our household!). Maybe the inclusion of a carrot and one of Grandma’s cookies would have really polished this build off.
The top of the benchtop is crowned with a new colour variant of 1x4x1 wall panel elements in green. I’m hazarding a guess that this element was used to represent a nice Christmas garland and is a nice touch.
DAY 13 – COASTGUARD SKIER
One thing LEGO likes to do is bring various LEGO City subthemes into the City Advent Calendar with micro builds and minifgures. Day 13 brings in our third minifigure from the coastguard subtheme.
With all the snow around I’m guessing the sea and harbour is frozen over (Global warming doesn;t seem to be affecting the LEGO arctic yet!). So our lovely female coast guard has decided to take some time out and put some azure blue skies on and grab matching poles.
The torso printing is really detailed and is lifted straight from the Coastguard subtheme design released earlier in the year (2017). The various shades of blue running through the hat, torso, legs and ski accessories works really well and make this minifigure a rather desirable addition to the Advent Calendar.
DAY 14 – TOY CONTAINER SHIP
Day 14 marks a return to the minifigure scale toys and in keeping with yesterday’s more nautical coastguard themed minifgure we have our first toy ship.
This isn’t just some small boat or yacht though, but a rather large and chunky container ship. Being associated with the offshore industry this little model floats my boat (mind the pun). For it’s tiny size it still packs in details such as the port and starboard navigation lights, bridge, 20ft containers and a shapely vessel keel.
Colour scheme is great and playful, though my only comment would have been to add a bit of detail to the Monkey Island (above the bridge) with a radio mast or satellite communication dome.
DAY 15 – TOY FIRE ENGINE
Looks like our minifgures have been good this year with more toys coming out of this year’s Advent Calendar. After yesterday’s nautical excursion we are well and truly back on dry land!
The LEGO design brainstrust having been working overtime on this little toy fire engine. With workable ladder, blue lights and tiny little wheels. The wheels are represented using 1×1 hollow studs which are attached to a modified plate 1×2 (handle on Side – Free Ends). This technique is brilliant as the scale is spot on and the wheels even look like they have hubcaps.
Colour scheme is great and shouts out to the traditional colours seen in a fire engines all round the world.
DAY 16 – TOY RACING CAR
Toys toys toys everywhere – Looks like a trinity of toy toys is in order. This time round we are revving up the engines and getting behind the wheel of a toy racing car.
Umm not all is well with this little build. There seems to have been a lot of compromises made to achieve the scale. The front wheels sit higher than the rear wheels, the car lacks a windscreen and the overall look is awkward.
I guess you can’t hit a home run everyday and sadly this sits at the bottom of the pile as my least favorite build to date.
DAY 17 – TOY HELICOPTER
Another day and another minifgure toy! The number of toys popping out of this Advent Calendar has surprised me (pleasantly).
This time we are back in the air, but with a helicopter instead (after two toy planes already). The design is great and sleek and captures the Helicopter perfectly. The highlight is the use of the modified 1×1 plate with Tooth (Horizontal) used for the pontoons.
With the previous coast guard minifigure and the orange/black/white colour scheme of the Helicopter I would hazard a guess this is based on a coastguard Helicopter. With Day 17 down I wonder if we will finally get some more minifgures? maybe grandad?
DAY 18 – COASTGUARD MINIFIGURE
After a four day run of minifigure toys we finally have our next minifigure and no sorry it’s not Grandad!
As with the previous Coastguard minifigure she comes with the recent summer release Coastguard torso printed uniform in bright orange. While I like the design and printed face I’m struggling to feel the overall Christmas buzz with this one 🙁 Its also worth noting the walkie talkie accessory is actually depicted as the controller for the toy Helicopter on the box.
DAY 19 – CHRISTMAS TREE
Finally a bit of Christmas cheer to brighten up the room with our next build based on a popular Christmas icon – The Christmas Tree!
Like the Snowman our beloved Christmas Tree is a regular visitor to the LEGO Advent Calendar. This years excursion is an average outing using the green 1×1 slopes to create the iconic shape.
Interestingly when I first built the tree all the kept screaming out to me was using a fairy wand element to top the tree with a star! Anyway i couldn’t help myself and added the star below. Note – the star is not part of the Advent Calendar.
Sorry the Star is now a permanent addition! Fingers crossed this marks a real Christmassy finish to the Advent Calendar.
DAY 20 – EXPLORER MINIFIGURE
With the big day approaching fast and only a splattering of days left it seems a last minute surge of minifgures are in full flow with number 5 joining the party.
Like the previous Coastguard minifgures this chap is from the other years subtheme release jungle explorer. The jungle explorer subtheme has been one of my favorites this year and the detail is superb.
He comes with a wood cutting accessory and while it seems hard to see the relevance to Christmas it is clear his link is to the previous day’s Christmas tree. I mean who else is going to cut that tree down and drag it into the house for decorating?
DAY 21 – ICE SCULPTURE
Time to get fancy pants and extravagant this Christmas with a minifigure sized Ice Sculpture.
Every year there is a spoiler on the LEGO Advent Calendar box that helps scream out buy me! Last year it was the white christmas Wookie in the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar and this year it was the gorgeous looking ice sculpture that drew me to the City Advent Calendar.
The actual build is very simple and as you would expect uses trans blue elements to assemble the ice sculpture based on an angel. The wings are rather spectacular with glitter incorporated into the molds and the head utilises a trans blue minifigure head element (fairly uncommon and expensive elements on Bricklink).
DAY 22 – SNOWMOBIL
22 days into the build up to Christmas and we haven’t had one of our classic modes of winter transport yet?
Well never fear all those tired legs can now rest with our newest build – Snowmobile finally making an appearance. This years version is a solid edition utilising some interesting elements.
The skies use black 1×2 plate (spoiler) elements (tried and tested technique) and the main chassis is flame yellowish orange, which is a great colour contrast with the black and light bluish grey. The only negative point is I believe the steering wheel element is a bit awkward and oversized for this build.
DAY 23 – SANTA’S SLAY
The day before Christmas Eve brings Santa’s Slay in all its red, white and gold glory. LEGO have done well to squeeze Slay details with a build of this size. However a little magic has been lost in the process with the Slay looking a little confusing and had me stumped which way round it should be?!
I also think the use of brown elements instead of light bluish grey may have improved the overall look, as the grey elements seem out of place.
DAY 24 – SANTA
“Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house” I think you know the rest of the poem! Finally Christmas eve is upon us and time for the big man himself – Santa
I believe this is our 11th Santa out of 13 LEGO City Advent Calendars since 2005 and Santa number 11 doesn’t disappoint!
We’ve been treated to a relatively extensive update this year with a brand new torso featuring some 3D enhancing shadowing around his fur trim, bulging jolly belly waistline and a nice gold belt buckle. His warm kindly face is also new – fresh from a new design used in Fun in Park (60153).
Overall I love this Santa outing and I would say he is the best I’ve seen so far! A real gem and keeps sake if my son gives him back (currently locked up in his NEXO Knight Lair!
Well that’s it after 24 days of Advent Calender fun it has finally come to an end for another year! 2017 was a worthy addition to the LEGO Advent Calendar tradition and was my first toe dip into the City version (2016 – LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar). While there were a few builds that were not as enjoyable, overall the majority was a joy and the format is a winning formula. If I had to pick some highlights I would gravitate to the toy planes, Santa and the toy container ship.
Hope you all have a LEGO fun filled Christmas and thanks for following AATB – Merry Christmas!
Final Rating: 9 out of 10