Review: 2019 LEGO Advent Calendars
With Halloween behind us, it’s time start planning for the holidays. A LEGO Advent calendar is a great way to get into the holiday spirit, but there are four to choose from! We created this overview of the 2019 advent calendars to help you decide which to one (or three) to purchase this year…
Four Reviews, One Mighty Article
LEGO released their advent calendars this year on the 1st of September, which we can expect will be retired at the end of the year. A tradition that has been followed for many years since the first LEGO advent calendar was released in 1998. This year, a fourth advent calendar was added to the list.
This year, we have four advent calendars to choose from, rather than the three available for the last seven years… The non-licensed advent calendars are #60235 LEGO City Advent Calendar which is $29.99 (£22.99, 19.99€) for 234 pieces, and #41382 Friends Advent Calendar which is $29.99 (£22.99, 24.99€) for 330 pieces. The licensed advent calendars are #75245 Star Wars Advent Calendar which is $39.99 (£24.99, 29.99€) for 280 pieces, and a new themed advent calendar with #75964 Harry Potter Advent Calendar which is $39.99 (£24.99, 24.99€) for 305 pieces. Each advent calendar consists of 24 marked doors, allowing you to open one door to reveal a small LEGO model or minifigure each day of December leading up to Christmas.
#60235 LEGO City Advent Calendar – Michael Kindness
As in previous years, this LEGO City Advent Calendar comes in a festive box with photographs of several of the interior builds and minifigures against an illustrated Christmas scene. However, simply looking at the front and the back of the box gives away all 8 of the minifigures, along with a whopping 13 of the mini builds. Only three mini builds remain a secret! I understand that LEGO designs the boxes to entice, but it’s unfortunate that doing so means spoiling nearly all of the surprises.
At 234 pieces, this is the smallest City Advent Calendar since 2104, and is slightly below the 248-piece average for all 15 sets released. Given that this is the 15th City Advent Calendar, maybe a special (i.e. larger) set was in order. Let’s hope they’re planning something for the 20th calendar in five years.
Top 4 Mini Builds
When considering which 4 builds to highlight, I tried to pick ones that were fairly unique, and aren’t a part of every LEGO Advent Calendar. Since most of the mini builds are right there on the box, none of these choices will be a spoiler.
Fireplace – Yes, there have been several fireplaces in previous years, but one design choice made 2019’s standout. Rather than using any of the LEGO flame pieces, the designer chose to use 1×1 Plate, with Horizontal Tooth in 182Transparent Bright OrangeTrans-Orange to represent the roaring fire.
Grandfather Clock – This is a simple build (all of these are, really), but pieces like 1×1 Headlight Brick, and a 1×2 Plate in a different color, add texture and contrast. The 2×2 Round Tile in 192Reddish Brown is printed with a clock showing just minutes till midnight; it’s a lovely piece.
Dogsled – Many sleds have been included in previous advent calendars, but this is the first that I could find that was definitely a dogsled, as evidenced by the white and gray husky attached with two Battle Droid Arms.
Curling Set – I’m not sure why I find this mini build so endearing. The sport has been around for over 500 years, but it’s only been an Olympic sport for 20 years, and still struggles – unfairly – for wider acceptance. So maybe I just love that LEGO is representing an underdog. This build includes two red and two blue curling stones. I’m not sure what the 2×2 Dish in 24Bright YellowYellow is meant to represent, but maybe someone more familiar with the sport can fill me in!
Top 2 Minifigures
This set contains a large number of city themed minifigures, all geared up and ready for Christmas and the winter season. Of the figures in this set two stood out and are my favorite of the set.
Boy with Cookie – It’s all about the propeller cap. (The propeller is a new piece for 2019.) His freckled, smirking face is cute too, but his blue baseball cap with yellow propeller just says “fun”.
Curling Sweeper – I’m guessing that’s why he’s holding the broom, right? My fondness for curling aside, I love his Dark Azur and Medium Blue parka and pants. Plus, his laughing face just makes me smile.
Many of the minifigure torsos (and one accessory) are new, being released in the last 2 years and only appear in a handful of sets. Listed below are a handful of the cool pieces in this set that exist 4 or fewer sets.
- 76382 Mini Upper Part, No. 4288 in 312Medium NougatMedium Dark Flesh
- 36933 Mini Hat, No.71 in 321Dark AzurDark Azure
- 39314 Mini Eskimo Hood, No.4 in 321Dark AzurDark Azure
- 54568 Propeller, W/1.5 Shaft, No.1 in 24Bright YellowYellow – Note: the set came with 2 extra pieces.
- 76382 Mini Upper Part, No. 4270 in 138Sand YellowDark Tan
- 76382 Mini Upper Part, No. 4507 in 321Dark AzurDark Azure
- 76382 Mini Upper Part, No. 3901 in 21Bright RedRed – Note: This has only appeared in the 2017-19 advent calendars.
- 38319 Mini Head No. 2590 in 24Bright YellowYellow
- 76382 Mini Upper Part, No. 4901 in 28Dark GreenGreen
With the exception of the fireplace flames mentioned above, there’s not much in the way of clever parts usage or building technique. Combined with spoiler-filled packaging, and you get a particularly lascklustre advent calendar set. There are a few somewhat rare minifigure parts included, but not enough to exceed our “Acceptable” (2/5 Stars) rating.
#41382 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar – Christine Coste
The 2019 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar continues the concept of Christmas tree-capable mini-builds which was introduced in last year’s advent calendar. This concept of providing builds which also work as decorations still works well. The box shows the five main Lego Friends characters hanging the mini builds on a Christmas tree. There are 9 of the mini builds shown on the box, which for most fans still ruins the surprise for a few too many.
Another unique concept this year is the inclusion of fan-built designs. The inside cover of the box shows five mini builds which appear to be been designed by fans and submitted via the Lego Life app. My children immediately latched on to the idea that these were the most desirable to get and were delighted if they opened a window with one of these behind. The other three advent calendars in the 2019 do not have this fan built component or heavy promotion of engagement on the LEGO social media. (Instead, the inside cover of the other three advent calendars has a printed area on which to display all the mini builds as a scene.)
My third impression is that there is still quite a lot of repetition with previous years. While there are only a limited number of Christmassy objects and traditions, there are many ways to present these in new and interesting ways in Lego. There are a few mini builds in this box which are clear repeats of previous years both in concept and way they are constructed with LEGO.
Top 4 Mini Builds
In the interest of not spoiling any further surprises, I will lean on some of these already featured on the box. My top four are are below.
Toy Soldier – This is really a tower of 2×2 plates, either square or round, except for the torso of the soldier. This is formed with two 1×2 technic bricks with holes. Pins in these holes enable the soldier’s arms (1×1 plates with clips – item 93793) to move. I like this mini-build yet it reminds me of the old tree ornaments based on vintage tin toy soldiers rather than the more popular-at-the-moment nutcracker soldier, which perhaps was the design intent. The more ornate and detailed nutcracker style would be more on target for the Lego Friends audience, and it would be interesting to how nutcrackers are shown in future calendars.
Gingerbread House – The basic house is pretty simple with a 1×2 brick, 1×2 tile and two hinged 1×2 pieces, however the colors really create the charm of this build. The combination of Medium Dark Flesh and Reddish Brown create the necessary gingerbready structure, with the hinged top plate in White adding the contrast for roof top icing/snow. Then the colorful 1×1 round plates on the roof and 1×1 round tiles either side of the entrance path represent the candy. The 1×1 rounded plate with handle in Pearl Gold serves as both the house’s chimney and the place to attach a ribbon to hang the decoration. Overall, it’s a nice use of color to add detail and depth to the form which the pieces create.
Santa Zobo – Olivia’s robot Zobo is a familiar figure in Friends sets but I liked this red and white Christmas version complete with Santa hat. Zobo’s basic design, for those not familiar, is based around a 1×1 brick with studs on four sides as the torso. His wheels are skateboard wheels and the third point of balance is provided by the black lever on a small base lever piece.
Wind-up Penguins – I enjoyed the novelty of this set of two wind up penguins. It’s a new idea, it fits with the wintery Christmas aesthetic and it represents a toy. It’s perfect in concept, design and execution for an advent mini-build. I am sure the target audience is going to appreciate the set of two as it offers plenty of opportunities for alternative uses over the holiday season.
Top 2 Minifigures
This set has only one mini-doll, Mia. This is consistent with the Lego Friends advent sets – last year’s #41353 Friends Advent Calendar had no mini-doll and the year prior’s #41326 Friends Advent Calendar had one mini-doll. The only new aspect to this mini doll is the torso print. It would have been nice to see something more unique and special either via the prints or accessories. She has her normal hair, without an accessory or hat. Included in the set as part of the other builds are accessories she could wear, including two minifigure hats. However, mini-doll fans will recognize the value in using an integrated hat and hair part to deliver a great design for a mini doll.
In previously years, the Friends advent calendars have included molded animals to help compensate for the small number of mini dolls, especially when compared to minifigure counts in the other advent calendars. Unfortunately, included in this set is only one hamster. This is in in stark contrast to the box art which shows all the girls with their pets, giving the impression that we might expect more animals included in the mini-builds.
This set has a very limited number of new pieces, however there are still a handful of pieces in this set that exist in 4 or fewer sets.
- 19241 Flat Tile 1X1, Round No. 26 in 1White
- 28621 Mini Head in 40Transparent Trans-Clear
- 52494 Design Plate, 1X1X2/3, No. 1 in 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray
- 15911 Mini Winter Hat No. 1 in 1White
- 4032 2X2 Round Plate in 321Dark AzurDark Azure
- 29171 Diadem in 322Bright PurpleDark Pink
- 35677 Torso, Girl, W/Arm No. 331 in 283Light NougatLight Flesh
Due to the ability to hang the mini builds up with string, there is a good number of pieces which facilitate this functionality.
- 26047 Plate 1X1 Round W/3.2 Shaft in 297Warm GoldPearl Gold
- 74698 Round Plate 2X2 W/Eye in 26Black
This is an acceptable iteration of the advent calendar, but for those following year by year it presents a little too much repetition. The Christmas tree-capable designs offer a useful option for display however this appears to distract from the magic of creating Christmas themed daily surprises, which is really what an advent calendar should be mostly about. Overall, I would give this set a rating of “Good” (3/5 Stars).
#75245 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar – Jeannie Jonas
Let’s start with the holiday themed items. First up in this year’s Christmas selection is a mouse droid with what might appear to be antlers in black. Personally, I think replacing the “antlers” with a key piece so it became a wind-up mouse droid toy would have been way more fun and given us a rare piece rather than an everyday item. Then there’s the Christmas Porg. While not particularly a new special minifig that we all hope for in an advent set, it does have the ubiquitous Santa hat and it comes with a one of the 3 new colored parts in this set, a red version of the 1×1 brick modified with 4 studs on sides. Then there’s my personal favorite droid, Gonk. He’s done up to look like a Christmas present and while just made up of standard parts and it’s by far my best liked item in the set as it combines perfectly both the holiday and Star Wars themes in one.
Top 4 Mini Builds
Regarding what types of builds and minifigs are in this set, across all three trilogies there are 3 builds for the Prequel Trilogy, and 10 builds for each the Original Trilogy and the Sequel Trilogy. There’s nothing in the set like we’ve seen in prior years from the various cartoons or standalone films though and there is only 1 build that is a Star Wars style build that doesn’t really have any link to canon lore. Everyone will be happy that there is no weapons rack build this time.
Gonk Droid – This droid comes with 19 pieces with 2 extra pieces. The Gonk Droid perfectly captures both the look of a present with bows on top and the droid. It’s simple, it’s silly and it’s just down right fun!
Mouse Droid – This little guy has only 6 pieces and comes with 2 extra pieces but next to R2 is many folks fave droid from the Death Star.
Poe’s X-Wing Fighter – In addition to the Great Christmas Gonk Droid and the Mouse Droid mini builds, there is also a really nice version of Poe’s X-Wing fighter in orange and black that perfectly captures the look and feel of an X-wing and makes you want to pick it up to swoosh it around, and yes, the kid in me did indeed fly it around a bit. This is done with only 22 pieces and you get 4 extra pieces to boot.
The Mynock – This was only ever produced in the current UCS Millennium Falcon set which, at $800, is rather pricey. As far as I’ve seen, this creature was never made in a cast minifig style like some other aliens have so you have to live with a mini-build of it. As such you can get a flock of them to attack your favorite couple and the Falcons for a reasonable price this way. This build consists of 13 pieces with again 4 extra pieces left over, including an extra tail. The only drawback to this Mynock is he doesn’t balance on the botom stud so he can’t just sit on the shelf as such. For those curious, moving the bottom stud back one stud doesn’t help the balance either, but I can live with that as he’s going directly onto my Falcon!
Top 2 Minifigures
In total you get 8 minifigs if you count the Christmas Porg as a minifig. Sadly, just like the last 3 out of 4 years we once again get a battle droid. I’m sure you’ll hear many asking why couldn’t at least give us droids of a different color variation. Despite this repetition there are a large number of valuable minifigures in this advent calendar.
Cloud Car Pilot – This is the same minifig as can be found in the not quite UCS set, #75222 Betrayal at Cloud City. Most people won’t drop $350 on that set so this is a good way to pick this figure up more reasonable price. Fun fact, the only other rendition of this minifigure was released in 2002.
Rebel Fleet Trooper – Looking at Brick Link popularity and prices the honor of the most valuable minifigure goes to the Rebel Fleet Trooper. This figure was in both the #75244 Tantive IV set that just came out and also can be found in the 4+ #75237 Tie Fighter set that’s already been being seen in the discount sections. This versatile army builder figure fits into any fan’s collection.
The rarest and most noteworthy piece is a 1White blaster, a piece that normally comes in 26Black. (It was only available in white once before in #75217 Imperial Conveyex Transport set.) In this advent calendar it’s used in a mini build and not actually for a blaster but I won’t spoil which mini build uses it. For those of you who prefer their Porg on the well-done side a newly colored piece in this set is a seasonal favorite, a drumstick in dark orange color.
The only other new part is a neck bracket with stud in 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray. I was totally surprised this to see this listed as a new color variant as I could swear this has been done hundreds of times before. It turns out that LEGO changed this piece from having a thin plate on the back to a thick plate earlier this year, and this was the first time in appeared in this color. (The new part has only appeared in 5 colors and 7 sets so far, but expect to see this pop up all over the place in coming years.) As a side note, it’s not actually used on a minifig, but instead on a Cloud Car, which is nice because we get both the pilot and a micro of his ship in this set.
When looking at pieces that appear in 4 or fewer sets there are a very large number of them. Most of these come from minifigure parts, however in the interest of not spoiling too much we will not reveal all the new parts in this set.
All in all, I was pretty happy with this year’s set and had little to be disappointed with other than no custom minifig that’s holiday themed like the Christmas Wookie from a few years back so I would be happy to give this set a firm rating of “Recommended” (4/5 Stars).
#75964 LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar – Koen Van Der Hoeven
There hasn’t been a Harry Potter advent calendar before this year. so as the resident Harry Potter expert, I knew I had to be the one to review this set! At first glance, the box artwork does a good job at concealing the contents of the advent calendar. Some of the other advent calendar boxes reveal most of the models contained inside, which reduces the surprise. If I had looked up the contents before receiving it, I wouldn’t have known about all the cool things packed within.
As with other advent calendars, the designers ensured that the holiday spirit is at the heart of the set. In this case, a creative spin was added to this theme—rather than going over the top with Santa Hats and common Christmas decorations, the designers pulled inspiration from the movies and books when designing Christmas pieces, ensuring that all figures and builds exist in the Harry Potter Universe’s Christmas scenes. In particular, it closely mimics scenes from the first movie… All of the minifigures and their outfits were pulled directly from the movie’s Christmas scene. Despite the close resemblance to the movie, there are still a wide variety of common Christmas themes present such as presents and Christmas trees.
Top 4 Mini Builds
This set comes with 16 mini builds. Unfortunately, they are not all unique as some are recolors of each other, however with some creative use of bricks some notable and recognizable scene were built. Without spoiling all of the mini builds, as the box does a good job at hiding them, I have picked out my top 4 highlighted builds from the set, picking out parts that are unique.
Hogwarts Architect Statue Stand – If the Architect snags a place in my top minifigures it is without question that his stand is amongst my favorite mini builds. Using a wide variety of colors and amazing printed parts along the base this mini build greatly enhances an already great minifigure. The definitely stand out piece of this build for me however is its use of printed parts to reference each of the four houses.
Fireplace – Being one of the more complex builds in the list of basic mini builds in this set this fireplace complements the Christmas theme very well. The warm colors of the stone strongly contrast the green and red of the Christmas wreath making this stand out very easily. Albeit small and simple, for me this screams Christmas spirit.
Harry’s Hogwarts Chest – At first glance this build looks boring, however the more I looked at this the more I liked it. As a big fan of the new book pieces that immediately stood out for me. Unfortunately, this book and pages within are not unique to this set as they can easily be picked up from the LEGO Harry Potter polybag. Alongside this repeated print is another print, one that everyone has wanted for a long time. Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter. For me this printed piece alone makes this mini build stands out, a sentiment that I clearly share with others as this printed piece is currently being sold for a reasonable sum of money online.
Wizards Chess – Of all the builds in this set the coolest build that isn’t sold by its printed parts for me is the mini Wizard’s chess build. The creative use of parts to create Wizard’s Chess in #71043 Hogwarts Castle is once again repeated in this build but at a smaller scale. The most involved of all the mini builds and the creativity makes this my stand out mini build that is actually cool for its building techniques used. This mini build was in close contention with another unrevealed mini build in this set however for me just won out as I am a fan of chess in general.
Top 2 Minifigures
The 8 minifigures in this set contain a mix of both new and old figures, with many new outfits for the recognizable faces in the set. All of the figures in this set are from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’s Christmas scenes. This set contains some figures that had previously only existed in some of the more expensive Hogwarts sets so if you missed out on some figures this could be a good way to pick those up. Despite some strong figure choices two stood out as my favorite.
Hermione Granger – At first glance this figure may look plain and boring, however once you look into the details this figure is very versatile. Other than the hairpiece and face the standout piece of this figure for me it’s the torso. A gender-neutral sweater robe and scarf piece make up the torso that is a must have in your LEGO Harry Potter piece collection. This combination of outfits screams warmth and winter; however, this should be of no surprise as Hermione wears this outfit as she prepares to leave Hogwarts for her Christmas break.
Hogwarts Architect Statue – This set contains many notable and easily recognizable figures, however this one is different. This figure has no printing and comes with a variety of cool pieces, More notably, it comes entirely in a rare color: 297Warm GoldPearl Gold. At first glance this figure feels like a budget Mr. Gold, giving me lots of fond memories as I unsuccessfully tried to feel for that one lucky polybag. This small unrecognizable figure is notable for me as it is different and despite looking plain on its own can be combined with a mini build to become a very visually appeasing build.
For a set this size there are a large number of new and unique pieces. Rather than listing all of these parts, which would spoil the surprises within, this section will group parts by type and give a count for each. Of the 305 pieces 15 of them are new and to date unique to this set.
Of these 4 are torso pieces, with this count rising to 7 if you count torsos that are in 2 or fewer sets. Clearly highlighting the strength of the minifigures in this set. Alongside these torsos are 2 new minifigure faces. Despite being new prints, they are close to prints that are already in circulation, but with slight variations are counted as unique. As is the case with all advent calendars there are no stickers in this set. That however does not mean there are no decorated pieces as this set contains 8 different types of printed tiles, of which 5 are currently unique to this set. Each of the new tiles in this set are very Harry Potter specific and are must haves for a LEGO Harry Potter enthusiast’s collection. With my favorite printed pieces each being discussed in my favorite mini builds section earlier.
Alongside new pieces this set does a great job with its color palette. From common 26Black all the way to 141Earth GreenDark Green and 140Earth BlueDark Blue and 297Warm GoldPearl Gold, there is a very diverse selection of colors used, each of which enhances the set greatly in its creative use.
Despite the large number of unique parts, minifigures and creative use of pieces I felt that this advent calendar was missing something. Unlike other advent calendars where each door is a unique build the designers got a little lazy and repeated building techniques for multiple doors. The strongest part of this set is definitely the figures as a result. Not only are there many new unique figures but there is also an opportunity to pick up some figures that in the past were only obtainable in expensive sets making this a more cost-efficient set to get these figures. With a lot of this advent calendar feeling like filler and the steep price it is sold at I give this rating of “Good” (3/5 stars). Hopefully this theme continues in the future and we see improvements next year.
Note: Should the set drop in price I would have given it a slightly higher rating. If you don’t mind spoilers and are looking to pick up some final figures for an affordable price then consider checking the contents of this advent calendar and see if the figures interest you, otherwise keep your eyes peeled for post-Christmas sales as these advent calendars will drop in price.
- #60235 LEGO City Advent Calendar – Acceptable (2/5 Stars)
Buy at Amazon or LEGO Store
- #41382 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar – Good (3/5 Stars)
Buy at Amazon or LEGO Store
- #75245 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar – Recommended (4/5 Stars)
Buy at Amazon or LEGO Store
- #75964 LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar – Good (3/5 Stars)
Buy at Amazon or LEGO Store