Review: 2021 LEGO Advent Calendars
If you are lucky enough to find any of the 2021 LEGO Advent Calendars in store, this guide will help you decide which one (or more) to buy…
Five Advent Calendars – One Mega Review
The LEGO Advent Calendars began in 1998, with at least one advent calendar every year since. The five advent calendars to choose from this year span the Friends, City, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Marvel Superheroes themes. This marks the first year that LEGO has released more than four advent calendars as they test the water with brand new themes after the success of the relatively new Harry Potter advent calendar. (In past years we have also seen Knights and Pirates advent calendars.)
As with past years the Advent Calendars were released on the 1st of September and will retire at the end of the year, so make sure to pick one up before they are gone! Licensed sets can be purchased for $39.99 (29.99€ / £24.99 / 49.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD) and unlicensed sets for $29.99 (24.99€ / £19.99 / 39.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD).
Looking Back? Our previous mega reviews can be found below!
Review by Tom Alphin
#41690 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar is $29.99, (24.99€ / £19.99 / 39.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 370 pieces, ages 6+. The set comes to $0.08 per piece at the MSRP price, although you might be able to find it for a discount after the holidays (if it isn’t sold out)!
I did not spend a lot of time analyzing the box art before getting started, but did have a few immediate impressions. The first was the lack of standard-sized Friends Minidolls (which we will discuss later), and the second was an appreciation for the fact that only a few of the mini-builds are spoiled by the box art.
Top 4 Mini Builds
The set contains 19 mini-builds, although they vary a good deal in size and quality. Only two of the doors combine to create a larger model, so you really are getting a lot of discrete small builds in this set.
- Cake Mixer – Several of the mini builds are tables featuring a hobby or activity. The best of them is a small 322Bright PurpleDark Pink table with a 107Bright Bluish GreenDark Turquoise / Teal Cake mixer. A robot arm provides a convincing facsimile of the mixer blade despite the small size.
- Cat and Scratching Tower – While it wasn’t immediately clear at first glance, the colorful tower is just like those you will find in a pet shop. A cute little 135Sand Blue cat drives home the message.
- Ballerina and Toy Soldier – The best mini-builds re-create the essence of a complex object with the fewest parts possible. The Wind-up Ballerina is simple yet elegant; as good as any mini-build from any theme, and the Toy Solider is a nice bonus.
- Mailbox and Lamp Post – Simple, elegant and immediately recognizable. This model lacks the pastel color coding which is common in the Friends theme, and would be equally at home in a City or Harry Potter scene. It also features a brand-new printed part that is used for the lampshade.
For younger builders who are invested in the LEGO Friends storyline, this will be a great opportunity for story-based play, since they will have all five of the girls in a single advent calendar, plus the opportunity to imagine how the girls would have played differently when they were younger.
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
Aside from the microdolls which are unique to this set, there aren’t any new parts. That said, there are a few new printed parts, and parts in new colors.
- 1×2 Handle Both Sides (part 3839b) in 297Warm GoldPearl Gold
- 1×2×1 Curved (part 37352) in 154Dark Red
- Candelabra (part 73117) in 297Warm GoldPearl Gold
- Paintbrush (part 65695) in 192Reddish Brown w/ 28Dark GreenGreen paint.
- Dog No. 25 (part 77301) in 191Flame Yellowish OrangeBright Light Orange w/ 106Bright OrangeOrange paw
- Cat No. 14 (part 74990) in 135Sand Blue
- 2×2 Radar Dish (part 72338) in 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray w/ 26Black
- Brick 1×1 No. 26 (part 73783) in 102Medium Blue
- Game Controller (part 65080) in 222Light PurpleBright Pink
- Flat Tile 1×2 No. 145 (part 27356) in 1White
- Flat Tile 2×2 No. 354 (part 36175) in 1White
- Mug No. 9 (part 56867) in 1White
- Flat Tile 2×2 No. 416 (part 66586) in 1White
- Flat Tile 1×2 No. 278 (part 67047) in 1White
Especially for the target audience of younger builders who love the LEGO Friends product line, this year’s calendar easily earns our 4/5 Star (Recommended) rating. The overall quality is comparable to last year’s version, but the decision to include all five of the girls as micro-dolls adds some variety to the mix. Most importantly, several of the micro-builds are excellent, and it offers a better price-per-part than any of the other 2021 Advent Calendars.
Review by Stephani Maari Booker
#60303 LEGO City Advent Calendar is $29.99, (19.99€ / £19.99 / 39.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 349 pieces, ages 5+. The set comes to $0.09 per piece at the MSRP price, which is a decent price for a set containing 6 minifigs. It’s also the only advent calendar this year marked with a 5+ age rating.
Admittedly, I had never heard of an Advent calendar until I started reading reviews of LEGO’s calendars on The Brick Architect. With the opportunity to assemble an Advent calendar set, I was full of anticipation because I prefer doing mini- and micro-sized builds as my own personal LEGO hobby. In addition, this is the first full new LEGO set I’ve assembled since the basic set I got for Christmas as a child.
The box art of the 2021 LEGO City Advent Calendar shows 14 spoilers for the contents of the little date boxes, so gift-givers may want to keep that in mind. Once I opened the cover of the box to reveal the charming winter cityscape calendar background and urban street play scene mat, I was thrown off by the dates of the calendar not being in numerical order. I had to take a quick look at Wikipedia to see that random date placement on Advent calendars is common. Relieved of that bit of ignorance, I got to work (more like play!) opening the compartments and building the set.
Top 4 Mini Builds
The advent calendar is jam packed with amazing mini builds but some stand out more than another. The combination of utility and festivity in these mini builds ensured they are a must have in your holiday scenes!
- Snowman – This adorable and ingenious mixture of minifigure parts and regular bricks and plates is such a unique build.
- White Christmas tree – This is one build that I didn’t know what it was going to be until I finished it. I loved experiencing actual surprise as well as delight with this model, which employs unusual pieces and construction techniques.
- Little holiday dessert table – The bricks that make the table’s legs are new to me, as well as the candle and cake decorations. I couldn’t help but think that with more candles and a longer plate for the table, one could add a menorah for Hanukkah or a kinara for Kwanzaa.
- North Pole and lantern with letter – A peppermint-candy colored pole with a jewel on top is paired with a lantern that has a letter — to Santa Claus? — attached to it. The lantern is made where you can insert a 1×1 round brick to make it “light up.”
Before I write about my top minifigure picks, I have a caveat: I don’t like minifigures. One reason why is that I hate the color yellow, which is the standard color of minifigure skin. I hate LEGO Yellow so much that my personal brick stash only has a handful of bricks of that color that are in hard-to-find shapes.
The other is the fallacy of LEGO Yellow being a “neutral” color that doesn’t represent any human skin complexion. Through the eyes of this African American AFOL, yellow, a light color, reads as a “white” complexion. I don’t understand why LEGO can’t just randomly diversify the skin color of its minifigures in unlicensed sets like the Advent calendar.
Having said that, the two minifigures I most wish had some kind of human skin color are the two female characters out of six minifigures:
- Betty – This blonde woman with a brown baseball cap, gray hoodie and fanny pack is wearing a black-band mask over her eyes and a smarmy look on her face. She also comes with a LEGO red jewel piece. Though I don’t like the hoodie being associated with criminality, it is cute that this female minifigure is apparently a thief. Betty also comes with a hockey stick and little skates you can put on her feet. That’s a bit strange, but there’s a frozen pond on the play mat, so I just placed her on it with another minifigure with a hockey stick and skates to let them have a match.
- Shirley Keeper – This orange-haired, bespectacled woman in a reflective vest and carrying a push broom and, strangely, a green wine glass appears to be municipal worker of some kind, like a street cleaner. I like seeing a female minifigure that does some kind of outdoor work stereotypically associated with men, and as a bespectacled woman myself I like her glasses.
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
Despite being a set with a lot of pieces there are not that many pieces exclusive to this set or non minifigure printed parts. The majority of printed parts come from the minifigures.
- Plate 1×2 W/ Slide (part 32028) in 1White
- Mini Toy Duck No. 2 (part 58039) in 192Reddish Brown
Overall, the difficulty of figuring out the wordless instructions for the mini-builds and putting together often-complex models makes me wonder about the “ages 5+” designation for the LEGO City Advent Calendar. Building these models was a fun challenge for me, but they might be frustrating for a child on the younger side of the age recommendation. For children closer to age five, an older person should be on hand to help them with these builds.
What I really liked about the set is that it showcases the many clever ways to create something tiny yet recognizable with little bitty LEGO pieces like 1×1 wedges, 4×4 plates with axles, and 1×2 plates with hinges. There are also many pieces I have never seen before, such as the lantern top that takes a 1×1 round transparent brick as a light, the 3×3 cross-shaped plates used to build the Christmas tree, and the 1×2 T-shaped bricks that form the legs of the holiday dessert table.
Being that this Advent calendar is City-themed, there’s a lot of moving vehicles among the mini-builds, and a few mini structures/buildings. I do like cute little mini-autos, but building a lot of them in a row got to be a bit repetitive. There were also a couple of buildings where I wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be once completed. Because of these inconsistencies, the set earns our 3/5 Star (Good) rating.
Review by Jeannie Jonas
#75307 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar is $39.99, (29.99€ / £24.99 / 49.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 335 pieces, ages 6+. The set comes to a comparably poor $0.12 per piece at the MSRP price and contains 6 minifigures.
As a huge Star Wars fan, I was ecstatic to see how The Mandalorian show brought a classic Star Wars feel back to Star Wars. That’s why excited to see that this year’s advent calendar was an all Mando themed set. In the past I’ve rather enjoyed the Star Wars advent calendars and look forward to seeing all the goodies within them, so I started opening up the many doors in this package with high expectations.
Top 4 Mini Builds
This takes us into the mini-builds. You would think that with 18 different builds (way more builds than previous Star Wars Advent Calendars) that there would be some awesome models. Unfortunately, 25% of the entire set is comprised of 3 weapons racks, 2 snow guns, and a pair of training targets.
- Boba Fett’s Starship – This is the third time it was included in an Advent calendar; first in 2011 and again in 2013 in blue (representing when Jenga Fett owned it). It’s been several years so I’m ok with revisiting it, and it was built using some newer parts so it’s a nice remake on an always popular ship. At 25 pieces, it really looks nice and is way better than the prior two versions of it.
- Moff Gideon’s Imperial Light Cruiser – It nails the look of the ship using just 27 pieces. This is achieved using some newer pieces such as the 1×1 Round with Bar and Pin Holder (part 20482) and the 1×1 round w/ open stud (part 85861)to achieve its’ signature look.
- Landspeeder – From there we go downhill. This isn’t Luke’s famous ride across the Tatooine desert with old Ben and the trusty droids. This one is long and blue with proportions that are completely off for a normal Landspeeder. It’s possible it’s trying to be Mythrol’s Landspeeder from S2, E4, but it’s not clear what it is other than an ugly use of 25 pieces.
- Razorcrest – This build one two minibuilds this year that also appeared in last year’s calendar. Last year’s build had 22 pieces. This year’s version uses 25 pieces. Most of the parts are the same between both years, with a few changed colors. Personally, I prefer last year’s model. The new one I understand why they decided to include it again in this Mandalorian-focused Advent Calendar — I just wish it was done better.
Think of the many possible characters in the Mandalorian that could have been offered in this set that fans would have went nuts for: Ahsoka Tano, Cara Dune, Moff Gideon, Kuill, Bo-Katan, the Armorer, and countless others. Unfortunately, they completely skimped on the figs this year by only including 6 in this set. Despite this there are two figures that are worth discussing this year!
- Din Djarin, aka The Mandalorian – I love the silver printing on his torso; the front, back, and even the arms have silver printing and the holiday scarf is a nice touch. (The legs have silver printing on the front as well.) The head is similar to recent Mandalorians which also usea non-printed black head. The helmet is metallic grey in color, but does not have the ability to insert the goggles or viewers like many LEGO helmets allow. (instead, they simply printed a black dot where the holes usually are on the side of the helmets.) It is a really nice addition to my growing minifig collection.
- IG-11 – This minifigure is unfortunately not as successful. IG droids have always been a favorite of mine, so it’s no surprise that I was a little kid screaming encouragement when IG-11 came on the screen and started kicking backsides! The only difference from an IG-88 droid (first seen in The Empire Strikes Back) is a differently printed 1×1 round brick, which someone online rightly stated: this version look like a nerdy kid wearing glasses. Other than the printing, it is the same as the IG-88’s we’ve seen before. It’s a bit surprising that it is shown on the box carrying his weapon, but they don’t include it with the parts for this day! To address this gap, they instead included not just one weapons rack in this advent calendar, but three of them — each one comes with the minifigs’ weapons instead of including them with each minifig.
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
Despite being a licensed set this does not come with any unique parts that can only be found in this set. It does however come with three unique minifigures that to date can only be found in this set. All of the printed parts in this set are all minifigure parts which is somewhat disappointing as most other advent calendars come with at least one unique or part. LEGO may have opted to save some costs and substitute printed parts with rarer minifigure prints.
In trying to rate this set, I’m afraid that this set fails to deliver. Fails to give us good builds, fails to give us a good selection of minifigs, and in general lets us down. As much as I love The Child Grogu, his force powers cannot lift the rating above an 2/5 Star (Acceptable) rating.
Review by Koen van der Hoeven
#76196 LEGO Marvel The Avengers Advent Calendar is $39.99, (29.99€ / £24.99 / 49.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 298 pieces, ages 7+. The set comes to a fairly high $0.13 per piece at the MSRP price, although it does include 7 minifigures and is a great way to get a lot of relatively rare Infinity Stone parts.
When first hearing about this set the first thing that struck out to me was “Yes! Another Advent Calendar theme”. Marvel Avengers is a completely new theme for a LEGO Advent Calendar. Where advent calendar boxes normally reveal a ton about its contents, the box does a great job hiding much of its contents by only displaying eight of the 24 builds in this set! Of what we do see already this looks like a promising advent calendar!
Top 4 Mini Builds
The set contains 17 mini builds varying from micro builds of iconic scenes or locations all the way to festive scenes with a marvel spin to it. Of the mini builds two sets of two builds connect together to form a larger model so there is a large variety of different styles and builds within this set! Of the mini builds four stood out to me and will be highlighted below!
- Heli-carrier – One of the most iconic crafts in the Marvel universe is the Heli Carrier so it is no surprise that a mini build of this vehicle. Despite being built with very few pieces all parts of this vehicle are instantly recognizable. From the runway to the turbines to the cockpit. It is all built with details in mind.
- Hulk Buster – At first, I had no idea what this build was and presumed that it was a robot assisting Tony Stark. When refreshing myself on vehicles and locations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in preparation for this article I realized that this was the Hulk Buster. This build uses a ton of creative building techniques to add details and once you see this build you can immediately recognize what has been built. Of all the mini builds in this set this one has the most creative use of pieces allowing it to stand out.
- Christmas Tree – Christmas’ centerpiece is always the Christmas Tree so it wouldn’t be an advent calendar without one. On its own the Christmas tree looks very simple and plain. When building this you will notice lots of clips around the tree. At first this looks like the decorations on the tree however once you get to Day 24 you realize this is a two-door build!
- Infinity Gauntlet – Once this door is opened you immediately see one of the highlights from this year’s advent calendar! An infinity gauntlet and a set of all six infinity stones. This gauntlet is a valuable build on its own, but when combined with the previous door you can see that the infinity stones are actually the ornaments on the tree with the jeweled gauntlet crowning the tree as a tree topper! A perfect crowning piece to end this year’s newest Advent Calendar.
As we’ve seen in other newly-introduced Advent Calendar themes, this set includes a great selection of minifigures! The Marvel Advent Calendar sports 7 minifigures and an additional 2 mini builds that could almost be counted as minifigures! The minifigures in this set covered a wide spectrum of genders and races to highlight the diverseness of Super Heroes and how they can be anyone from any walk in live!
The minifigures in this advent calendar span a wide series of Marvel movies given the expansiveness of the Universe and includes some minifigure twists to be in line with the holiday spirit. The ones that stood out to me did so due to their alignment to the festive cheer of Advent Calendars, nto to mention their rarity in the long run.
- Tony Stark – This iconic superhero is a must have in any Marvel fan’s collection. This minifigure portrays Tony Stark in a Christmas sweater jeweled with festive patterns and the Arc Reactor in the center. What makes this sweater more desirable is the exclusiveness of the torso which currently only exists in this set. This minifigure contains both the Iron Man helmet and Tony Stark’s hair, allowing you to interchange between the two depending on your desires!
- Spider-Man – The Spider Man included in this set sports a yellow jacket from the Spider-Man Homecoming Movie. This torso is not only a versatile varsity style sports jacket but is also exclusive to this set making it a rare piece. The contrast between the Red, Blue, Teal and Yellow in this minifigure makes it very appealing to the eye and stands out to me! A major drawback of this figure to me however is the lack of leg printing or lack of Peter Parker head. It would be great to allow us to alternate the head between the Spider-Man mask and Peter Parker’s head.
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
This set contains a large number of pieces but what makes it even more special is the number of unique or noteworthy pieces in this set. This set contains a large number of pieces in new colors that exist in 10 or fewer sets! In addition to the parts, the minifigures in this set are all printed and exist in five or fewer sets adding to the exclusiveness!
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
Aside from the large number of minifigure pieces which are unique to just a handful of sets there are a few new parts in new colors. Unfortunately there are not many printed parts included in this set which is a shame.
- Mini Upper Part No. 5477 (Spiderman Sweater) (part 76382) in 191Flame Yellowish OrangeBright Light Orange
- Mini Upper Part No. 5476 (Iron Man Sweater) (part 76382) in 21Bright RedRed
- 3.2 Holder W/ 3.2 Hole, 90 Degrees (part 72869) in 315 Silver MetallicFlat Silver
- Mini Shooter W/ 3.2 Shaft No. 1 (part 32643) in 1White
- Mini Helmet No. 117 (part 28631) in 1White
- Flat Tile 2×2, Round, No. 1131 (part 45984) in 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray
Advent Calendars are always a ton of fun! But Advent Calendars with great value always make the holiday experience even better. Whether it’s the plentiful number of minifigures, the variety in mini builds types or just the uniqueness of having a new theme I am sure this set will have something for everyone. Not only is this set fun to build but there is a large number of versatile rare pieces included that can help enhance your other builds. The holiday-eque vibe that this set brings makes it a great new addition to the Advent Calendar line and I hope to see this theme continue next year! This set earns a solid 4/5 Stars (Recommended) rating and is worth picking up even at full price.
Review by Amy Alphin
Please note that Brick Architect does not support the transphobic comments made by the author of the Harry Potter book series.
#76390 LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar is $39.99, (29.99€ / £24.99 / 49.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 274 pieces, ages 7+. The set comes to a stunningly bad $0.15 per piece at the MSRP price and contains just 6 minifigures.
This is a fun and whimsical Advent Calendar for fans of the Harry Potter universe. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the box, because I wanted to be surprised by the builds, but given the wintery picture on the numbered side, I expected the calendar to have more of a wintery theme. (Turns out, this is not the case.) The play area has a boardgame-like path with specific spots for different builds throughout the month.
Top 4 Mini Builds
This set contains 18 Mini Builds that vary in size, detail, and theme. 15 of the Mini Builds correspond to numbered spots on the “game board”/play area, with the idea that you are building the setting for your board game throughout the month.
- Fireplace – We build a portion of the fireplace in Harry’s Aunt and Uncle’s house where he first receives several of his acceptance letters to Hogwarts. The curved pieces at the back of the fireplace allow for the envelopes to slide out onto the hearth rug printed on the play area (when dropped in the slot at the top).
- Magical Brick Wall – We build the magical brick wall behind the Leaky Cauldron that leads to Diagon Ally. This model cleverly allows for both sides of the wall to slide apart.
- Gringotts Vault – We build the entrance to the vault, and the gold inside over two consecutive days. The door to the vault hinges opens to access the gold beyond.
- Spinning Top – We build the top, which completes our board game, and allows for play. The colors of the top correspond to the four Hogwarts houses and is constructed to spin rather well. Two of the sides cause you to move forward on the track, and two force you to move backwards.
There are 6 Minifigures included in this Advent Calendar: the main trio, and three more.
- Dudley in Pajamas – We build Dudley Dursley in his pajamas at the shack where he and his family are hiding out from the barrage of Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letters. He has clearly already met Hagrid, since he has a certain addition to his backside.
- Gringotts’s Goblin – We build one of the Goblins of Gringotts, complete with a golden key to one of the subterranean vaults.
Exclusive or Noteworthy Parts
One of the most impressive parts of this Advent Calendar is the number of printed pieces it includes. Some of my favorites are the “Happee Birthdae” Harry cake topper, the ticket to Platform 9¾, and two random chocolate frog cards.
- Bearing Element 2×2 (part 39767) in 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray
- Frog (part 33320) in 192Reddish Brown
- Round Plate Dia. 32×6 NO. 3 (part 78520) in 26Black
- Plate 2×2 W/ Holder No. 20 (part 65886) in 26Black
- Flat Tile 1×4 No. 165 (part 78122) in 26Black
- Flat Tile 2×4 No. 242 (part 78119) in 5Brick YellowTan
- Flat Tile 1×2 No. 325 (part 78120) in 5Brick YellowTan
- Flat Tile 2×2 Round No. 1183 (part 78118) in 222Light PurpleBright Pink
- Flat Tile 2×2 No. 500 (part 78120) in 268Medium LilacDark Purple
- Owl No. 6 (part 39641) in 1White
- Flat Tile 1×2 No. 287 (part 67835) in 1White
There is a lot of fun to be had in this calendar and it earns our 4/5 Star (Recommended) rating. The builds are satisfying and quick, and there are a lot of fan details in the printed pieces.
I also enjoyed the build-as-you-go boardgame aspect, and I think younger builders would have fun playing the game a few times. Aside from the random Christmas tree, which I assume was thrown in to make it feel more “holiday-esque”, the theme is strong.