Review: 2023 LEGO Advent Calendars
This year we review four advent calendars. Let’s find out which ones stand out and are worth picking up.
Four Advent Calendars – One Mega Review
Pricing and availability
The Advent Calendars were released on the 1st of September and will retire at the end of the year. Make sure to pick one up before they are gone! As with last year we see five themes, three of which are licensed and twi unlicensed. Licensed sets can be purchased for $44.99 (34.99€ / £29.99 / 59.99 CAD / 59.99 AUD) and unlicensed sets for about $34.99 (24.99€ / £21.99 / 44.99 CAD / 59.99 AUD).
Want to compare this year’s Advent calendars to those of past years? Our previous mega reviews can be found below!
- Review: 2022 LEGO Advent Calendars
- Review: 2021 LEGO Advent Calendars
- Review: 2020 LEGO Advent Calendars
- Review: 2019 LEGO Advent Calendars
Review by Tom Alphin
#41758 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar is $34.99, (24.99€ / £19.99 / 39.99 CAD / 49.99 AUD), 231 pieces, ages 6+. The set comes to $0.15 per piece at the MSRP price, which isn’t great for a set containing a lot of small pieces.
The front of the box shows 6 cute pets, but there’s even more inside… I only included photos of two of them, but expect animals to dominate the set. Many of the Mini-builds are related to animals too, specifically evoking the obstacles you might find at a dog show.
Top 4 Mini Builds
- Dog House: This is one of the less intricate pet-care themed mini builds, but I included it because it achieves the iconic shape with an economy of parts.
- See-Saw: This is the most playful of the small models that you can combine to create the obstacle course at a Dog Show. You can attach a dog to the 2×2 Jumper plate.
- Train Engine: There are actually three mini-builds that combine to create a train that the show dogs can ride around on. It’s a really cute and playful way of splitting up a larger build into multiple days without feeling like too much of a compromised experience.
- Christmas Tree: The design for this Christmas Tree will be familiar to anyone who has built an Advent Calendar in the past, but it’s a classic design for a reason.
There are just two minifigs in this set, so I’m going to only show you one of them, plus two of the animals.
- Autumn – I am pleased to see that The LEGO Group agrees that someone with a limb difference can still get out there and shred. Autumn has a nice winter print on her sweater, as well as a snowboard and helmet. A snowball is included with both of the figures in this set so they can have a friendly snowball fight.
- White Cat w/ Holly – This new ‘grumpy cat’ mould got a lot of attention when it first came out, and it is back with a small holly decoration above it’s right eye.
- Reindeer Dachshund w/ Red Wheelchair Harness – LEGO Friends continues to show great representation, even in the animal kingdom. This is without question the cutest of the many animals in this set, and I was conflicted about sharing a photo of it in this review, but I want you to be aware of it when you are considering whether this is the right set for you or your family.
This year’s LEGO Friends calendar will be polarizing. It has a very low part count, resulting in a comparably poor price-per-part compared to previous years. On the other hand, it comes with a ton of pets. I think this will be delightful for kids who already have a couple LEGO Friends or City sets, and would like to enhance their storytelling options with a ton of cute animals. (3 adult dogs, a puppy, two cats, and two other small animals for you to discover.)
For most folks, I think this will be a good tradeoff. The mini-builds which are included are attractive, and the ability to connect them to one another to create a larger scene gives the set a bit more substance when seen as a whole. Ultimately, the 8 cute animals steal the show, earning this set a Recommended (4/5 Star) rating.
Review by Stephani Maari Booker
#60381 LEGO City Advent Calendar is $34.99, (24.99€ / £21.99 / 44.99 CAD / 59.99 AUD), 258 pieces, ages 5+. The set comes to $0.14 per piece at the MSRP price, which isn’t great despite the inclusion of both minifigures and animals. As with last year, it’s the only Advent calendar with a 5+ age rating.
Reviewing the City LEGO Advent Calendar for The Brick Architect has become a yearly holiday tradition for me. I now look forward to receiving, building and writing about the set like a kid on Christmas morning. The box art of #60381 LEGO City Advent Calendar shows 13 spoilers for the contents of the little date boxes, more than the 11 builds and minifigures that were shown on last year’s LEGO City calendar.
The calendar background is the expected city skyline of buildings with a tall Christmas tree dominating the center. The tree stands on a snow-covered plaza with shopping kiosks decorated with lights, stockings and wreaths, and a carousel. The plaza extends into the play mat, with overhead cutaway views of two buildings’ floor layouts and a frozen pond.
Top 4 Mini Builds
- Ice Sculpture: On a snowy pedestal of white angle bricks and a 2 x 2 plate stands an icy artwork made of Transparent Dark Blue 1 x 1 plates (including unusual horizontal tooth plates, part number 49668) and a round brick with fins (part number 4588). If it wasn’t for a spoiler on the Advent calendar set box, you might not be able to figure out what this object is; however, it’s pretty cool (no pun intended) nonetheless.
- Video Gamer Chair: This science-fiction-looking little throne made with hinge and bar plates, a 2 x 2 plate with grills on its sides (part number 41862) and a 2 x 3 pentagonal tile (part number 22385). I only got a clue that this was a chair for playing video games thanks to one of the other builds in the Advent calendar (no spoiler here).
- Sleigh and Sleigh car: These are two separate builds, but it’s obvious they’re supposed to join together via hinge clip plates and a 1 x 1 plate with handles on two ends (part number 78257). The sleigh uses as its blades two pearl gold minifigure weapon pieces, while the sleigh car uses two 1 x 2 plates with flat handles (part number 3839b) in the same color.
For the first time since I’ve started building LEGO City Advent Calendars, there’s a true gender mix among the minifigures (Yay!). Of the seven minifigures, three are definitely feminine, three are masculine and one can be interpreted as any gender. For the 2023 calendar, I picked two feminine minifigures not because of their gender but for their uniqueness.
- Mrs. Claus: For the first time that I’ve seen in LEGO Advent Calendars, Santa’s other half is included in the holiday fun. The emphasis is on fun, because Lady Kringle is not baking cookies or holding her hubby’s bag — she’s ski-boarding!
- Ice Sculptor: You can’t have an ice sculpture without the artist who made it. This creative woman comes fully equipped for her work with safety glasses, a big chisel and a chainsaw.
Unlike with previous years’ sets, the builds in the 2023 LEGO City Advent Calendar have the right amount of challenge in its builds to fit the “ages 5+” designation while remaining engaging and full of variety. There’s lots of different objects, many of which are pleasantly surprising. There’s also very little repetition from the previous City Advent Calendar sets. Plus, there were no builds that I couldn’t recognize what they were upon completion. All this adds up to no boredom and no frustration for builders young or old.
When it comes to overall playability for all ages and the variety of builds and minifigures, the 2023 LEGO City Advent Calendar is the best Advent calendar set I’ve reviewed so far. Therefore, I give this set my first 5/5 Stars (Must Have) rating. This is the Advent calendar set I would buy for the children in my life.
Review by Amy Alphin
#75366 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar is $44.99, (34.99€ / £29.99 / 59.99 CAD / 59.99 AUD), 320 pieces, ages 6+. The set comes to a especially poor $0.14 per-piece based on the MSRP price.
Over many years, Star Wars has become the favorite LEGO Advent calendar in our home. This is thanks to the large selection of brick-built mini-builds which feature various ships from the vast Star Wars universe. The front of the box shows several characters and builds based on the the forest moon of Endor where the Ewoks live.
Top 4 Mini Builds
- Imperial Star Destroyer: This is a classic example of the best of the Advent Calendar mini-builds. It uses just 10 parts to great effect, and is immediately recognizable.
- The Mandalorian’s N-1 Starfighter: This speedy little ship has fast vibes, thanks to it’s twin engines and streamlined shape.
- Reindeer Gonk Droid: Seasonal variations of a Gonk Droid have cropped up in many Star Wars Advent Calendars, but this Reindeer interpretation is the cutest yet.
- Ewok Village?: This was included to showcase the range of builds in this year’s calendar, from the highly recognizable to this… We originally thought it might have been meant to represent the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk, but it is supposed to represent an Ewok Village. (This does make sense, since many of the mini-builds in this year’s calendar are based on Return of the Jedi.)
- Emperor Palpatine: The Emperor looks unusally cozy and evil in this festive red sweater. It features the Death Star with two jaunty lightning bolts on either side. A translucent lightning bolt accessory is included for when he gets angry.
- Santa Pit Droid: It is commonplace for one of the minifigures to represent a Santa character. Choosing to make it the Pit Droid results in a charming little character. I hope the bag is filled with great toys for every young robot.
This year’s Star Wars advent calendar felt very uneven, with some excellent mini builds and some very poor ones. The highlights are good enough to earn our Good (3/5 star) rating, and most Star Wars fans will enjoy several of the projects in this set.
Review by Koen Van Der Hoeven
#76267 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar is $44.99, (34.99€ / £29.99 / 59.99 CAD / 59.99 AUD), 243 pieces, ages 7+. The set comes to an atrocious $0.19 er piece at the MSRP price. The priciest of all advent calendars by quite a bit.
As LEGO continues the theme of Marvel Advent Calendars it unfortunately starts to become apparent that unlike the other calendars there is only so much variation that we can have between the calendars as it felt like the designers were either being lazy or running out of ideas. The advent calendar itself is themed around Stark Tower, which lines up with the Stark tower set that has been released this year, but instead with a festive theme to it.
The box itself does not spoil the set too much, but with this set having by far the fewest pieces it meant the contents had to really stand out for it to justify its licensed set price tag. Unfortunately it did not live up to expectations.
Top 4 Mini Builds
Without spoiling too much a lot of the doors in this set were rather underwhelming which made picking the top 4 mini builds a rather easy choice, although I wish that wasnt the case. The majority of the builds are rather generic, with builds not looking out of place if they were in a non licensed calendar. A few of the builds spanning across multiple doors in my opinion could have been combined into one door which again unfortunately adds to the disappointment.
- Christmas Wrapping Station: Although generic this wrapping station is very creatively build and captures the holiday spirit. This build is part of a multi build installation, connecting to other builds to build a scene. Despite being a fun build this build could be placed in a City Advent Calendar as well as does not have any connection to Marvel, which is an odd choice as the builds in this calendar should feel more aligned to the Marvel theme.
- Christmas Quinjet: Of all the builds in the calendar my favorite is the Christmas colored Quinjet. Although this is a basic build this is the sort of build that captures the essence of Advent Calendars best. A small recognizable build designed in a holiday spirit. The 21Bright RedRed and the 1White colors emulate the candy cane feel well, giving it a fun festive look.
- Robot Reindeer: This very basic build is the weakest of the top 4 but takes a spot as it was amongst the best of the worst, ticking both the holiday and Marvel check box. This robot reindeer is colored in a Iron Man color palette which goes very well with the holidays as both the 154Dark Red and 297Warm GoldPearl Gold complement one another. Despite my criticism about it being basic it is still a fun small build and actually does align with what we are looking for in a Marvel Advent Calendar.
- Loki themed rocking chair: Of the included builds this build in my opinion was in my top two. Capturing both the festive and Marvel spirit this rocking chair is a fun little build that has motion. The strong color contrast in 141Earth GreenDark Green and 297Warm GoldPearl Gold makes this build stand out and captures the mischievous nature of Loki. Not only is this captured through color but also through the swirls in the the curved design elements.
If you have no other Marvel sets then this set is a great way to pick up a bunch of the core characters in the Marvel line. That being said the majority of figures are rather generic with the two standout figures being those that are unique to this set through its festive tie in.
- Christmas Sweater Spider-Man: Aside from the torso printing this spiderman is rather generic, but it is the torso printing that makes it shine. This fun colored sweater has Spider-Man’s face sewn into it and captures the threaded look of a woolly sweater. Without spoiling to much, it is a shame that this spider man does not come with web pieces, instead having the web pieces locked behind another door. You can see that this figure already has the beginnings of the web attachments so it is a shame that accessories are locked behind another door.
- Christmas Sweater Black Window: Of the two sweater adorned figures the Black Window one is the better of the two. Just like Spider-Man, the figure itself uses generic pieces with the exception of the standout piece, the torso. The torso from the front is printed with snowmen and generic festive items such as a tree and snowflakes, but when turned around you see the Avengers tie in. On the back is a large Avengers logo printed in a sewn format with a small Santa hat sitting atop of the A. This small print is a great print that captures both Marvel and the holidays, something that you would expect in a Marvel Advent Calendar.
Of all the Advent Calendars that I have been fortunate enough to build over the years this one is unfortunately the most disappointing. Picking my top 4 mini builds was a easy choice as a result. Despite there being some relatively fun builds most were very generic builds that did not relate to Marvel whatsoever. I wish LEGO had instead gone down the route that they do with Star Wars and create mini vehicle builds as those would have been on theme with the rest of the set.
I am not alone in this feeling either as having walked past LEGO aisles in stores I have seen many with calendars already sold out, all that is bar the Marvel calendar which is still warming shelves. With a 18.5 cent per piece (US) price point it offers terrible value. While there are one or two desirable figures in this set this isn’t enough to make me recommend this set as is. I unfortunately have to give this set a 2/5 (Acceptable) rating and recommend you spend the steep cost of this set on other sets. I hope LEGO steps up their game with next years Marvel set, should they even continue it.
While there is no winner when comparing Advent Calendars, and with your personal choice being up to your preferences it is worth pointing out that the ratings we gave factor in pricing expectations for the sets. With the calendars retiring at the end of the year and there always being a strong annual demand as it nears retirement it is worth picking up a copy sooner rather than later, or risk missing out.