I get a LEGO® Advent Calendar pretty much every year. The holiday season would just not be the same without my little piece of LEGO® joy each day. Some years, I have even bought two (City and Star Wars). Much like last year, however, I skipped the Star Wars calendar this year. None of the Minifigures were appealing (where are the Christmas variants of characters that we used to get?). I like the City calendars because I get more townsfolk for my own city. But how does this year’s advent calendar measure up to those of years past?
NAME: 2018 Advent Calendar
SET #: 60201
COST: $39.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 312
RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2018
SUMMARY REVIEW: 74%
VALUE: 80% ($0.13 per brick at full price is okay.)
BUILD: 70% (Some fun builds, but a few re-hashed ideas and no consistency.)
MINIFIGURES: 90% (Not many Minifigs, but nice ones with loads of accessories.)
ENTERTAINMENT: 55% (Not much build time, and most of the builds are not keepers.)
With 312 pieces, and a price tag of $39.99 in Canada, this advent calendar will cost you $0.13 per brick. As it stands, my average cost per brick based on all of the sets that I have bought over the last two years is $0.14. So, buying this advent calendar at full price, you are actually getting a decent value. It is a touch below the average, which is good, and I would rate it at 4/5 (80%). For the last couple of weeks, this advent calendar has been available for as much as 50% off at some retailers, so if you waited until after December 1, you might have gotten a deal as good as $0.06/brick.
As usual, the 2018 advent calendar is all about little builds. There are a few staples each year. You pretty much always get variants of a lamp post, a train, a Christmas tree, and some sort of food/drink stand. Each year, some of the builds are also designed to look like micro versions of LEGO® sets from the past year. This year, we are looking at Minifigure scale versions of the Passenger Train and Ambulance Helicopter. There is something reminiscent of the volcano exploration excavator as well, but in the mining theme colors.
The builds that you get this year are:
- Space Shuttle
- Boy Minifigure (with coins)
- Race Car
- Husky (with plate and chicken leg)
- Snowman (with mug)
- Woman Minifigure (with shovel)
- Lamp post
- Soccer nets and ball
- Passenger Train
- Ice cream dispenser
- Girl Minifigure (with ice cream cone)
- Gift boxes and stocking
- Christmas tree
- Cupcake stand
- Pastry chef Minifigure
- Toy car
- Remote controlled cars
- Mining excavator
- Candy cane clock post
- Toy robot
- Ambulance Helicopter
- Santa Claus Minifigure
In terms of the builds, I am neither here nor there about most of them. I would like to see the LEGO® advent calendars take a different route. Firstly, there are not enough Minifigures, but I will return to that idea in the “Minifigures” section of this review. In terms of the other stuff you get, most of it is kind of crappy. I would like to see something more along the lines of the “x-tra” polybags with a Christmas twist. I want more actual accessories to spruce up my city in the City Advent Calendar. Give us actual lamp posts. Give us actual street signs or traffic lights decked out for the holidays. Even better would be a more of a consistent approach to what is included. For example, why can’t all of the builds come together to make an actual set? Like a hot chocolate stand with machines, cups, pastry stands, signage, etc.
I did like some of the builds include this year. My favorite was by far the toy robot from December 22. It was a little reminiscent of Sweep from Ninjago City. I liked the design for the moving legs and arms. The wind-up key on the back was also a nice touch. The ice cream machine from December 12 is next on my list, followed by the token Christmas tree from December 15. This year’s snowman, from December 6, was a nice step up from the variants we have seen in previous years, but I will come back to that again later. Finally, the token snack stand of the year was fun. They made it look like a rolling cart, which was an interesting change from previous years.
Overall, I was pleased with a few of the builds, but this set loses a mark for its lack of awe-value. It also loses one for the inconsistent nature of the builds. One could argue that they are consistently themed as “Christmas presents”, but again, I want something that comes together as a set in the end. An infusion of new ideas wouldn’t hurt either. We don’t need toy trains, rockets, and cars every year. I give this year’s City advent calendar 7/10 (70%).
For the last few years, the number of Minifigures included in the Advent Calendar has been dropping. In 2016, we got seven plus a husky. In 2017, we got six with no animals. This year, the husky is back, but we are down to five Minifigures. I said it last year, and I will say it again, I want more Minifigures, not less. In my mind, this advent calendar should border on being a Christmas people pack, but we keep losing a Minifigure each year. The snowman included in this set is half of a Minifigure though. It comes with a blank white head and torso, a top hat, a red scarf, and a red mug. However, instead of legs, you get a brick. I like it more than previous brick-built snowmen we have seen, but it is not a full Minifigure. So, will say this year’s advent calendar came with five and a half Minifigures. With 312 bricks, you are looking at a brick-to-Minifig ratio of 57:1. That is worse than last year’s (41:1), but still better than the vast majority of actual sets. So, for the second year running, I will give the advent calendar a 5/5 (100%) for its ratio score.
In terms of design, I will leave the snowman out, since he is not complete and is meant to be blank white. Looking at the other five characters, you get three full-sized Minifigures and two gimpy ape-children (which lose marks right from get-go). All come with some form of hair or hat, as well as front and back printed torsos. None feature any leg printing or double-sided faces. You do get some nice accessories in the form of 2 printed coins, 4 printed pastries, a printed clock, two cherries (to act as holly), two trophy mini-Minifigs, a shovel, a cup, a husky, a plate, and chicken leg. Based on my rating scale, these Minifigures earn a design score of 59/75 (79%). Averaging that out with the ratio score gives the advent calendar an overall Minifigure grade of 90%.
On a related note, I noticed that this year, there were no themed Minifigures included in the calendar. In past years, we have seen volcano and jungle explorers, firemen, police, and coast guard characters. I was a little bummed to not get any miners or paramedics this year with the resurgence of mining and hospital/ambulance sets.
Like last year, I did not actually time how long it took me to put together each of the little builds in this calendar. I’ll go with the same assumption that it was about two minutes per build, for a total of 24 builds, which comes out to 48 minutes of assembly time. At $39.99, that comes out to $0.83 per minute, which is pretty bad. This year’s advent calendar earns 2.5/5 (50%) for build-time value.
This year, I will probably keep some of the mini-builds. At the very least, I will be keeping the toy robot. So, in that respect, it is a step up from the 2017 calendar where I re-purposed everything. So, this year, I will give the advent calendar 3/5 (60%) as an enjoyment score. Averaging that with the build-time value gives the 2018 City Advent Calendar an overall entertainment grade of 55%.
The 2018 City Advent Calendar fared a little better than its 2017 predecessor in terms of my review. Last year, it earned 69%, so we are seeing a 5% increase. We got more bricks this year, which contributed to better overall value for the calendar, but I was generally less impressed with the builds. One major saving grace was the nicely designed toy robot. There was another drop in the number of Minifigures included in the set as well, which I am not thrilled about. Less Minifigures leaves me feeling like it’s lower quality, especially since there were no specially themed characters. Do I still recommend the advent calendars? Without a doubt. Despite the issues that I have with them, it is still fun to get a little LEGO® build everyday.
Did you enjoy this year’s City advent calendar? Or perhaps you have some thoughts to share on the Star Wars or Friends calendars? Feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.
Until next time,