Here we are again, the end of our series of spammy posts opening advent calendars, getting things wrong, questioning reality, and almost driving ourselves mad, and generally wondering how these things keep getting made. Somehow, inexplicably, Harry Potter ends up as the “winner” this year after Star Wars stumbled hard at the end. The loser is clearly the Marvel calendar, which was just… ugh.

Final Count

  • Star Wars: 12 Hits / 12 Misses
  • Harry Potter: 13 Hits / 11 Misses
  • Marvel: 10 Hits / 14 Misses

Ace’s Thoughts on Star Wars

12 hit and 12 misses, a perfectly even 50-50 ratio of … hits and misses. No other way to describe it really but I would like to call out a few specifically.

I think the lowest point for me was a tie between the inclusion of the Beach-going Darth Vader (and his paired sandcastle build) and the Battle Droid. Call me old fashioned, but I’d like it if my advent calendars stuck with a wintery theme. Hoth may be a beaten horse at this point so I get that LEGO is trying to put in inspired builds from a variety of sources. Vader here though felt so out of left field and honestly a little jarring to open up. And the Battle Droid was such a low-effort throw-in, throwaway day that it’s honestly insulting to get. There wasn’t even a paired build with it. It was just filler that was less that fulfilling.

The highlights include the ugly sweater minifigs for the obvious reasons. One star is R2-D2 just for the mere fact that putting an ugly sweater on R2 is like dressing up your dog in a costume: there’s no point to it but you do it just cause it’s cute:

It’s so kitschy I love it. But my absolute top pick? It’s gotta be this:

B-wing from Day 14. I love me some obscure ships that are on screen for mere milliseconds! Fairly certain that there hasn’t been an official mini ship of the B-wing so if this is all we get, then I will love it til the end of my days.

Overall, a multi-build set having only half the builds be great (in this reviewer’s opinion) is not a great value proposition. With some of the days being a paired build, it really feels like you’re getting rejected polybag sets split over two days to fill out the days as much as possible. The source material for this year’s set spanned multiple movies resulting in a disjointed experience. There’s a lot of material when it comes to Star Wars. I wish they would do a whole calendar based on a planet, a scene, or battle or something. Keep it consistent, and bring the quality up.

Eric’s Thoughts on Harry Potter and Hot Sauce

Was this the worst LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar I’ve ever done? Probably not. Was it a bad experience? Oh yeah.

So it turns out, drinking a 24 tablespoons of hot sauce was a bad idea. I had a dozen stomachaches, nearly threw up once, and fell into a sort of subservient routine where I would just drink the hot sauce without thinking. It was easier that way.

Maybe it’s because of that, but I really think this year’s calendar was BAD. LEGO tried something new last year, too – with a sort of Candy-Land-like board game. I hated that one back then, but at least that game made sense. This year’s…I don’t even know. It’s a bad game, and LEGO committed to it so hard. With last year, you could ignore the board game and just “enjoy” the builds. That’s impossible this year. Every build is on a 2×4 plate. Every third build is a minifig. It’s formulaic, and the surrpise of each day went from “ooh I wonder what piece of the puzzle this will be” to “I wonder how they’ll represent Order of the Phoenix in a bad way”. Am I jaded? Yes. I drank 24 tablespoons of hot sauce.

But we also get a wild range of quality. From the excellent Knight Bus vignette, which is about as good as you can do when committing to these builds, to the Pensieve, which looks like a crap sci-fi button.

I will admit, this is probably my favorite minifig selection since 2020 (which is still unbeaten in every single aspect). No Ron, no Hermione, no Dumbledore – we get some under-represented characters, albeit ones that we’ve seen before, for the most part. And an owl, which LEGO tried to pass off as a minifig.

And here is the bane of my December: 24 hot sauces. What a wild ride it’s been. I genuinely will not forget some of these days: Day 2’s Ghost Pepper introducing me to what a horrible idea this actually was. Day 13’s Carolina Reaper just putting me in the ground. Day 20’s Spicy Agave, the greatest hot sauce, which reignited my love for all things spicy.

There were some duds in here for sure, but if I piqued your interest, let me offer two approaches: for the spiciest, just absolutely brutal hot sauces, you can grab the Torchbearer Sauces off of Amazon. You’ve got all the hits in there: Carolina Reaper, two Ghost Pepper sauces, Horseradish, Garlic – it’s a HUGE range, and every single hot sauce tastes distinctive. But if you want GOOD sauces, let me introduce you to the Tabañero collection. The curry and agave specifically are top-notch, and genuinely my two favorites. The other two: Original and Extra Hot, aren’t shabby, either.

Now we’ll see if LEGO will finally do a Slug Club Advent Calendar like I’ve been suggesting for two years. I swear, if I open one more day with a little Year 1 Harry Potter in it, I will lose my mind.

Reading Nick’s thoughts, I guess we’ve opened Pandora’s Box and will be doing an extra calendar every year now. I’m down. But maybe something non-edible this year.

Nick’s Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy and Space Marines

I’m way too lazy to go and look up the previous calendars, but the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy calendar has got to be the worst one that I’ve ever opened. The Avengers one last year was a mixed bag, but at least it was unique, and it’s just bizarre that it’s already fizzled in just its second year. Who knows if they’re going to try and continue it into next year… the mix of what’s going on in Marvel doesn’t exactly lend itself into continuing this.

It feels like they could do this better with Spider-Man, since they could do villains or all the spider-verse and give it a fun theme in the holidays. There’s already so many jokes they can tap, but getting Marvel and Sony to play into the licensing is likely an impossible game for LEGO to do, and probably not worth it. Honestly, it feels like this calendar would work so much better over on the DC side. I mean, bring the LEGO Batman Movie and the rogues gallery back as an Advent with a Christmas theme and it would just be fantastic. Problem is that WB/HBO/DC/Whatever is just a gross tire fire right now and who knows how it’d all work.

For my other calendar, it was a fun little exercise in just nerding out a bit on my main hobby. I didn’t really grade the calendar because it was mostly for fun – and because, part that I left out, the thing is totally not worth buying. Live vicariously through me, because that stupid thing is $100 dollars. I can’t even blame Games Workshop (notorious for their pricing) on that one, as it’s produced by Bandai. GW licensed stuff doesn’t tend to be marked up stupid amounts compared to comparable things – action figures are in line with similar things, video games, etc. Why these little Chibis were so expensive I’ll never know, but they’re fun. The few I care about are going to be on display, the unpainted one will get painted, and the rest will get put away.

Now all I have to do is figure out is what I can possibly top that with next year…

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