It's December, and that means that it is time to open our Advent Calendars for those of us who have them. Each day here, I will review the mini-set available in 2012's City Advent Calendar.
Day 1: Fireman with Bullhorn
Today's gift was a fireman. Nothing says Christmas like putting out fires. I'm already not so happy with this calendar.
The fireman himself is okay. The red hat does not look very nice with the light orange uniform or the darker orange glasses, the frames of which are too thick in some places and non existent in others. The expression is also odd, and again, the dark tan used for the chin clashes with the figure's other colors. The colors just really do not look very good together.
The costume is the same as the one introduced earlier this year in the Forest Fire sets and though it is more detailed, I do not like the colors and prefer the older design.
Colors aside, the design is pretty good and detailed. The safety stripes may be glow-in-the-dark, if so, my opinion of this figure would go up, but I expect that it is only brick yellow since I hadn't heard of this before.
Two bullhorns and an extra red hat were also included, so that is at least good and helps a little.
Day 1 and this calendar is not off to a good start, though I do prefer firemen to last year's police. Looking over into the wonderful worlds of Star Wars and Friends though, I would have to place today over the Friends calendar, but under Star Wars. Friends only has a shopping bag to offer on day 1, and though I like the theme and would prefer shopping to firemen, I really do think it should have been one of the two mini-dolls. Star Wars, on the other hand, has a pretty nice mini-model of the Gungan Sub which feels more Christmas-y as it could be a child's toy.
Edit: Apparently today's Friends gift is the Oliva doll, so I take back what I said. Today is probably the worst of the three calendars' beginnings.
Day 2: Chainsaw with log
Today's gift is a chainsaw and a log to cut, and I think it is much better than yesterday. The colors are a little odd: two shades of grey, orange, and blue, but the model itself is good. The fireman has to hold it at an angle, but oh well.
Unlike firemen, I'm not opposed to a chainsaw being included in a Christmas countdown. It might not be what people think of when they hear "Christmas" or "Advent" but fireplaces often are, and how is the firewood cut? Not only is it loosely related to Yuletide, but it is also related to City, particularly firemen (and Hospitals, apparently).
Today's gift is better, but I still think it is beaten by Friends (with a sled) and Star Wars (with a Gungan Warrior).
Day 3: Christmas Tree
Last night, while we were all sleeping, the fireman snuck away with his new chainsaw and came back with today's gift. Today's gift is a Christmas tree. I'm a little surprised because though nearly every, if not all, LEGO Advent Calendars include one, it is not this early. The model is not much to be excited about, it is only a few slopes with studs as light and there is not even a star (I bet they are being cheap and are going to give that to us on a subsequent day...), but it isn't too bad.
Once again, I feel that Friends beats this model. Over in Heartlake Olivia is getting a cute (but tiny) streetlight with holly. However, Star Wars should totally be jealous. Our Gungan friend is only getting a catapult, a spear, and a shield. Poor, poor, Gungan. Unlike our fireman, he can't sing or chop down the tree with yesterday's chain saw.
Oosa, Christmas treesa,
Oosa, Christmas treesa,
How luv-ly are yousa branchees
Take that Star Wars.
Day 4: Step Stool and Fireman's Fairy Wand
Today we have...a step stool. This is really a waste of a day. They could have at least included that star they forgot to yesterday (though I am tired of LEGO using that wand piece as a star). Oh, nevermind, they did. I missed it. But seriously, I wish they could find something better to use. A couple of 1x1 trans. yellow plates looked find a few years ago, at least it was the right color and not floating up in the air.
Over in Star Wars there is a mini-Star Destroyer, which is better than the Gungan Sub. However, I'd have to say that once again Friends has the best gift: A pair of azure skies and matching poles.
Day 5: Supply Rack
Today's gift is a supply rack with an axe and a fire extinguisher. Though I would normally criticize this set for being non-Christmas/Winter related at all, I actually like it. The design is nothing special, but it comes with four of those brick bricks. These are the first in my collection and I really love them.
Friends also looks pretty good today, with a snowman. Star Wars on the other hand has a minute droid-transport ship (the name of which, I forget) which is way too small and though clever, not very good.
Day: 6 Overprotected Child with Snowballs
Today's gift was another minifigure, a child. He has a(n apple) green, winter coat, blue short legs, a skater helmet, for some reason, and a good childlike face with an innocent grin and freckles. He also has a white stud (presumably a snowball) as an accessory. For extra parts, there are three more studs and another helmet. No complaints there.
This gift is pretty good, on par with Friends this time where the other mini-doll is given. It is up to you which you prefer. Star Wars just has a security droid, I assume there were some left over in the warehouse and this is how they planned to get rid of them (I'm sure most of the Star Wars advent figs are chosen like that).
Day 7: Radio Controlled Fire Truck
I like the idea of today's model; it is a toy, and it fits the fire theme. The model itself is not so great, I think it is too tall, but the parts are useful.
Star Wars and Friends both look good today too, with a mini Naboo starfighter and some aqua hair accessories.
Day 8: Supply Rack with Skiing Equipment
Already a third through the calendar, hm. (I'm not really bothered, I just wasn't sure if any readers noticed. :P)
Anyway, today's gift is my favorite yet, sans the child. It is another supply rack, very similar to the first, but actually uglier. What makes me love it so much though is the skiing equipment. I wish they would use actual poles instead of bars and a more practical color than yellow (any yellow minifigure accessories are strange to me), but as a skier, I really appreciate this. Plus, it has four more profile bricks!
Today, Friends has a table with a mug, nothing special, and for once, not better than this. Star Wars also has a vulture droid today, which does not live up to yesterday's starfighter. When are they going to give Episode I a rest?
Day 9: Mechanic
I hate this minifigure, I really do. The torso is fine, I run out of blue legs a lot for something so common, and more baseball caps and overlarge wrenches never hurt (unless you are smacked with one), but his face is one of the ugliest ones I have seen of all time. It even surpasses Black Widow and Tim.
Friends has a milk carton and a dish with a couple of decorative brownies and Star Wars has an imperial officer. Both are much better than this awful figure.
Yes, there is only one option. :P
Day 10: Trolley and Four Wheels
It's a luggage trolley, and four wheels. Nothing else to it. Another waste of a day. I actually prefer the step-stool.
Star Wars has a bland model of an AT-AT and Friends has a cart for the sledge. Not a very exciting day in any of the three calendars (but City is the worst for a lack of useful parts).
Sorry, only one option again.
Day 11: Quad Bike
Today's model is a Quad bike. It doesn't have much suspension, so it seems too short, and uses yesterday's wheels, which to me means that yesterday really was just a trolley. The model itself is okay for what it is, but feels like a rejected impulse model.
Star Wars has a turret and Friends has a gift box. Though I applaud Friends for actually having Christmas objects, and the gift is cute, I actually think that City has today's best model, as it has half-decent playability at least and is probably the most interesting. Sort of...
Day 12: Firewoman
Today's (or rather, yesterday's, I'm late) gift is a firewoman. She has no helmet, but I don't mind because her hairpiece is one of my favorites. She can be given that extra one included with her co-worker earlier though. Her face looks much better with the fire uniform than the Fireman from the start and like I said, her hairpiece is one of my favorites. For an accessory she has a radio (plus one extra). It isn't much, but better than nothing.
Friends has a dog and Star Wars has a Hoth rebel trooper. I like the molds used by most of the Friends animals, but not most of the eyes so today's best depends on which you prefer (not that it doesn't anyway). I prefer the firewoman myself. Why? For more of that hairpiece and she is a firewoman.
Day 13: Desk
Today's model is bland, but it has good parts, especially the monitor. I am a little disappointed with the idea, though I would usually be okay with it in an advent calendar. Of course the lovely female firefighter didn't have a hat because she doesn't actually go out on missions. She only gives her male comrades instructions and can only hope for a date with them....
Friends has a stool and a bowl of water in jarring colors, not something I care for, and Star Wars has a gonk droid. I prefer the old printed version, myself. The day they chose to include it aside, City has my favorite gift of today.
Day 14: Burning Crate
It's a crate. With flames in it. Wooh.
Star Wars has a filler day. Accessories which should have been included with the characters earlier. Wooh. Friends has a bed. For a dog. Woof.
Day 15: Supply Wall with Apparatus
I'm not sure if apparatus is the term to use, but it is the fireman (or woman) mask and oxygen tanks for breathing. It comes with another one of the supply walls with four nougat brick bricks. Though this is the third now, more is definitely good.
Friends has another cart for Olivia's sleigh, which I can't say I would be too excited about and Star Wars has a snowtrooper. I only just realized the Hoth theme, so I applaud its inclusion, even if they are ugly (I am still amazed how well the LEGO designers did on these guys though, they haven't had a total redesign unlike nearly everyone else).
Day 16: Under-protected Child
Today's gift includes the other child, a girl this time. I don't care for her hair so much, the way the braid goes back just looks unnatural. It is that way so it doesn't conflict with a cape, but I don't think a cape has been included since it was introduced. The face feels a bit lazy too, since they reused the boy's. I don't mind it for a girl, but they should have used something different. The reason she is under-protected is because unlike the boy who is bundled up and in a helmet, she is wearing a sweater and no gloves. It is just a minifigure though, so I don't actually mind. She includes a white stud as a snowball and then there are another four extra. These kids seem better prepared than the firefighters at stopping that crate from burning. The firefighters only have one fire extinguisher, yet the Avengers have more than enough...I suppose that they need something to make up for having no Aquaman, but I digress....
Friends has a bucket, some snow, and a broom. A bit bland, I think. One of the more depressing sides of the holidays. Poor Olivia must slave just to make sure Christina can feel comfortable tracking in more snow. Star Wars has the Naboo royal cruiser, which is a decent mini-model, but I want to see more Hoth stuff now that I understand the theme. What is it with most of these mini-models being Episode I anyway? I thought that was the least popular movie of the two trilogies....
Day 17: Catapult
I'm not very interested in this gift. The catapult is sort of ugly. It is mostly white with a bit of blue, but then it has this ugly red plate. With only one catapult, the children must be wreaking havoc on the firefighters, what message is that supposed to be sending? The other possibility, with one catapult, is that it is supposed to be used to put out the flames.
Friends has a mailbox, which is sort of ugly (sorry Olivia/Christina, but maybe Emma or Stephanie would have been a better inclusion in the calendar, so they could spruce up the furniture and things like this). Over in a Galaxy Far, Far Away is a minimodel for the Naboo guards, which haven't appeared in a set since 1999 I think, and neither has this vehicle. Sort of odd. The model is kind of bland, being only two colors.
Day 18: Dog and Hydrant
The title is pretty self-explanatory. The dog is the same one that has been appearing in police sets for the last two years. With a dalmatian to be released next month, it would have been nice if they used that instead, but oh well. The fire hydrant is a nice inclusion, especially since when animals are included in these calendars, they come with little, if anything else.
Friends has a gift box which looks pretty nice and Star Wars has a rebel trooper which does not excite me all that much. I guess that calendar is targeted less at casual fans than the other two.
Day 19: Firefighter with Mug
Today's gift was another firefighter. Male again, but his face is much better with some stubble and scars. The uniform is the same as his comrades, and like the firewoman, it actually looks good. Not having those strange glasses really makes a lot of difference. He is accessorised with a red mug, an extra of which is included in addition to two extra red fire hats for a total of three. Plus the two given in day one, that means that five fire hats have been included thus far (I doubt there are more though).
Friends has that bag I mentioned earlier. Though it looks nice, it is a boring model. Star Wars has another Episode I mini-model, the neomodians' shuttle which is okay.
Day 20: Wheelbarrow
I had to fight a bear to get to this model, and then open one of those awful "China" bags. Guess which was worse. Inside was a wheelbarrow, the new kind introduced earlier this year. It has little to do with Firemen or Christmas, so I suppose it is for that workman I prefer to forget about. Anyway, even if it is a bit off theme it is good to have. A shovel and a few more snowballs are also included.
Friends has an odd model. It is decorative and looks nice, but also a bit depressing because it makes me think the snow in Heartlake is melting, and has been for a while if flowers are already blooming (though there are a few that can in the winter). Star Wars had General Grievous' starfighter and though it has some interesting solutions, it does not come off looking very nice.
Day 21: Cones and Sign
Today's gift was not fire or Christmas themed, again, but doesn't even fit in with the mechanic-guy. It has some nice pieces, but is again a waste of a day. Can't they include more toys for the children instead?
Friends is getting back on track with a fireplace and Star Wars has a Super Battle Droid. I guess I have to accept that Hoth isn't coming back....
Day 22: Not a trailer....
According to Brickset and the flap, today's model is supposed to be a sledge trailer. Instead I got a second girl. This is a serious quality problem the way I see it, but at least it was another one of the children.
Friends has a Christmas tree which I think looks better than the one included here, the star is at least better, and Star Wars has a nice looking rendition of Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator.
I'm not even sure if I should have included a poll....
Day 23: Presents
Today there are two gift boxes. One wrapped in white and blue and the other in green and yellow. It is nice to finally have something Christmas-y. I just wish that there was a third, that way the boy and twin girls can have a present. Maybe I can give her the chainsaw instead?
Friends also has a gift box, but it is a bit more interesting as it isn't really a box. Star Wars has an astromech snowman, which is too cool.
Day 24: Santa and Sled
Last day, finally. Today Santa and a motorized sled were included. Santa is a little lackluster, being undetailed and all. Shame they couldn't have given him an exclusive torso print, both Friends and Star Wars have characters in exclusive costumes, or at least used the Fisherman's beard. This one is much too long. It's probably clear I don't care for this Santa figure and find him outdated. I propose a new era where children are delivered gifts by a Sith dressed in a parka. I'm sure Lucas would approve it. He is all for this stuff.
The sled is sort of clever, I guess, but I find the idea silly. Looking at the way that the trailer would have been connected, it would not have gone very well. The connector is too stiff to allow for easy turns.
Friends' gift for today is rather odd. A vanity and a wig. Wouldn't the Christmas tree make more sense? Star Wars has its last figure, Darth Maul in a parka. Though not as cool as the Astromech Snowman, it still is very good.