Every year the horror of a new year looms over the horizon like a Death Star, and the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar does the vital of work of dampening that future and smoothing the way towards a cheery Christmas. They’ve been releasing them since 2011, which is about five years more than I realised, but it does help account for why I’ve got so many of the internal trays to use for part sorting.
On the part of the Lego designers, it’s a mighty challenge to produce new, cool-looking micro versions of the spaceships and locations we’ve become intimately familiar with. I’ve often been impressed with a new way to construct a Millenium Falcon from seven bricks, or by the splendid Bespin microscale city we got last year. Along with the dinky models we also receive an assortment of minifigures from across the Star Wars universe, building up to a special Christmassy figure on day twenty-four.
I had grumpily decided after last year’s calendar that I wouldn’t get another Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar because the minifigs and especially the Christmas figures had declined so badly. In fairness, the series began with Santa Yoda, followed by an R2-D2 snowman and Darth Maul, Santa Fett, Darth Vader and so on. This year we got a Porg. Porgs are ace, and I really wanted one because you don’t get many of them in sets. However, it’s just one unique piece (its head) and the rest are generic parts. Kinda feels like they’ve given up. I’d forgotten entirely what the Christmas 2018 figure was – so much so that I missed it out of the pic below – but it was a snowman with a rebel helmet: cack, and barely up from the BB-8 with a Santa hat from 2017. Nonetheless, when I discovered I could get 2019’s calendar for just £12.50 due to some neat Top Cashback thing, I dove in again.
Lego Christmas Figures
The Full 2019 Line Up
Perhaps it was how this calendar began that made me feel I’d been cheated. Day one is a First Order Star Destroyer – an almost entirely flat grey thing (I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars Lego anyway, just because it does tend towards a vast expanse of grey, or perhaps black), followed by a rather flimsy Kylo Ren shuttle. Getting a First Order stormtrooper next was OK, but it just didn’t feel special! (I’m fully aware this is an adult man grumbling about this not being good enough… but I really look forward to this stuff, and when it’s great it can give me a tremendous feelgood boost). I still don’t know what day four was. The outstanding builds are the Cloud Car, Quadjumper and Mynock – the rest I either struggled to identify or felt rather repetitious. The Christmas Gonk droid is cool too, even if he is larger than a minifigure (he’s actually been packed away into our vast box of Christmas Lego for rebuilding next year along with the rest of the Christmassy Star Wars folk).
Looking back at them now I’m not certain why I enjoyed this so little. The minifigs are fine – getting an old man Luke was cool, and the Bespin Cloud Car pilot is superb. But we’ve had much of this before – I think this is the third Death Star technician, at least the second Rebel commando and I’ve lost count of the soldier droids (not sure they should count as a minifigure anyway). I did appreciate not wasting one or two doors on gun racks, which is a lovely change from usual. It felt bland and the designs particularly phoned in this year. My other half and I usually alternate opening the doors each day, but we were leaving it unopened for whole weeks, and that also made me rather sad. I slightly regret selling on the Harry Potter advent calendar I also bought for half price, as several friends have reported it being good, even though I’ve no love for the franchise and half of it seemed to be flags. What we did get was a bunch of spare parts as usual, a handy internal tray which gets used for general brick sorting, and the satisfaction of dismantling the stuff I didn’t care for.
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar contents across the years
Every year has had the occasional spectacularly crap minibuild, but on balance the range of figures, including really cool figs like the Kanji Club guy from 2018, IG-88, ewoks, jawas, Sabine Wren, Unkar’s Thug… well, they’ve been ace, and this year feels so generic. Last year we even got a character from the little-known Lego Freemaker Adventures! It’s odd, considering that we’ve recently had Rogue One, Solo and the new trilogy that so little of the amazing stuff in them has made it into last year’s calendar. Maybe next year, having no movies out will offer some space to bring back the best and weirdest figures and sets in the franchise – The Mandalorian please!
Now I shall go and dismantle all the minibuilds and feast upon their parts.