Mary Sue is right - this has been the busiest month in Reasonably Clever history. (Well, in terms of the comic, anyway.) On a normal "once a weekday" schedule an average month has 22 strips. We entered December on #272 and we're ending on #329 - that's 58 strips, or over two and half month's worth of content.
In the meta sense, Whiskey should be happy - he did get some new LEGO items for Christmas. That's the torso from the new Indiana Jones figures he's holding in the last panel.
And there you have it: The big secret about the advent calendars. They're just meant to waste your time.
A couple of people have asked for better images of the sled - tomorrow's strip has some nice shots of it, and in a "ready to move" condition. Don't expect too much out of it, though, it was like a ten minute build that was originally just going to remain wreckage.
Yes, the December Challenge is still happening. I've just decided to post all of the entires at once - when the contest closes. (So far I have entries from Doug, Pumpkinetics, George Fox, and Dan Main.)
I know this is a change from the normal "post as I get 'em" methodology, but there's only a week left to the challenge anyway.
Next time we'll go back to the normal routine...and hopefully pick a contest that will garner a few more entries!
(Or however you choose to celebrate this season. Please modify the above to the festive greeting of your choosing.)
Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit my little ego-centric corner of the web this year. Particular thanks to Ian Healey, the Forumites, Mike and Beth, people who have emailed, and those who take the time to comment here in the blog - it's really nice to not just talk to myself. The site wouldn't be the same without you.
Here's hoping the new year holds all that you wish it to.
Just because the Advent Calendars have given up their last treasures doesn't mean the adventure stops here. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion! It's like four hundred strips long, so it'll keep you busy while waiting for Great Aunt Agnes to finish her mush before you kids are allowed near the presents.
VS Well, this is it. The final day of the LEGO Advent season. Looking back, what have we learned?
We learned that CITY, while repetitive, can still come up with a good mini-model or two. That it's steeped in repetition tradition, and will hold on to its core themes even to the point of being a bit stodgy.
We learned that Belville, for a first time Advent Calendar, did a heck of a job. $10 cheaper than the CITY calendar, filled with rare and unusual parts, and even a couple of interesting mini-models. It lacked the structured order of the CITY, but still managed to tie everything together in a vague sort of way.
So now, without any more pointless introduction...Day 24.
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY FOUR
"Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand." - The Emperor, Return of the Jedi
As in years past, the final door of the CITY Advent holds a holiday treat. Unlike previous years, there's no Santa Mini-figure to deliver presents. The one figure that should be repeated every year doesn't make an appearance.
But, in his stead, is a tree. A tree decked out with Christmas lights and candles, with gifts a-plenty underneath.
It's an interesting choice - LEGO has a couple of one-piece Tree models that are very nice. Instead we get the most complex mini-model of the year. Plenty of pieces, lots of details.
True, it doesn't look as sleek or pretty as a pre-made tree, but that's not what CITY is about, is it? CITY isn't about nature. CITY is about a fake tree made from plastic that you have to build yourself. Sure, it looks sad, but you built it. Who really should take the blame?
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY FOUR
Belville, as expected, takes a more elegant route. The tree here is one of the two models I mentioned in the CITY review - only cast in super-rare swirls of white and green. Previously only available in last year's Holiday Train the 2005 Belville "Snow Queen" set, these trees have been a highly sought after part. And the Belville Calendar has just made them much more plentiful.
The small presents that accompany the tree are much more glittery than their CITY cousins - more blocks and tiles for that stained glass window.
But there's really not much building to do here. And that, sadly, is really the theme of Belville. It looks great, but there's not a lot of building to be done.
I've decided to call a truce here on Christmas Eve - today's battle ends in a tie. Both CITY and Belville delivered a solid, Holiday-Themed end to their journeys. And, as I talked about already, each one is truly a winner in terms of serving the Calendar's theme.
The total score finds that the Belville Calendar was slightly ahead - a final score of 14 to 11. But look closely at that scorecard. Every day was a coin toss - and if you didn't want a bunch of oversized LEGO pets to deal with, the CITY would have been the right choice for you.
The final Judgment is this: LEGO, you did a decent job. There's room for improvement, but then, there always is.
Next year, though, let's give CITY a rest and try a new theme out, eh? Please? For me?
Caught up again. Tomorrow's installments are ready, so they should go up on time in the morning. The story will continue with a massive update on Christmas, so be on the lookout. Starting the 26th, I'm going back to a once-per-weekday schedule.
Sorry for the delay, but, as I posted earlier, I was without power for a bit. It's hard to do much when you can't charge the battery for the camera or run the PC...
VS With yesterday's loss to Belville, the CITY calendar gave up all hope to take the Season's Championship. At best, if today and tomorrow grant CITY wins...it can end in a tie.
It's somewhat shocking that this close to the final door there's even a question of who is going to win the title. I thought for sure, with all the repetition and lack of interesting models that CITY would be dead and buried by this point.
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY THREE
Continuing the 2 (or 3?) day Police Sub-Theme, we have this computer and workdesk.
Or....is it. Looking closer we see that it's got a flashing blue light and a credit card scanner. Maybe this is actually a K-Mart checkout lane!
No, there's a chair. And K-Mart employees would never have a chair to sit in while serving customers.
So I guess it is a police theme.
The green color is also a bit off - when was the last time you saw a police set with green highlights?
The computer monitor and (printed!) keypad are both nice post-season parts. But there's not much of a model here, no extra pieces, and no holiday theming.
CITY - you have one more day. Can you find the holiday spirit?
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY THREE
I was going to write how the Belville theme had gone meta on us - that elements best suited for life in a dollhouse now include a small dollhouse. That perhaps if the calendar had gone on for another week or two, we'd have Belville scaled doll house items - completing the circle down to another level.
Instead, I'd like to go back to some of my earliest hopes for the Advent Calendars. I've always suggested that the best thing LEGO could do would to be highlighting more than one theme in a calendar. That instead of CITY Sub-themes, maybe we'd have a week of CITY, then a week of EXO-Force, then a week of Belville, etc.
Look at today's little wee castle.
That's right. You've spotted it.
Castle. Another currently-in-production LEGO theme.
My wish came true! Sure, it's a reach, but I'm going with it.
Today's CITY is stronger than some of the week Belville doors, but it was easily overpowered by the magic of today's Belville cross-theming.
Don't go away, though. Even if CITY can't win (or tie), they may still have a shock ending for us tomorrow...
VS Just a warning for those of you reading the strip as well: I have to help a loved one with some shopping today, so the stips will be up late. Still today, but late.
As to the calendars...this is it. THE BIG THREE.The score is running very, very close. Can CITY do the unexpected and force a TIE? Or...dare I imagine it...best Belville for the next three days and take the WIN?
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY TWO
Hrm. Well, so much for taking all three days.
Yes, another complete repeat. Here's the standard recap:
Hat, Torso, Legs: 2005, Day 4 (The first Police sub-theme door)
Assuming we've got a Holiday theme behind Door 24, we're looking at a two-day Police Sub-Theme. Which isn't particularly bad, but, as usual, the execution is lacking. With all the different police-themed torsos that LEGO has on hand, they decided to revisit 2005 again. And, as I griped about on Day 10, they've decided to duplicate yet another face in a single year.
Here was a great chance to surge ahead with a totally new sub-theme, or figure, or, well...SOMETHING. Maybe, gosh, I dunno, THREE DAYS OF HOLIDAY STUFF.
But no. We get Day 10's "Oil Jr" in a police suit.
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY TWO
Stares at today's build.
*RUBS EYES AGAIN*
No, I think it's real. That's a Christmas Wreath.
An interesting, if simple, build. And an extra part.
VS Day 21. Just three more doors to go - how much Holiday Goodness is hiding behind those innocent looking portals? A lot? Some? A smidge? A dollop?
In years past, CITY has had a strong Holiday Finish - pulling otherwise somber calendars out of their nose-dives and into the light. Will we see that again? Or has LEGO given up on CITY to let Belville shine just that much brighter?
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY ONE
The final day of the Janitor sub-theme brings us what I consider to be a very nice mini-model. This trash bin has a hinged lid with enough space inside to hold the extra "junk bits" and quite a bit more. The design is sleek, easy to build, and can easily be incorporated into much larger models. I can see this same design as a storage area on a tank or starship - or a slightly modified version working as a stand-alone cargo container.
No, there's nothing Holiday Themed about it, unless you count it as a place to shove all that pointless wrapping paper at the end of a gift-opening frenzy.
Still, points for continuing a new theme with a new build, for having useful (if common) parts.
DOOR NUMBER TWENTY ONE
I'm guessing that this is meant to be another pet-bed. It has similar styling to the cat-bed we saw earlier, and adding a second mini-figure bed to the furniture tally doesn't make much sense.
Maybe this is for the puppy from yesterday's haul.
It also comes with a Bionicle "Zamor Sphere" in gold - which is being labeled as a "toy ball" in this context by most sites. Just to be difficult, I prefer to think of it as a Horta egg from Star Trek. Resting on a very fancy egg-warming tray.
In the post-season part view, today we have a few more "stained glass" elements that might be good, but those are balanced by the iffiness of four big fake flowers in trans-glitter-purple and some pink arches. And I've yet to find a good use for those spheres. JUDGMENT:
A tough call today - Belville looks like more fun, but CITY has the better model. In the end, my builder's instincts won out, and CITY took the day.