Monday, December 24, 2007

Advent Madness: Day 24


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.


"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?

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?




Ray said...

I thought so, No people except for the fairy. I think lego was making this more of a "if you have a belville set already, you shouldnt get another person, if you could only get this set, You wouldnt have any people to play with (if you were 9).
If you hadn't gotten another belville set, you have no people except the fairy(not really a "person" if you ask me).How could you play with this set alone?

Nick said...

If not for him, for us? We're tired of listening to Chris complain (:P).

Christopher Doyle said...


I don't know that a Belville person would *fit* into one of those tiny advent squares, but I see your point. I guess if you ONLY have the Belville calendar you'd have to go with the "this is the fairy's bedroom" idea and pretend it was all for her. (Since the "bed" from early on was fairy scaled, not Belville fig scaled).

And, as you pointed out earlier, you could always make the animal friends have human speaking roles like in a Disney/Pixar film. Heck, I have a friend who's son plays with hot wheels on a *completely* new level to me thanks to the movie "Cars".


Bah humbug.

I did try and be upbeat when there was fun stuff behind the doors. But the whole review should be read with tongue planted firmly in cheek - this is a LEGO calendar. How seriously should we really take it?

The answer: Not very. So, of course, it became life and death what they decided to pack behind each door. ;)

Saber Lion said...

Arhh, come one. Belville's looks like a Christmas tree, and now you mention it's rarity. The presents are also better. The only downside is lack of decoration. But Belville was much better that CITY this year.

Oh well, as long as CITY lost in total.

Anonymous said...

the holiday train came with all green trees, the white ones are only avalible here and in another belville set.

Christopher Doyle said...


I could have sworn that the 2006 Christmas ads had the marbled trees in with the holiday train. I'll have to dig through my old catalogs and see if I can confirm that.

But you're right - the on line part guides only list it as in the 2005 "Snow Queen" Belville set and this year's B-Advent. I'll touch up the main blog entry. Thanks for catching my error!