Friends Advent Calendar - Day 1

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It's December 1, which means the start of another advent calendar! I'll be taking a look at the 41353 Friends Advent Calendar this year. I've described the last couple years' calendars as having a minimalist theme, considering the paltry number of parts for some of the daily builds.

This year, the Friends Advent Calendar is taking a brand new direction - every day will be a buildable Christmas ornament. As a result, the parts count for the calendar is an eye-popping 500, over twice as many pieces as last year's calendar. For the first day, let's take a look at the packaging and see what's behind door number 1.

At Skaerbaek this year, one of the Friends designers held a session where she talked about different sets and the thinking behind them. She described the advent calendar as being "really all about Christmas" and giving children the opportunity to have a set of ornaments of their own to keep for years - so that when Mom and Dad get out their Christmas ornaments to decorate the tree each year, now the children will as well.

I like the idea of having a more substantial build every day, but I will miss the colourful Christmas outfits that we saw on the minidolls every year. I'm sure others will miss the cute animals. However, there are supposed to be ornaments to represent each one of the Friends, and like the last couple years, there will be some alternate builds available on December 25.

The front of the calendar shows all of the Friends in a festive scene decorating a Christmas tree. A sampling of the ornaments that will be built line the bottom front of the box, some of them looking very interesting (the hearth and the rocking horse, to name a couple). All the Friends are wearing very festive sweaters (though I wonder about Andrea's with the roast turkey on it) - it's too bad we won't see minidolls with those sweaters. They would look fantastic.

View image at flickr

The back of the calendar show the Friends along with Zobo and some of their pets around a fully decorated tree.

View image at flickr

Open the flap, and on one side you see the 24 doors waiting to be opened. It's interesting to me that all the doors on the Friends calendar open from the left to the right.

View image at flickr

In previous years the inside flap could be used as a placemat to reenact a story from the advent calendar builds. As that's not needed this year, instead we have all five Friends readying some of the ornaments to be hung from the tree. Well - at least most of them. Mia looks like she's writing a letter to a young man she appears to have a crush on. I wonder if we will see him in the 2019 sets? The Friends are using red ribbon to hang the ornaments from tree.

View image at flickr

Since all of the builds are ornaments, I will be taking two pictures of each build - one as it looks when it's hung and one when it's sitting on a flat surface. Unlike the Friends, I don't have the patience for tying the ornaments with ribbon (some of the provided holes are very small!), so a wire ornament hanger will have to do.

So without further delay, what's behind door number 1?

View image at flickr

It's a very appropriate ornament for the Friends world - a brick built heart. There's a white horizontal accent at the widest part of the heart, and I like the greenery accent with decorative star. The ornament is hung from a white 1x1 lamp holder.

Here's the straight look at the heart.

View image at flickr

I think this is a decent start to the calendar, and a very suitable ornament for Heartlake City.

 

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16 comments on this article

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By in United States,

It is a quite nice ornament, but I’m not into LEGO ornaments. I’ve always been on the fence about buying the Friends calendar, but this year was an easy pass.

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By in United States,

This year's Friends calendar is a huge upgrade! We found last year's to be really underwhelming and easily forgettable. Having a minidoll or two is fun, but our 7-year-old is *much* more excited about the ornaments. We were considering not getting the calendar this year until the concept was revealed, and then it became a definite get. Ornament hooks at the ready and these will be going on the tree every day!

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By in Netherlands,

is that string included?

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By in United States,

It looks pretty good. The price per part and the parts included in this calendar are also great.

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By in Sweden,

Love the idea, but I wish they'd just done this as a Creator advent calendar instead. That way the young Friends fans would've gotten what they (probably) wanted: minidolls, pets, etc. and (Friends-averse) AFOLs would've gotten a "pure" brick-building calendar.

That said, there's hardly anything in this calendar that'd qualify as overly "girly" so unless you really, really can't bring yourself to buy a Friends-branded product (get over it), this is actually a great calendar to get, especially if you can get it at a discount now that December has begun and stores want to get rid of any surplus.

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By in Sweden,

Oh, and as for today's build, I wish they'd included the string with studs on the ends (6096955) so you wouldn't need your own string to actually hang these up. Doesn't seem like this is included with any of the daily builds as far as I can tell, which seems like a missed opportunity.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm already starting to think I should have got an extra Star Wars calendar rather than this.

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By in Germany,

Thank you Megan for reminding me that this year we will get ornaments to hang in the tree! Love the idea of having something nice AND somewhat "useful". Ordered it right now for me and my wife to share building the ornaments :-)
Would love to see similar things in the Star Wars calender, maybe 3 - 4 ornaments per year, like the deathstar for the tree <3

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By in Singapore,

First year since the friends advent calendars were first released. My young daughter had no interest in it since there were no mini dolls or animals. She was disappointed our annual tradition was taking a break this year

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By in United States,

I believe the playmat part of the calendar contains suggestions on how else you could use the ornaments, although if that is the case then they are not particularly helpful.

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By in Germany,

Funny hearing about people whose kids were disappointed by this calendar because of the lack of minidolls. With our daughters it was the exact opposite. The were so disappointed by the ever more crappy Friends advent calendars that last year we didn't even get one at all. They have also got so many minidolls from the regular sets that the ones from the calendars were just surplus that was immediately thrown in the figure parts bin anyway (they take apart all the minidolls and mix-and-match them at every opportunity).
When they saw that this year's calendar was all ornaments, and all quite substantial builds, we knew that we would get the calendar again this year after last year's hiatus, and so far, we have not only not regretted it, but our daughters are so looking forward to the rest of the calendar after todays contents.

Plus, 11.99 Euro on Amazon for 500 parts was a steal!

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By in Hungary,

I didn't know this year's calendar is built up that way, that's a nice surprise!
I can hardly wait what ornaments we will see.

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By in Australia,

I haven't previously bought the Friends advent calendars, as I don't have daughters and I'm not into Minidolls, but I bought this one for my wife to build as it has human sized tree decorations. My 9 yr old son has taken it over though!

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By in Australia,

I remember how disappointing some of the prior Friends calendars were, so at least, we're off to a good start.

And that boy Mia is sending a love letter to is kind of cute. What?

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By in Finland,

I think this is by far the best Friends calendar (from an adult AFOL perspective and a 7 year old LEGO fan's) - and we've had at least three previous ones. She's "gotten over" Friends ever since she discovered Elves about 3 years ago (we collected them all). We have plenty of Friends minidolls unused and most def don't need anymore, nor any extra cutesy house pets. And I think this serves as a much better spares box or even the rebuild value for next year is there. And I think this is a better suited for "free build" inspiration (a thing she's not very interested in, more building sets w' instructions).

...and she's most excited to be able to hang these on the tree at grandmom's where we'll be spending the holidays. <3

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By in United States,

I found the openings interesting, as well. I have the Star Wars and Friends Advent Calendars. The reason for the left-to-right opening is because these 2 calendars share the same die line and number distribution - Friends is printed "upside down" relative to Star Wars. Not having City, I'm not sure how this equation plays out. Maybe you can shed some light...?

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