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.
The back of the calendar show the Friends along with Zobo and some of their pets around a fully decorated tree.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I think this is a decent start to the calendar, and a very suitable ornament for Heartlake City.