Unlike a chocolate advent, a Lego calendar is definitely considered a worthwhile investment. With around 250-300+ pieces per calendar, mini-figures, mini-builds and accessories all included, these are toys that will last long after Christmas has come and gone.
For 2021 the toy giant have included five new launches for the festive season. Not only are there advents celebrating Lego’s own-brand “friends” and “city” sets, but there’s also calendars celebrating beloved franchises like Star Wars, Marvel’s The Avengers and Harry Potter.
While the amount of plastic is unfortunate, the boxes do transform into play scenes, with instructions behind each window and loads of extra pieces. Plus, as these cater to a range of different ages, including adults, everyone had fun building these. And yes, some of the builds were challenging even for us.
How we tested
Our testers, aged four through 11, did the hard work of ripping open each window in these advent calendars ahead of time, so we can tell you exactly what to make of them and what the pros and cons of each set are. Our eight-year-old tester’s top advice? “It really helps to know the characters and stories behind the sets to get the most out of them.”
Something to note: in the UK, customers are limited to purchasing up to two of each calendar to ensure all Lego fans can enjoy a festive countdown to Christmas. So be sure to act fast, as we’re sure these won’t be on sale for long.
The best Lego advent calendars for 2021 are:
Best overall – Lego ‘Harry Potter’ advent calendar, journey to Hogwarts: £24.99, Lego.com
Best for Star Wars obsessives – Lego ‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian’ advent calendar: £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best value for money – Lego Friends advent calendar: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best superhero mini-figures – Lego Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ advent calendar: £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for keen builders – Lego City advent calendar: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
Lego ‘Harry Potter' advent calendar, journey to Hogwarts
This advent calendar has the fewest pieces of all the sets (274) yet somehow feels the most satisfying and enjoyable to unpack, build and subsequently play. The flap on the box tears away to become a game board, and window 24 contains the pieces needed to make a spinner to play (a word of warning: the spinner does the job, but doesn’t spin quite as easily as you’d hope).
However, that’s our main negative: all four of our testers gravitated towards this calendar, which includes six mini-figures-turned-game-characters (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dudley, Draco and the goblin Griphook, as well as Hedwig).
It follows the chronology of the first Harry Potter book and film, and the build behind each window tells a story, which takes you from Privet Drive through to Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾ and finally, to a wintry feast at Hogwarts. The attention to detail in each mini-build is impeccable: see the fireplace with letters falling through it, the two-part Gringotts vault and the brick wall that opens up. The accessories – wands in cases, chocolate frogs, magic wizard cards, etc. – are superb and add to the role play fun.
This was the most engaging and immersive set, which captivated our youngest and oldest testers, who have been playing it both as a board game and with the characters separately. It’s the least festive of the bunch, which is a plus when it comes to longevity and use as a toy in the home.
“The way they’ve fitted so many characters in is amazing. It’s inclusive because lots of people can play, and people who have read it can explain to those who haven’t. You only need to know the first book/movie to know everything,” noted our eight-year-old tester. It’s recommended for kids 7+.
Buy now £24.99, Lego.com
Lego ‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian' advent calendar
Best: For Star Wars obsessives
Star Wars fans young and old will enjoy the mini-build vehicles which abound in this set, from the Razor Crest to starfighter planes – a few even have blaster powers that shoot things, which was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit with our testers. When it comes to mini-figures, you’ll unearth a stormtrooper, Tusken Raider, IG-11 and a festive-looking Mandalorian, among others. However, the undeniable highlight of this whole set (for our testers, at least), comes near the end of the calendar, where you’ll find an adorable minifigure of the Child, aka Baby Yoda, in a festive jumper, with its own carrier and red pram.
It’s not an exaggeration to say this minifigure is the most coveted item, not just from this advent calendar, but from all of them. Our testers are completely besotted; one of them, who prefers the City advent calendar (£19.99, Amazon.co.uk) to this one, took baby Yoda and plonked it right next to Christmas presents on a Lego train Father Christmas is driving.
This set is recommended for those aged six and up, however we found several of the builds to be a bit trickier than the other calendars, so we would suggest this for slightly older kids or very keen builders. We would also recommend it for super-fans of The Mandalorian season 2, which our testers haven’t seen, meaning there wasn’t as much enthusiasm for this calendar (they love Star Wars and have seen all the films, but there isn’t as much overlap in this set as we’d hoped). There were a few underwhelming windows in the beginning/middle with less-inspiring creations, too.
Buy now £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Lego Friends advent calendar
Best: Value for money
While we typically find the “friends” characters and sets a bit fluoro-pink and purple for our tastes, we can’t deny this is an engaging calendar that is fantastic value for money. With 370 pieces, this set has loads of items to build and includes five mini-figures and a cat and dog, which our four-year-old tester really appreciated. With some help from older children, she managed to assemble most of the builds on her own and has been playing with them non-stop. Some encourage interaction: the oven doors open, the blender arm lifts, a festive post box opens to reveal a letter...the list is endless.
This set is the most festive of the bunch: accessories include a sled, stockings, presents to put underneath the tree, a Nutcracker doll and more. It encourages little ones to role-play a domestic scene of bustling home life during the festive season, with accessories spanning art, music, cookery, sports and more. We’ve already seen lots of engaged imaginative play with our youngest tester, who describes the set as “beautiful and fun to play with.”
Buy now £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
Lego Marvel’s The Avengers advent calendar
Best: Superhero mini-figures
You don’t need to have seen The Avengers to appreciate the mini-figures in this calendar: there are seven, including Iron Man (in a festive jumper), Black Widow, Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Thanos and Nick Fury. We think those characters alone may be worth the entire calendar for some.
For those who need more, reach window 24 and you can get your hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, complete with all of its multi-coloured jewels (our tester used the extra jewels included to add some sparkle to the calendar’s Christmas tree, behind window 23). The mini-figures and accessories in this set trump the mini-builds, which nod to the superheroes’ professions (Avengers tower, helicarrier) as well as their human alter-egos (wrapping station, striped dining table with giant hamburger).
Despite being huge Wanda-Vision and Avengers fans, this calendar was the least compelling for our testers – perhaps because it felt the least well-integrated: the festive theme seemed like a bit of an afterthought that made for slightly random builds (stocking crane, anyone?).
Buy now £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Lego City advent calendar
Best: For keen builders
Even though the age range on the “city” advent calendar starts from age five, we’d say it offers a lot for keen builders, since there is tons to do behind each window, with lots of challenging designs (diggers, trains, police cars, etc.) – in fact, this set seemed to involve more building than most of the others.
Fans of the City Adventures TV series will recognise mini-figures like Betty, Sam Grizzled, Top Hat Tom and Fendrich. But while our tester wasn’t familiar with the show, they liked that the names were listed on the box so she could start imagining her own storylines for them as she played.
There are lots of details that bring this wintry playtime scene to life: hockey sticks and a puck, detachable skates, an ax and a sweeper, as well as essential buildings and transport vehicles for city life, like a hospital and street sweepers. We also love how it’s bright and colourful without feeling overly gendered.
Buy now £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
The verdict: Lego advent calendars
Lego’s advent calendars really do offer something for everyone this year. Harry Potter aficionados will enjoy Lego’s latest Harry Potter advent calendar, which really brings the first story to life with beautifully detailed builds and has longevity as a board game long beyond the winter months.
Mini Yoda in festive dress will put a smile on anyone’s face if you buy the fan in your life the Lego Star Wars calendar, while the Lego City advent calendar has plenty of builds to occupy little fingers, as well as fun mini-figures and accessories for role-play games.
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