REVIEW: 2011 City Advent Calendar

Set number:
7553
Release year:
2011
Theme(s):
# of parts:
232
# of figures:
6
RRP
GBP 17.99 / USD 34.99

Promotional image
7553 2011 City Advent Calendar promotional image

This is the Mode, coming out of a community hiatus with another review. I will try to keep this one clean and relatively quirk-free, but no promises.

Previously on Lego City: Advent Calendar Chronicles… We followed the trials and tribulations of a family on British welfare, living in a quiet house in the suburbs, whose youngest child Timmy was about to celebrate a psychedelic, sausage-aroma filled Christmas. This year we’re venturing further into the woods, taking a more relaxed and wholesome adventure with the winter police.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

I was in Bluewater minding my own business, when I suddenly spotted this set on the shelves of the Lego store. Thinking it’s a bit early to have an advent calendar released, I decided to find out what exactly was inside. My initial concern was with the weight of the box: for GBP 17.99 it felt a bit too light.

The Box

Back of the box, encouraging all the kids who receive this set to add a few more items to their Santa list.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

On one of the sides of the box: some information to appease those concerned about Chinese plastic.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Pointing out the obvious.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

As with the previous year’s advent calendars, the parts list is a literal collection of all the parts in the box, with no numbers and much smoother renditions.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Undo the tape at the sides of the box, and it expands into the calendar and a small wintery play/display area. You’ll notice there are a couple of spots for some of the things we’ll be building.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

The Contents

For the benefit of anyone wanting the day order to remain a surprise, look away now…

Spoiler (click to reveal)
01: Criminal with “snowball”
02: Snowball catapault
03: Policeman with handcuffs
04: Police station (section 1)
05: Police station (section 2)
06: Christmas tree
07: Skateboard, skate helmet and presents
08: Desk with mug
09: Hooded guy with axe
10: Campfire with fish on a whip
11: Police station (section 3)
12: Police station (section 4)
13: Policeman with walkie-talkie
14: Desk with magnifying glass
15: Police car (base)
16: Police car (mudguards, sides and headlights)
17: Police car (top)
18: Criminal with crowbar
19: Safe with gold bars
20: Orange/grey Snowmobile
21: Sled with crate
22: White/blue Snowmobile
23: Police dog and bone
24: Fireplace and Santa with sack.

All right, here’s what you get inside the calendar.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A customary Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure this one is smaller than the one in last year’s City calendar, but it’s another chance to get hold of an increasingly uncommon green cone.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A makeshift camp fire, complete with a Pearl Dark Grey Metallic Silver fish suspended on a whip. As I found out later, the whip is probably meant to represent a fishing rod, rather than something to cook the fish with.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Two simple snowmobiles, same build with exactly the same kinds of parts. One is in orange/grey, the other is blue/white.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A sled to go with the blue/white snowmobile, complete with a large crate. What will go in it?

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A tiny catapult that launches “snowballs”, this year represented by white round bricks. A similar model was in the Kingdoms advent calendar last year, I think.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

For the police station, two kinds of desk. One is for your hard-at-work pencil pusher; the other seems to be an investigative desk of some kind.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A special delivery for the potential skateboarder in this year’s City minifigure set – you know, the expensive one with the green bike and yellow construction hats.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

A very ingenious model of a safe: this one uses two small crates for both the walls and shelf, with a 2×4 plate serving as a door that clips on. You’ll be pleased to know the gold bars are of the shiny (but sadly not chrome) type.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Up in the mountains, where the terrain is slippery and the criminals aren’t afraid to go off-road, there’s only one vehicle that will do the job all year round: an electric police buggygolf cart car. More seriously this comes in three parts.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Probably the headline model in the calendar is of this fa├žade of a mountain police station. This comes in four interlocking parts, each representing a wall.

The Minifigures

There are six minifigures in total in the calendar, as mentioned above, and here they are.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

The first of two criminals in the set, nicknamed “Scarf” McWolf. He comes equipped with a snowball, initially mistaken for a Thermos. It’s great to get hold of the grey jacket criminal torso.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

The second criminal, nicknamed stupid dead sheep shoes Duggins. He comes with a red crowbar and itchy fingers.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

The first of two policemen: this one is Jim. Jim’s had an easy life so far, what with there usually being nothing to do and nobody to go after. Unfortunately his world is about to be turned upside down this Christmas.

In fact, things have gotten so bad in these parts, they’ve sent in the best of the best:

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

This guy clearly doesn’t take any you-know-what.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

This minifigure is a little special. Not only does he have a unique torso akin to the S5 Snowboarder, but the hood headpiece has a more detailed decoration than usual. Although he’s pictured on the box with the makeshift rod and fish, he comes with an axe.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

You also get Jim’s faithful police dog to keep him company. They (Lego) were even kind enough to give him a bone.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Last but not least, a Santa Claus/Father Christmas figure – similar to last year’s City clothed variety. He comes with a criminal’s sack, filled with green and blue 1×2 tiles, and his own brand of fireplace.

Fun with the set

Using the lid from the box, I had a go at creating a scene using the models and figures in the set. I managed to incorporate everything except the desks.

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar
Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

Spare parts

After building everything, we’re left with this rather generous selection of spare parts:

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

The verdict

I don’t usually buy sets these days, and even though I’m a Town/City fan I wasn’t overly excited about the Police theme in the advent calendar. But I think as a whole it has a good selection. Even if you don’t like the models provided, there’s a good choice of parts to use in your own creations. The highlight of the set for me is the hoodie minifigure, which stands out visibly from the rest of the set and looks the most desirable. I’m not sure what his actual role is, but I’ll probably find myself collecting a few of those torsos. The safe and the police dog are also great.
I think the price point is slightly high, even though it’s priced less than last year’s calendar (at GBP 24.99), but I suppose it’s justified when taking packaging into account. It might be worth grabbing one of these closer to the big day, hopefully when they’re discounted.

Rating breakdown

Design: 8 out of 10
Some rather good models for the number of pieces used. I'm not sure the skateboarder parts fit the Police theme, and it would have been something to see different heads (other than the stereotypical ones) used for the criminals.
Build: 8 out of 10
No detailed instructions - just a picture of the assembled model at the back of each door - but everything's easy to build.
Parts: 8 out of 10
A few hard to come by pieces (probably more so than the last City calendar) scattered among a number of useful parts.
Playability: 6 out of 10
Probably the most playable aspects of the set are the snowmobiles. There's not much you can do with the rest without incorporating them into other sets or MOCs. At least there are six minifigures and a dog, however.
Price: 8 out of 10
Less expensive than last year's offering at retail price. Taking the box into account, it's a similar price for another City set with the same number of pieces.

Based on these scores I’d give this set 7.6/10.

Merry Christmas!

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

As a side note…

Photo of 2011 City Advent Calendar

This is how the dog came packaged. I am not making this up.