41353 Friends Advent Calendar Review

As per usual, with all three of the 2018 Advent Calendars, I’ll be updating this post daily. Each day will have an image of the day’s build, a quick comment, with a final overall review at the end of the month. If you want to keep up to date with the post, use the link to the right of the page – it’ll be there for the duration of December. I won’t be posting any pics on social media, so it won’t get spoilt by me!

Theme: Seasonal; Friends
No: 41353
Release Year: 2018
Cost: AUD $49.95
Pieces: 500

In the last couple of years the Friends Advent Calendar has been a little disappointing, but for 2018, things have changed in a big way. From what we can tell on the box, it appears the gifts are tree ornaments. This results in a much larger piece count overall, and no minidolls. I’m certainly looking forward to this calendar this year!

There’s only nine builds showcased on the box, which again, is a shame, but it could have been worse.

41353 Friends Advent Calendar

The display stand is also quite different, as it’s completely reversed. The play mat displays the five Friends, with the parts boxes on the bottom. The idea is that the ornaments can go straight up on the tree, which is an excellent idea. Let’s get stuck in.

Day 1: Heart

First up is a brick built heart. I’ve got to say – I’m already impressed! I think this set is going to be a winner this year. My wife built this one, and she also noticed a drastic improvement from last year. My daughter also loved this one – it took me a while to get a photo of it, as she wanted to wander around the house with it! So far the girls in my house are fans.

It’s a shame there’s no LEGO string included, but that would also shoot the set price up a little. The little eyelet on the side can have some string threaded through, or a smaller string with studs at the ends can connect as well. We are off to a strong start!

Day 2: Electric Guitar

It’s day two and today we’ve got a funky little electric guitar. We’ve also got our Christmas tree up, so I can display them properly! The LEGO string doesn’t come with the set. I like the guitar, but my wife wasn’t too happy with the exposed white studs. At first she wasn’t sure if she’d built it correctly, but I agree. It’s a strange choice. There’s a couple of options – remove one of the 2×3 white plates at the back and swap it for a 1×3, or use 2×4 yellow wedge plates.

I like the use of a lever, and the strings are very well done, but the white bits bug me. I wonder what’s in store tomorrow?

Day 3: Bells

To be honest, I’ve been looking forward to building this one after seeing it on the box cover. This pair of bells is beautifully done, and while there’s a lot of different colours going on at the top, the bells are great. We also get more of the new five petal flowers and leaves, which is great. I am absolutely loving this calendar! I wonder what’s in store for tomorrow?

Day 4: Fireplace with Toy Soldier

Friends Day 4

The first thing my wife said when she opened the pack was an excited “Oh wow!” She was right. This is a beautiful little build. There’s a huge amount of detail packed into it, with the stocking and toy soldier. Even the minimalist fire is beautifully done. Brilliant, LEGO, brilliant.

Day 5: Snowman

Over the years we’ve seen a number of different snowmen, all at minifigure scale. This year we’re treated to something a bit bigger! Making use of some 2×2 white round bricks with Technic holes, along with some other parts leads to this absolutely beautifully crafted snowman. The Unikitty horn as a carrot nose is perfect, and the top hat looking element just polishes it off nicely. I am absolutely loving this calendar! Looking forward to tomorrow!

Day 6: Stocking

We’re a quarter of the way through this calendar, and it’s been nothing but excellent builds! Today is no exception – a brilliant stocking, complete with more greenery in the form of a three leaf plant element. I love the shape of this build – it’s perfect. My wife knew this too. She said as she was building it this morning “You’re gonna like this one!”. Can this level of excellence continue? We’ll find out tomorrow.

Day 7: Camera

It turns out it can! Today we’ve got a lovely little camera, ready to take the holiday snaps. The detail on this is great – I especially like the flash!

Day 8: Candy Cane

Today’s build is a little more simple – a candy cane. According to my wife, it’s not the most exciting build, but it is extremely elegant. There’s no string holder in this one, but it doesn’t really matter does it?

Day 9: Rocking Horse

It’s simple, but very cute – a rocking horse! It is a shame the horse doesn’t actually rock, due to the 1×2 plate underneath, but it’s pretty close. The antlers are a nice touch. Hang on – that would make it a rocking reindeer!

Day 10: Candle

We’re continuing with the tree ornament theme today, with a very nice candle, complete with a stand and some holly at the bottom. It’s much more simple than what we’ve had previously, but it’s very effective. I’m so impressed with this set so far, and we’re not even half way! I wonder what else is to come?

Day 11: Lantern

What a build! My wife built this one this morning and sent me a text message during the day – “Oh my goodness! Wait til you see the Friends build today! 31 pieces!”. That’s right, 31 elements go into this gorgeous lantern, complete with candle. This is the standout build so far. It’s intricate and looks spot on. I am amazed with this one. Wifey said she could barely get it out of the box there was that many pieces! Friends Advent Calendar designers, you have gone above and beyond with this one.

Day 12: Trophy

This one’s a little puzzling – it’s a trophy, and it looks good, but I’m not sure why it’s included. Maybe to tie in with the Racing subtheme of Friends this year? It’s great, but a strange Christmas inclusion.

Day 13: Wreath

We’re into the second half of the month’s builds and it kicks off with a beautiful but simple wreath. It’s a pity the supporting ring is lavender – it would have been much better in green, so it’s not as obvious, but it’s still nice. I’m loving the new 3 leaf plant elements more and more, so getting eight of them in one hit is good. As a bonus, there’s also some of the new five petal flowers!

Day 14: Piano

To bring on that Christmas cheer, we’ve got a little tiny Piano (and I’ve just realised that my wife added the tile on upside down!). It’s simple, but still cute. I’m loving that nearly every build has a little bit of holly on it as well. The more the better!

Day 15: Tic Tac Toe

Today we get a great little interactive game of Tic Tac Toe. It’s pretty simple to put together, with some red and gold 2×2 jumper plates acting as the game board. It was so simple, my wife built it in the bag!

I wonder what we get tomorrow?

Day 16: Cupcake

Today’s build stumped my wife and I for a while. We originally thought it was a Christmas pudding, but it’s a cupcake. It’s very nicely built, using a couple of parabolic ring elements for the base structure. Man, this calendar is good!

Day 17: Roller Skate

This is a fun one! A roller skate with rolling wheels! The colour scheme is great, and it’s in a similar fashion to Day 6‘s stocking, with a few little tweaks. I’m very impressed.

Day 18: Fireplace with Cupcake

My wife said that this one was more akin to what we’ve been used to in previous years. An archway with something inside it. I agree a little, but there is a bit more Christmas flair to it. I’m not convinced this is the best place to store a cupcake, and the actual build isn’t all that fantastic, but hopefully it gets better tomorrow.

Day 19: Gingerbread Man

I’ve certainly seen worse gingerbread men, but I’ve also seen better. My wife wasn’t overly pleased with it, but given the scale, it’s quite good! It’s a shame the bricks are visible behind the head, but apart from that, it’s good fun. I sense a bit of a wind down of quality lately. It’s the final quarter of the set, so maybe there’s a last hurrah in store.

Day 20: Snowflake

It’s a simple build, but I have to say, it looks beautiful! This elegant snowflake is just the right amount of detail, and the perfect colour. I’m also excited as I don’t have many white leaves!

Day 21: Presents

Sorry for the delay with Day 21’s entry – I was at my work Christmas party until very late last night, and went straight to bed! Day 21 brings us a couple of presents. They’re very simple, but look great. It also can count as two ornaments if you want.

Day 22: Microscope

Today’s build is odd. A little cool, but very odd. I’m guessing it’s related to one of the Friends’ characters, but a microscope is probably the last thing I’d expect to be included in an Advent Calendar! The shape is okay, and I like the heart on the platter, but it’s still so weird.

Day 23: Christmas Tree

After yesterday’s bizarre Christmas Tree ornament, we get a much better one today, with an actual Christmas Tree! I like the two tones of green. It’s a pity about the big box at the top, but given it’s for some string I can understand why it needs to be there. I wonder what’s left? Only one day to go!

Day 24: Present Train

Today’s build has finished the calendar off on a strong note, with a beautiful little present train. It’s also the biggest build by part count of the whole calendar, weighing in at a whopping 40 elements! It just shows what can be done in an advent calendar. The wheels turn, and I like the use of ice-cream as smoke, although I would have liked to see a bit more of a chimney on it.

I think this year’s Friends calendar has been a monumental success, and far outweighs the previous Friends calendars. There have been some excellent builds (as seen in the image above), and a crazy high piece count! Highlights for me were the lantern, today’s train, the bells and the roller skate. Ones that could’ve been skipped (it’s actually a tough ask), were the trophy and the microscope. The guitar wasn’t as strong, but there have been some excellent inclusions.

I really hope this style of Friends Calendar continues into 2019. It’s been brilliant. Do you like the new direction these sets are taking? Let me know in a comment.

4 thoughts on “41353 Friends Advent Calendar Review

  1. Kelley

    On day 18 we got another guitar. I think there was a mess up on ours. Have you heard of anyone else has had this happen?

    • John Post author

      Hi Kelley, not this year so far, but if you contact LEGO Customer Service in your country, then they’ll be able to help you out. Good luck!

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