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MOC - Harry Potter Advent Calendar
I'd made mention of this in the Brickset Builders Guild section, but figured it might be worth starting a new discussion since I'll be adding to it.
This year I have created a LEGO Harry Potter advent calendar for my wife, who is at the tail end of a master's degree and hasn't been able to do one of the retail calendars alongside our daughter (7) over the past few years. She was thrilled with the surprise reveal on Saturday and is enjoying it so far! In the spirit of official LEGO advent calendars, it's a mix of builds in various scales with a selection of minifigs scattered through the days.
On the production side, I've repurposed and fully rewrapped last year's Star Wars calendar. (Graphics on the box borrowed from a freely-available Wizarding World coloring book PDF.) The builds throughout are mostly original, with inspiration drawn from official LEGO sets and other MOCs around the web. I'll note relevant items as we go.
Here's the box. The production of the door panels was a little rough as I forgot the LEGO calendars have a staggered layout. Perhaps next year I'll build the whole thing from scratch, but for the first go-round this will suffice.
Hope you enjoy this, and maybe with some luck we'll see an official version of this next year! I'd absolutely be in line for that.
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This is a fully original microscale version of the Dursley's home in Little Whinging. It's based mostly on the version of the house we see in Chamber of Secrets onwards, complete with the sunroom at the rear from which the inflated Aunt Marge ascends toward the heavens.
I based this on stills from the films and images of the theme park Gringotts. I did look at the new version in 40289 Diagon Alley, but preferred to try the column structure you see here. The "actual" Gringotts has three stories above ground, but for the sake of piece economy I truncated it. The Flatiron-style wedge shape was something I really wanted to include - and while this is a less-acute angle than the real thing, I'm pretty pleased with it.
One of the things I was sensitive to was the days of the week on the actual December calendar. It was important to me to make sure I had smaller tasks for my wife on weekdays, as she leaves the house quite early in the morning for work, and has little time in the evenings as she continues to work through her remaining schoolwork. The first weekday of December seemed like a good time to check a box on the HP CMF checklist.
A fun detail in the calendar is a wrapper for minifigs. Months ago, when the HP CMF line was released, we bought some of them. Our daughter enjoyed it so much she made a game of designing her own blind bags, complete with various emojis to represent minifig expressions and even a hole for hanging on a store peg. She stuck random LEGO characters in them and made us pick one to see who we got.
This was a pretty cute game and I remembered it at the last moment in production, so I took her original drawing and adapted it for the calendar. A fun surprise for both my wife and especially my daughter.
This is conceptually based on the locomotive in a larger diorama by Letranger Absurde:
I really liked the use of roller skates as wheels, but made a number of other changes to feel a bit more like the actual locomotive. I have a copy of 75955 Hogwarts Express, and referred to that for adjustments. I also wanted a more whimsical plume, in addition to capturing a bit of gold coloring. Pretty happy with this, and I think my wife enjoyed building something after having a minifig appear the day before.
Love the hot dog. It's an essential NYC accessory. "Get your red hots!"
This one's a tiny bit of a cheat as the wall panel and trans-clear handle don't actually fit in the box. I had to hand them to my wife after she pulled everything else out. But I don't regret it at all because they're so effective!
Some inspiration drawn from the fantastic vignette by Marcel V: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/25931934382
But I really wanted to have a working door in the scene, and liked the idea of clipping the feathers on the key itself. The waiting broom was essential to my mind as well. More than one key proved to be a bit costly, and anyway only one key works, and we have this handy clip ready to go on the door panel. The other side got one of our spare candle flames from the new Hogwarts sets, and a pleasant rounded top to finish it off.
Add in our gang of heroes and the scene is set.
Yeah, I'm wondering if I ought to submit it in some fashion. LEGO really should do an HP calendar - they'll do exceedingly well with it. HP is definitely holiday-friendly!
Btw, TLG won’t pick Ideas projects based on IP they already have in their portfolio.
We start with Slytherin, and as an added bonus, Seeker Draco Malfoy! Why so grouchy, Draco? Still can't catch that snitch, huh?
I went through a few iterations with different methods of representing the hoops, but a single hoop in each end seemed like a reasonable abstraction of the three that should normally be there. It was also a good balance in terms of managing cost.
Overall we're very pleased with the end product.
After a quiet week of minimal building we're about to get busy again with Door 16. Stay tuned.
A bit of inspiration from a number of sources, including a great many other small-scale versions of the famous castle, and the newest official Lego sets. But the primary model for this was really the incredible Warner Brothers movie prop.
I learned a pretty interesting lesson about digital building on this one. While doing my test-build before packaging I realized there were some unsteady connections in the original digital model, so I had to fix it manually and then go back and redo the instructions I'd created. Always good to double-check and do some testing!
Firstly, Door 15's Cho Chang is no longer Headless Cho Chang. Thanks to my Bricklink seller for immediately shipping out the missing head!
Door 16 was Hogwarts Castle (above).
Door 17 brings us a really nice selection from the massive 71043 Hogwarts Castle. It looks like an amazing set, but we've already got the Great Hall and Whomping Willow sets, so our pockets are empty. No room for that behemoth, anyway. But I always thought the miniature version of the sinks in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom was particularly inspired. So I thought it worthwhile to include that element in this advent calendar. Therefore, December 17 is the Entrance to the Chamber of Secrets:
(The eagle-eyed among you will see that I had a little trouble getting dark bluish-gray quarter-round tiles, but the lighter variant seems fine just the same.)
Door 18 was a crowd-pleaser here: family favorite Neville Longbottom! This is one of the minifigs from the 2018 collection that my wife wanted the most. So, it was a must to appear here.
Who doesn't love Neville? And the mandrake is a really fun inclusion.
From a personal perspective, I've enjoyed the 1x2-tile-as-book-spine I've seen in so many places, and wanted to give it a go. It was fun to pick some contrasting colors against the wood-brown bookcase, too, and include some steadying feet and a dash of ornate decoration at the top.
Just a few more to go! I hope you've all enjoyed this as much as we have here. It's already been strongly suggested that I do another one next year, so if anybody has any suggestions for inclusion, I'd love to hear them! I have a few ideas already, but 24 doors is going to require a lot!
And the turncoat Peter Pettigrew. Uh, I mean Scabbers.
A definite hit here this morning. The Knight Bus has appeared in three official sets at different scales; my version is closest to 4695 Mini Harry Potter Knight Bus, yet a bit smaller. For the bus wheels I used the same pieces that served as the base for the non-rolling luggage cart in 30407 Harry's Journey to Hogwarts.
Take 'er away, Ern!
I had a fun time mixing old & new dark grays in this one to simulate the variegated coloring of stonework.
It's been a lot of fun designing, plotting, and assembling this calendar, and the daily reveals were totally satisfying at home. I hope you've all enjoyed it too! I'll get an overview up here in the next day or two as well, and am already starting to plan next year's edition.
With any luck, the good folks at LEGO will see a smashing opportunity here and make an official version of their own for 2019!
Thanks for reading and commenting, and Happy New Year to all!