I’m not sure if I’m going to make the review of my chocolate advent calendar an annual event. However, I did do it last Christmas Eve and I seem to be doing it again this year so there’s every chance it’ll happen again next year.
There has been a development on the chocolate advent calendar front – after many years (some might argue too many years) of indulging me, my mother has passed on the baton to my darling wife. Mrs Proclaims has stepped up to the plate however and did not disappoint.
Once again I got Marks and Spencer Advent calendar which means that once again the chocolate is of a decent quality. To be honest that’s generally enough to keep me happy, but Mrs Proclaims knows my love of Star Wars (and indeed novelty Star Wars chocolate products in particular) so to follow up last year’s Darth-Vader-themed calendar, this year I got a BB8 calendar.
Admittedly BB8 is not a character that instantly transports me back to my youth because there was no BB8 in the original trilogy. BB8 is from last year’s ‘The Force Awakens’ but I pretty much loved everything about that film, so it’s more than ok by me.
To be honest I love Star Wars so much that even if I were presented with a calendar bearing the image of the atrocious Jar Jar Binks with a speech bubble containing the words “Meesa bit of an offensive racial stereotype if you think about it,” I’d still think it was pretty cool.
So BB8 was absolutely fine.
But I do have some criticisms of the latest calendar. You may recall that last year I made a handy little ‘map’ of the calendar to show you where all the doors were.
And here is this year’s layout.
Notice any similarities?
Like the fact they’re exactly the same?
It seems as though M&S are just ‘phoning it in’ when it comes to advent-calendar-door planning.
Last year I also was a bit critical that the pictures behind the doors were a bit repetitive. There were characters that came up multiple times, while other characters didn’t make it at all.
This year I was pretty hopeful that wouldn’t happen because none of the characters from ‘Episode VII’ were included last year so clearly there were plenty of new faces available for M&S to ‘spice things up a bit’.
And to be fair they did use characters from ‘The Force Awakens’. The trouble is that they only used characters from ‘The Force Awakens’. The previous six films were entirely ignored, as was the new ‘Rogue One’ film (which is awesome by the way).
With only one film to choose from there was inevitably some repetition of characters again. Not too much though. The storm troopers featured the most, and there were two pictures each of Rey, Finn, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and ‘cover star BB8. No R2D2 or C3P0, even though they were in the film. No Han Solo or Princess Leia for that matter. On its own ‘Episode VII provided enough interesting characters and spaceships to easily fill 24 doors without the need for duplication, indeed the entire Star Wars back catalogue could’ve filled several advent calendars. Therefore I don’t think I’m in any way overreacting when I say that it’s an absolute travesty that at day 15 there were no further pictures and instead a countdown of how many days there are until Christmas commenced.
Now I appreciate that I’m a 37-year-old man and this calendar wasn’t aimed at me, but I was a kid once and I’m pretty sure that ‘young James’ preferred cool Star Wars pictures to numbers.
Maybe not, but given the amount of Star Wars material in existence, it does seem like a missed opportunity.
To sum up then, how do the two calendars stack up?
There’s not much between them really. The chocolate was equally good for a start.
I have a slight preference for last years ‘cover star’ being Darth Vader, but BB8 is still pretty cool and if I were the target market I’d be more than happy so no discernible difference there.
In terms of ‘door pictures’ the 2015 model definitely wins on the basis that there were actually 24 pictures as opposed to this year’s ‘15 pictures and 10 numbers’.
But this year’s version did have one additional feature, which puts it light years ahead of the 2015 model.
Because (drum roll please) ….
…it lights up!
On the back of the calendar there’s a button and the whole thing lights up.
How cool is that?
Very cool is the answer.
Previous advent calendars have always been binned on Christmas eve, once all the doors are open and the chocolate consumed.
But this year’s model will provide me with entertainment well into the New Year.
I can’t wait to see what ‘wacky’ developments come with the 2017 model.