No sooner is Christmas in the immediate past ( as I write this, it was yesterday), but the LEGO Group have a new range of seasonal sets to release. Back in October, it was announced that following the unprecedented success of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival sets last year, that there would be a follow up this year as well, focussing on the Temple Spring Market and Lion dance. These are now available in the Asia Pacific markets, with global release following in January.
But wait, there’s more. Just as last year we had the Brickheadz Dragon Dance Guy, this year we have another Asian cultural icon, 40436 Lucky Cat. Perhaps the relative paucity of BrickHeadz sets in 2019 was a correction, after filling the market with licensed characters. Perhaps the seasonal Brickheadz, with the occasional licensed character will be the new norm. This set is due for release on January 1st, and I was fortunate enough to have been sent a preview copy by the AFOL Engagement team of the LEGO Group.
With origins in Japanese folklore, maneki-neko – the white calico cat, with a raised paws seen to invite in people or visitors (left poor raised) or to invite prosperity for a business (right paw raised). The cat has also been embraced in Chinese culture.
The set is presented in a standard, small Brickheadz box, and is numbered 96. In the back of the box, we see further proof that after a period of rapid development, market saturation and remainder bins, Brickheadz are still an ongoing concern for the LEGO Group – We can see on the back of the box number 97 – the 40379 Valentine’s Day Bear (also available soon), as well as 40380 – Sheep (Number 100). As yet, however, there are no clues being provided as to the identities of 98 or 99. Given their numbers are not in the standard seasonal Brickheadz range, we can possibly anticipate that they will relate to one of the licensed themes this year.
The rear of the box demonstrates that the left paw of the Lucky Cat can be brought to wave, by moving a lever on its back.
Inside the pack we have 3 small bags, each with parts grouped by size, as well as loose 6×6 and 1×10 plates in black. Other than the printed gold coin, none of these elements is unique.
Construction is relatively straight forward, and there are no dramatic surprises in the building techniques for the Cat itself. The face uses ‘Wolverine claws’ for whiskers, and the yellow plate behind the eyes sets the contest up well. The green bib and gold bell are also important elements in the Lucky cat, as it is symbolic of somebody caring for the cat, providing protection, as well as the gold representing treasure or fortune.
The cat holds a gold coin, or koban, and translates ( from Japanese kanji) to 10 million ryo, where a ryo was a gold coin in the Edo period. Undoubtedly a sizeable fortune to amass in any era.
I do like the cascading arches used in the design of the base for the model, featuring lots of red and gold elements. The general brickheadz aesthetic works fairly well for this model. The blocky nature, employing the curves afforded by the curved slopes really enhances the cuteness, and captures the tradition look for the Lucky Cat. While the model does not feature many of the advanced techniques seen in other Brickheadz, the addition of the waving paw is a nice touch. As a simple model, it provides a nice addition to the range of sets expanding the cultural diversity typically seen in LEGO sets.
Most of the information I have found regarding the Lucky Cat/ mane-kineko comes from this post, in a blog exploring many aspects of this icon.
The 40436 Lucky Cat goes on sale January 1st 2020, has 134 parts and will retail for: $AUD15.99/$USD9.99/£9.99.
What do you think of the Lucky cat? A good addition to the Brickheadz range? why not leave your comments below, and until next time…
My copy of this set was provided by the LEGO Group for (p)review purposes. All opinions are my own.