I recently looked at the 80104 Lion Dance, one of the sets released to celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the Rat. I said it was one of the most beautiful sets I had seen in recent years. Today, I get rid of the qualifier, as I look at the 80105 Chinese New Year Temple Fair – this is quite simply the most beautiful set I have ever put together. It is a set characterised by multiple small vignettes, a larger temple build, a novel tree design, and over a dozen mini figures. There are lots of printed elements, and precisely NO stickers.
The set has no elements specific to the Year of the Rat and, as such, could come each year, unchanged.
It is a set on the larger size of things, with a part count of around 1663. On opening the box, it looked as if I had some work ahead of me…
The set comes with bags numbers 1-9, and 3 instruction books, making it easy to share the duties between members of the family. Instructions are also available online, to put the different aspects of the set together independently. As I mentioned in the last review, there are no new moulds in this set, but there are a number of recolored elements, some in significant quantity.
Let’s look through the bags, and put them together as we go.
With the first bag, we open up to find lots of flowers, as well as lots of dark red clip elements. It turns out that we are making a tree, as well as a street food stand. The tree is a design that I have not previously seen in LEGO sets previously – using several dark brown trunks with white foliage and red flowers scattered in the upper branches. We have several printed elements, for both the stall, and to hang from the tree, and a recoloured pumpkin element which is used as a paper lantern, hanging from the tree. Our stall again demonstrates the clip/stud mechanism associated with the poles and bar on the side.
The roof of the food stall features dark red clips, allowing with the ‘shaft with hole element, to give the appearance of a thatched roof. This is the first time I have seen such a parts intensive roof in any LEGO set, even though it is restricted to a 4×8 roof. We also see a variety of foods available at the stall – barbecue skewers, candied haw, and makes use of the waffle print, previously seen in Stranger Things. We also have 3 new printed red tiles, as well as the 3×8 banner.
Other new colours in this bag include the printed domes. There are also several relatively new elements, such as the dark blue 1x2x2/3 with lattice, and the mini antenna/lever in medium stone grey – which has only otherwise appeared in 2019’s 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer.
We have 2 minifigures, our food vendor has a red cap, and a new red and yellow torso print. His customer has a blue torso, with open casual jacket. His reversible head print suggests a case of over indulgence…
The second bag sees the construction of a toy stall. With a similar base to the previous stall, it sells balloons, stuffed animals and an airplane. There are also many decorated fans for purchase. Between this stall, and the food vendor, we can set up a line of festoon lighting, with lanterns also suspended. The roof of the toy stall sees interupted rows of the rounded brick 1×1 – red this time, but repeated in teal for a subsequent stall in bag 8.
The stall holder features a new printed torso. The round plate with bar appears in tan for the first time, and there are 12 of them, to go with the decorated fan tiles. We also have 3 printed red tiles in this bag, bearing appropriate wishes for the new year.
We start work on the base of the temple. One of the things that impresses me most here is the level of care that has gone into the base that the temple is built on: from the plates, to the stairs, and the garden with its flowers blooming. Such densely packed flowers are rarely part of most LEGO gardens as seen in sets, and it suggests a willingness to avoid compromise in the set design, to achieve a given price point. A photographic error means that we miss the front of this step… but I’m sure you will be able to see what we have when we get to the end of the next bag.
In this bag, we have a female minifigure, with her bright reddish violet handbag. Looking through the rest of the parts, we have some beautifully printed tiles – both teal and dark green. These tiles were used in Lion Dance as well, and I can see that they could be extremely useful in the future, for unifying the CNY design language.
There are lots of new recovered parts in this page: the fences elements in dark red, and many teal elements: Plates with shaft; upward 1×1 brackets and the 1x1x23 plate with outside bow (aka, the 1×1 arch). The 2×4 plate appears in nougat for the first time, and the 1×6 tile in dark brown is also a new recolour.
As we build up the first layer of roof for the temple, we have an abundance of orange bow plates, as well as light yellowish orange plates and brackets. The minifigure features a new printed torso with a puffer jacket, and the scarf element appears in red for the first time in this set, and lion dance. There is a printed 2×1 tile, decorated as a red envelope – traditionally containing a gift of money for a child according to Chinese New Year Tradition. The 2×2 plate with clip appears in medium Azur for the first time too. I love the texture that the alternating rows of bow plate and studs provides us with, as well as the subtle contrast in the shades of orange and bright yellowish orange.
I was so carried away looking for new elements here – which include white ingots (added to the fence in front of the temple), that I failed to include the minifigure – not a new torso, head, legs or hair element, but seems to be a checked blue shirt, opened over a black t-shirt with a picture of a banana on.
The build for this section includes some elegant SNOT work to surround the 2 printed 2×3 tiles with a gold border. According to Google, the tiles read ‘Chinese New Year temple Fair’…! After completing this, we build up several rows of dark red plates with bars,: effective greebling for this type of building, and add the foundations of the final roof layer,
We have more elements that we use for the roof, as well as elements for a stroller – just right for the return of the LEGO baby. The baby’s mother is a young woman, with two different smiles! her torso is a new print, and her dual moulded head piece is recovered from last year’s Hidden Side sets.
I want to talk briefly about the temple roof that we have here: as you can see, it seems to involve a lot of repetition as you go across. What I would say, however, is the it contains about the right amount. As I progressed with its build, I found myself becoming more focussed on the build, and less conscious of the world around me. I stopped going ‘Gee Whiz’, and ‘Where does this go’with every part I placed, and just found the process just flowed on. This was similar with the first stall roof as well – just the right amount of repetition, but in an interesting way.
There is one more interesting thing to say about the roof here, and it relates to the consistency of the dyes used in part manufacture. Here is the completed build of the temple under an ultraviolet lamp…
As you can see, despite appearing similar under white light, the orange box plates are inconsistent as far as their fluorescence under UV light. This is a sign that different batches of pigment have been used to produce these elements – are they in the same factory, or country? I have no idea, but it is an interesting thing to ponder.
Two minifigures, a lady with black, straight hair, and hoodie; and the older lady, the stall holder, is wearing more traditional clothing. She features the same hair and face as the Grandmother seen in the 80101 New Years Family Dinner, last year. We see a stall, very similar to the toy stall in shape, but recolored with red poles, and a sand green/teal roof. The stall sells a variety of pottery – and includes an undecorated white sphere – similar to the lantern carried by the Rat in Lion Dance – but that one is decorated, and red.
She also sells a variety of dolls, and this is the first time that we see the trophy figure in: Dark blue, pearl gold, dark red, orange, bright violet. The Green also appeared in Toy Story sets, last year. The feathers, I presume used as a quill, appear in Bright yellowish orange for the first time.
We also put another tree, with its decorations together: this is virtually identical to the one that we built back in Bag 1. The hanging decorations wish us ‘Good luck’, and ‘Happy New Year.’
And now we come to our final stall. It appears to be selling fireworks, good wishes and at the same time, putting on a shadow puppet play. We have 2 minifigures, a young boy, with his red envelope, and an older man – featuring new torso and leg prints, and having the same hair and head as grandpa from Chinese New Year Eve Dinner. There are more printed elements, including the screen for the shadow puppets. I do like the roof on this stall, using upside-down plates with axel holes. This gives us a similar effect to that seen on the temple, but using a completely different technique.
Putting it all together.
And now the time comes to lay the set out. I added a cardboard and felt tip marker cobbled forecourt for the market to set up on, and brought back the sunset I had used with my pirates reviews a few months ago. There is so much action, and so many stories that can be told here.
Of course, this set comes with a companion piece in 80104 Lion Dance. And it does feel as though this fair needs a lion dance running through it, so…
Every so often, a set comes along that just has ‘it’. Interesting design and building techniques; with a level of detail we have come to expect in a Creator Expert set, but aimed at a family audience. The Chinese New Year Temple Fair 80105 is such a set: there are so many details included, that you would not normally expect to see in a LEGO set, but rather in a AFOL’s MOC.
This set ticks all of the boxes for me: lots of minifigures to tell the stories with, different building techniques between stalls and temple, with delightful results. There is also lots of detail in the stock of the stalls; generous greebling elements: telescopes and dragon heads; ingots and box plates; printed tiles, and plants: both a novel tree, and detailed flower beds…
To be honest, I feel like it has something for everyone. And if you are building as a family, most bags can be constructed independently of the previous ones – and with downloadable instructions, you can have as many family members helping out with the building.
It is as close to a perfect playset as I have ever seen. I give this set 5 out of 5 arbitrary praise units. At $AUD149.99, and with over 1660 pieces offers exceptional value for money. The set is still available (more than could be said for 80102dragon dance and the 80101 CNYE Family Dinner last year), in LEGO branded stores, and (in Australia at least) independent retailers, and large department stores. I recommend picking this set up while you can – if the subject matter is of even passing appeal, or if you like putting together a set with lots of details. This certainly rivals the best of the Winter Village, and even modular builds for a satisfying experience! And in case you wondered, I bought this myself (along with 80104), rather than hope that LEGO would send me one to review in a timely fashion.
What do you think of this set? Personally, I enjoyed working with Mrs Rambling Brick on this – she has far more patience for knolling than I ever would – so I would like to offer her a special thanks.