Over the last few years, we have seen the LEGO Group make an increased push into the Chinese market – opening over 200 Certified Stores; introducing sets commemorating the Spring Festival/Chinese NewYear and drawing on traditional stories to fuel the Monkie Kid Theme.
This week, the Chinese International Import Expo has provided an opportunity for companies looking to sell into the Chinese market to showcase their ware for the coming year. In the previous years, we have seen sets relating to the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year announced. This year, we see two new festival sets, and more!
New Sets: Spring Festival, Duplo and Monkie Kid
Today, the LEGO Group announced a number of new sets for 2021:
The new offerings range from within themes such as LEGO® DUPLO, the popular LEGO® Chinese Traditional Festival and the newly-launched LEGO® Monkie Kid.
LEGO® DUPLO Town Happy Childhood Moments taps into two critical moments of a toddlers’ life in China: Chinese New Year and kindergarten. It can support Chinese parents to teach their preschoolers about traditions of the lunar new year and key skills to prepare kindergarten life in a playful way. It is also the first LEGO DUPLO set that is customized for Chinese pre-school families.
LEGO® Story of Nian invites children to learn the old story about Nian and celebrates the Chinese new year with LEGO bricks. It features a brick-built Chinese residence with traditional decorations, a snowy scene that is brought to life with a posable Nian creature, a snowman figure and six minifigures including grandpa, grandma, three children and a person in an ox costume to mark the Year of the Ox in 2021.
The Story of Nian, refers to the beast that, according to legends, lives under the mountains, and would emerge to eat crops and the men of the village. Intimidated by nothing except for loud noises, fireworks and the colour red, the Story of Nian forms the basis for the Lion Dance, an important part of the Spring Festival/New Year Celebrations.
LEGO® Spring Lantern Festival recreates the magical atmosphere of the festival which marks the end of the lunar new year celebrations. It features a brick-built Chinese garden with moon gates, pavilion, pond and bridge, a special ox lantern illuminated by a LEGO light brick as well as other must-have items during the festival like a rabbit lantern and a Tang Yuan rice ball.
To inspire children to learn more about Chinese traditions when building, illustrations are telling the legendary stories of Nian. The Lantern Festival is added on the building instructions of the two sets, which is the first time this kind of feature appears in the LEGO Chinese Traditional Festival theme.
LEGO® Monkie Kids’ Team Quadcopter, is a new set from the LEGO Monkie Kid theme. It presents the story of Monkie Kid’s team of heroes and their battle with Spider Queen and perfectly combines the modern hi-tech fantasy elements with the well-known Chinese story. The LEGO Monkie Kid theme was launched in May 2020 as the first LEGO theme inspired by a classic Chinese legend. The new set joins the range of 11 sets, which have already been released, to empower children to be brave, resilient and optimistic through creative play.
The next paragraph causes me to speculate about the availability of the new sets somewhat:
The LEGO® Story of Nian and LEGO® Spring Lantern Festival sets will be available in China and Asia Pacific markets from January 1st, 2021, and from January 10th, 2021 on LEGO.com and other markets in the world. The LEGO® DUPLO Town Happy Childhood Moments set will be available across LEGO branded retail stores and LEGO.com globally from January 1st 2021. The LEGO® Monkie Kids’ Team Quadcopter set will be available from March 1, 2021, together with another six new LEGO® Monkie Kid sets.
The Spring Festival sets will be available in APAC markets – this includes Australia – from January 1, and LEGO.com and rest of the world from January 10th. It might be worded poorly, but I think it implies a bricks and mortar retail outlet exclusive in APAC stores for 10 days. And not necessarily limited to LEGO Branded Stores, before becoming available worldwide (including online). Last year, these sets were widely avaiable in Australian toyshops and department stores as well as through the LEGO Certified Stores. Although the initial availability was limited, they have been widely available here for much of the year.
The DUPLO Town Happy Childhood Moments set will be available globally – it reads like it is a LEGO branded store exclusive initially, but will probably move to other retailers as the year progresses.
In the past, Monkie Kid has been a LEGO Branded store exclusive line: given this is not specified for 2021, we can probably safely presume that when the next series drops in March, it will be available through other retailers too.
The LEGO Foundation and the LEGO Group join forces with China Braille Press to test LEGO Braille Bricks localised for the Chinese Market.
LEGO Braille Bricks have caused quite a still, since they were first announce 18 months ago. The LEGO foundation have announced that they are developing a Chinese language version of the learning tool:
LEGO Foundation and the LEGO Group today announced that they have joined forces with China Braille Press, an affiliated agency to China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF), to test the LEGO Braille Bricks in China with objectives of introducing a fun and engaging way to help Chinese children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system.
The testing program is being implemented in four blind schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Taian cities in China. It is the first time that the LEGO braille bricks toolkit is prototyped outside Latin-based languages. Currently the concept has launched in six Latin-based languages and the ambition is to implement a further five, bringing the total up to eleven languages across twenty countries by early 2021.
Stine Storm, Senior Play & Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation, said “We are very excited to kick off the testing of LEGO Braille Bricks with local partners in China. We believe blind children should have equal access to learning through play opportunities, just like sighted children. Through inclusion, they will have the chance to learn a breadth of key skills such as communication, collaboration, joint problem-solving, etc. ”
Unfortunately, we don’t have any images of the Chinese localised Braille Bricks, but I am sure images will surface in the new year: it took a long time for the progression from the original pilot program being announced through to unveilling the finished Latin Alphabet version.
Srping Festival Sets: Greater Detailed Images
80106 The Story Of Nian
Minifigure Lineup: We have two grand parents, whom we have seen in previous years, a father (whom I presume is their son) and his children. I love that these characters are recurring each year in the Spring festival sets. Grandmother has a beuatiful floral torso print, while Grandfather has some red envelopes in his pocket. The Father and Son are both wearing red jackets with gold trim, while the Daughter wears a traditional top, fastened to the left.
As it is the Year of the Ox next year, we also have a figure with a bull’s head, with a new Red and Gold print torso.
The rest of the set involves a winter scene, infront of a house – fire works are being used to scare off the Nian. Some home maintenence is being carried out.
I love the combination of Teal, Orange and Gold used for the Nian. this set gives us another great insight into key elements of the Chinese New Year celebrations. I believe the set will retail for around $AUD110
80706 The Spring Lantern Festival
We have another great set of prints on the 8 minfigures here: the first is a man shaped lantern, with wishes for fortune and properity for the new year. We have another family, as well as a young couple, joyfully ‘twinning’ in their year of the ox hoodies, as well as another young man. I love the Monkie King shirt, underneath the tan jacket being worn by the boy, and the young girl’s unicorn print radiates pure joy!
The festival itself is set in a park – there is a large Ox shaped lantern, containing a light brick, a stream with a bridge over it, as well as several water lilies. There are many lanterns hanging around the park, as well as one on a rod, for the minifigures to carry. There is also a small bamboo grove, as well as a rotunda.
The Lantern Festival appears to be built up on a series of baseplates – one 32×32, and some smaller – and measures 48 studs square. I believe it will retail for around $169.99AUD
DUPLO 10943: Promotional Video
The video reveals the set to have 227 pieces, which gives it almost twice the part count of the Modular playhouse 10129 – which retails for $99.99 AUD. I believe this set will retail for around $AUD170
The CIEE now seems to be cemented in the LEGO Calendar as an event where we can expect to see some great new sets announced.
The design of the Spring Festival sets is always captivating – with interesting ornamental techniques, and great story telling. The Spring Festival sets have always been relatively good value, as far as cost and part count are concerned, and I believe next year’s sets will continue the tradition.
The DUPLO set is also really fun, with lots of great new prints, and scenarios to play out.
I am excited by the idea that the second wave of Monkie Kid might get a more broad release next year, beyond LEGO Branded stores.
What do you think of next year’s Spring Festival/ Chinese New Year sets? Why not leave your comments below, and until next time,