80107: The Spring Lantern Festival – a Masterclass In LEGO® Landscape Design [Review]

For the last couple of years, the larger of the Spring festival sets has been one of the highlights of the building year for me. Last year’s 80105 New Year Temple Fair is one of my favorite sets to build ever, between the details of the maket stalls, the characters , the different produce, and the temple itself.

This year, we are looking at the 80107 Spring Lantern Festival: traditionally on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, it marks the final day of celebrations for the Lunar New Year period. This year (2021) it will fall on February 26th. The lunar new year starts with a new moon – a moonless sky. On the night of the lantern festival, we expect to see a full moon.

I cannot recall any LEGO set that focusses on external landscape in any detail with the possible exception of the LEGO Ideas Treehouse, and in that situation, the landscape, apart from the tree and treehouse itself, was fairly limited. In this set, designer Justin Ramsden presents us with a masterclass in landscape design.

This is a larger set than 80106, with 1793 parts. It will cost $AUD169.99/USD119.99/GBP89.99/CAD159.99. It is due for release in the Asia Pacific region on January 1, and throughout the rest of the world on January 10.

The Build

The box comes with Bags numbered from 1-11, as well as two instruction manuals. One shows us how to put together the main area of the gardens , on a 32×32 baseplate, while the second book focusses on the a smaller area: a Pavillion, on a 16×32 baseplate.

The first book opens to present us with a picture of a family visiting the festival. the children are carrying a lantern (or dragging along a lantern in rabbit form). They are treated to glutinous rice balls, and receive a red envolope each. We see glowing lanterns overhead, as well as glowing lanterns, made to look like lotus flowers floating on the pond. In the distance we can see a small Pavillion. Can we relive this experience? I will focus on the build to start with, and then look at the minifigures… many of whom are strangely familiar.

Bag 1

We start with a 32×32 baseplate, and build up a border to the garden. It is a straighforward Brick high around, except for on 4 stud area – where the gate to the festival will be built. Around the outside, we build a 4 stud wide footpath.

There are a couple of technic bricks, with pin holes located between the 10 and 11th studs from the font, and back of the plate. It is probably not a coincidence that this is the same posision of the pins in a Modular building. If only the entire footpath was a little wider… I will try to line it up with a modular building later in the process.

Designing Landscape Handy Hint #1: Landscape happens in three dimensions. Decide on your average height, and allow scope to move down as well as up. Waterways will be below the level of the ground, so the ‘ground level’ will never be the lowest part of your landscape build.

Bags 2 and 3

It is probably best if you ignore the 16 x 32 baseplate here: we won’t be using it before we get to bag 8. Bag 2 is full of bright ‘filler elements’ and earth green and tan plates, as well as a few green floral stud elements. Bag 3 is virtually entirely transparent blue elements, including some featuring two different printed koi designs.

We spend the bulk of this bag outlining the pond – demonstrating how the wedge plates can form squares/rectangles by placing them together.

We can be confident that the brightly coloured elements will be covered up as our building continues. There are some areas where we have 2 plate thicknesses above the baseplate: a further plate on these will be flush with our ‘average ground level’. Using tiles in someplaces, rather than plates, will make them easier to remove, when dismantling the model.

Designing Landscape Handy Hint #2. Use a lighter colour around the edges of the pond, to represent shallower water, and a darker colour in the middle. The absolute shape of the pond is not important: this will be determined by the elements sitting above the water level. Remember, many waterways are not flat, and might feature plants or rocks above and below the water level.

There are some great koi prints to be found in the third bag, which are part of the elements used to fill in the surface of the lake. As the koi are placed, they seem to cluster around areas of activity or feeding.

Bags 4 and 5

Bag 4 brings us lots of green and tan elements, to provide further landscaping to the pond, as well as the elements to support the ox lantern, and the lantern itself. Bag 5 brings us the elements to build a small bridge crossing the lake, as well as the wall to the gardens.

Designing Landscape Handy Hint #3 Lakes and ponds are rarely perfectly round or square, except in domestic situations. Also, the ‘light/shallow’ part of the water does not need to follow the edge of the pond in parallel

The ‘diamond cross’ is used for the plinth for the Ox Lantern. This next bit is REALLY CLEVER. The statue is mounted on the 4×4 round plate, on top of a turntable element, on top of the 8×8 circular plate.Whilst it is mounted on the turntable element, it is locked by studs on opposite sides.

Off The Grid Hint #1:The geometry behind this is relatively simple to implement: essentially (looking at a 2×4 plate) the distance from A1 ro B4 is the same as the distance from B1 to A4. but in order to get the other studs to fit, it must be rotated. I discussed a less refined variationof this technique a couple of years ago in this post. I have not seen it used in an actual set previously (That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, I just didnt see it!)

The rest of Bag 4 goes toward building the Ox Lantern. It features a light brick… with the button hidden underneath its tail.

Having completed the lantern, we complete the path: In this setting, we seem to be getting the effect of an old paved path: The ‘path’ is installed in the inset areas that previously existed. Paths are rarely completely uniform in there structure: the texture might vary, there might be variation in colouring. Here, we have adjacent ingots placed here and there, to convey the effect of an old worn paved path, but you might also see paths marked with a variation in earth tones as studs and tiles, and of varying sizes.

Compare the paving design in the park, with the footpath outside the gardens. The placement of studded elements on tiled paths breaks up the ‘artificial uniformity, and also gives your minifigures a place to stand.

Bag 6

In the next bag, we build a bridge to cross the pond. This is a delightful arched bridge, with the curve of the structure highlighted by the 4×4 quarter circle tile. The placement of this bridge demonstrates another great, simple way to put part of your build Off the Grid, this time using a simple triangle, and a practical application of Pythagorus’ theorm: a2+b2=c2

Off the Grid Hint #2: The triangle demonstrates the concept of a ‘Pythagorean triple’ – integers which when applied to the sides of a right angled triangle result in an integer as the hypothenuse. The simplest ratio is 3:4 (9+16=25). This can then be scaled up as multiples (in this case, 6:8:10). The only other Pythagorean triple that is applicable for the scale of the majority of LEGO landscapes might be 5:12:13. The use of larger turntables on round plates here allows for easy, stable angulation, but it will easily work with other LEGO turntablesor event single points, such as offset tiles.

Bags 6 and 7

The large number of green elements: bamboo leaves in green and bright yellowish green, as well as bright green candle elements. sprouts at the top of the bamboo, as it reaches its maximum height reminds us of the way it can form a natural canopy.

Designing Landscape Handy Hint #4: New plant growth is often brighter in colour than older growth. Mounting some of the taller stems on ball joints makes them appear to be bending under their own weight.

We also see some leaves/ground covering plants around the water’s edge. The white ‘crown’ element is used to create floating lanterns, which also bear a resemblance to lotus flowers (the only real hint that I have to these being lanterns is the picture providing an explanation of the festival in the front of the instructions.

Next we move on to installing the lanterns: we have a string of 9 lanterns behind the bull; two standing lanterns at either end of the bridge, and three more along the wall of the gardens. This last group make great use of the red ‘pumpkin’ elements, and are somewhat ingeneously attached using the paint roller element. Hanging from these wall side lamps are banners, depicting riddles, associated with the Lantern festival.

20090905 Suzhou Couple's Retreat Garden 4442.jpg

From here, we focus on the adjacent wall to the gardens. The central focus is the moon gate: a round gate in the wall that allows people to walk into the park. This is a traditional element of Chinese architecture.

The moon gate here bears some resemblance to one seen at the Suzhou’s Couples Retreat Garden. Construction of the round entrance involves arches, in combination with inverse arches – with brackets in between to attach the circular tiles to. The LEGO version also demonstrates angled traditional tiling on the roof, with the tiling extending along the fence. The moongate is flanked by two lanterns, and the use of the ‘square fence elemts as windows in the garden wall break up what might otherwise be a great big plain white wall.

And at this point, we have completed the 32×32 baseplate, and the first book of instructions.

Bag 8

In bag 8, we follow a similar plan as we did in the earlier bags of the main gardens: filling in the ground, as well as recessing the path, using an identical technique as we saw previously. The branching path connects neatly to the path on the larger plate, when they are put together. You can see the location of the technic pins, designed to plug into the side of the next plate, as well as potentially any modular building you have lying around the house.

Bag 9

With this bag, we start work on the Pavillion, on top of a rocky outcrop. The rocks are not quite circular, and the overall shape of the outcrop is formed using SNOT bricks, attached to a-frame bricks. A variety of curved sloped wedges are used to make up the shape of the rocks around the base.

Off The Grid Hint #3: A -Frame plates, when secured along one plate, but with tiles underneath the other axis will allow them to be secure, and provide another angle to work along.

The pavillion itself is hexagonal in shape, and the basic frame for the base is achieved using overlapping 3-way propellor elements. From here we build up with a variety of elements. I really like the colour choices – the dark red and gold trim really work well.

Bags 10 and 11

With our final two bags, we build the roof of the Pavillion, as well as complete the decoration of this second baseplate:

The hexagonal roof sees a return of the arrangement of 3-way technic plates as the core of its structure. The roof uses a number of elements recoloured in earth/dark blue for the first time: including pointed triangle wedge plates, candles and also bananas! The 2×2 and Technic ball elements cap off the roof. There is a nice piece of jade detail, and some cunning techniques to invert the dark red fence elements.

The sign invites people to view the full moon from the pavillion. Inside, is a 3 stud wide circular tile – appearing unprinted in white (previously, we have seen this used for the eyes of Minions and the face of Shy Guy (in LEGO Super Mario sets). this sits on top of a round brick to make an elegant stone table.

Some additional bamboo is positioned around the pavilion. the path leading up to the pavilion is lined with lanterns. The path is accessed from outside the gardens via another Moon gate.

Out side the Moon Gate is a red figure, I presume representing another lantern. There is gold printing on its chest, as well as on banners on either side of the moongate. I have not had access to translations of these, but I recommend checking out jaysbrickblog for his translations, and cultural interpretation.

Overall, when you put these to plates together, the result is pretty special. The first book of construction is all about the elements that make a LEGO Landscape pop, while the second is more about the construction of the pavilion. Even without the minifigures bringing life to the area, they certainly look like a place of celebration, for the community to come together.

Meet the Minifigures

This set comes with 8 minifigures in total.lets take a look at them.

The Father features a knitted jumper, and is carrying a camera. He has a double sided head print: one side with glasses, one side without. The printing continues onto the the sleeves of the minifigure.

The mother is carrying a mobile phone: it’s a new print, showing a text conversation in progress. Her bright yellowish orange torso shows a light blue shirt, partly tucked in behind her belt. She does not have a second face print.

The minifigure at the entrance has a transparent red head, I presume to represent a lantern, and gold printing on his chest – I presume celebrating the new year.

Our feasting man appears to have overindulged a little, after a few too many bowls of treats. He is wearing a brown bag slung over his shoulder. – which looks pretty neat, I think.

Next we have a young couple who are going out and enjoying their life: down to wearing matching hoodies. she is carrying a selfie stick, although her phone does not appear to have the camera app open (a mission for the graphic designers for next year). The young man with tousled hair appears to have a cup of either bubble tea, or tea with milk – I like the use of the ‘minifigure dynamic action’ element introduced in the DC Super heroes minifigures last year – as a straw. Neither of these figures have alternative faces. I do appreciate that their hoodies feature a print of an ox head, as well as ‘2021’

The children: The young boy has spiky hair, and is wearing a tan jacket over his Monkey King t-shirt. The jacket has detailed stitching front and back. He is wearing a red scarf, and carrying his own lantern.

I think his sister is a little younger: she has a pull along rabbit, which also serves as a lantern. An additional red roller skate is included in the set, should she wish to put them both on, and take her chances on the bumpy path. she has a brightly colours unicorn print on her shirt, as well as pink and light blue sleeves.

A Degree of Familiarity

I did find myself wondering if we had seen these minifigures before. And I then looked through my figures from 80105, the New Year Temple Market from 2020. Many of the figures in this set have a counterpart in this set, and indeed, the main family were also featured in the 2018 Chinese New Year’s Eve banquet. However, while the grand parents reappeared as market stall holders in 80105, we do not seem to have them appear this year.

I do find myself wanting to know more about the young man, who was walking with the orange haired girl last year. They were pushing a pram with a baby in. Were they the parents, or was it a very much younger sibling to one of them (or was she babysitting?). What has happened in the meantime that he is now seeing another young lady? So many questions! But the stories are part of what makes these sets with multiple figures marvelous.

Make Mine Modular

During Construction, we observed that there were a number of Technic bricks along the edges of the baseplates, in the same positions as the Technic bricks on the modular buildings. One thing that did have me concerned was the fact that the footpath inferno of the gardens was only four studs deep, rather than the typical of the modular buildings. However, I think it might have been difficulty to cram all the detail into the festival set, without the additional footprint.

I looked at the side walls on either end of the gardens: one next to the path to the pavilion, and the other, around the corner, leading past the other gate. There is a small return on the garden wall at these points, which in turn serves to wall the garden in completely, should you put it in between some modulars:

While, in principal, it works reasonably well, you might feel that you need to some details – lamp posts and other street furniture – from the path near the edges of the model, if only so that it doesn’t feel so crowded that your minifigures might not be able to walk past! But still, the effort is appreciated, and if LEGO models are amenable to one thing, it is modification.

In summary, 80107 Spring Lantern Festival is a terrific set. I felt that 80105 was going to be difficult to surpass, but I think that it could be possible. while that set focussed on small, detailed sub builds, this set focusses on the big picture of a detailed landscape. There are so many lessons to learn, designer Justin Ramsden has presented us with a veritable Masterclass of design techniques, for consideration in putting together your own landscapes – plant design, waterways, and even taking your model of the relatively rigid grid that LEGO elements so readily comply with. I cannot think of any other set that has emphasized the design and construction of landscape as much as this one.

The minifigure selection is terrific, and I appreciate getting an update on figures that we have been getting to know each year in these sets. I wonder how long we will continue to follow the celebrations of this family? Will we see them age? Will the children get taller, and develop more mature tastes as they grow? Will they have children? When will their parent go grey?

The incorporation of the Lantern Festival is well executed, and I wish I had greater resources for translating the banners. However, I have come out of this review, having learned more about the event that when I started.

I had not mentioned that there were no stickers to apply in this set: all elements were printed.

I actually found this to be an exciting build: perhaps related to the gradual evolution of the landscape, perhaps because the build was well paced, perhaps because of the alternation between build details and landscape. Perhaps it was the developing story of the festival. To be honest, I didn’t want to stop, and once I got to the closing parts of the build, I failed to stop and take detailed pictures of the details in building the pavilion. It was exciting to see how the final build was going to develop.

It’s a strong start to the year, again. I have enjoyed building both of the Spring festival sets this year, but the Spring Lantern Festival is a highlight. I learned so much from its construction: both culturally, and as a LEGO Builder. I do not hesitate to give it five out of five arbitrary praise units!

The set will be released on January 1, in Asia-Pacific markets, and throughout the rest of the world on January 10. Reports are coming through on social media of these sets already being available through LCS in mainland China.

I’d love to know what you think about this set. Why don’t you leave your thoughts in the comments below, and until next time,

Play Well!

4 thoughts on “80107: The Spring Lantern Festival – a Masterclass In LEGO® Landscape Design [Review]

  1. I love to see a bit of Pythagoras in my LEGO builds. This looks to be a great set for interesting ‘off the grid’ building.

    Oh and by the way I really hope ‘punching a pram’ is a typo 🙂

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  2. […] The first bag is dedicated towards building the pot in which our Bonsai tree shal grow. It builds up quickly and easily. The curved sides look very effective, thanks to the use of the bricks with Studs oon the side, in conjunction with the 2×2 bow slopes. tiling the top makes it look very tidy. The legs of the containiner are built or 1 stud lung technic collars, which are each surrounded by a small tire. This results in a container that is firmly in touch with the grounds, and unlikely to slide. In the base of the container, is a turntable, along with some studs and tiles. this is used to attach the tree, while also stabilising the trunk ‘off the grid’, in a way similar to that seen with the stand of the Ox in the recently released 80107 Spring Lantern Festival. […]

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