80108 Lunar New Year Traditions: Hands-On Review

The Spring Festival Sets – coinciding with the Lunar New Year Celebrations have become a highlight over the last few years. As well as a larger set commemorating a significant part of the celebrations: Family Reunion Dinner, the Temple Market, the Lantern Festival, and Ice festival, there have also been more generic sets: The Dragon Dance, Lion Dance and the Story of Nian. This year, the smaller set – 80108 Lunar New Year traditions leans on many aspects of the Chinese New Year Celebrations, and brings them into the setting of six vignettes join around a central hub. Along the way, we have a few new elements, and some delightful scenes.

The set comes with seven bags, one for each of the vignettes, and one for the central rack, which allows them to be displayed together. There are six instruction books, labelled ’Build together’ with the picture of a family putting together different vignettes. The LEGO Group are starting to focus on building sets as a communal activity, with a similar approach taken with 60271 LEGO City Main Square in 2020. and more recently, the LEGO Group have launched a fan driven pilot program for building sets together, even though they may not appear to be designed for group building. We even had a go at it with some friends recently, when we took on the Ninjago City Gardens. So, building together is going to be something the company finds ways to incorporate in sets moving forward.

The Basic Structure: A New Habitat?

Here at the ramblingbrick, we have been encouraging readers to place minifigures into 8x8x8 habitats for a few years, and we have used it as the basis for a number of build challenges. But these are a little different. The base for these vignettes measures 9×9 studs, with a rounded corner. On reflection, this allows extra area, with an internal side length of 8 studs – whether it was a deliberate decision to make these area 8 studs long, with 8 being a lucky number, associated with prosperity and good fortune.

We have our base structure, 5 plates thick, and built up with rounded corners. The angled technic element is used to connect it to the central hub, and is attached via a 2 module long axle into a 1x1brick with axle hole. I appreciate the way that the 3×3 wedge plates are used to fill the back corner, as well the reminder of how those middle studs can be connected.

The back walls of this vignette design extend to 6 studs from the back corner. The wall is 7 bricks high, and extends from the second to the 6th stud. At the outer ends, there is anarched element. the upper 2 plates, and the outer brick of the walls form a bright yellowish orange frame for the vignette. Along each wall is a 1×4 plate with 2 studs, to allow the modules to stack.The back corner is essentially kept free of bricks, to allow for another technic angled connector, with a tecnic pin-stud connector facing downwards. An antenna is runs through these holes, and is stabilised by a horizontal clip on each wall. One of these clips aligns with the bottom of the the row of bricks. Since it is on a plate, we see a new element introduced: a modified plate (1×1 stud, 2 plates high, with a hole in the stud).

The central rack is built upon 2 hexagonal frames, as well as a collection of Technic ‘y’ connectors. The new ‘BRICK1X2, ROUNDED, W/ 3.2 SHAFT, NO. 1’ appears in warm gold (the 3rd colour I have seen it in between monkey kid, the ice festival and this), connected to the upper hex frame. Tiles between the y-connectors (3 branch cross axles) feature a sticker illustrating the traditional activities in question.

Bags 1&2

The first book includes the first vignette, and the central rack.

Our minifigures are recurring characters from last years 80107 Lantern Festival. Once again, this young couple are twinning with Zodiac year-affirming tracksuit tops, with the tiger resplendent on the back.

They are getting ready for the New Year by doing the Spring Cleaning, starting out with the balcony of their apartment. She is washing the windows, while he is wielding a rainbow coloured feather duster. The sticker that makes up the window shows the suds being wiped off, revealing a copy of the Monkey King Mech on the shelves in side.

We have an old seafood shipping box acting as a planter box, while we have an air conditioner built into the wall, and laundry hanging out to dry, all while being watched by a small white bird on the sill.

Bags 3&4

The next 2 bags include Shopping for New Year treats and preparing for New Year.

First, we put together the market stall

Out market stall is selling sausage, chicken (or is it duck?) along with sunflower seeds. Are the colored ‘nanofigures’ dolls or a snack? I am not certain, although we saw them being sold in 80105 Temple Fair as dolls. On the wall is further Monkie Kid Cross promotion. The stall is pretty simple, but the ingot roof is pretty elegant.

I am unsure that we have seen the stall holder before: he doesn’t seem to readily match up with other sets, but I love his torso, with the fanny-pack/bum-bag – and it is also seen in 80109 Ice Fair , on the roast chestnut/sweet potato vendor.

Preparing for the New year, we see a man and girl preparing decorations, while the mandarin tree is also laden with red envelopes – traditionally used to present children with gifts of money. Wait a mandarin tree? The Mandarin is considered to be an auspicious fruit – as the golden colour of the fruit, as well as the word orange itself – are associated with gold: presenting a mandarin is to wish someone prosperity in the New year. There are printed tiles around the door and, unfortunately, Google Translate has forsaken me today. Please feel free to help out in the comments below.

The man has probably appeared before, in both temple fair, and lantern festival – but I am unsure as to whether the girl is his daughter, or niece. He doesn’t really resemble the father in the picture from The Story of Nian, although she certainly could be the child in this new set. I’m going to presume that she is visiting her unmarried uncle. There is a box next to the man, with a sticker labelled BLL – the airport code for Billund: I presume someone is getting LEGO as a present…

Bags 5&6

Our next family, we have seen before:

We first celebrate New Years Eve, with the family staying up late to watch the TV broadcast. It is one minute to midnight. There is a fishtank in the room, as well as a photo taken of the family at the Lantern Festival last year… The family were also at the temple fair in 2019. I love the way that Dad has a dishevelled, sleepy face on the reverse: I can relate to this look most evenings at home.

Meanwhile, the son from the TV watching family appears with his grandparents (who were being visited by a different set of relatives in last year’s Story of Nian) He is revering his elders, and they are presenting him with red envelopes. And, if he plays his cards right, possibly a big bag of LEGO. I love the vase and flowers here, as well as the bookshelf, which gives us a high level of detail for a number of weighty tomes. Going into the Year of the Tiger, we have a picture of one on the wall.

Bag 7

Finally, we have a visit from the God of Wealth, Caishen. Is this the first time that we have ever had a literal deity depicted in LEGO minifigure form (that wasn’t a modified character in comics and films?)

Caishin, as the God of Wealth bestows…well, wealth. He is seen surrounded by gold bullion, coins as well as other golden elements. As such, this vignette presents us with a variety of golden recolours: buns, coins, ingots bar to stud elements ans well as the old Fabuland cooking pot, turned red. We see the red lantern with the tiger printed on – also seen in 80109 Ice Festival.

In Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed putting together each vignette: none were too challenging, and I think as a focussed activity for an extended family, it would not take too long. Although I suspect conversation would get in the way, and the children would pick up the grandparents models to finish during an extended anecdote.

There are a remarkable number of stickers in this set, but I appreciate the option to leave them off, as some of the red elements in particular have not appeared unadorned in quanitity for a while. In particular, the red bow 4×4 (long macaroni brick, which has not been seen since 2012). This is also the first set since 2015 to contain a significant number of 2×4 red tiles (6 blank, 2 printed), that has a RRP less than $80USD.

Overall, I like the construction of the vignettes, both in the format, as well as the enclosed story telling. Each vignette has something to offer, and it is possible to support the vignettes as a stack, although they so require some support. I found that placing the central rack under the first level modules was all I required to support them all as a 6 module stack:

I would love it if there was a guide included in the set to help the non chinese speakers to understand the text on each sticker and printed element, just as the Ninjago aphabet is included in the Ninjago City sets. This would promote better understanding of the Chinese culture for the rest of us. Or even a little guide, tucked away on LEGO.com could be handy.

The designers, led by Justin Ramsden, have done a great job in covering a number of traditions in this set, and I have found my understanding of the significance of the Lunar New Year increasing every year, as more sets arrive. To see these things represented in LEGO form must also be a delight for people with Asian heritage, for whom the Lunary New year traditions are an important part of the year.

It was delightful to see the family from previous Spring Festival sets reappear, in new contexts, as well as new characters being introduced. At $109AUD, it represents reasonable value as a source of minifigures, as well as a number of new elements of interest. The graphic design, between the torsos, printed elements and the sticker sheets is terrific, and I appreciated the fact that some of the stickered elements have been relatively rare in quantity, so being able to use stickers leaves you with the option to save it for the parts.

I give this set 4.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units: It has helped me to further understand aspects of the Chinese culture, while adopting a new technique for story-telling within an official LEGO set. Some people might not like the number of stickers, but I can see the virtue of leaving pieces clean as well. The ‘Build Together’ is also a philosophy that I can see the LEGO group trying to encourage in families where building LEGO sets together has not been a multigenerational experience, as it was for those of us building sets in the 70s and 80s, now building with our kids today.

This set will be on sale at LEGO.com from Boxing day in Europe, UK and China, as well as bricks and mortar stores in Australia. Further market availability will roll out in January.

If you are interested in purchasing this set, consider using the affiliate links below: the Rambling Brick might receive a small commission from any purchases made.

What do you think of this set? A great way for a family to spend the evening? Interesting Cross Cultural education? A useful parts pack? Why not leave you comments below, and until next time,

Play Well!

This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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