One thing that I have seen evolve over the almost seven years that I have been writing the RamblingBrick is the evolution of the Chinese Zodiac gift with purchase sets. These annual animal builds are now on their ninth iteration, and I have been fortunate to be sent a copy of the 40575 Year Of The Rabbit for review by the LEGO Group. The Lunar New Year begins on January 22nd. Let’s take a closer look…
As with previous sets in this series, the box has a flip-top lid, handy for storing the model, along with the instruction manual for a rainy day. Or at least next year’s review season. The box demonstrates that this envelope is for the traditional gifts of money given to children at this time of year in Asian cultures. there is also a ‘To / From’ box on the front of the box, demonstrating that it is intended to be given as a gift.
The front of the envelope shows a picture of the completed model, embossed with 2023 in gold lettering. The background colouring fades from yellow to red – traditional colours used in decoration at this time of year. On the reverse, the red-yellow colouring continues, with some blossoms lightly printed on the background. There is also a red 2×2 brick printed just below the envelope slot, giving the feeling that it is sealing the envelope. The principal feature on this side of the envelope, however, is a gold-embossed image of the model itself.
With all sets produced by the Extended Line, there are no new elements or recolours. A couple of parts did catch my eye, however, as I had not seen too many of them before including the 2×2 plate in warm gold. The only printed element, the 2×2 round tile 6060734 has been featured in multiple sets in this series. As you can see, this set has an emphasis on black and white elements – consistent with the colouring of the rabbit. the green, red and gold elements are incorporated into the base of the set.
The build starts off with the rabbit’s haunches, with the feet using a rounded plate and tile to have a smooth shape. A number of SNOT Bricks (studs not on top – here they are on the side) allow for some curved slopes to capture the shape of the rabbit, while some 1×1 ‘cheese’ slopes are added to give the appearance of ruffled fur. A really clever combination of regular slopes, curved slopes and SNOTwork gives the hind legs a really nice shape. The top of the torso is essentially smoothed off with tiles, with a 2×2 turntable allowing the limited possibility for this model. a2x2 Droid head (similar to R5-D4), with a round stud on top make up the tail.
Moving forward: we see a different technique to build up SNOT of the back of the head: Alternating regular 1×1 bricks with 2x2x2/3 plates with 2 studs on the side. This results in the correct placement of studs so that a plate can be placed along the back. More conventional 1x2x2 2/3 bricks with 4 studs on the side make up the side of the head and a mixture of techniques are used to place studs on the front of the face. I really love the combination of tiles used to achieve the shape of the rabbit’s nose and midface.
The ears incorporate curved slopes, along with inverse cirved slopes and tiles to achieve a nice smooth shape, while they then click into clips on the top of the head.
The 8 stud wide circular base is healed together with a few plates, while red and gold elements and some foliage are added to give the Spring Festival Vibe. I am impressed at how , every year, the designers are able to bring something different, that still seems to be part of the same range with these bases.
The final build very much looks the part of a Chinese Zodiac model, but compared to earlier models in the line, it appears that some aesthetic changes have taken place. With 202 pieces, it has the highest part count of any Chinese Zodiac animal to date, but this allows greater versatility with regard to the shaping of the model.
I really like the look of this model – here it is, along with previous models in the series. The combination of smooth, rounded curves along with the more angular slopes gives this rabbit its cartoonish, organic look. There are a few exposed studs here, not as many with some sets, but certainly more than with the year of the dog.
I suspect that was ‘peak studless,’ and the presence of a few studs on the model reminds us that this is indeed a LEGO model! If you love Brick-built animals, you will love this. If you are collecting the Chinese Zodiac animals, it’s a no-brainer.
This set will be offered as a Gift with Purchase in the period leading up to Chinese New Year – January 15-25th 2023 – in associate with purchases of $85USD/€85/£80. Australian ‘buy-in price’ is yet to be revealed. It is good to see these sets having a much wider distribution than they did in years gone past, when both the country and retailer availability were relatively restricted.
In a time of year where there are many new sets being released, I suspect it will be fairly easy to reach the threshold with new year purchases. But remember that it is coming, so you don’t spend all your money at the front end of the month. Traditionally, January has been a pretty good time of the year for Gifts with purchase, and given the range of new sets being introduced, I think it will be pretty easy to reach the threshold to receive this set.
Just as in 2022, we saw the release of the 31129 Majestic Tiger Creator 3in1 set in January. In 2023, we will see the release of the 31133 White Rabbit, to say nothing of the new Spring Festival sets [Affiliate links].
I wonder if we may well see a Creator Dragon to follow in January 2024 (you heard it here first).
Are you collecting these Chinese Zodiac Animal sets? What do you think about this one? Leave youy comments below, and until next time…
This set was provided by the LEGO group for Review Purposes. All opinions are my own.
And it all packs away nicely … ready for next year when I am going to need a bigger box!