A very Happy New Year to you! The Lunar New Year in 2022, the Year of the Tiger, will be February 1st.
The Lunar New Year Traditions include 6 vignettes featuring five different activities that are customary for the celebrations and a vignette of the God of Wealth surrounded by gold. The Lunar New Year Ice Festival features an ice-skating rink with many activities for your minifigures to participate in. Since the two sets are so different, I’ve divided them up into their own sections.
The sets were generously provided by LEGO for review on Brickcentral, but the opinions are my own.
Lunar New Year Traditions 80108
The Lunar New Year Traditions set comes with 1066 pieces with 12 minifigures. It comes with individual booklets so that 6 people could build their own vignette at the same time. This makes a great activity to have during the traditional gathering of the extended family for the New Year, with something fun for all the siblings and cousins to do together. The vignettes are interesting and I like the scenes that it includes.
My very first memory of LEGO was during one of the traditional gatherings of the entire family in my grandmother’s home in Hong Kong. There were many cousins and one tiny starter set… I’ll just say there wasn’t much sharing or building much of anything going on back then. This set is the perfect solution, and my younger past self would’ve loved it.
Round like the Moon
The set represents various scenes of a traditional Lunar New Year, which closely reflects what I remember of the holiday. I also appreciate the symbolism of the circular divided display and how the vignette pieces connect together, very much like the divided round treat boxes filled with dried fruit that appear each New Year. The round shape is supposed to be very lucky and represent wealth like coins and reflect the shape of the moon, thus the round boxes, round food, round windows, and now the round-shaped LEGO set.
There are six scenes representing various traditions of the Lunar New Year.
There are numerous props in the various vignettes for your LEGO minifigures to interact with. Of interest are the many gold pieces surrounding the God of Wealth, including gold hot dog buns representing containers of gold, which I found very amusing. (I’m sorry to report that there are no gold hot dogs to go with the gold buns.) You will also find cell phones, lucky red envelopes, chicken drumsticks, teacups, brown hot dogs, scissors, a paintbrush, art tiles, and an orange slice. The minibuilds that most interested me are the potted orange tree and the flower vase. The rainbow flowers on a stick, I assume, is a duster, to the right of the duster is a spray bottle and squeegee.
The star of the minifigures is the God of Wealth. You will get two grandparents, six younger adults, and three children. I particularly like the silver quilted jacket and the teal snowflake pyjamas.
The Bad News
While I think this set is great for entertaining multiple children, there are some serious drawbacks to the set as an adult. As this review is intended for toy photographers and perhaps adult collectors, this set falls short. The biggest drawback on this set is that it really only displays in the round, and most people would most likely wish to display it against a wall.
When I attempted to display the set in a pyramid, like the cover box, the lack of stability caused it to repeatedly collapse. This makes the set unable to be displayed against a wall with all the vignettes facing out. This seems like false advertising, as people will buy this set thinking that they can match the cover art.
The back walls of the vignettes are too small to get multiple minifigures in the scene even with a macro lens. It doesn’t really allow much maneuverability to create different scenes from one vignette when the minifigure is so close to the back wall. I used the back side of the other vignettes to fill in the space so I could actually create a scene. I used depth of field to blur the backs of the filler vignettes out, since it doesn’t look very polished that way.
Having a sturdy display option with the vignettes facing out would greatly improve the set. As for making the vignettes easier to photograph, the back walls could be wider, or perhaps have an alternate build that combines two vignettes into a larger room. Since I wasn’t able to shoot it in the pyramid formation like on the box, which was rather aggravating, I stacked them one on top of the other. I do not recommend stacking them this way to display, it’s only marginally more stable than the impossible collapsing pyramid formation.
More Nay than Yay
As is, I do not think it’s worth the price. At this price-point I would expect a photo-worthy set without having to make any adjustments. Even if I wanted to display it, I would have to come up with a better support system so it doesn’t collapse.
I would rate this set: 6/10
The Lunar New Year Traditions 80108 costs $79.99 and arrives January 10, 2022 in the US, (69,99 € on 26 December 2021 in EU)
Lunar New Year Ice Festival 80109
The Lunar New Year Ice festival has 1519 pieces with 13 minifigures, and depicts a large outdoor ice skating rink. I simply love the Lunar New Year Ice Festival set. The scene is beautiful, the build was fun, and it will fit in great with any display. There are lots of interesting activities for the many minifigures. I also love how wide it is, allowing photography from many different angles. The ice area is large enough that all the minifigures could be skating at the same time. This set would fit well into any city scene display.
The scene features a large ice skating area made with pearlescent-translucent pieces. The main focal point is an ice slide with a towering arch made of ice that has the Chinese character “Spring” on top. (From my brief research I found that in China it is called the Spring Festival, but it’s just called the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong where I’m from.)
There is a small building for renting out skates and snow equipment.
An ice fisherman can try to catch fish from a hole in the ice.
There’s a picture cut out for your minifigures to pose for a photo op, as well as an actual penguin.
The penguin ice sculpture is a penguin animal figure cast in pearlescent blue.
The set has something interesting to see from any direction, and there are lots of props and mini-builds to create stories. The most numerous props are the ice skates in the set, there are also hockey sticks, snow shoes, camera, fishing pole (or whip), fish under the ice, sweet potatoes (which look like rocks to me), and cell phones. The minibuilds consist of a penguin sled, chain saw, and sweet potato cart.
It wouldn’t be a Year of the Tiger without a tiger minifigure. He looks ready to hit the ice. I love the variety of characters and their winter outfits.
Two Frosty Thumbs Up
This is a wonderful set that I would likely buy for myself. It is great to photograph at many angles, it works wonderfully for a display, there’s lots of props to make stories, and I love the many minifigures included. I feel like it’s worth the retail price.
There isn’t anything I dislike in the set. The one minor thing I can think of is that there are hockey sticks but no hockey net.
I rate the Lunar New Year Ice Festival: 10/10. At the time of this writing, the LEGO website lists the price at $119.99 available January 10, 2022, in the US (99,99 € on 26 December 2021 in EU)
Behind the Scenes
For this group scene, the look I was going for was bright and cheerful to match the children playing. The background is one I made on my iPad for whenever I wanted a cartoony sky. To have soft even light with a smooth gradient across the faces I used two small softboxes, with the right slightly brighter than the left. I recently bought some inexpensive color-changing LED puck lights and I used these slightly behind and to the side. I set these as bright as they would go to give the minifigures a colorful rim light on each side. I wanted the ice arch to appear shimmering, so I used an LED cube light with barn doors behind the arch to backlight it. I added tiny LED lights inside the lanterns, the set does not come with any lights.