I think we can all agree that 2020 was a rough year. Here at the tail end of things, it feels like I’m constantly on the lookout for cheerful things. Luckily, there are few distractions sweeter to me than looking over a brand new LEGO set. And when that set ties into a fresh and hopeful outlook for 2021? So much the better! LEGO 80107 Spring Lantern Festival was announced at the 3rd China International Import Exhibition, and will be available to buy on January 10th, 2021. It’s not technically a New Years themed set, as the Spring Lantern Festival occurs, oddly enough, in the spring. (But just work with me, here.) This set set is part of the Chinese Festival theme, includes 1793 pieces, and will retail for US $119.99 | CAN $159.99 | UK £89.99. It has eight minifigures, two modular Festival areas, and even a light up Ox Lantern statue. Sound fun? Read on and see for yourself!
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
The box and contents
Like other Chinese Festival sets, the box for the Spring Lantern Festival is bright crimson embellished with gold line drawings of fireworks. 2021 will be the year of the Ox, and that creature is heavily featured in both the artwork and the set itself. The back of the box highlights how you can attach the two sections of the model in different configurations. It also calls out the light brick play feature and has inset images of some of the details from the set.
Inside the box are 15 numbered parts bags grouped into 11 building steps, 18 x 32 and 32 x 32 baseplates in dark grey, and a bag containing instruction books, flags, and other paperwork.
There are two perfect-bound instruction books provided. Book one is 172 pages long and focuses on the part of the festival happening on the 32 x 32 baseplate. Book two is 108 pages and handles the pavilion that is built on the 18 x 32 baseplate. (In trivial detail land, book one is printed in landscape orientation, while book two is in portrait. Because of reasons.) The other bit of paper included with the manuals is a giant fold-out page detailing specifications for the included light brick. We’ll take a closer look at the plastic insert that has the Chun Lian banners printed on it shortly.
The Spring Lantern Festival
The first instruction booklet has a bit of pictorial storytelling to give some context to the Spring Lantern Festival. (The other Chinese Festival set for 2021, 80106 Story Of Nian, has a similar two-page spread, going over the mythology of that story.) The picture on the first page shows families walking through an area festooned with glowing lanterns. Page two has some insets highlighting things that appear in the set: a child eating a Tang Yuan rice ball, a rabbit lantern, and a father showing a traditional banner to the kids.
My own cultural knowledge is very limited here, so I was hoping that LEGO would have provided a couple of pages of text to give some context as to what this set represents. The pictures work pretty well to get the general point across, but I’m sure I’ve missed stuff. Oh well, I suppose there’s always Wikipedia if you’d like to do some additional research. If you spot something I missed, please leave a comment below so we can all learn something new.
Historically, the sets in the Chinese Spring Festival theme have had a great wealth of rare parts and unique recolors. This set is no different, with just about every part bag containing a treat. In bag 1, for example, there are unique printed parts like the Tang Yuan rice ball 1×1 round tile, shown here with the minifigure scaled bowls and spoons to consume them. Bag two starts off with an uncommon red light-up brick. The trend continues with a 4×4 plate with cutout appearing for the first time in dark tan. The 4×4 circular plate has only appeared once before, in the LEGO House exclusive set 40501 Wooden Duck. The transparent red dish is likewise an “only seen once before” part from the Ninjago line. The gold hoop is a bit more common, having appeared in 5 sets.
There is also a good range of unique printed parts on offer, starting with these 1 x 2 transparent red bricks with a fireworks pattern. These are part of the Ox Lantern, as are the 1×2 slopes in red with eye pattern. There’s also a wide range of plant elements with new and rare colors, including red pumpkins, green candlesticks, and ice cream cone bases, and light green leaf elements. The dual-ended hilt in black is a new color, joining the more common black paint roller handle. The white crown element has been around for a bit, but it was the first time I had run across it in this color.
The printed parts continue with transparent-red minifigure heads (lanterns) with an Ox pattern. (You get 11 of them!) According to those in know at New Elementary, the 2×2 tile translates to “Celebrate the Spring Lantern Festival”, and the 1 x 3 tiles read “Decorated with Lanterns and Streamers” and “Felicity for Your Whole Family”.
Later in the build, you get a cute lantern-rabbit, red roller skates, and an unprinted 3 x 3 round tile that we first saw in the Sesame Street Ideas set. Dark red is a new color for both the Technic axle connector and cylinder with handle, and light blue-grey is a new color for the fence element. The 2 x 4 tile with 2 offset studs appears for the first time in white, and the dragon-hilt handle in black appears for the second time after it’s debut in Diagon Alley. The dark brown elephant trunk in dark brown, while nifty, is pretty common. (Can’t win ’em all.)
The elements that make up the pavilion include a wealth of dark blue parts, including first appearances for the banana, round 2 x 2 sphere brick, Technic ball joint, 2 x 2 wedge plates, and candlestick. The teal modified plate and domed tile are fairly uncommon, and the dark red fence and rocker plate are hard to find, too. The printed 2 x 4 in tan reads “The Moon Watching Pavilion.”
There are still more part surprises to be revealed as we work through the build, too!
The Ox lantern and Pond
The first book of instructions builds out larger of the two sections of the festival area. This side of things has a pond, a light-up Ox lantern, and a stone bridge, among other treats. The build starts off as you’d expect, adding some structure to the 32 x 32 dark grey baseplate. The first bag adds the sidewalk and outside walls, while bag two adds support structures and lays in the bottom of the pond.
The construction on the pond is worth calling out. While much of this detail will be obscured by layers of tile and plate, the designers still went to a lot of trouble to create a very intricate pattern of interlocking wedge plate. It really showcases the geometry possible with these parts. Although only angled wedge plates are used, you still get a feel of an organically curving pond basin.
Bag 3 was probably my favorite part of the build. I just love transparent LEGO elements, and one of the two bags for this step was a mass of 1 x 2 tiles in transparent light blue. If you look closely there are a couple of surprise printed tiles mixed in.
Spread across the two “step three” part bags are two different printed fish designs. (You get three of each.) I can’t think of another printed element that has made me smile more – they look great, and I can’t wait to incorporate them into my own creations later on.
All those transparent plates and fish are layered on top of the plate foundation we saw above. The blue hue on the tile creates a subtle change of color, creating a good feeling of depth to the water.
The next bit of clever building is hidden inside the dais the Ox Lantern stands on. By using a turntable element and offset 1 x 1 plates, the yellow disc is attached at an angle askew to the rest of the other plates. This lets the Ox face an unusual direction but still be locked in place.
Speaking of the Ox lantern, it incorporates the light brick and transparent brick we showcased earlier. The build is pretty straightforward but looks very good. The only gripe is that the ball joint elements needed to allow the head to be positioned are only available in shades of grey, and stand out quite a bit. Too bad these parts couldn’t have been counted among the other recolored elements.
The Ox is meant to be a lantern, and the light-up function works well. The childish part of me is very amused at the placement of the light grey trigger on the back of the light brick. It creates an anatomical detail I wasn’t expecting to see in this set. No wonder the Ox lights up when he’s prodded there.
Moving back to the festival grounds, more plates in dark tan and green finish up the pond and grassy areas. It’s some very nice looking landscaping. You can see here how the Ox can be positioned so he’ll be facing the guests.
Spanning the pond is a stone bridge. It’s also mounted at an unconventional angle thanks to the use of turntables. The tiny yellow frog here is a fun little hidden detail to reward those who take a closer look at the assembled set.
At this point, this section of the festival is really coming together. An exterior wall has gone up, and the stone path spanning the pond is in place. A mix of tiles and ingots in light grey create a cobblestone look to the path, while still leaving plenty of exposed studs to position minifigures on.
The final bits of detail on this half of the festival include a grove of trees and a mix of hanging lanterns and traditional banners. The pond also gets some final details with the addition of floating plants.
Outside of the park area, more red lanterns and banners hang to greet guests. I really like the construction on the wall here, which makes good use of 1 x 1 finial bricks nestled between 1 x 4 tiles.
The final steps for this area add the moon gate to the entrance area. This is a construction technique that feels like it could be applied in a lot of other themes, from spaceship airlocks to high-rise windows in the City.
The Moon Watching Pavilion
The second instruction book guides you through making a pavilion on the 18 x 32 baseplate. The two sections are designed with standard modular connection points along the side, allowing them to be connected together in various combinations, or even attached to other City Modular buildings. That said, there is a pretty obvious “intended alignment” to things, as the grey stone path from the first module can align with the stone path here.
The pavilion has some cool construction tricks in the base. Angled brackets and Technic connectors combine to form a pleasing hexagonal shape for the building.
The pavilion also has a nicely intricate rocky base. Plenty of Studs Not On Top (SNOT) building it a realistic craggy texture.
The roof is also a tiny marvel of complex construction. Topped with all of those new dark blue parts, it’s a colorful addition to the scene. Can you spot the candlesticks and bananas?
Attaching the roof to the supports, you start to get a feel for just how this module will look when it’s completed. There are still a wealth of details to be added, though!
On the path leading up the pavilion, there is a row of red lanterns. Ox lanterns are mixed in with unprinted ones. They sit in front of a moon gate as we saw in the other section. That, in turn, is adorned with a minifigure lantern and more welcoming signs. We’ll look at those details below.
The finished model
Before we combine them, let’s take one more quick walkthrough of each of the two halves of the Festival grounds. The larger of the two is designed to serve as a “corner piece” with the wall wrapping around two sides. The scenery is densely packed, with just enough room to keep the different elements from overpowering each other. As it is, there’s something nifty to see just about everywhere you look.
The completed pavilion section is much more linear, even allowing for the path that leads off to the right. The street sign, minifigure-lantern, and moon gate make for a great entryway, with the pavilion itself rising up in the background. I also like the design on the streetlamp, with its extra hanging lanterns. (An identical lamp appears at the edge of the other Festival section as well.)
The connection points on the edges of these sections make them compatible with the other City Modular buildings. Taken as stand-alone modular elements, I’m not sure the construction style here would fit thematically all that well next door to the newly announced Police Station. But I bet they could feel right at home next to the Theater or just as part of a larger, culturally aware, downtown setting. The walls around the edges of the Festival would let this “read” like a park or garden area. And that’s just classy.
I think the set looks best when the modules are aligned as shown on the front of the box. Having the path from the stone bridge leading to the pavilion makes for a more unified display. The back of the box shows the pavilion section attached next to the Ox lantern using the Technic holes you can see in the view below. This puts the two moon gates next to each other, with stone paths leading off in other directions. This could be a springboard to building your own modules to expand the Festival to a bigger footprint in your City. Or it could just suggest that more of the Festival is happening “off-camera.”
Things look more festive when there are people enjoying themselves, and there are plenty of places to pose your minifigures to enhance the display. Here, a woman checks out the main entrance by the Ox lantern. Is she waiting for someone? Just out for a stroll? The world may never know.
The sidewalk around the outside of the Festival area is another good place to show off the characters that come with this set. There’s even a comfy bench for one of our new friends to stop and have a snack. Inside, the steps of the pavilion make for a great selfie background.
But the best place for a photo op is clearly the top of the stone bridge. What a great view of the Ox lantern!
There are eight minifigures included in the Spring Lantern Festival. Each comes with a fun accessory or is sort of an accessory by itself. (If you happen to be a humanoid lantern.) The first two are a man eating a Tang Yuan rice ball, and a woman with a cell phone. As mentioned above, the rice ball print is new for this set, and you get a full spare set of food elements to share with another character. The phone print also appears to be new, showing an ongoing text conversion.
The man features a dual-sided face print usually associated with Amusement park nausea, but serving just as well for an “eyes bigger than your mouth” misjudgment. Both dual-sided torso prints are brand new.
Two happy tourists wear brand new matching 2021 hoodies and come with a phone on a selfie-stick and a tasty beverage. The straw on the cup is made from a minifigure posing element first introduced with the DC collectible minifigures.
The next pair of individuals is this gentleman with a camera and a cute little girl with a Bunny Lantern. Both dual-sided torsos are exclusive to this set, and the man has a new dual-print expression. The girl’s unicorn shirt is super cute, by the way.
The final two figures are a boy with Ox lantern and the humanoid lantern statue that stands outside of the pavilion. Again the dual-sided torsos are unique for this set.
The kid’s shirt features a Monkey King logo. The lantern-person has a wealth of information in the few characters printed on them. The translation there is apparently “Celebrate the Spring Lantern Festival on 15th day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar”. (On their back are pictures of rice balls and lanterns.)
Conclusion and recommendation
Most of the time I tend to gravitate towards LEGO Art sets or more pop-culture related themes, but these Chinese Festival sets have become a must-have for me. Overall, there’s a lot to like about this set in particular. At 1793 parts for $119.99 USD, this set comes in at under seven cents per piece. This is a pretty great value, particularly when you consider it includes eight unique minifigures. There’s a wealth of useful, unusual elements, and a lot of those come in brand new or rare colors. The build is fun with interesting techniques and great detailing. I would have liked to have seen a bit more information about the festival included in the instructions, but that’s a minor nit that’s easily corrected by the magic that is Google. So, even if you’re not up on Chinese Festivals, I still recommend you check this set out. Maybe you’ll get hooked, too.
LEGO 80107 Spring Lantern Festival will be available on January 10th from the LEGO Shop Online for US $119.99 | CAN $159.99 | UK £89.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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