Release Year: 2019
Cost: AU $79.99
Pieces: 622 (with five minifigures)
We’re into the Year of the Pig, and the Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner is long cleaned up, so it’s time to celebrate! A typical way to celebrate a lunar new year is with a dragon dance, so that’s exactly what LEGO has done. Needless to say, they have done it with style!
The box includes five numbered bags and an instruction manual. Hooray for no stickers!
ELEMENTS & MINIFIGURES: 20/20
There are five minifigures included – a re-release of CMF Series 12’s Piggy Guy, and four dancers.
Given how pricey the Piggy Guy is (I bought a bunch of them for around $15 each a while back), it’s great to see a return of this character. The only differences with this minifigure, compared to Series 12’s are a different head, and no printed pig tail on the back of the torso. Apart from that, they’re identical.
The four dancers are also wearing the same clothes – a traditional red pants and torso, with a dragon on the front, finished with a gold sash around the waist. The differences are in the heads and hair. The four face prints are different, with two styles of hair with headbands. Longer hair with a top knot and bandana, and short slick hair with a bandana. The longer hair variant is brand new, and the other is actually a re-coloured bald head, seen on CMF Series 16’s Scallywag Pirate. It’s a very clever re-appropriation of an element. The bandanas also have a printed triangle on the front. All in all, these minifigures are superb new additions.
There are so many brand new elements included in 80102 Dragon Dance, it’s not funny. Tan scorpions and frogs, bright orange heart shaped tiles, left and right scale print bowed 2×2 tiles, bright light orange sausages and Unikitty tails, the “pearl of wisdom” that the dragon chases in the form of a printed 2x2x1 sphere, and olive green 1×1 round plates to name a few. That’s just a selection of the items unique to this set. There’s also round 2×2 tiles in the new colour, Vibrant Coral, and the new teal brick separator.
There’s so, so much more I couldn’t possibly list them all, but either way, this is a very exciting set if you’re a new or rare parts fan.
The set’s a bit of a one trick pony, but that’s the point. It’s not exactly meant to be played with. It certainly can, but it doesn’t need to be. The rotation using the crank handle pushes the sections of dragon up and down, while spinning the “pearl of wisdom”. The fact that the Piggy Guy is leading the dragon is not by chance – it symbolises the dragon’s search for knowledge, truth and wisdom, and it’s the Year of the Pig.
Clearly this set is not just a toy, it’s educational! I’ve certainly learned a lot from looking into the traditions.
It all begins with the base and internal mechanics. It’s actually a shame the new colours are hidden inside the box, as it looks beautiful. The crank system is built in stages so it’s not confusing, as similar sections need to be added at offset 90 degree angles, to create the waving effect when turning the handle. Once the crank internals are done, the box is built up around it.
The base of the upright poles are slotted in and locked in place by the top plate, which is covered by curved tiles. It’s very elegant.
The repetitiveness starts with the dragon body. The tail and the head are unique, but the body sections are all the same. It’s a clever move from LEGO that the left side scales are done first, followed by the right. They’re bagged separately, so the scales all go in the same direction. It may be repetitive, but it’s worth it for the final result. The heart tiles are included here, and add just a little more detail and texturing.
The head uses some parts in very clever ways – Unikitty tails and pearl gold curly design elements are used to make the nose and whiskers, with the tan scorpions and frogs combined to make the horns. I love these in particular. From afar they look like horns, but it’s only once you get up close you realise what they actually are. It’s these little things that make Dragon Dance a great LEGO set.
The final touches of the pearl and the minifigures are added, and the build is done!
DESIGN / APPEARANCE: 19/20
It’s glorious. For such a comparatively simple set, it looks beautiful, and it’s enough. You wouldn’t want much more detail to dilute the effect of the dragon. The play factor to me is just an added bonus. The addition of so many new elements and recolours just shows that LEGO is invested in breaking new ground into areas they’ve not covered as well before. It’s very exciting to see what happens from now on.
The included minifigures are beautiful and unique (even the Piggy Guy), and just those by themselves is enough to want this set.
If I had to be picky, I’d say that the motion of the dragon moving up and down could be a little smoother with a few element changes. JK Brickworks has already done this and published an article on his site, complete with instructions, and like he says in his video, it’s much more like what many of us were expecting. Aside from that though, Dragon Dance is one phenomenal set.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 10/10
For AU $80, this set is excellent value for money. There’s a huge amount of new elements, brilliant minifigures, and combined with the rarity of it, it’s worth finding if you can. Of course, secondary markets have taken this set by storm and can offer exorbitant amounts for it.
Be careful with those flippers – my personal view is that if they are getting sales for the items at those crazy prices, it will just encourage them all the more, which will mean more fans miss out on the RRP sets, which is just unfair. If you’re one of those people that are flipping sets for a crazy amount, consider the people that would love the set, but can’t because you have made it unattainable for them.
This set is about as collectible as you can get! It’s region exclusive, a never-before attempted design that I imagine won’t be coming back, and with a ton of new and highly rare parts. It’s not easy, but if you can get it, do.