Release Year: 2019
Cost: AU $79.99
We’ve had two Chinese New Year sets already, in 80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner and 80102 Dragon Dance, and they have both scored very highly – not only in my reviews, but in the general public. While initially these two sets were not been easy to get a hold of, as they were limited to the Asia Pacific region, LEGO has listened to the overwhelming amount of feedback and have made a change in the third set – 80103 Dragon Boat Race.
A few months ago, The LEGO Group announced that they would essentially be doing away with region exclusive sets, making them available globally at a later date, after an initial region release. We saw this with Dragon Boat Race, but totally underestimated the still very limited release time!
Here in Australia, we had access to the set for a brief few weeks, before finding it set as a retired product on LEGO’s online shop. It’s been available to the UK and Europe, with the United States recently getting access to this set sinceJuly 1.
The box contains five numbered bags, an instruction booklet, and a sticker sheet with 24 stickers. Unfortunately my sticker sheet and instruction booklet were very bent.
There’s an incredible 15 minifigures in this set – unprecedented for a set this size! Not only that, but many of them are very nicely detailed. There’s the two dragon boat teams, and a bunch of spectators. The two teams have identical uniforms, with only the heads and hair as points of difference. There are a bunch of different expressions (clearly some team members are taking on more of the work than others!), and some have double sided head prints.
The torso prints are beautiful, and while the designs are identical, the colours are different, and the sash belts are mirrored. It’s excellent to get a good selection of different hair pieces.
The other five minifigures include a couple of spectators waving flags, a judge, a dumpling shop owner and a hungry boy. They’re pretty stock standard for City minifigures, but the shop owner looks fantastic in his conical hat and traditional clothes. He’s got some great printing, including some sandals on his feet!
There’s some excellent little parts inclusions here – printed dumplings (both cooked and uncooked), a dark red croissant, red and green claws, mini painter’s palets used as lillypads and much more. I’m loving this set as a parts booster!
The build for the boats is interesting. The boats are very shallow and have little wheels underneath, so they can be rolled around in a race. There’s a helmsman at the back doing the steering, three paddlers, and a drummer who holds the paddlers’ beat. The drummers have both got wands for drumsticks – a very clever detail.
The boats are also very long, having to account for a bit of space between each team member, plus a detailed head and tail. The hull builds themselves are very simple, with the base made of plates with small wheels underneath, followed by a run of single plates at each side, slightly offset to create the basic shape of the rounded hull.
The heads are extremely clever, being brick built. There’s also no special dragon-y bits included, so it’s easily replicated, albeit with some colour changes. The use of flippers, wheel arches, and the nose elements (the croissant for the red dragon and a red phone for the green) is awesome. I have to say though, the green dragon is my favourite. The gold whiskers are spot on.
The tails are simple but really effective, and can be moved around a little on the vertical axis. There’s also a couple of flags set in the water, perfect for races, as well as a simple but very impressive wooden structure suspended over the water. It’s big and has a lot of detail. The flags in particular are an excellent addition.
Up the top is the judge’s viewing platform, adorned by some excellent greebling details made with sausages and tassels, a larger dragon flag motif, and underneath a simple but stunning little water section, complete with lilly pads and a frog. I’m loving these lilly pads! I’ve seen them before in MOCs a number of times, and now I have the right elements to do them at home. The build quality for all of these sections is pretty good. It’s solid enough to be able to pick up the whole thing with one hand without anything falling off.
Down the stairs is a small bridge for the cheering spectators, which leads to the little dumpling stall. There’s a little bucket and pot for cooking, some fresh ones ready to be cooked, and a bunch of cooked ones hanging up. There’s also a pile of leaves hanging off a hook, ready to be used. It’s a build that looks simple because it doesn’t need to be anything more. The flags are excellent – I like the use of turning the green ones around for a different effect.
While the wheels are very small, they work well to scoot around the floor or table. Having the start and finish line as well as the wooden platform makes for more added fun, plus with only a little extra parts, it could fit quite easily with the larger Ninjago City sets. Having two means there’s also ample opportunities for racing antics.
Given the rarity (at least initially) of this set, this is a very highly collectible set, especially if you have the first two in the series. There’s some great parts included, and let’s not forget the 15 minifigures! That’s pretty unheard of for a set that’s got this amount of parts and at this price point. That all leads to a set that’s great value for money, and mega collectible.
ELEMENTS & MINIFIGURES: 18/20
DESIGN / APPEARANCE: 18/20
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10