For the last three years, LEGO has released some stunning sets to celebrate Chinese New Year. Dripping with great looking prints and details and so full of character, these sets are a highlight of the LEGO year. I was thrilled to receive early copies of both 80106 Story of Nian and 80107 Spring Lantern Festival.
Instead of writing about them separately, I’ve decided to combine them. Also different this year – in the first few pages of the instructions, there’s some information about the Story of Nian and the Spring Lantern Festival. It’s just another way these stunning sets are getting more and more polished.
80106 The Story of Nian
Release Year: 2021
Pieces: 1067 (with 6 minifigures)
Let’s take a look at 80106 The Story of Nian first. According to the story, the ferocious monster Nian (a half-dragon, half-unicorn type thing would come from the sea every New Years Eve and attack the nearby village, devouring the grain, livestock and townsfolk. Apparently his favourite snack was children. Nobody knew how to defeat the Nian, so they hid in the mountains.
A kindly old man came vising one New Years Eve and had a way to tame the beast. Red paper, firecrackers and red costumes. Nian saw these and fled back to the sea. When the villagers asked what happened, the man said “The colour of red, the dazzling light and loud noise. These are the three things that will frighten away the beast. This tradition has continued to this day.
Designed by Chris Perron, one of the Super Heroes designers, the set includes the monster, Nian, a stunning brick built wall, and a few villagers. The box contains eight numbered bags across eight steps, a manual and a sticker sheet with two stickers.
The build process for the Story of Nian is exciting – the large wall and door, covered in snow looks very organic and natural. The designers appear to have really focused on making sure the build-up of snow looks organic. This is also seen in the roof of the structure. The colours in the landscaped area of the build look vibrant and cheerful. There is plenty of SNOT technique seen in the door and door frame, and I’m a big fan of the use of LEGO rings as door handles. They look so fancy.
The fireworks are fantastic. I would have loved to have seen a few different variants of these, but the highlight is the fireworks that are going off at ground level. The use of the water splash elements as frozen-in-time explosions is wonderful.
There’s also a little bit of foliage at the right of the set, using elephant trunks in dark orange, with white leaves and yellow flowers. It’s a nice touch.
Before we get to the Nian, there are a few minifigures included in this set as well. Two children, a father, two grandparents and the Ox costume guy, as 2021 is the Year of the Ox. As is what we’ve come to expect from Chinese New Year sets, the torso prints are very high quality. There is just so much detail, from the flower print on the grandmother, the incredibly detailed coat on the little girl, and even the red envelopes sticking out of the grandfather’s pocket, there is just so much character. The father and boy also both have matching jackets, with an image of the Nian emblazoned on the back.
The Ox costume guy also carries a string of fireworks on a pole, ready to scare off the Nian. His prints extend down to the top of his legs, which look great.
Speaking of the Nian, let’s take a look at him. With a teal, orange and gold colour scheme, this is a brilliant looking build. He’s got a large horn on his head, and details that we’ve almost come to expect for a CNY set – new coloured bananas around the eyes, pearl gold elements and lots of points of articulation. I love it.
If you’re a fan of bright, vivid colours, the CNY sets are the sets for you.
80107 Spring Lantern Festival
Release Year: 2021
Pieces: 1793 (with 7 minifigures)
On to the next set – 80107 Spring Lantern Festival, designed by the incredibly talented Justin Ramsden. With 15 bags across 11 steps, two manuals and 6 foil banners, this one was going to be exciting. Let’s start with the minifigures – seven in all.
We’ve got a couple in matching exclusive 2021 Year of the Ox hoodies (I love this detail!), a couple of kids, two older males and an older female. The young boy has a t-shirt that includes the Monkie Kid logo, a nice tie in to other LEGO products, and of course to the Journey to the West legend. The little girl has a pastel coloured unicorn top on, and has a brand new rabbit element with wheels. I like it! I’m guessing it’s a pull-along toy.
There’s a man eating what look to be some glutinous rice balls, although I’m not sure if he’s either had one too many, or if he isn’t a fan after that first bite? Also, the satchel printed on his back is just excellent! The man and woman that remain (presuming they’re the parents of the kids) look good, particularly the woman’s torso with the top partially tucked in to the belt.
The set is built on a 32×32 baseplate with a 16×32 connected to it, so the build is quite large. It’s also modular compatible! The level of detail though? It’s honestly stunning. This is easily the best CNY set I’ve seen. This garden is beautiful!
First up, the entrances – the large circular gates look really clean and work well to frame the whole build. I like the use of light bluish grey bullion pieces as stones. Even just a few of them here and there work well to give the effect of an ancient garden that’s been worn down over the decades. I’m not sure of the significance of the red statue out the front, but I’ll take it!
The pagoda is stunning. Not only do the rocks work really well as a base, but the little table as a focal point as well. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a 3×3 round tile. The dark blue roof is striking – the shape is great (as is the build process), although the ribs with bananas and candles are much more loose than I would have thought. There’s a fantastic bamboo cluster next to it, using green candle elements and other assorted leaves. It looks perfect.
The highlight for me has got to be the koi pond. It’s good fun to build and looks simply stunning. The printed koi tiles look organic, and there seems to be really clever appearance of depth with the water, thanks to the 1×1 green flowers one plate level down, under transparent light blue tiles. It’s such a beautiful detail, I’m going to be sure to use it in a build in the future.
The path continues around with a bridge over the koi pond, sitting at an angle. I like the light bluish grey balls as detailing on the bridge. Those parts will certainly come in handy in a future build.
Lastly, there’s the Ox statue. It’s bright red with gold adornments and looks great. The shaping is really well done, with the prints on the eyes and body, although there’s one thing that’s stood out for me. Inside the ox is a light brick. It’s great that there’s a light brick included, but I’m wondering whether the button could have been masked a bit more? It’s in an…interesting position.
I had a lot of fun photographing this set. It’s got a natural charm to it, with loads of windows and great angles to get some really nice shots. This is absolutely 100% the favourite CNY set for me so far.
Both of these sets are just another step up from what we normally see during the year from LEGO, and that’s saying something, because we’ve had a year of really big and amazing releases – just look at the Top 5 of 2020 poll I’m running to see what I mean.
I’m a huge fan of the CNY sets. The attention to detail, colours and stories included are what makes LEGO so exciting for me, and I’m so glad they’ve continued producing them. I’d highly recommend picking these up when you can get them. You won’t regret it.
The sets will be available from January 1st, 2021 in China and the Asia Pacific region, with the rest of the world and LEGO.com getting them from January 10th.
A special thank you to LEGO for sending me copies to review. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.