Early this month, LEGO revealed their plan on cracking the lucrative Chinese market – by introducing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) courses designed specifically for Chinese schools, as well as the release of region-exclusive sets that seek to appeal to Chinese consumers.
Update: I’ve just reviewed 80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner! Check out the post to see more photos and my thoughts on the set.
The first announcement probably won’t apply to 99% of my readers, but the second definitely does.
In the New Year (1 January 2019 to be exact), the Asia Pacific region (which includes Australia) will get access to two Chinese New Year-themed LEGO sets – 80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner and 80102 Dragon Dance, which I’m really excited about.
The sets will be available
on LEGO.com (confirmation that they’re now not going to be on the Online Shop), department stores like Myer & David Jones, and independent retailers like Toyworld. They’ll also be available at the LEGO Store at Dreamworld, and for us Melburnians, the Chadstone Legoland Discovery Centre Shop.
Update 3/1: So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but at least it’s official news. Both Chinese New Year Sets will not be available on LEGO.com. No idea why the change, but it’s probably some form of miscommunication/internal change. Again, I am terribly sorry if I’ve misled anyone.
What to do now? My advice would be to keep an eye out for to Myer and David Jones’ website, or in-store if you’re close to one. Stock is already in transit to them, so they should show up by next week. HOPEFULLY they add them to their online store.
If you’re in Melbourne, the Legoland Discovery Centre Chadstone should have them by Saturday, 5 January.
Alternatively, if you live close to a Toyworld, give them a buzz and ask them to reserve the sets for you when they’re in. They’re usually pretty helpful in that regard.
Good luck finding these! I would not be waiting for a sale, and would snap this up if you can find them.
DISCLAIMER: logistics is hard, so dates may or may not change.
Update 2/1: So, the set as many of you have noticed the two sets haven’t showed up on LEGO.com in Australia and New Zealand. I’m trying to chase up information on what’s the status of that, but I’ll keep you posted. There’s been lots of conflicting information floating around with some people reporting that LEGO’s Facebook page told them that the sets aren’t going to hit LEGO.com now, however we were previously told by LEGO’s AFOL Engagement team that they would, so I’m trying to get to the bottom of this.
If you’re in Queensland, the Lego Shop at Dreamworld has apparently started selling them, so you might want to give them a buzz.
Update: Chadstone’s Legoland Discovery Centre Shop will be receiving the sets on the 4th or 5th of January, depending on when the shipments arrive.
LEGO’s CEO claims that this is the first time they’ve created region-exclusive sets, but that’s not entirely true… given that we’ve had 4 Chinese Zodiac builds so far (early this year, we got the Year of the Dog). 5 if you count the Year of the Snake. But I guess this is the first retail set for the APAC region, so maybe he’s technically correct.
Chinese New Year is THE most important holiday and festive period for the Chinese diaspora. It’s kind of like Christmas, where families get together, eat lots of food and be merry. Oh, but instead of exchanging presents, you get red packets (hongbao in Mandarin) if you’re unmarried, or get to hand them out if you’re married.
It’s the best time of the year, and as a kid, this is one holiday that you look forward to every year. Everyone wears red (the colour of good fortune and prosperity) and the holiday lasts for 15 days, which is awesome.
I’m ethnically Chinese, so these sets are perfect for me and you can bet that I’ll be picking these sets up when they’re released.
80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner – AU$89.99
This is the set I’m most excited about as it depicts one of the most important aspects of Chinese New Year – the Reunion Dinner, which occurs the day before the Chinese New Year.
Filial piety is a massive cornerstone of Chinese culture, and the Reunion Dinner is the event that officially kicks the Chinese New Year Celebrations off. As the name suggests, families reunite during the dinner (typically on the paternal side), and enjoy a big feast with Chinese cuisine, all in the name of togetherness.
The set depicts a traditional Chinese home, designed in the same vein as the Big Bang Theory set, with exterior walls and a dollhouse cutout.
On the inside is a massive banquet table filled with all manner of Chinese dishes such as bowls of rice, bok choy, chopsticks (!!!), fish, chicken and of course, crab which is a premium delicacy beloved by the Chinese. They all seem to be printed tiles which makes me really happy.
I want the rice tiles so badly.
We get 6 minifigures, the elder grandparents, whom the family are visiting, and a nuclear family featuring a husband, wife and 2 kids. All the minifigures come dressed in traditional Chinese outfits (cheongsams and qipaos) and look absolutely great.
This is definitely THE set to get for. It’s a little bit on the pricey side, but given all the new and unique elements in this set, I think I can easily justify this. Shame they didn’t price this set at AU$88 – a missed opportunity as the number 8 is a very symbolic number, meant to represent prosperity!
80102 Dragon Dance – AU$79.99
The set features a mechanical crank, which will bop the dragon up and down, similar to the real life performance.
This is a beautifully designed JK Brickworks-esque set, and the dragon features some really intricate details and great new parts.
For minifigures, you get 4 dancers in their dancewear, which are all identical to each other, but feature 2 variations of hairpieces which are pretty cool. Also included is a re-release of Piggy Guy, which you may remember from Series 12 – it might seem like a strange addition, but next year is the Year of the Pig, so thematically, this is a really clever use of an old minifigure!
This is one of those sets that look sensational on display, and is sure to be a conversation starter, especially with the ability to demonstrate it in action.
Overall, as someone who’s ethnically Chinese, I am beyond excited by these sets and the chance to share and celebrate my culture using LEGO. Like the Zodiac animal sets, these are great vehicles to get people aware and interested in Chinese culture – it also really helps that these set designs look absolutely beautiful, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them to review.
I think it’s a little frustrating that LEGO has decided to only release them in the Asia Pacific region. There is a massive Chinese/South East Asian diaspora all over the world, especially in America, so I really feel for American and European LEGO fans who will have to resort to purchasing these sets online on the secondary market.
I hope LEGO reconsiders and makes these available globally – but in their effort to appeal to the China market, I can see why they think it’s a good idea to throw them an exclusive.
There’s also supposedly a third Chinese New Year set – the Dragon Boat set, which I have no information on. Hopefully we get more news on that soon.
So that’s my thoughts on the LEGO Chinese New Year 2019 sets – what do you think? Will you be picking up these sets when they release next year?
If you want to find out when these sets get released, be sure to subscribe with your email address, or follow the Jay’s Brick Blog Facebook page for updates!