It’s that time of the year again, where in addition to 80108 Lunar New Year Celebrations, 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival and 40540 Lion Dance Guy, we also get an all-new LEGO Chinese Animal gift with purchase set, and for 2022 – we get 40491 Year of the Tiger!
The LEGO Year of the Tiger GWP will be available from LEGO.com from 10 – 27 January, and will be free with purchases of US$85 / AU$169 / £85.
This is the 8th year running that LEGO have been releasing these cute models of animals, around Chinese New Year, which falls on 1 February 2022. The animals are based on the Chinese Zodiac and I’ve been collecting them since since 2015’s Year of the Sheep!
I was lucky enough to order one early myself, as I couldn’t wait to add it to my LEGO Chinese Zodiac collection, so without further ado, here’s a quick look at the LEGO Year of the Tiger set!
40491 Year of the Tiger Set Details
Name: Year of the Tiger
Set Number: 40491
Price: N/A [Gift with Purchase]
Exclusive to: LEGO.com, LEGO Brand Retail Stores & selected Toy Stores
Theme: Lunar New Year / Seasonal
LEGO Designer: Mel Caddick
Release Date: 10 January 2022
Like previous years, the LEGO Year of the Tiger set comes in a promotional flip top box, housing the contents of the set.
Here’s a look at the back and sides of the box, where the Year of the Tiger is emblazoned on the sides, and there’s also a large callout that it’s NEW, but also a limited edition set for 2022.
Here are the contents of the box – and also a closer look at the Year of the Tiger Red Envelopes. Also known as hongbao, these red envelopes usually contain money, and are exchanged during the Lunar New Year festivities, usually handed out by married couples to unmarried kids or adults as a gesture of good fortune.
On the back, you can see the red envelope opening, and there’s a slot, just under the red 2 x 2 brick to slide the top into, as well as an embossed (and very shiny) line drawing of the set, which is a staple in previous red envelopes.
Here are some others from previous sets – unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my Year of the Sheep one!
And here’s the finished model! The build was honestly fantastic, and it felt much longer than a typical sub-200 piece set.
I really liked the techniques used in the model, and LEGO designer (and fellow Australian) Mel Caddick has done a remarkable job with the design of the tiger, expertly using fairly common elements to bring it to life.
The build was particularly engaging, and it’s safe to say that the Year of the Tiger takes things up a notch. offering a fresh approach to these LEGO Chinese Zodiac animals that deviate slightly from previous years.
One of the most impressive parts of the design is the tiger stripes, and how Mel uses plates and studs to create the alternating orange and yellow stripes, which are most prominent on the side.
I also really like just how organic the Tiger’s legs are – the shape of the hind legs, and the front legs are superb, and the use of cheese slopes for the feet are inspired.
Here’s a better look of the Tiger from the side. I just love its sitting down pose, and how well the proportions look.
The back is probably the Year of the Tiger’s weakest angle – I think the thick black stripe at the back looks out of place, especially when contrasted against the finer lines of the Tiger’s side.
It looks too much like a racing stripe on a race car. Thankfully, this isn’t an angle you’ll be looking at often.
The Tiger’s face and head is also satisfyingly expressive, and I really like the use of the sloped elements on the side, to give the face some shape, as well as its cute pink button nose.
The tiger’s mouth makes great use of negative space and tiles to bring to life quite a tricky shape!
The eyes are identical to 2021’s Year of the Ox, which is slightly disappointing as you usually get different eyes for each Chnese Zodiac animals.
The Tiger’s ears the most interactive part of the build, and can move up and down – which is quite fun to give the Tiger some animation, and change up its look.
And lastly, here’s the base of the Tiger.
And here’s a look at the small LEGO Tiger family, which also includes the Year of the Tiger minifigure from 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival!
And last but not least, here’s a group shot of all the LEGO Chinese Zodiac animals – only 4 more to go to complete the cycle!
I think they look brilliant together, and the Tiger is hands down one of my favourite builds yet in the theme.
That said, there are some major differences this year, which I don’t quite like – unlike previous years, the Tiger is mostly static, with only the ears and tail capable of moving. Previous animals with the exception of the Sheep (the odd one in the cycle), have all had heads that could swivel around, and sometimes movable hands or legs.
The Tiger is static, and almost statuesque in that it’s mostly rigid sitting on the base. It’s a recognition of a slight change in the design format of the Chinese Zodiac Animals, and indicative of Mel wanting to introduce some changes.
What I liked:
- The most attractive Zodiac animal yet
- A really fun build
- Takes the Zodiac Animals into a slightly different direction
What I didn’t like:
- Re-used eyes from Year of the Ox
- Large black stripe on the back
- Is rigid and head doesn’t swivel like other animals
From a design perspective, there’s plenty to love with Year of the Tiger, as Mel Caddick swaps out playability and movement for a more concise and accurate model.
It’s an interesting tradeoff, breaking away from the established designs of previous Chinese Zodiac Animals, but thankfully, at a glance, the Tiger doesn’t look dramatically different.
I do think it’s slightly for the better, although I miss just how playable the animals are, and at the very least, the ears move which do introduce some ability to change the appearance of the Tiger.
In terms of what can be improved – the back isn’t the best-looking with the thick black stripe, and I would’ve liked a new pair of eyes, or maybe interchangeable options to switch up the look.
That said, Tigers are awesome, and this I think is one of the best-designed Zodiac Animals yet, and elevates this little annual sub-theme to new heights thanks to the fantastic design.
It looks incredibly attractive on display, and if you’re born in the Year of the Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010) or love Tigers in general, you’re going to enjoy this gift with purchase.
And no, before you ask – no butthole on this one.
Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★✰
Build  – A really refreshing build that was engaging throughout with smart techniques
Real Value  – As a gift with purchase, this feels substantial, thanks to the packaging and red envelop
Innovation  – Some really smart techniques used here using basic bricks
Coolness  – Tigers are very popular in Chinese culture, and this is my favourite Zodiac animal yet
Keepability  – As part of a larger sub-theme, it’s absolutely worth holding on, especially if you can complete the set
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review of the Year of the Tiger GWP!
The LEGO Year of the Tiger GWP is available from LEGO.com from 10 – 27 January, and will be free with purchases of US$85 / AU$169 / £85.
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