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Review: LEGO 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival

Following on from my review of 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions, we’re going to take a look at the next 2022 LEGO Chinese New Year set – 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival.

This large set comes packed with a whopping 13 minifigures, set around a large frozen lake that’s perfect for ice skating, and other winter activities.

80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival will officially be released on 1 January 2022 worldwide, but is already available in some some territories, including Australia.

Special thanks to The LEGO Group for sending this set for early reviews.

80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival Set Details

Name: Lunar New Year Ice Festival
Set Number: 80109
Pieces: 1519
Price: $119.99 [US] | £89.99 GBP [UK] | AU$149.99 [AUS]
Minifigures: 13
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: Chinese New Year / Chinese Traditional Festival
Release Date: 1 January 2022
Designer: Chris Perron (@ctperron)
Buy from LEGO.com [US] [UK] [AUS]

So firstly, what does ice skating and an ice festival have to do with the Lunar New Year? Not much for starters. Unlike most of the other Chinese Traditional Festival sets, which reference and commemorate key Chinese New Year traditions, there isn’t a tradition where we all go ice skating at Chinese New Year.

The inspiration for the set is a very China-centric one – the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, a massive winter wonderland, where these huge, complex structures and sculptures are made out of snow.

I’ve not had the opportunity to visit China, but looking at videos of Harbin on Youtube, I can see why this would be a great source of inspiration for the set. As a world-famous festival, Harbin is also a great source of pride for China, so while this isn’t really a set to celebrate Lunar New Year, it feels more like a set aimed at acknowledging the Chinese market and consumer that LEGO are only too eager to court.

The Build

First thing’s first about the build – there are no stickers in the set! It’s always a great feeling to discover that everything is printed, which honestly took me by surprise, given the heavy reliance of stickers in 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions.

The build was… not great, and one of big letdowns of the set.

While there are some great new elements, such as 18 of these new opalescent panels, the build was quite bland.

You spend literally half the build (the first 6 bags) building the entire base and frozen lake. While there are some great techniques employed, creating organic shapes and also having these opalescent panels placed sideways, there just isn’t enough variety to keep the build engaging.

That said, the build drastically improves from Bag 7 onwards, when you start putting all the above-ground details together, and place all the decorations.

What this set doesn’t lack is minifigures, with a grand total of thirteen (13) minifigures included. It almost feels like a Chinese version of the City People Packs that LEGO used to release.

Firstly, we have the “workers” – minifigures who have various roles around the Ice Festival – ranging from a costumed Tiger minifigure (more on him later), ice sculptor, equipment store owner, sweet potato vendor, fisherman, and ice hocket player.

Here’s a look at their back prints – and the ice sculptor, and ice hockey player have alternate faces. I especially like the Ice Hockey’s dual-sided face, with a confident smirk, and scared face.

The one thing that has me most excited about this set is the fact that LEGO snuck in so many Ice Planet references, including, and I kid you not, a modern civilian version of Commander Cold! The ice fisher has an orange fur hat, and a brand new torso, featuring the unmistakeable Ice Planet logo, which is also worn by one of the kids.

I’m a massive Ice Planet tragic – so I was giddy with excitement with the prospect of an updated Commander Cold. Could this be a precursor to his Ice Planet spacefaring adventures?

Either way, it’s fantastic to see LEGO finally give Ice Planet some long-overdue love – and it couldn’t be a more perfect set than this.

Next we have a family – a grandmother with her very own ice skating chair, and a husband and wife. I really like the husband’s trendy dark red leather jacket, and his face with a very Burt Reynolds-esque moustache.

The dad is an avid photographer, and has brought his DSLR with a flash to the Ice Festival to take some happy snaps.

Grandma, however is the coolest – she doesn’t let age nor her inability to properly ice skate get in the way, with her very own accessible ice skating chair to zip around on the ice.

There’s a bunch of kids – 2 boys and 2 girls who are appropriately dressed for the icy weather in different puffer jackets.

There’s one kid who’s an absolute legend – with an Ice Planet vest. He’s young, but he has great taste.

And here’s a look at their back prints, and alternate faces!

The most interesting minifigure in the Lunar New Year Festival is without doubt, the Year of the Tiger minifigure, the 4th Chinese Zodiac minifigure so far! He comes with a brand new Tiger’s headpiece, which has incredibly detailed printing – I love that the Tiger face looks like its frowning!

He also sports a new torso, which has little tassles across it, and new legs which have tiger stripes printed. I’m not exactly sure what his outfit is, and it looks like some sort of poncho of sorts.

Here’s a look at the back print, which has a hood – it’s a shame his arms and sides of the legs doesn’t have stripes, or it’d be perfect!

Here’s a look at the Tiger’s alternate face, which has a worried expression.

Of course, the torso is no good if you want to create a “pure” Tiger Costume Minifigure – which is where the 2020 Halloween Build a Minifigure Tiger Cub‘s torso comes in handy!

Looks much better!

Here’s the completed set, which takes up quite a large footprint thanks to the base, which measures almost 40cm wide, and 26cm deep.

It makes excellent use of all that space to create a bustling and lively winter scene, with a large ice skating rink the centerpiece of the build.

The 13 minifigures really make a massive difference in bringing the set to life, filling out the empty spaces where there aren’t any objects, and also creates plenty of play potential.

The most visually striking part of the build is this stunning arch, made entirely out of transparent blue elements.

There are some great techniques used here, and not to mention new elements, and it gives the relatively flat set some much-needed height.

Beneath the arch is an icy slide that sends you all the way to the frozen lake. It’s quite a cool (geddit) nod to the Harbin Ice Festival, which also has these massive icy slides.

Over to the left of the arch is this tiny little shop, where you can rent all the equipment you need for fun on the ice. I really like the teal roof, which uses the same roofing techniques as previous Chinese New Year sets.

The pale door is also lovely, as is the entire colour scheme of the building, which injects a pop of colour against the mostly white snow.

Here’s a look at the printed signs – I especially like the dark blue one which depicts minifigure silhouettes of fun activities you can get to on the ice.

The inside of the shop has plenty of equipment from colourful ice skates, ice hockey sticks, trophies, and even a small counter with a cast register, and pink cloth.

I don’t know what the black object with the shiny silver disc is – maybe some sort of machine to sharpen the skates?

For extra storage, there’s also a really clever drawer that you can open to store more equipment beneath the floor!

Right outside the equipment rental shop is Commander Cold, doing some ice fishing. He’s made himself a neat little hole in the ice, and has caught a large orange fish.

And yes, in case you were wondering, this is absolutely how he made the ice fishing hole – with a transparent orange chainsaw.

Another standout feature this snow-topped tree, which cleverly uses a mix of white and green leaves to create the effect.

In the front is a printed panel with a map, and poster, with a thermometer, and a fun illustration of a mum and child having fun on the ice.


Out the front is also this vendor – a lady selling roasted sweet potatoes, on a portable oven.

At first, I thought that these were roasted chestnuts/water chestnuts, both of which are popular snacks that you can often find on the street, but these large rock-shaped elements make more sense as sweet potatoes.

Another cool detail I like is near the steps to the frozen lake, where you have these lovely bushes which snow-covered leaves. These 3-leaved elements come in white for the first time, and look resplendent next to the green leaves.

Over on the left side of the frozen lake is the Ice Sculptor, busy at work carving this cute little icy penguin with her oversized chainsaw.

There’s a regular penguin with an orange bar on its back – I’m unsure if this is a real penguin (which are not native to China), or if its a statue, or just something the Ice Sculptor is using as a reference.

Here’s a comparison of both penguins – if you look closely, you’ll realise that they’re slightly different with the Ice Penguin using a Friends Penguin mould, whereas the regular one sees the return of the Penguin first seen in Series 16.

Over at the top left corner of the this photobooth for minifigures to pop their heads through to take photos – a very typical fixture at any tourist attraction.

The photobooth actually makes use of these paper elements, and there’s also an alternate side, with a Tiger minifigure carving an ice version of himself.

Here’s a closer look at the lanterns that are peppered throughout the set, with gold tigers printed on them – a great little element to commemorate the Year of the Tiger.

Last but not least, we have the ice skating rink itself – the frozen lake is the perfect playground for the minifigures to skate and have fun in the Ice Festival. The frozen lake occupies most of the base, and has plenty of space for minifigures to join.

Including grandma!

There’s an ice hockey player, with orange and black pucks.

A really neat feature, which really brings the frozen lake to life are these poor frozen fishies – stuck in place beneath the sheets of ice, hopefully ready to thaw and resume their fishy lives when the pond unfreezes itself in the warmer months.

The opalescent panels do a decent job, but at certain angles, they look quite murky and dark but does the job well to make it look like a smooth sheet of ice on the lake. It’s a more elegant way to communicate ice than using transparent white or blue elements.

And last but not least is this Penguin Sled… which can fit a kid, and be pushed by another minifigure across the ice.

It’s a neat little build but you cannot tell me that it isn’t a nod to Perry the Platypus, from Phineas and Ferb!

What I liked:

  • An absolute truckload of minifigures brings the set to life
  • Commander Cold and Ice Planet homage
  • All printed elements
  • Makes for a fantastic addition to your LEGO Winter Village

What I didn’t like: 

  • Build was tedious with half of it dedicated to the base and lake
  • More attractions, stalls or vendors would be nice
  • Doesn’t really have a strong connection to Chinese New Year
FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was quite a tricky set to review – usually for sets of this price and scale, the build process is quite enjoyable with plenty of variety, and interesting techniques, but 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival gets off on a chilly start, with more than half the bags devoted to building the base and frozen lake.

After you cross that mark though, things start looking up as you place the finishing touches, and all the flourishes that bring the set to life in place.

The minifigures are one of the bright spots of the set, with 13, you’re instantly given a massive influx of characters, and I like that there are varied roles and occupations, and not just visitors.

Of course, Commander Cold and the Year of the Tiger minifigure steal the show, but you cannot look past the playability that is unlocked with such a large number of minifigures.

As a set, once you get pass the frozen lake, with its 18 opalescent panels, you’re left with a large display piece that is also very interactive and playable, which makes it a great choice for parents with kids, or those that enjoy setting up different scenes with minifigures.

That said, outside of the frozen lake, there isn’t anything that made me go WOW with the set. While I think this would be an incredible addition to your LEGO Winter Village because of the wintery theme, it doesn’t really scream Chinese New Year to me (unless you’re from the Harbin region) and the International Snow and Ice Festival is a regular tradition.

I keep coming back to the first six bags being used for the base, and can’t shake the question – what if there were fewer elements set aside for the lake, and more ice sculptures, buildings, stalls and attractions? It just feels like a lot of LEGO was used for the ground and snow textures, that could’ve been used elsewhere.

For a set that’s inspired by Harbin, I can’t help but think if it would be way better to embrace it more, and pepper the grounds with different ice sculptures and structures.

Ultimately, if you like Winter-themed sets, or if you’re looking for a playable set, driven by minifigures this is a fantastic pickup and I would instantly recommend it thanks to all the value that’s packed into it, but if you’re not, and wanted to skip this set, you wouldn’t be missing out on much.

Rating and score: 3/5 ★★★✰✰

Build [2] – Build was quite tedious, with so much spent on the base
Real Value [4] – Plenty of minifigures, and it has quite a large footprint
Innovation [2] – Not many groundbreaking moments, but there is some nice part usage and new elements
Coolness [3] – Icy cold, but outside of being a large frozen lake, there isn’t much here to shout about. Except Commander Cold
Keepability [3] – Unless you integrate this to your Winter Village, I can see this one being dismantled and harvested for parts when there’s a need to free up space.


LEGO 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival will be available globally from 1 January 2022, but the UK, Europe and Asia get them a little earlier on 26 December 2021, and they’re available on LEGO.com, your local LEGO or toy store.

In case you missed it, you can also check out my review of 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions for the other 2022 LEGO Chinese New Year set!

What do you think of the Lunar New Year Ice Festival? Is this a prime candidate to be added to your Winter Village?

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10 responses to “Review: LEGO 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival”

  1. Jeremy says:

    The penguin with the orange bar on its back I believe represents the skating aids for small children often seen at ice rinks these days – I’ve only ever seen these aids in penguin form. A kid new to skating is able to stay upright by holding onto handles on the penguin and pushing it in front of themselves.

  2. Ella says:

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you so much for your reviews on CNY sets.

    Is the tiger minifigure’s tail the same as the BAM one?

    Cheers

  3. Håkan says:

    So, ‘tragic’, I assume that is Australian slang for ‘anorak’?…

  4. Victoria says:

    Read this review just because I love your writing and reviews, not because I had any intention of buying this set; now I’m planning on buying it as an addition to my winter village! Awesome review as always, Jay.

  5. Sarah says:

    Great review, as always. I’m so glad you mentioned Perry the Platypus! It was my first thought when I saw this set.

  6. Lovebebeto says:

    Thank you Jay for the great detailed review. I agree it’s not a breathtaking set but I still will get it for fun or just for the tiger minifigure. This set is a bit like the story of nian representing some traditions for people in Northern China but having less Chinese New Year reference to Chinese people elsewhere. I like the trans blue arch gate. Did you notice the sculpture above spells the Chinese character of spring (春)? It’s a nice little reference to Chinese New Year (春节).

  7. Sharon says:

    Thanks for that. I like the look if it and I think it would look pretty good in a winter set too. I’m waiting for some VIP points to be allocated and I’ll get the two then I think. Better value with money off, but I think they’re reasonably priced.

  8. Jim says:

    I was really looking forward to this set, so the review is a bit of a reality check!
    Thank you for being so honest with your opinion, Jay – much appreciated!
    Happy New Year!!!
    Jim

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