LEGO Lunar New Year is getting more niche – and that’s okay
The latest Chinese Traditional Festivals LEGO sets are a little less accessible than before, but may still prove of benefit in the long run.
For some time, China has been a key area of interest for the LEGO Group – and that’s been borne out in its product slate. Two main themes of note are its Chinese Traditional Festivals theme – which has been running since 2013 – and the Monkie Kid theme, which offers a diverse, thrilling new spin on Chinese mythology.
Early releases in the former theme were originally exclusive to certain parts of the world – which made sense, given the subject matter was highly specific. Sets like 80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner were immersed in Chinese culture, but the high quality of the sets drew the eye of international audiences. That encouraged the LEGO Group to release later LEGO Chinese Traditional Festivals sets more widely – and heavily restrict region-specific LEGO sets going forward.
Since then, a number of Chinese Traditional Festivals sets have proven extremely popular – with a few becoming tricky to find, even with a wider release. But as the set design has diversified it seems they’ve become less enticing to LEGO fans, as they’re available for a lot longer than they used to be.
2021’s Chinese Traditional Festivals sets may reflect this idea. As is traditional, two different sets appeared at LEGO.com – 80107 Spring Lantern Festival and 80106 Story of Nian. While the former enjoyed a relatively short time on shelves – with its Modular Building compatibility likely driving interest – the latter set hung around much longer, despite its lower price point. That could be because it depicts a story from Chinese culture that requires a lot of cultural context to appreciate.
Similarly, each of this year’s sets are still available at LEGO.com. 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions depicts a number of customs during this period, while 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival offers a cheerful winter scene. Its high level of detail is befitting a set from this theme, but its continued availability on store shelves presents a question. Is it hanging around because the LEGO Group has properly anticipated demand, or because it’s just not that interesting to most LEGO fans?
With 2023 taking a similar tack of cultural specifics and unconventional set design, it seems we’re seeing more and more of a disconnect between this theme and its international audience. However, this could ultimately benefit LEGO fans in a wider sense. Any slight reduction of interest in these sets could mean that the people who are really interested in them don’t have to worry about availability any more. Moreover, casual fans may be more tempted to buy if they don’t have the stress of missing out to consider – or see them as a learning opportunity, as sets like 10411 Learn About Chinese Culture suggest.
It’s also to our benefit to see these sets continue to appear overseas, as they’re a goldmine of rare parts. That’s an idea that manifests in unexpected ways, as 80111 Lunar New Year Parade – produced for 2023 – lets us build a complete purple Classic Space figure at long last.
Could we reach a point where these sets don’t enjoy a global release any more? Probably not; given the fuss caused by their exclusivity, the LEGO Group wouldn’t want to heavily restrict access to these sets again. However, we might need to look at these sets in a new light – or brush up on Chinese customs if we want to enjoy the theme as much going forward.
All of 2023’s LEGO Chinese Traditional Festivals sets are detailed in the table below. You can still grab this year’s sets (80108 Lunar New Year Traditions and 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival) from LEGO.com, but be warned that both are retiring by the year’s end.
|Set name||Price||Pieces||Minifigures||Release Date|
|10411 Learn About Chinese Culture||£69.99 / $69.99 / €79.99||124||3 DUPLO figures||December 25, 2022 (UK and Europe), January 1, 2023 (US)|
|40648 Money Tree||£21.99 / $24.99 / €24.99||336||0||December 25, 2022|
|80110 Lunar New Year Display||£69.99 / $89.99 / €79.99||872||0||December 25, 2022 (UK and Europe), January 10, 2023 (US)|
|80111 Lunar New Year Parade||£89.99 / $129.99 / €99.99||1,653||18||December 25, 2022 (UK and Europe), January 10, 2023 (US)|
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One thought on “LEGO Lunar New Year is getting more niche – and that’s okay”
The Lunar New Year sets are gorgeous for 2023, they have been beautiful every year.