The Maneki-Neko, or “Beckoning Cat” is a symbol of good fortune, originally from Japan, but commonly referred to as a Chinese Lucky Cat due to its frequent appearance in shop, business, and restaurant entrances in China, and in Chinatowns across the world. With Chinese New Year approaching at the end of January, LEGO is introducing a Lucky Cat to its Brick Headz range. Read on to see what we thought when we got our paws on a set…
The box and contents
The front of the box features the Cat on its display plinth. The box rear shows the Cat’s “play feature” — the lever which moves its beckoning arm — and offers a tease of forthcoming Brick Headz releases.
The box contains 134 LEGO pieces split across 3 bags, accompanied by a couple of loose parts and the 42-page instruction booklet which details the 39 construction steps required to complete the model.
Our feline friend is put together from the bottom up, with a selection of studs-out bricks providing various sideways attachment points on the traditional blocky core of a Brick Headz figure. If you’ve built any Brick Headz before, you’ll be right at home here, with the inclusion of the simple lever mechanism the only difference to the regular techniques employed in these models.
The Cat’s pointed ears are created through a simple yet effective connection — red 1×1 bricks with bars held by vertical clips. It’s a great way to deliver the shaping and adds a bit of interest to the build process…
From there, you clad the Cat’s sides with a selection of curved white slopes, giving the creature a more cuddly and rounded appearance. Only the face remains to be attached, which temporarily lends the model an unnerving aspect, like something out of a horror movie…
Thankfully the face is secured in place quickly and you can relax by taking a good look at your feline beastie in all its glory. The Cat is cute, with its big anime-style eyes and smart whiskers giving it a friendly expression. All the details of the traditional figurine are present and correct — from the red collar and golden bell, through the green bib, down to the antique-style ingot coin held in the immobile right paw. The coin’s tile is the only printed part in the set other than the eyes, and carries the characters for sen man ryou, meaning “10 million gold pieces”, ie. lots of money.
After completing the Cat itself, there are only a few more instruction steps to follow to put together the display stand. The stand is simple but attractive, stylishly finished with a variety of curved tiles in a mix of red and pearl gold.
Personally, I wish the stand had been the first element of the build, rather than the last. It’s an anticlimactic thing to finish with, and it might have been more fun to round off the building process with the feline star of the show rather than its litter tray!
Having said that, the Lucky Cat looks great on its display base when you put everything together…
Do you feel lucky punk? Well do you?
If you’re into bricks more than the subject matter, the Cat isn’t much of a parts pack. Other than the single printed tile there weren’t any exciting pieces which got my blood pumping. However, it’s a nice enough model and I enjoyed putting it together.
Should you get yourself a Lucky Cat? It depends on two things… How important the cultural element is to you, and whether you’re a Brick Headz fan or not. If you mark Chinese New Year then LEGO’s Lucky Cat is a fine brick-built celebration of the season, and could make a fun gift. And if you’re a fan of the Brick Headz line then this entry in the series is cute, makes for a sweet display piece, and is a quick build with a couple of fun elements.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Sending The Brothers Brick products guarantees neither coverage nor positive review.
Check out our full gallery: