LEGO Monkie Kid 80036: The City of Lanterns – The Monkie Kid city we’ve been waiting for [Review]

Ever since the Monkie Kid theme first launched, there have been many amazing sets, featuring huge mechs and mech-like figures, bright and colorful fully over-the-top vehicles and accessories, and a whole host of villains and minions. But aside from a few small buildings, and a headquarters on a cargo boat, there has not been much in the way of shops or restaurants to populate the world the characters live in. All that is about to change with LEGO 80036: The City of Lanterns. A stacked city scene consisting of eight individual buildings attached to a two-level structure complete with an elevated train. I am super excited about this set, and can’t wait to break it all down for you.

The City of Lanterns comes with 2,197 pieces and will be available on January 1st, for US $149.99 | CAN $179.99 | UK £114.99

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheets

The front of the box features the completed set and all the included Minifigs and accessories against an illustrated background in the style of the animated series. This wave centers around a quest for elemental rings, and these visuals are included in the box art surrounding the main image. There is also a lineup of the set’s Minifigures in the lower right corner, along with two service bots. In addition to the seven Minifigs and two bots, there is also a small flying platform with a balloon shaped like Pigsy’s chef hat.

On the back of the box, the city scene is shown from the back with all of the characters arranged throughout the city. There are three insets on the right showing some of the detailed features of the set, while the left side includes two images of the many buildings from the city separated from the base, and attached in a line. The background of the box includes more quest elements, like a mountain, and treasure map lines.

Inside the box, there are seventeen numbered bags, many including additional un-numbered bags with smaller parts. There are three loose sticker sheets and two instruction booklets inside a large white cardboard sleeve, which LEGO does with many of the larger sets, and it helps keep the booklets and stickers in good shape during shipping. As expected with a set of this size, there are quite a few elements of note included, which we will cover later on.

The build

The set is largely made up of individual buildings that will attach to two levels with jumper plates. As we start the main section comprising the two levels, there is nothing particularly unique about the overall construction, made up of Technic beams and plates, except maybe the use of four 2×2 rounded bricks with technic holes that are completely covered up. There is a neat trick used for the two short sets of stairs on either side of the train track supports.

Speaking of supports, we now come to the first batch of interesting parts in these tall beams which we saw in the first Ninjago City modular, but where that set had only one, this set includes six. These beams serve to support the second level of the city scene, in addition to providing some support for the train track.

With the structural portion of the build out of the way, we are ready to start working on the individual buildings and supplemental scenes. The instructions tell you to store the many Technic pins in the little container at the center, which we will come back to later on. A few more little details, there is a single frog in the middle of the base, and an Octan fuel canister.

Similar to the previous Monkie Kid sets that included buildings, there are two small sections with angled plates, one on each side of the main structure. Starting on the left, there is a small computer station for one of the city’s two service robots, which has three screens, and a trash bin with tools for maintenance.

Above this is a small train platform/tunnel that sports some advertisements, a few security cameras, and even an easter egg in the form of a Hero Factory logo. When finished, this attaches to the main section and also connects to the two train tracks.

The section on the right is a fun Karaoke booth, and with it, we get the first of many batches of 1×2 rounded plates with hollow studs in yellow. These parts will appear again later, although most of the time they are completely hidden from view. The booth includes two pink microphones and a sticker for the song lyrics.

The booth features a large microphone and star attached to the outside and also includes the other half of the train track loop. Around the back is an electric scooter and charging station. There is also a large sticker made up of advertisements for the Panda shop, and other notices.

With this section attached in the same way as the previous section, the base city structure is now complete. We are now ready to start building the seven shops and restaurants of the City of Lanterns.

But before we start on these buildings, we need a way for the citizens to get around town. Time to build the Pigsy Express. The short train is made up of three cars, with the two on the ends mirror images, allowing the train to travel in either direction. There are a few interesting parts in this bag starting with the 2×2 plate with a 1×2 plate perpendicular, three 4×6 curved panels in pink, and several tall 1×1 bricks with two studs in white.

Each car of the train fits a single Minifig, and the set includes a conductor. But by the look of the driving cars, the train is self-driving, with the controls visible through the front window facing towards the windscreen.

Up next, we get a couple of small peripheral scenes. One, a staircase that leads to the train platform on the left side of the scene, and another, a small outdoor restaurant serving prawns, with a large sign of a prawn which attaches to the top of the train platform on the lower level. Oh, and sharp-eyed fans might notice another easter egg. This time it’s a sticker for ZNAP, an obscure K’nek-inspired LEGO theme introduced in 1998 and abandoned the following year.

And now, for one of my favorite buildings, the bubble tea shop. This fun booth starts with a counter that uses the same window feature as the crab restaurant in the original Ninjago City set but is turned on its side. The counter has a couple of bubble teas ready to go.

On the roof is a staircase that will lead from the train platform on the right side of the scene to the upper level. In addition to the cloud-shaped main sign, there is a tall sign with lights made from different colored transparent studs. A pair of radio antennas complete this section, which then nestles into the central section to the left of the Karaoke booth.

The last building of the lower level is a two-story building which will include the sidewalk for the upper level built into the roof. The first floor is what seems to be a general store, with a few unusual items for sale, including a canister of spider venom, a bone, and bull minion horns, along with a sign that advertises sticky buns, presumably those prepared by the restaurant that makes up the upper floor.

Before we get to the second floor, we have another fun collection of parts, this time, the ingot element in dark green. There are thirty-two in the set, and they are used to build the roof details for both floors.

The second floor, as I mentioned earlier, is a restaurant that serves sticky rice buns, and features one of the coolest Minifig accessories I have seen since the introduction of the new wands from the Harry Potter theme, chopsticks! The set comes with four pairs, formed by a single piece with a little tab to fit them into a MInifig hand. The second-floor facade includes some architectural details that remind me of the Imperial Theater modular, and there is a space for the large sign.

The sign features the face of a monkey, a large plate with a yin/yang swirled pattern, and a pair of large chopsticks. Once finished, the building fits snugly next to the bubble tea shop and completes the lower level of the City of Lanterns.

Now that the lower level is complete, it’s time to move on to the last three buildings. First up, the LEGO store. This small shop has everything you would expect from a LEGO store, with a Pick-A-Brick wall on one side, and a wall of sets on the other, including a few references to long-retired themes. There’s The Galaxy Explorer from the classic space theme, A set from Pharaoh’s Quest, the classic yellow castle, even the recent Lantern Festival set from earlier this year. The wall also includes a display case with the Monkey King Warrior Mech (80012).

The LEGO store is adorned with two large LEGO plates in blue and yellow colors, and the famous green dragon. Another clever detail is the 1×1 red plate used for a door handle. Once completed, it fits onto the upper level on the left side.

Next up is the Panda shop. A larger version of this shop appeared in 80011 Red Son’s Inferno Truck. The shelf is lined with bottles and cans, and a gold frog sits on the counter. The roof adds a panda face sign and a small tree.

The shop fits on the right side of the upper level. Before we move on to the last building, there is a small structure that attaches to the right side of the panda shop, which includes a utility pole and a billboard for Chang’e’s Moon Cakes, a reference to another set from this wave. The billboard attaches in an interesting way, setting the sign at a 45-degree angle.

And now we come to the final building of the city, the Lotus hotel. The first floor of the hotel has a fancy red carpet, and a rack for luggage, while the second floor has a bed and a lamp.

The front of the hotel is made using 6 relatively new curved double window frames in sand blue.

Finally, the hotel roof is adorned with an open lotus flower blossom topped with the flame ring. The completed hotel slots snugly between the LEGO store and the Panda shop to complete the skyline of this festive city scene.

The Minifigs

The set comes with seven Minifigures. First, the usual characters like Monkie Kid, Mei, Pigsy, and Mr. Tang. There are also a few citizens, a woman named Huang, another woman named Han, and a train driver. There are also two robots for city maintenance.

Monkie kid and Mei come with their usual casual face, and MK’s other expression is super-cool, with a sparkling smile and goggles, while Mei sports her usual playful face.

Mr. Tan has his casual face and his usual sleepy face. Han (who is shown on the back of the box visiting the LEGO store) has a casual smile, and a bigger smile (I guess she found the set she wanted).

The train driver, Pigsy, and Huang have only one facial expression each.

All of the Minifigs have printings on both the front and the back of their torsos, some very detailed, like Pigsy who sports a pair of chopsticks tucked in the back of his waist sash.

Han has the flames from the front of her hoody carried over to the back, and Mr. Tang has a fancy fan on the back of his tank-top. Monkie Kid and Mei have hoody details printed on their backs, and Mei has a fancy dragon and horse design in three colors.

Pigsy also sports a pan-ladened backpack looking a bit like good old Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings. There are two cute city maintenance robots as well.

The finished model

While the finished model is smaller than the Ninjago City modulars, it is the largest collection of shops and restaurants that we have had from the Monkie Kid theme so far, since many of the previous sets focus on vehicles and mechs rather than on buildings. The buildings are fun and colorful, and fit the style of the previous structures well, with a mix of bright colors, futuristic details, and traditional Chinese architecture, along with many small urban details like utility poles, antenna, radar dishes, and AC units like the ones that populate Ninjago City. The inclusion of many new or recently available parts in lots of fun colors adds to the appeal.

The back of the box shows that most of the shops (the Karaoke booth is attached to the main structure by the train tracks) can be removed and arranged in a row using the provided technic pins, and while the box and the instruction booklet show only a single arrangement, you can, of course, arrange them in several combinations to create different skylines.

In addition to the one on the box, I tried three other arrangements with varied results.

Conclusions and recommendations

If you are a fan of the Monkie Kid theme, or enjoy building and playing with modular sets, then I would highly recommend picking this set up. While the building techniques are not particularly ground-breaking, there is plenty of part usage that should inspire and delight builders of all experience levels, and the detachable aspect adds even more play value, as you could add on more buildings in the same style to create your own Monkie Kid city scene.

LEGO Monkie Kid 80036: The City of Lanterns includes 2,187 pieces and will be available on January 1st, 2022 for US $149.99 | CAN $179.99 | UK £114.99

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

2 comments on “LEGO Monkie Kid 80036: The City of Lanterns – The Monkie Kid city we’ve been waiting for [Review]

  1. design-by-shane

    Now I want to see a Ninjago City set that has a tram featured as part of it. I feel like a lot of people will be picking this up to modify and fit into the rest of the Ninjago City sets

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