LEGO Chinese New Year 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions [Review]

Sometimes when we have the opportunity to review a set, we start off only knowing the set number. Upon reading 80108, we knew that this one had to be special. In Chinese culture, 8 is a very lucky number – and this palindrome is even better! Of course, it would refer to LEGO Chinese New Year 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions. This set is a symphony of holiday customs and culture. Join us as we learn about every facet of this model. The set has 1066 pieces, including 12 minifigures. It will be available January 10th for US $79.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99.

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 sheet

There is a unique shape to the box from your typical rectangle. Instead, it’s fairly square. The front shows what you might describe as a wheel of 6 vignettes. The bottom left, next to the usual introduction of the minifigures, is a stylized image of the tiger – the symbolic animal for 2022. The top-right displays the character for Spring Festival and denotes this is a special edition set. The same corner also indicates that this set is designed to be built together with as many as 6 people.

The back of the box shows another way to display all of the vignettes, as well as some closeups of the individual scenes. There’s even an overhead shot that better shows off the wheel-like, circular aspects of the completed set.

Inside the box are 7 numbered polybags, a stack of 6 instruction booklets (one for each vignette), and a couple of sticker sheets.

Each of the instruction booklets has a lovely picture on the front, as well as Chinese characters noting (read from right to left) the tradition behind the theme of each build. The first shows people cleaning and the characters translate to “Remove the old and put up new.” Book two depicts someone buying items from a vendor and says, “Get new year goods.” Third, we have someone placing a piece of paper on a door. This one says, “Open door and receive blessings/fortune.” The fourth depicts people eating, a clock, and fireworks outside. The translation reads, “Staying up to welcome the new year.” Next shows an elderly woman giving a gift to a child. This one says, “New Year’s Greetings.” And finally, the last one shows a regal figure and the text says, ‘Happy Welcoming of the God of Wealth.”

There’s also a cute cartoon at the beginning of the book, showing a minifigure family enjoying the holiday by building the set together. However, if you’re expecting more than that you’ll be disappointed. None of the booklets contain any translations or additional historical info for non-native speakers. While it may encourage people to do research and explore further, it seems like a missed opportunity to teach and spread appreciation. As someone who would love to learn about the culture, it can be frustratingly difficult to translate and understand – particularly because some Chinese New Year characters are purposefully written upside-down (more on that later). For the purpose of this article, I was fortunate to gain a little help from one of my colleagues.

Finally, there are a fair number of stickers. Not a crazy amount, but it would’ve been excellent if a couple of them were printed, particularly the tiger painting (#2). Luckily, there are a few printed elements and we’ll get to them in a bit. As an additional note, the yellow-ish stickers match the images and text of the instruction books

The build

Book 1 kicks off with building the central hub to which all the vignettes are attached. Those aforementioned yellow-ish stickers adorn each section of the hub, and the hub itself is comprised of 6 identical segments. Using the new 1×1 brick with axle hole, 1×2 Technic brick with extensions, and 3-axle hub connector, the pieces fit together in a clean hexagonal shape.

To complete the hub, a topper is created using more of the same parts, along with a water wheel plate, a beautifully printed radar dish, and an unusual new element. It appears to be two 1×2 rounded plates sandwiching a couple of bars. On the left, the dish reads, “Welcoming the new year.” On the right, the interpretation is a little more complex. It is a formalized version of, “family reunion,” but it also indicates “closed door,” as in the whole family staying in together.

Once the hub is finished, we move on to the vignettes themselves – the first of which lives in the same instruction booklet. As you can imagine, the foundation of these sub-builds is all very similar. It’s a bit like an oddly-shaped hockey puck. The large red macaroni bricks are implemented here, for the first time since 2012.

When it comes to the walls, there are minor changes to color and other cosmetic features, but otherwise, they are highly similar and have the same attachment to the hub. Interestingly, though, the first vignette has a unique trait: a single, new, medium nougat 1x1x2/3 brick sits square in the center. It is unclear why this was chosen instead of stacking 2 1×1 plates. But we’re not complaining about new elements! It’ll be interesting to see how this is used in other builds.

The first vignette is all about cleaning and having a fresh start to the new year. Fittingly, the text on the front matches the instructions and hub, reading left to right, “Remove the old and put up new.” It appears this is a rooftop scene, with a balcony, bird, air-conditioner, clothesline, and planter. The planter says, “seafood,” which is an odd use of the word. Soap and a bucket sit on the ground and a sudsy window awaits a squeegee. Dirty cat-paw prints are a nice touch for the window sticker.

Next up is book 2 (bag 3) and the second vignette. Patronage of local shops and stalls is also a popular tradition of the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. Therefore it’s fitting that this build pays tribute to that. Again, in line with the instructions and hub, the title sticker reads, “Get New Year goods.” The wording may not be super fancy, but the build is certainly fun. This particular stall’s offerings include meats (with new reddish-brown sausages), sunflower seeds (a popular snack), and a plethora of figurines. The roof is compiled of lovely sand-blue ingots – a new color for that element.

The poster that hangs behind the figurines reads, “handicraft dough dolls/sculptures,” which is a popular folk art in China, particularly around this time of year. You may also notice what appears to be a great cameo appearance of a couple Monkie Kid characters.

Vignette number 3 pays homage to the tradition of decorating the house for the occasion. Three printed money envelopes, as well as three additional printed tiles, are used in this build. It’s interesting that these are not stickered like the majority of the rest of the model, but we’re not complaining! The top says, “Good luck in the year of the Tiger.” The other two are a couplet, read from top to bottom and right to left. On the right, the upper portion reads, “The gold cow retires/sees the old year out,” (concluding the year of the Ox) and the bottom portion says, “Harvest for the previous year is so good until the bard/storage/savings overfills.” And on the left, it reads, “Jade Tiger welcomes spring/new year” on the top portion and, “Prosperity for all sectors and business,” on the bottom half.

The sticker that adorns the door reads, “Blessing,” which has a long-standing tradition. It is a symbolic blessing of luck and happiness, and it’s hung upside down to imply that the blessing has arrived or is here when you open the door. Likewise, the title of the build matches: “Open the door and receive blessings/fortune.” Other features of the scene include a traditional mandarin orange money tree (accomplished with a 1L bar w/ tow ball element in a new color), and stickered elements acting as Year of the Tiger decorations with another “Blessing” character.

Next is vignette number four, and something that many cultures around the world celebrate: the countdown to New Year. A clock above the fish tank reads 23:59, and a picture of the whole family hangs on the wall. Along with a nice little couch comes a TV and console. The title (as previously implied) is, “Staying up to welcome the new year/sending away the old year.”

The TV sticker shows the host of a show. Those who do not celebrate Chinese New Year can probably relate this to New Year specials in their own regions.

Second, to last is Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In this vignette, a lovely flower vase sits between two chairs. That beautiful tiger painting hangs on the wall, opposite a bookshelf whose books look a bit chopped off. And the scene, titled, “New Year’s Greetings” includes presents that are waiting to be exchanged. (Including LEGO!)

Finally, we come to the sixth vignette. It starts the same as every other except for one minor difference: a pearl gold frog is hidden in the base.

This build is reminiscent of a treasure chamber. Titled, “Happy Welcoming of the God of Wealth,” it certainly depicts plenty of gold. Golden hotdog buns are fitted with gold minifigure handle elements to create a pretty decent replica of the traditional boat-shaped sycee yuanbao ingots. Some of the treasure it’s inside a red cauldron – a new color for this element. Additionally, an awesome lantern hangs on the left, printed with an image of the Tiger on both sides.

On the right, a printed banner is widely interpreted as, “Lucky fortune.” In long form, this means to invite/welcome luck and to receive something precious/treasured in return. And as luck would have it, there are two of these tiles in the set, even though only one is used.

When all is said and done, there’s a wonderful assortment of extra parts. Along with that awesome printed tile, we have an extra of each of the trophy figurines. There are also flowers, greenery, a paint brush, and many more useful tidbits.

The completed model

Once we wrap up the build, there are technically two ways to display it: stacked or connected to the hub. The former makes the build a lot easier to see. The catch? This is one of the most unstable connections I have ever seen in an official set. They are difficult to place, to start, but as you go it’s like working with a house of cards. All of the weight sits at the back of each sub-build, so the whole thing wants to topple backward. It’s just an awful design. But hey! Get it to stay standing and it looks awesome!

Alternatively, the hub makes it hard to see everything at once, but it’s a great model. Each section feels like a little window into the minifigures’ lives, and the traditions as a whole. The base allows for 6×6 studs, but instead, with the help of the new 1×5 plate, the walls are built as 1×5, making it both cohesive/blended and easier to see. Where the other has weak connections, the Technic connections make this one fairly strong.

The minifigures

This set contains a collection of 12 characters who help tell the story of these traditions. It appears that at least half of them are related, the same number of people intended to build the set together. There are a couple of excellent new prints to share, so let’s dive in.

The first vignette includes two figs. They wear matching orange and white jumpsuits, and it’s unclear if they’re part of a cleaning service, or just like matching attire. The legs are monochrome and not unique, nor are the single-sided heads and hair, but the torsos are a new print. Of particular interest is the stylistic tiger face on their backs. Their accessories include a bottle of window cleaner, a squeegee (pneumatic T), and a lovely rainbow duster. I haven’t seen one of those in a while, but it’s immediately recognizable! Not only do we get a good little variety of flower colors, but the handle is made from the useful new 2L bar with stop ring.

The next vignette provides us with an exuberant stall-keeper. His stubbled face is spread in a giant open-mouthed smile. Or perhaps he’s shouting an invitation to buy his wares. This head is in only one other newer set, 60295 Stunt Show Arena and the excellent dark azure torso is new too. Gotta love that fanny pack! Additionally, the dark azure jacket is nicely detailed. He carries one of his dough figurines in dark blue.

Next up is a young duo – possibly a big brother and little sister – who are decorating for the festival. There’s only one new element amongst the two, and that is the little girl’s torso. Like the stall-keeper, her jacket is nicely detailed with a metallic silver center and aqua arms. Cute flowers adorn the front, while a pretty vine with flowers or berries snakes across the back. Unfortunately, she does not have a dual-side head, but the boy does. He carries sunflower seeds, so it’s fitting to have the “full-mouth” face. They both carry art supplies for making New Year decorations.

As the clock nears midnight, we arrive in a family room with a mom, dad, and daughter trio. For the most part, their outfits are not new, however, the little girl’s torso is in one other new set: 10293 Santa’s Visit. Also, one of the best new parts in the entire set, aside from the stall-keeper’s jacket, is the father’s head. The dual-sided print features a bespectacled friendly smile on one side. On the other, the glasses are askew with the wearer asleep. The girl’s head is also dual-sided, with a big grin on one side and a shocked expression on the other, but again, this is not new.

For accessories, the girl and mother carry cell phones and the father carries a teacup and an orange/tangerine slice. The closeup below includes another printed element used a few times in the set, but not as an accessory for the trio. It should be noted, though, that this element’s printing was off for every single one. Perhaps not terribly so, but none were evenly centered.

From there we meet the grandparents and the little girl’s brother. Both of the grandparents’ torsos are new with this set. Hers features a grandmotherly red sweater with a broach and pearls. Likewise, his features a grandfatherly black sweater with a dark red New Year scarf. Against the black background, the scarf does show up fairly dark. Though the departure from red is nice, it may have been better to feature his sweater in another color – gray perhaps – to make the scarf stand out more. Both grandparents carry money envelopes to presumably gift the little boy. His outfit isn’t new, however, his cute smiling face is only in one other city set from 2020: 60306 Shopping Street. As for the grandparents’ heads, while they are not new, they are both nice prints. The grandmother’s is dual-sided, but the sides are so similar that it almost feels like a waste.

Finally, we round out the bunch with the God of Prosperity himself. Fittingly, his is the most beautiful outfit of all the minifigures in the set. Starting at the top, his head, with its mustachioed, winking face, has been seen once before in 71741 Ninjago City Gardens. It’s topped with a hat made from a pearl gold, modified 1×1 plate with handles. It’s the first time this new element has been featured in that color. As previously mentioned, the coin-like 1×1 round tile element came with many uncentered prints. This was the closest one I could find to centered.

Moving along, the last time we saw this black beard was in 2015. It’s an understandable and important addition to the whole ensemble, although it covers the majority of the chest area, which is beautifully printed, along with the skirt. The azure shoulder armor pulls out the color in the print. Overall it’s truly lovely. He carries a red money envelope and a sycee yuanbao ingot.

Conclusions and recommendations

This set was definitely a learning experience for me. Before now, I had very little knowledge of Chinese New Year traditions and culture. And I certainly had no idea what the character translations were. As I mentioned previously, I had a lot of help from a colleague. I also used good ol’ Google to explain cultural customs. It would’ve been really nice if LEGO had put forth some effort to add their spin to this educational opportunity. It’s almost as if they assume only a very specific set of people would buy it.

The stacked method of display is really disappointing. But in my opinion, the hub arrangement makes up for it just fine. Simply add a motor and it becomes a carousel of culture through art.

In terms of being a “build-together” set, I could see this working with some families depending on whether or not everyone could get along. I see few families having the patience to sit through each person’s portion, particularly with the redundancy of the bases. That said, if there was ever a model to try it on, this may be it.

For the average collector simply building for themselves, I’d say this could certainly be worth picking up. Even if you don’t want to display it, there are lots of great pieces in here. Some sort of alternate build could be awesome.

If you like this set, check out our other articles about Chinese New Year LEGO reviews,  news, and custom builds, including:

LEGO Chinese New Year 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions will be available January 10th and retail for US $79.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99.

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 Chinese New Year 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions [Review]

  1. OriYentl87

    I imagine the white box has “seafood” written on it because in the cities of many Asian countries people don’t have gardens or access to plots and as a result use discarded polystyrene containers large enough to be used as a garden pot /container planting. Often on the rooftops of their apartment buildings or sometimes on the side walks in front of their shops. People often grow chili plants, cucumbers or even flowers. If you have ever had the opportunity to live in a busy metropolitan city in Asian this would be a common sight.

  2. Gale

    these traditions arent auctually culture. Think of eating trukey on thanksgiving and having a lecture on american relations with native americans.

Comments are closed.