Exploring LEGO Chinese New Year 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival [Review]

A couple days ago we took a look at LEGO 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions, the second in a trio of this year’s Chinese New Year series. The whole collection of these sets (including years past) has been fun, adventurous, and feature-packed. They’ve also often been filled with interesting and new elements. 2022 brings us to another Year of the Tiger in the 12 year cycle, and with it we have LEGO 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival. Join us as we slide into the skating rink to take a closer look. This set has 1519 pieces, including 13 minifigures. It will be available January 10th, retailing for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £89.99.

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

The image on the front of the box uses as much real estate as possible to include the entire build up close. It also shows off the 13 minifigures, and alongside them, a stylistic depiction of a tiger for the Year of the Tiger. In the top right corner, there’s a seal with the Spring character on it, and below that it says, “Chinese Festival Special Edition.”

The back of the box shows various scenes from the build, as well as another tiger. The paint-stroke style bubbles are a nice way to show off the features.

Inside the box are 13 numbered bags and 2 loose white 16×16 plates.

The 322-page instruction book is accompanied by a cardboard insert for a face-cutout photo opportunity. This element (which actually has a part number printed on it)  is dual-sided, featuring a pair of regal-looking tigers on one side, and on the other, a tiger-costumed person carving a tiger ice sculpture that’s holding a scroll or tablet with the Spring character on it. Above their heads is the character for Tiger.

The build

We kick off the build process with a very “Perry the Platypus” sled that is apparently supposed to be a penguin. Regardless, it’s a pretty cute little guy and composed of a few new teal part-color variations, including rounded 2×4 tiles, 1×2 inverted brackets, 1×3 jumper, and 4×2 double inverted slope.

As we begin the actual ice rink, we find ourselves laying quite a lot of brick and plate to create a foundation. As comic relief, we discover that someone dropped their phone in the “water” before the top iced over.

Along with the foundation is an interesting drawer-like feature. At this point, it’s a total mystery what it’s for, but it’s fun to guess. Additionally, it sits atop a layer of sand blue ingots, which is a welcome new color for this element.

Moving along, we finish the whole footprint of the entire build. We also lay the foundation for the stairs, as well as begin the snow/rock work around the edges.

Drumroll for the moment some of you might have been waiting for! The next bag has us breaking out 1x6x5 trans opalescent (satin) panels for the ice. As you can see, the transparency is cloudy/opaque. In total, there are 18 of these.

In real life that cloudiness presents as a fine glittery shimmer. This new-ish color is gorgeous, and fun to play with in different lighting because it shifts.

Headed into the next bag, we’ve completed half the ice. Also, the stairs, with decorative bollards, are coming along nicely, in addition to the continued landscaping.

It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but after finishing up the ice, we also finish up the foundation on the right side of the model.

From there, we lay a grand total of 16 1x2x1 2/3 tan SNOT (Studs Not On Top) bricks to give us more real estate for building the ice structures at the back. The outside edges of the rink are given an organic touch so it’s not so boxy.

A fun feature is the inclusion of an ice fishing hole, which is created with several slopes, arch, and inverted arch elements. One such element is the new 1×2 inverted arch. It has only been in a few sets, and this is the first time it has appeared in white. Another element used here is a 1×3 inverted arch, which has only appeared in white in one other set. (Disney Frozen‘s 43197 The Ice Castle)

From there we complete our first ice sculpture. This little penguin is slightly reminiscent of the Patronus figures from the Harry Potter line. The difference is that those are glitter trans light blue, and this element is dual molded trans light blue and opalescent trans light blue. No glitter flakes here.

We also continue work on the back of the build, where the giant ice sculpture will sit, as well as place a couple of unique cobblestone-like pathways. 

Next up is the skate rental shack. Luckily, all the decaled elements in this set are printed. One is an excellent dark blue 1×4 with minifigures playing in the snow. Another is a light yellow 2×4 with a skate on a yellow minifigure foot. Teal and yellow Chinese characters translate to “Ice skates for rent. 50 yuan/hr.” A bit expensive if you ask me, but I suppose LEGO coffee is even pricier. Ha!

There’s also a table with a cash register and other items. It’s unclear what they are, but it appears that one is a drink – which uses an opalescent trans dark blue 1×1 cone. It’s only been used in one other set: 40478 Mini Disney Castle. Along with this is what appears to be a bell, perhaps used for emergencies.

Fittingly, on the opposite side of the shack is a rack full of skates and a couple of hockey sticks. The skates are held up with inkwells in various colors. The light bright orange is a new color for this element.

On top of an ornate trim made up of red roller skates and dark red 1×1 bits for wood sits a teal roof laden with snow. The angle is accomplished with reddish-brown rocker plates on clips. Depending on the angle you view it, it can look a little odd, but in general, it all fits. The shack further ties into the scene with a pair of Chinese lanterns on either side of the door.

The photo opportunity we discussed in the contents section above looks excellent fitted in its place. With the red 1×1 quarter-circle tiles over the bright light orange, it has a terrific vibe to it. Even with the “snow” pieces securing it in place, it is easy to take a couple off temporarily and flip it around.

An interesting accessory build is a little food cart. The basin of which is composed of the new 3x3x2 round brick with a recessed center. While it does look good, it’s very easy for it to tip over if the kickstand and handlebars are not positioned just right. It’s unclear what the food (dark orange rock/nugget elements) is, but our best guess is that it’s supposed to be giant yams. The color is new for the piece, which previously only came in pearl gold.

As you can imagine there are a handful of new part colors in the giant ice sculpture. This includes an intriguing new element that we saw in a different color in the other Chinese New Year set this year, 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions. It’s composed of 2 rounded 1×2 plates attached via a pair of plate-high bars (making the element equivalent to a 1×2 brick). Other new color variations include a trans clear modified plate with bar, trans light blue headlight brick, and the newer 1×2 modified plate with a clip on the short side.

Some of these elements are used in the bottom portion of the central ice sculpture. Even before the top goes on, it already has a traditional Chinese archway look to it and straddles a trans clear “ice” slide. The top of the sculpture is the Chinese character for chun (spring) that we’ve seen a couple of times now. As mentioned before, here it represents the Spring Festival as well as joy and youthfulness. This portion is where all those new elements really shine.

Flanking either side of the ice sculpture is a Chinese lantern standard. Their globes are a trans red minifigure head with a tiger printed on either side, which we were recently introduced to in the other CNY set. Additionally, there’s a pair of 2×2 tiles atop each post that have the Chinese character for snow blended in with a snowflake.

To give the area a little more greenery, height, and sitting in the perfect place, is a big pine or fir tree. On the other side of the stairs is a refrigerator for drinks, and tucked behind that are some skis. The skis don’t stay put very well, but it’s great to have them included!

The tree is interesting in that it is built like your typical faux tree that you find in many homes during the holiday season – at least in the US. The sections clip or slip onto the central trunk and are fanned inward or outward to achieve the desired look. The top is partially composed of a 2×2 4-petal plant/flower, featured in white for the first time.

Completing the rockwork and path around the stair, we add some great little bushes. These bushes include “snow-covered” white leaves that are new to this set. There’s also a little penguin who has only been in a couple of other sets. He has a tile on his back and it’s unclear why. But it appears he’s the inspiration for the ice sculpture.

Another excellent printed element rounds out our collection. A sign or “screen” sits in front with an image of a woman and child ice skating together, a map of the rink in the bottom left, and a thermometer in the top right. Next to it, there’s another lantern post with a different style of lantern, and sitting atop it are the same “snow” tiles.

Once all is finished, there’s a nice pile of extra pieces. Many are very common, but a few interesting ones include an extra whip (fishing pole), a sand green ski-pole, and a second tiger tail.

The completed model

When all said and done, this is a lovely multi-faceted build. There are loads of play features. In fact, for a set of this size, there are more roleplay opportunities than many other sets, in my opinion. Culturally speaking, there aren’t a ton of Chinese New Year specific features, but there are enough, and in key places (a massive ice sculpture in the center, for example), to give it the right feel.

If you recall the drawer that was mentioned early, we find that it’s a nice treat. We get a bunch of additional elements, including skates to outfit everyone, snowshoes, ski poles, and another hockey stick.

The minifigures

As previously mentioned, this set includes 13 minifigures. While many of their parts are not new, there are a few key elements that make up for it. There are also lots of jackets for those feeling like your coat/jacket supply is limited, and we also get several dual-sided heads with nice prints! Let’s look at them in step order…

The first pair of minifigures could be a mother and son, or older and younger siblings. The girl is a bit plain with a purple jacket and a fairly common head. At least the head is dual-sided, with a nice smile on one side and a laugh on the other. On the flip side, the boy’s torso/jacket is brand new and includes an awesome tribute to the retired Ice Planet theme. The rest of his ensemble is not new, but his face is pretty cute!

Next up is an excellent fig. His dual-sided face features a “trouble-maker” winking grin on one side and a pained or fearful grimace on the other. While the head is not new, it’s arguably the best in the set. The rest of his outfit is not new, although the dark red jacket with a hoodie underneath it is a nice print.

Moving along is an elderly woman, who uses a chair sled to get around the rink. She too has a dual head, though the faces are really similar. Her one new element, again, is a striped jacket.

Up next is the ice sculptor. Her head is only in one other set: 60277 Police Patrol Boat. Her torso is new this year, only showing up in the City advent calendar and 60292 Town Center. Although it is common, the hair goes really nicely with the rest of the fig.

The ice skate rental shop keeper head is only in 2 other sets: this year’s other CNY set, and 60295 Stunt Show Arena. His torso is new this year, showing up in a promo polybag (40488 Coffee Cart), and LEGO Ideas 21325 Medieval Blacksmith.

Next, the food vendor’s torso is new, only showing up in the recently reviewed 80108 Lunar New Year Traditions. It is one of my personal favorites with its excellent fanny pack atop an azure jacket and red undershirt. The boy’s jacket is new, only showing up in 76388 Hogsmeade Village Visit on Dean Thomas. He has a cute dual-sided head, which is not new. The minifigure who appears to be his father carries a giant camera, but none of his outfit is new.

The fisherman’s head is pretty rare. It came in two sets in 2013 (70404 Kings Castle and the employee Christmas gift from 2013) and just returned in 40499 Santa’s Sleigh. His jacket is the same Ice Planet one from above. It’s odd that they reused the torso within the same set in this way, but they are different-enough characters that you may not even notice. Plus, who doesn’t want more than one of these cool jackets? His Ushanka hat is appearing in this color for the first time. The scheme is also another tribute to Ice Planet, alongside the jacket.

Apart from the dual-sided head, which is not new, the one minifigure with an entirely new outfit is the tiger costume guy. A Year of the Tiger set wouldn’t be the same without him! His costume includes a cute tiger hood/mask, striped pants, and tail, and the torso features a tiger-striped hoodie under a Chinese New Year-themed bib.

There are two little girls in the set, and the first sports a new green jacket for a torso. Her dual-sided face includes a grin on one side and a shocked expression on the other. However, this print is not new, nor are the hair and legs.

The second little girl – and the last of the minifigures – dons a cool teal jacket over a purple shirt. This same torso was featured on a fig from 10273 Haunted House. She too has a dual-sided head, and the rest of her ensemble is not new.

Conclusions and recommendations

As mentioned previously, this set is chock-full of play features. It’s very busy but in a good way. There are also a decent handful of new prints and pieces. The other primary Chinese New Year set this year had a significant focus on building together with family. It also leaned much harder into the tradition and cultural aspects of the model and theme. But this one takes a more subtle approach, and also leans more in the direction of play than display.

If you’re someone who avidly collects CNY sets, you probably don’t need my help deciding if you should get this, but if you’re a casual collector of the line, I’d say this is a great addition to your collection. It’s cute and fun and has a good value at less than $0.08 per piece. There are plenty of parts that are very easy to build, but there are also a few challenges in figuring out the placement of the landscaping. Even if you just want the pieces, there is a great assortment of highly useful elements. Whatever your motivations, this seems to be a worthwhile consideration!

If you like this set, check out some of our other Chinese New Year related articles, including:

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.

4 comments on “Exploring LEGO Chinese New Year 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival [Review]

  1. SylvainLS

    Couldn’t the “emergency bell” that no one really understand actually be some kind of grinder for the skates’ blades?

  2. tehaoer

    Thanks for thorough review of building process, very nice photos. The brown things in the cart are supposed to be roasted sweet potatoes which are popular treat during winter in some parts of China. The “bell” is definitely a skates sharpener, very typical thing at my local skate rinks. Oh and that lost phone under the ice? Thats a lovely real life touch to the whole playset. I think i am going to get it!

  3. Commander Cold

    My family just picked up this set. The penguin is a refence to penguins that visited the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in 2019. One of which had an orange backpack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXEuDoifdAw The whole set seems inspired by the festival.

    We love the Chinese New Year sets since it’s a great way to connect with my wife’s Chinese heritage. I also loved the reference to the Ice Planet 2002 theme, which was one of my favorites when I was a kid. This set inspired us to make a trip to the Harbin festival when we are able to travel to China again.

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