LEGO Monkie Kid 80049 Dragon of the East Palace [Review]

With summer comes another new wave of sets from the popular Monkie Kid theme, based on the Chinese folktale Journey to the West. Like many previous waves, it includes vehicles, a mech, and a large building, this time in the form of the underwater palace home to the human form of the Dragon of the East. The subsea structure is based on the location from the third season where the team takes refuge, and ends up leaving with a souped-up new team truck (featured in a previous round of sets). This is where the Monkey King originally got his versatile staff, and the scene features a large brick-built version that hides a surprise. LEGO Monkie Kid 80049 Dragon of the East Palace comes with 2,364 pieces and will be available on June 1st for US $189.99 | CAN $249.99 | UK £169.99.

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 set comes in a relatively large box for a set aimed at younger builders (10+). The box is branded with the usual Monkie Kid elements with a new wave pattern in the top right corner. The front of the box features the completed palace with the Minifigures situated throughout the scene. The lower-left corner features a minifig line-up with Monkie Kid, the Monkey King, the Dragon of the East in human form, a turtle majordomo, 2 crab soldiers, and 2 shrimp soldiers. In the top right corner is a small inset image showing how the two sides of the finished palace slide open to reveal the throne room.

On the back of the box, the palace is shown from the other side, where the jail, bedroom, weapons storage, and other interior rooms are visible. Arranged across the top are four more insets showing the various play features and interior details. The section which holds the Monkey King’s staff is detachable, and the large version of the staff end lifts to reveal the smaller version.

Inside the box, there are 18 numbered bags and one unnumbered bag covering 17 build sections. There is also a large envelope containing 3 instruction booklets and a large sticker sheet. The instruction booklet includes a few pages of introduction to the set, and have some nice insights into the design process, as well as references to the Chinese folklore behind the Monkie Kid theme.

The build

The build starts off with the basic footprint of the palace consisting of a larger collection of plates in the center and smaller plates combined to create the 2 sides. The center of the base contains a small ornate throne and is flanked by two tables with teapots and cups. We add a couple of angled gold fences and the Technic beams for the two sliding sections to attach.

Turning the palace around we start to build the two side sections. One includes a pair of decorated chairs and a large piece of art showing a wise master teaching his humble student. The other side room is a fancy bed for the Dragon of the East. The wall behind the throne is made of transparent bricks and panels for the underwater effect, and 2 sections of sideways-built walls of teal and more of the carved gold fence pieces.

Next, we go back to the throne room to build two side walls trimmed with gold candle pieces, and a large ornate wheel is added above the throne. Finally, a few arches are added to help support the second level of the palace.

With the first floor completed it’s time to start on the first of the two sliding sections, which are built to include rocks, coral, and bountiful sea life. They also use more randomly colored parts than a Star Wars Helmet, which will all be covered up in the final build, unless you know where to look.

The completed section attaches to the main palace by loosely fitting over the tile-covered Technic beams. After locking the top part of the sliding section in place, we move on to a fairly interesting bit of rock work using a variety of slopes and curved parts. The top of the section is lined with short gold fence parts and shiny pearl-blue transparent shapes. These resemble the larger fence and orb pieces used to decorate the roof sections later, which hints at a bit of forced perspective which is mentioned in the instruction booklet intro.

Now it is time to move on to the right section, which includes a small jail with an unfortunate resident someone may have forgotten to feed. The section also includes the top part of a stairway that leads to the upper floor of the palace (we’ll cover the bottom half later in the build), and also to a spot for a small gazebo-like structure. Like the left section, the top is also lined with small gold fence pieces.

The right section wraps up with a few more bits of rock as well as more fences and pearly shells. The section attaches in the same way as the first one and with both sections in pace, we can slide them back and forth to reveal the hidden throne room. This will make the finished model a bit tricky to move, but the set designers included an image in the booklet that shows how to pick it up.

Next, we build a neat little gate arch over the steps that lead to the second level. The roofs are adorned with upturned gold claws and a blue orb. We also unpack the yellow collection of fish, shells, and two sea horses that attach to either side of the gate.

After building the gate and the lower half of the stairway, we add a small pillared structure that features a table and is topped with another blue orb.

The last part of the palace proper is the second-floor room, which seems to be a meditation spot, sparsely furnished. The fence-based window design is a little smaller than the ones on the first floor, another hint of the forced perspective. More gold fences and pearly blue shells line the front and sides of this level.

With more gold adornments and another blue orb at the top, the palace is mostly completed. The only remaining sections are the removable giant top end of the staff, which seems to hold up the ocean, and a dark blue dragon guardian.

The dragon is attached to a large turntable so it can rotate to face the front or the back of the palace. In one of its hands, it holds another blue orb (the set contains 5 in all). This does mean that the dragon is only half a dragon, but still a nice addition. The head can turn and the jaw opens.

Finally, the large staff and base attach to the right of the second level. Lifting the large staff reveals a much more reasonable one that becomes the iconic and very versatile weapon of the famous Monkey King.

The minifigures

The set includes 9 minifigs, including the skeleton. All non-skeletal figures include back printing. Monkie Kid in his usual outfit, includes a set of scuba gear and a camera. He also has an alternate expression, ready for battle. Monkey King has his usual casual face and one that is a little nervous-looking. The Dragon of the East has two nearly identical expressions behind his large pink beard/hair mold.

The crab and shrimp soldiers have ornately printed torsos in gold and teal. The crab soldiers have short kid legs, and their heads are custom molded. The shrimp soldiers have a large molded head that includes the shrimp body and tail.

The finished model

The finished model is a great play set, with lots of interior and exterior spaces for the included minifigs to be set up. The only thing noticeably missing is some kind of vehicle, even a small submersible or boat. The sliding sections are cleverly attached with a simple “mechanism” although I think they would have trouble moving on anything other than a smooth surface. My only complaint is that some of the stairs have noticeable gaps. The various slopes, curved elements and a newer single-molded rocky fin piece used to create the coral reefs provide lots of variety during the build, and visual interest.

Conclusions and recommendations

While not as big as the recent Heavenly Realm set with similar moving sections, or have as many features as the City of Lanterns set, this set is a great addition to the Monkie Kid theme, and a pretty decent parts pack as well with over 2,000 parts, many of them in new or unique colors. The price does feel a bit on the high side considering there are no smaller vehicles or play sections like many other sets from the theme.

LEGO Monkie Kid 80049 Dragon of the East Palace comes with 9 minifigures and 2,364 pieces. It will be available on June 1st for US $189.99 | CAN $249.99 | UK £169.99, and may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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.

1 comment on “LEGO Monkie Kid 80049 Dragon of the East Palace [Review]

  1. Willy

    I wish I had broken my pledge of ‘no new themes” when Monkie Kid was released. Have had many great sets.

Comments are closed.