Review: 80102 Dragon Dance

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View image at flickr

LEGO occasionally produces sets which are only available in certain markets. The recent Chinese New Year range has elicited particular attention as these models look magnificent but are being sold exclusively within the Asia-Pacific area that encompasses East Asia and Australasia.

The decision to limit their availability is certainly disappointing, especially since Chinese New Year celebrations take place around the world. Nevertheless, I have been able to purchase 80102 Dragon Dance on the secondary market and believe that it is worthy of discussion as this is undoubtedly an interesting set.

Minifigures

Five minifigures participate in this dragon dance ceremony, the first of whom is suitably dressed for the Year of the Pig. This costume was originally created for the Piggy Guy from the Collectable Minifigures range and I am delighted to see it return. The headgear remains unaltered, featuring a moulded snout and ears along with printed eyes and an opening to show the smiling head underneath.

80102 Dragon Dance

Some pink highlights are printed on the torso but it does not include a curly tail on the reverse, unlike the original minifigure. This example looks good though and I appreciate the contrasting black hands which represent trotters. The feet include complimentary designs that also appeared on the popular Piggy Guy minifigure from 2014.

80102 Dragon Dance

The other dancers wear traditional red uniforms, featuring a lovely orange and yellow dragon emblem across the front. They also include small fastenings on each torso and sport a yellow belt around their waist, perhaps reflecting the close connection between dragon dance and martial arts. However, the minifigures do feature unique facial expressions.

View image at flickr

In addition, the dancers' headgear differs as two minifigures wear bandanas while the others include top knot hairstyles. Both elements were designed for The LEGO NINJAGO Movie and they look great here, as one might expect. The consistent red colour scheme seems suitable too as red is traditionally associated with prosperity and Chinese New Year celebrations.

View image at flickr

The bandana piece is particularly interesting as its rounded top initially depicted a bald head in the sixteenth series of Collectable Minifigures. On this occasion, the rounded area is black so presumably forms part of the bandana. The minifigures do not come with accessories, instead focusing their attention on the dragon!

View image at flickr

The Completed Model

Bright colours dominate this model and it looks spectacular, measuring almost 34cm in length from the edge of the base to the dragon's narrow tail. This mythical creature closely resembles those on display at real dragon dance events and incorporates a dancing function which is activated by rotating a black crank at one end of the base, underneath the tail.

View image at flickr

The internal mechanism is relatively simple, consisting of several colourful cams which are connected to a central axle. These cause each section of the dragon to rise and fall as the crank rotates, creating an attractive flowing motion. Sixteen vibrant coral 2x2 round tiles are situated within the base and they are only otherwise available in 70828 Pop-Up Party Bus so it is pleasing to see them here.

View image at flickr

A reddish brown box conceals this mechanism and provides an elegant base for the model. The pearl gold windows along either side look marvellous and match the elements found in 80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner. Furthermore, olive green 1x1 round plates are hidden inside this structure which is an enjoyable surprise as they have not been produced in olive green before.

View image at flickr

Dragon dance performances traditionally involve several dancers, one of whom carries a pearl which symbolises wisdom for the dragon to pursue. That is cleverly represented using a spherical piece that was originally created for BB-8 and is decorated here with impressive metallic gold and reddish brown designs. The pearl also rotates as the crank is turned, faithfully recreating their typical spinning motion during the dance.

View image at flickr

This dragon bears some resemblance to 70734 Master Wu Dragon from 2015 which is not surprising as both sets were designed by Nick Vas. Its distinctive whiskers are formed using scroll elements and flame yellowish orange tails from Unikitty while scorpions and frogs represent the horns. Neither animal has appeared in tan previously and they look brilliant here, authentically replicating the appearance of many East Asian dragons.

View image at flickr
View image at flickr

Several printed elements are found in this set, including the dragon's unique eyes and its arrowhead-shaped scales. These decorate either side of the body along with 1x1 heart tiles and flame yellowish orange sausages! The resultant design is incredibly intricate and I love the golden tassels which are situated on each flank of the dragon, especially since they move around with the dancing function.

Eight segments are included and there are handles for the same number of minifigures to support the dragon, although only four are actually present. Nevertheless, four is an adequate quantity in my view and the dancers look superb, standing out against the black poles but not detracting attention from the dragon which should always by the focal point of a dragon dance.View image at flickr

View image at flickr

The dragon's tail is connected using a click hinge and a clip, granting some motion which is welcome for creating dynamic displays. Even so, its most interesting feature is perhaps the red motor element inside. This piece has existed since 1985 but has not been produced in red, until now! Fourteen dark bluish grey shields are also used during construction of the body and they have previously only been available in dark red and white.

View image at flickr

Overall

80102 Dragon Dance is an exceptional model. It looks absolutely fantastic on display, featuring some excellent printed elements and pieces which have not appeared in their respective colours before. I like the undulating body motion as well. This could have been implemented more smoothly, although the current design looks reasonably realistic when compared with real dragon dance performances.

View image at flickr

Unfortunately, this set is not available around the world. I can understand why that decision was taken as certain products which target a specific audience, such as Thanksgiving sets, appear to struggle in other regions. However, the extraordinary quality of 80102 Dragon Dance distinguishes it from similar seasonal products and I would definitely recommend adding this set to your collection, if possible.

I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.

58 comments on this article

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By in United States,

I find it odd that the pig suit man is pulled almost directly from the minifigure series. I prefer the CMS to have exclusive figures. Not ones that will be later widely available. Not that this set will be widely available... which is saddening. Neat set though.

What’s with all the sausages? First apocalypseburg and now this. It is turning out to be a very useful piece.

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By in United States,

New star wars spinoff: The Return of the Pig....

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By in Canada,

I had to ask relatives over in Asia to help me purchase a set. This and also the Chinese dinner one. Have to say they both look spectacular and the colours really catches your eye.

I did hear they are not selling that well and there are a bunch of stock left at toysrus and LEGO Store’s... with Chinese New Year only days away...

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By in United Kingdom,

It’s a great review and interesting to see some of the unusual pieces and the insides of the mechanism - the downside is that it makes me even more frustrated that I can’t just go down the shops and buy it. And I’d rather spend the aftermarket price on something that fits better into my collection, unfortunately.

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By in United States,

It’s a cool set, but nothing in my mind would justify the minimum $95 on BrickLink. That’s too crazy and I’d rarher spend that toward other Lego. Thanks for the review!

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By in Poland,

I hate Lego for their stupid exclusivity ideas.

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By in United States,

@parsom I sympathize with you. I am sure Lepin would be happy to sell copies of this set all over the world.

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By in Germany,

I love it! It’s really frustrating not to be able to buy this easily in Europe. All current eBay offers are >110 Euro and are shipped from Asia. So there is huge risk to not get the item or that it gets damaged on the way.

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By in United States,

Holy cow, there's some seriously clever part reusage here.

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By in United States,

Maybe the black part on the bandana pieces is meant to symbolize black hair, and the only bandana is the red one wrapped around the head?

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By in United Kingdom,

Well played lego.. Dragon structure is brilliant love the gold heart tiles will be getting some from bricks n pieces very soon along with the gold hot dog elements,
The minifigures are cool and could be easily used as extras in a ninjago creation, Piggy suit guy is also a nice touch...

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By in Denmark,

In China and elsewhere it is positively advertised as "Asia exclusive Lunar New Year sets 80101 & 80102".
A special in-store display has been made for the two sets and also a special paper bag comes with the in-store purchase.
Prices are:
80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner - 699 CNY = USD 89,08
80102 Dragon Dance - 599 CNY = USD 76.34
Plus tax?
The prices asked by resellers appear very appropriate.

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By in United States,

I love both these sets. I think there is a third dragon boat race. Has anyone seen this? Why is it not out, yet? I am intrigued that they are not selling well, because that means the price could go down to something reasonable.

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By in United Kingdom,

Does the crank move the dragon? It'd be great to see it in motion if so!

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By in United Kingdom,

What a lovely set, so all the more frustrating that it isn't available in the UK and elsewhere.

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By in United States,

Looks great, I love it even more now that it has a mechanism for movong parts.

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By in United Kingdom,

I find it frustrating that I had to get one imported as I absolutely love this - however it is easy for us to berate Lego for not having a wider release for this without taking into consideration that they need to explore the appetite of their relatively new target market.

Overall it seems like an expensive set, and has a degree of risk attached to it - as AFOLs we appreciate it, but would we be as excited if it was available globally, and would we be willing to shell out the £70 for a cultural holiday set? Kids might find it cool, but don’t have the buying power, and lets face it would rather have a decently sized playset or vehicle. How many units would they shift in the UK for example, and how many would shelf warm and have to be sold at hefty discount?

Technic cams would have been better for the mechanism though!

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By in United States,

larsnelson, The third set with the boats will come out in May or June when China has an annual boat race holiday.

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By in United States,

Great review Captain! Any plans to review (or purchase) 80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner? It's really caught my attention and thinking about getting it from Amazon Japan.

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By in United States,

The region exclusivity of this set is disappointing but also makes sense to me considering how big and new an initiative like this is. Before this year, the Winter Village sets and employee Christmas gift sets had typically been the ONLY seasonal/holiday sets with over 600 pieces. If LEGO really only sees enough demand in Europe and the Americas to support one 600+ piece Christmas set per year, do you really think there'd be a strong enough demand in those regions to support THREE 600+ piece Chinese New Year/Dragon Boat Festival sets?

Now, if these sets sell well enough, it's possible that LEGO might come up with some way to release sets like them more widely in future years… but considering how often I see complaints from AFOLs about LEGO overextending and releasing too many sets per year, I find it odd that there's so much frustration about LEGO not committing shelf space and production resources to releasing sets like these in parts of the world where they'd be considerably more niche than in Asia. If LEGO had to make a business case for these sets on a global level in order to commit to designing and producing them in the first place, it's very possible that they wouldn't have been created at all. Who exactly would that benefit?

As for the design of the set itself, it's really strong without a doubt! It makes for an elegant table decoration or desk accessory with just enough play value to be entertaining for all ages. Of the three Asia/Pacific exclusive Chinese Festival sets in this series, this is the only one that really blatantly references the Year of the Pig, and makes me wonder whether LEGO plans to design new Chinese Festival sets like these on a yearly basis, as they do with the Winter Village sets. I suspect sales of these ones will determine how many they release going forward.

The lack of back printing on the new pig suit is a little bit of a bummer, but other than that the minifigures are all very well-designed. It's nice that LEGO has moved away from the trend of the late 90s and early 2000s where many minifigures based on specific non-white ethnicities resembled racial caricatures.

The bright colors and stylish motifs that make up the dragon and base are very strong. I love that the pearl reuses the torso from the BB-series Astromech droids in LEGO Star Wars. I have been hoping to see this piece used in non-licensed sets for some time and it's good to see it here, as even in such a limited capacity it confirms that the element is not IP-locked (sometimes which elements are or aren't IP-locked can be a little counterintuitive).

I'm pretty impressed with the functionality (particularly the surprise that the pig suit guy rotates instead of going up and down like the rest, helping to set his part of the dance apart), though I have seen some Technic-proficient builders mod it so that the movement is a little more fluid and less jumpy. It seems as though it would not be too difficult to add Power Functions/Powered Up motors, though I suspect if you did so you'd want to play some appropriately festive music as well to drown out the noise of the motor and mechanisms.

This review doesn't touch upon the price of the set, so I suppose I should bring up that the South Korean price on shop.LEGO.com is 79,900 ? (Korean won). For comparison's sake, since LEGO prices are rarely converted directly from one currency to another, this is the same as the Korean prices for such sets as:
#60215-1 (70 USD/60 GBP/60 EUR)
#42079-1 (70 USD/55 GBP/50 EUR)
#41339-1 (55 USD/50 GBP/55 EUR)
#72005-1 (50 USD/50 GBP/60 EUR)
#31083-1 (60 USD/45 GBP/50 EUR)
#60194-1 (60 USD/40 GBP/50 EUR)
#70921-1 (50 USD/50 GBP/50 EUR)
#70658-1 (50 USD/45 GBP/50 EUR)
#21146-1 (40 USD/50 GBP/50 EUR)
#75210-1 (40 USD/45 GBP/50 EUR)
…And various similarly priced sets. All Euro prices I just cited are for Germany.

So you can pretty safely compare its value with sets priced at around 50±5 USD/GBP/EUR. I think comparable prices to such sets seem pretty reasonable, considering this one's size and piece count.

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By in United States,

@LarsNelson: The Dragon Boat Race set and non-watermarked pictures of it have presumably not been released yet because it is not designed to celebrate Chinese New Year (February 5, 2019), but rather the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (June 7, 2019). So it will probably not be released until a few months later.

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By in Netherlands,

great review, thank you! is there any chance we could see it in motion?

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By in Sweden,

If LEGO's going to pander to the Chinese market to such a degree, they could at least have the courtesy to let the rest of us get a piece of the pie too. Inexcusable for these to not be available at [email protected] worldwide, really.

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By in Australia,

I was lucky enough to pick up Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner 80101! It was the last one left.

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By in United States,

Exactly what countries is this set available from? The only LEGO shop Asian country I see listed is South Korea. So where can they physically be bought?

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By in Germany,

^ I know that you can get them in Vietnam -- or rather COULD, because they seem to be out of stock at the moment. My contacts over there said that they wanted to try again after Chinese New Year, so here's hoping that Lego will try to meet the demand.

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By in United States,

I thought that the scorpian mold had been updated or something, and I also couldn't find the frog.

Little did I know . . .

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By in Japan,

I got both of them here in Japan. ;)

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By in Italy,

After reading Capn's impressively thorough review (thank you sir) and your comments...

Done!

I'm just a sucker for these things...

Just got the 2 sets online from a Malaysian seller for €220 including free shipping.

Money well spent? Or, swept away by all this mainstream enthusiasm around the sets, I ended up overpaying them?

Might it happen that [email protected] will surprise us in a few months and make it available to us "Westerners" at RRP?

What's done is done. Now I'll have to wait 15 interminable working days to see their face.

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By in Australia,

I picked this one up in an Australian Mr Toys. Gosh, it's the first time in history that being an Australian Lego fan has actually had a benefit, normally, we're the ones getting screwed.

I still think these regionally-exclusive sets is a weird idea, and frankly just odd (if not bad) business sense. But whatever.

I didn't much care for the New Year's Eve dinner set, but I can't wait for the Dragon Boats set, I really like that one.

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By in Germany,

I will not pay a premium to some resellers to get something, which Lego has deliberately shortaged. If Lego wants to take somebody for a fool, it will not be me this time and any time to come.

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By in Italy,

@shirhac
I'm just a fool
for youuu, babyyy......

In the last few years I have made such great deals (40%, 50%, even more off) on brand new Lego sets over Amazon et al, that this time around I felt like throwing away a few extra bucks on a couple of really original and creative sets I hadn't seen Lego produce in a long, long time.

So, instead of building acrimony towards the company's seemingly wicked new marketing strategies, I just paid my extra dough, will receive the otherwise unavailable sets, and will be sitting pretty observing where all this (which I think is a breath of fresh air) is going to take us. Regional/traditional/ethnic sets are an amazing idea! You may see your local yearly celebration in a Lego set one day!

However, I totally agree on the fact that there should be no economic boundaries. In times of e-commerce you just sell and ship everywhere, period.

But even if all this is happening thousands of miles from where I live, I feel I've caught an opportunity to participate to the event by getting for myself (and family of course) a little piece of today's Lego history as it unfolds. It's a little like traveling...

@Brickset staff
Thanks for existing: you guys are doing a great job in keeping all us members informed and entertained.

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By in Malaysia,

MY shelf long gone, after there has announced the exact date of available at offline stores

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By in United States,

@legogeek: They are available from LEGO Certified Stores and LEGO Flagship Stores in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, LEGO Customer Service's help topics say there are LEGO Certified Stores in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. China also has two LEGO Flagship Stores. I'm not so sure if the LEGO Certified Stores in Australia carry these sets, but I'm pretty sure the ones in the rest of these countries do.

@Graysmith: As stated above, these aren't being sold only in China. I also think it's hilarious you consider this release "pandering". Just the countries I named above (excluding Australia) have a combined population of around 3.38 BILLION people, or around 43.9% of the entire world population.

Then again, I suppose there are a bunch of numbskulls out there who think female-targeted LEGO sets and themes are "pandering", even though 49.55% of the population is female. And for some strange reason, many of these complaints come from people who never seemed too fussed about how many LEGO sets and themes over the past four decades were primarily male-targeted.

Similarly, I think it's telling that Brickset and Eurobricks reviews of stuff like the Team GB Minifigures (https://brickset.com/article/3558/8909-team-gb-minifig-review / https://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?/forums/topic/84107-review-8909-lego-collectable-minifigures-team-gb/) and DFB Minifigures (https://brickset.com/article/21273/review-71014-dfb-german-football-team-collectable-minifigures / https://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?/forums/topic/139109-review-71014-lego-minifigures-dfb-football-series-2016/) never seemed to have nearly so much whining about LEGO "pandering" or being "unfair" or "stupid" by making them exclusive. Some wishing that they had been released more widely or that sets had been made for other countries' teams, certainly, but not so much sour grapes about the very idea of country- or region-exclusive products depicting subjects primarily of interest to people within those countries/regions.

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By in Singapore,

Am very lucky to be studying in Singapore just now so this was a day one purchase for me. While the exclusivity is a bummer, I don't think it would have the same appeal if I hadn't visited Asia/China.

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By in Australia,

I got both from my local certified retailer, AUD$80 for the dance, AUD$90 for the dinner the store sold out the day they got them and were not getting any more.

I cant wait for the Dragon Boat Race, fortunately I have a cousin who is working in china right now as an English teacher so when the time comes I'll ask her if she can get me one otherwise its Bricklink for me!

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By in Australia,

This set looks great! And for once Australia isn’t missing out on a region/retailer specific exclusive. A nice change.....

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By in United States,

Cool

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By in United Kingdom,

@dingbat591
Thanks for clarifying why all the shops in Malaysia sold out of these sets in 5 days!
Was hoping to pick up one (or two, convert one to a lion) of these sets on a business trip 12 days after they were released... and I thought re-sellers were bad in the UK!

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By in United Kingdom,

I bought mine from Toys R Us in Malaysia. I've been back there since and there are no more on the shelf. I've also been to a couple of other shops including the Toys R Us at KLIA2 airport and there are none there although they have a good Lego selection and have the two sets on display (confusingly next to a pile of clone brand boxes). I guess there may still be a few in out-of-the-way places.

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By in Hungary,

Lovely piece, shame it's prohibitively expensive as of current. Won't lose sleep over it and maybe they'll reconsider a second run or something.

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By in United States,

Great part usage but I'm honestly looking more forward to the 80103 Dragon Boat Race than this one. Technical as 80102 may be something just doesn't sit right compared to the other sets.

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By in Germany,

@ Aanchir: Could you please help make this a friendlier environment and refrain from calling other Lego fans "numbskulls" (and similar things) in the future? Thanks a bunch!

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By in United Kingdom,

The instructions are already online, so while I cannot buy the set, I can still build a dragon dance that has exactly the same form and motion. That'll do me, and mine will be unique too! Plus the minifigure torsos are on bricks and pieces.

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By in United States,

@Brick Dangerous: When LEGO fans stop saying ridiculous stuff like that aiming stuff at girls is “pandering”, sure. But from my experience, alienating and sexist comments like the ones I was describing do a lot more harm to the friendliness of the AFOL community than calling them out as such.

And anyhow, none of what I said even insinuated that the kind of commenters I’m referring to are part of the Brickset community, and all you have to infer what kinds of people I was describing is that they have weird prejudices against sets designed to appeal to girls. What part of that exactly makes you think I’m being unfair to these unnamed persons, or that it calls for anyone to jump to their defense?

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By in United Kingdom,

@CCC thanks for that - I wish the trousers and wigs were available as well, but now I can have a set of 8 dancers!
@dingbat591 Even though I bought this, I would be up for another if over stock or a second run turns up in the UK - sometimes life is too short and sets are too good!

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By in Italy,

@Jackthenipper

I hear you. Good luck man.

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By in United States,

The exclusive parts and recolored parts in these sets is unbelievable. Hopefully, they will be available in other sets in the future or on bricks and pieces.

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By in Germany,

@Aanchir:

"but considering how often I see complaints from AFOLs about LEGO overextending and releasing too many sets per year, I find it odd that there's so much frustration about LEGO not committing shelf space and production resources to releasing sets like these in parts of the world where they'd be considerably more niche than in Asia"

You forget to mention that many of those complaints arise from the fact that LEGO wastes precious shelf space for sets like all those Superhero dustgatherers and the like.
THOSE are sets that do not sell, as can be seen anytime one visits a toy store over here. No matter how successfull the films might be, the sets (at least over here) are of no interest to most of the target audience. Like I have said often before, store owners hate having to store these sets, only to have to discount them up to 80% in the end to get rid of them.

These three Chinese New Year sets otoh are unique, very well made, and the complete opposite of the flood of dime-a-dozen Superhero sets that often have source material even more obscure than the most niche of niche products.

TLG just doesn't get it nowadays.
I hope Lepin makes copies of these sets. Show TLG what customers think of this stupid exclusivity policy!

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By in Australia,


Great review and interesting read.

@lachiec1023 You didn't get the last one. I got one of each yesterday.

Everyone seems to be over the moon thinking they got the 'last one'

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By in Singapore,

^ To be fair to some of us, some stores have been known to claim that they won't be getting any more stocks of a certain set, only to be all "Back by popular demand" a week or two later.

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By in United Kingdom,

Oh good, squabbling in the comments, how interesting for the rest of us to read. Just keep it to yourself, guys, you bicker under every single article. It's really, really tedious.

Anyway. What I came here to ask is why they didn't use the pre-existing elliptical cam pieces for smoother movement - has that part been discontinued?

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By in United States,

Love these New Year sets. They will probably be the first unopened Lego that I’ll buy on Bricklink. What a great time to be alive with so many options.

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By in United States,

Love the detail

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By in Germany,

@ Aanchir. Honestly, I cannot be bothered to get into an argument over this. The way I see it, you're the only one who is consistently reacting aggressively toward others on this site, and I just don't care for bullying. You come across as someone who feels very entitled, and you seem to get very defensive about your opinions, when that's all they really are: opinions. And if someone does not share your opinion, in my book, it's bad form to resort to namecalling, be it on the internet or elsewhere. That's all I wanted to say really. Wish it would be common sense.

Oh, and I consider everyone who is commenting here a "member of the Brickset community". Unless there are secret membership passes handed out to special people or something, it might be in order to be a little more inclusive. This is an an open platform. Plus, even if the weren't, that would not entitle anyone to namecalling.

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By in United Kingdom,

Mine turned up - the box art is lovely - the box is about the size of the old Mos Eisley - long and thin - it certainly looks like a £60 set. It just has seals on the box, so I won’t have to destroy it. Lets hope it does well enough for a different colour version to appear globally next year (slightly different so I won’t feel so silly for shelling the extra out for this!)

I love it - I might not be able to afford the new Modular for a while, but we are going to love making this - hopefully we can find some spare cams for it though!

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By in Israel,

This is a nice set, but the dragon's movement is not very good in my opinion. JKBrickworks has made a much better version of it.

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By in Australia,

We have both sets and Both sets are amazing. We are fortunate enough to be close to a Lego store and I know they sold out. From reading online. The dragon boat is only available in China. But from what I have read here. Fingers cross we can get it.

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