Review: 80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner

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The Chinese New Year sets have been greatly anticipated since LEGO announced they were producing them for the Asia-Pacific area. The sets look terrific. They have been (not surprisingly) enormously popular in the areas where they were available, often selling out within hours.

Thanks to Brickset member Squidy74H, I've been able to get both of the Chinese New Year sets. Capn Rex reviewed 80102 Dragon Dance last week. Today, on Chinese New Year's Eve, we'll do another transcontinental effort with the Capn providing the pictures for 80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner.

The front of the box shows the set in all of its stunning detail with three generations of a family getting ready to sit down to enjoy the titular meal. The back of the box shows different views of the sets as well as several insets showing some of the terrific details not to be missed, including the swivel chairs at the table and that the table itself features a lazy Susan in order to serve the New Year's Eve spread.

Inside the box there are five numbered bags, two 16x16 plates, an instruction book and a small sticker sheet of only nine stickers.

Minifigures

There are six minifigures who populate this set - two from each of the generations represented. There are two children with the set, a boy and a girl. The boy is dressed all in red, a colour that is seen often to celebrate the Chinese New Year as it symbolizes good luck. He also wears a brocade cream and gold vest with frog closures that looks fantastic as well as festive. This torso is unique to this set, and I'm delighted to see that the printing continues onto the back.

View image at flickr

The little girl has a hairpiece, torso, and head that are all new to this set. I love her hair that's been swept up into two pigtails. She's wearing a pink shirt with two frog closures off centre to the right. The floral pattern is charming and perfect for a little girl. Both children have been given red envelopes for the New Year that have the Chinese symbol "Fu" on them, meaning fortune or good luck. Both children have facial expressions that looks like they're very pleased with their envelopes, which are printed pieces in this set.

View image at flickr

Both children have alternate faces. The little boy looks sad - perhaps he's spent all his money? - while the little girl looks positively overjoyed - maybe her envelope contains more money than she thought. Both hairpieces adequately cover the faces in the back. The children appropriately have short legs, which works for their height but does make it awkward when it comes to having dinner, as they're forced to stand on the chairs.

View image at flickr

The parents similarly come with new pieces. The father's head is new to this set as well his torso. His primary expressions shows him wearing glasses as well as a broad grin. He has an earth blue shirt that has pale blue embroidery with gold frog closures. While it's the simplest of all the minifig patterns it still looks great. The mother's outfit is new to this set and also features a floral pattern accented with gold. Her top is fastened with three black frog enclosures.

View image at flickr

Dad has an alternate face - he looks very happy, but he's lost his glasses! Mom doesn't have an alternate face but I think the detailed printing on her back including her skirt is worth it. I particularly like that while Dad's shirt is somewhat plain, there's still the little detail of blue piping around the collar, even in the back. Mom will have a similar problem as the children when it comes to dinner - she won't be able to sit down.

View image at flickr

The grandparents similarly have new torsos and the grandfather has a new hairpiece; while other pieces are only found in a few sets. Both grandparents are wearing glasses and their hairpieces look marvellous. Their printed torsos are just as impressive as the others. The grandfather has a brown shirt with a gold pattern. The edges and frog closures are decorated in gold and black and look great. The grandmother has a red shirt with another floral pattern, this time in a subtler darker red. She has a lovely detailed collar and gold and black frog enclosures.

View image at flickr

Only the grandmother has a dual sided head; her alternate expression shows a smile that's just a bit broader than the first.

You'll notice that some of the minifigs, particular the newer ones, have decidedly Asian features. This is an interesting departure for LEGO in that they have always strived to make minifigs generic enough that they could be anyone. However, it's very appropriate especially for this set and I love the opportunity to include a bit more diversity in my LEGO world.

View image at flickr

The Completed Model

View image at flickr

The build starts with the entrance to the building, which is a lovely build in itself and sets the tone for the set as it's packed with detail. I love the use of the gold ingot pieces in medium stone grey for the concrete walkway as it provides a great textured look. There are several pink and red flowers in the garden. The building captures an Asian look perfectly with the roof, round windows and clean lines of the building. I particularly like the use of the 1x2 white grill pieces underneath the eaves, and I love the designer's choice to use warm gold fence pieces for the windows - such a great choice. The house is decorated for the holiday with festive red lanterns that use some of those terrific warm gold tassel pieces.

View image at flickr

Another Chinese Fu character is found on the front door, this time provided by a sticker. More astute observers may note that the Fu character is upside down. According to a very helpful Brickset member on our Facebook group, the translation for "upside down" is "dau". Putting the two words together, you have "fu dao", which means "prosperity arrives". That seems quite appropriate to hang on the front door.

View image at flickr

Before we look at the inside of the building, the outside shouldn't be missed. There are many buildings that look quite boring from the outside, Thanks to the round windows and great parts usage of panels, 1x2 palisade bricks, and window pieces, the designer makes the outside look quite attractive.

View image at flickr

On the inside, the terrific attention to detail continues. One one side of the room, a stylish set of shelves provide storage for some books, decorations (detail provided by a sticker) as well as portraits of all the minifigs in the set (also courtesy of stickers). A couple of large vases with the newer red flower pieces bring some of the floral theme inside.

View image at flickr

On the other side of the room, there's a large window that utilizes more of the warm gold fence pieces. The building technique for the window is quite an interesting one and again shows inventiveness on the part of the designer. The windows are appropriately provided red window dressings. In the corner there's a small table with a computer monitor or TV with a stickered display.

View image at flickr

At the end of the room there another large window that's the centerpoint for a very imposing but comfortable looking chair. The box art shows the grandfather occupying this seat which seems to be quite plausible. There are Chinese characters on the window dressing. According to our aforementioned helpful Brickset member, the characters on the left panel mean "everything goes according to plan, climbing higher every step", the characters on the top panel mean "lucky and according to plan", and the characters on the right panel mean "smooth sailing every year" - all messages that are very fitting to celebrate the New Year.

View image at flickr

Finally, let's take a look at the focal point of the set - the table laden with food for New Year's Eve dinner. The table itself is placed on a blue carpet with gold trim, and has seating available for six on convenient swivel chairs. I think it is not a coincidence that red is a feature in the chairs.

The table setting is very elaborate, and it's worth mentioning that all of the pieces on the table are all printed pieces - not a single sticker among them! Each place setting has a pair of chopsticks and a spoon on one printed piece, as well as a small bowl with a gold rim (another printed piece) and a 1x1 printed round piece for rice.

View image at flickr

There's quite a spread available for our family for their dinner. Included in the dinner are shrimp, chicken, bok choy, and crab. Also included are traditional dishes that are served on New Year's Eve: dumplings, spring rolls, sweet rice balls, and fish, and I believe that new cookie piece is meant to represent niangao, or glutinous rice cake.

All together, it makes for a very attractive scene and a terrific display piece.

View image at flickr

Overall

80101 Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner is a fantastic set. I love the choice of minifigures, the detail and thoughtfulness packed throughout the set, and its representation of a heartwarming family scene. A lot of attention will be paid to all of the printed food pieces, but this set is not to be overlooked for its building techniques and terrific parts usage. There is an abundance of new pieces/colours to this set and rare parts; an inventory can be found here.

View image at flickr

Unfortunately, this set is not available around the world, and has been somewhat difficult to get even in the parts of the world where it is available. It's a shame that LEGO chose not to distribute this more widely, particularly for those areas outside of Asia that have significant Asian populations, such as some areas of Europe and the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada. If you have the opportunity to get a copy of this set, I would recommend it without hesitation.

I hope you have found this review helpful. Have you managed to find the set? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

52 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Great set and equally great review! I guess I’ll have to pick this one up at my local lego store...

OH WAIT. Lego went cheap on us and couldn’t let the rest of the world enjoy this marvelous set. I hear the only way to get this set is via the black market. Not that I have any experience with that...

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for the review, just makes me more grumpy that they didn't consider it important enough set to make available widely. Especially given the number of Chinese (and or mixed like myself) families outside of China that would want this set.

How ironic given the subject matter that it is easier to get a clone version of this set than to get a legitimate LEGO one.

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By in United States,

Thanks for reviewing this beautiful set. I really wish this were a world-wide release to bring prices down. EVERYONE loves amazing printed pieces - especially of never seen before food items! The whole set it such a wonderfully complete scene, and those Minifigures! Amazon Japan had this set for 80 Yen (about 85.00) before Christmas for pre-order but I waited too long and the pre-order quickly sold-out. Now having the wifey check regular Amazon Japan, as I'm hoping to have this little gem for my upcoming birthday :)

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By in United States,

Hey sorry for commenting again, but has anyone thought of getting this set via bricks and pieces? I just checked and most of the pieces were there. Instead of getting it off eBay or something. Might be cheaper so you don’t have to pay import taxes.

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By in United Kingdom,

@MeganL That is a good point! I never thought about other countries having Chinese populations being an issue, but it is. Fairly ironic that my best friend is Chinese but lives here, but my second best friend lives in China, but is English!

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By in United Kingdom,

"Frog closures". This site is so educational

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By in United States,

@Yourfuturepresident good idea. That would save us lots.

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By in Canada,

That's a beautiful set and a very well written (and photographed) review. Thank you.

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By in United States,

@Your future president, in checking US B&P, I see that less than half of the unique parts are in stock for purchase.

Hopefully, these items will come back into stock when the initial excitement dies down.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is very pretty, well detailed and some great features that represent a typical chinese house hold, i absolutely love the outfits on all six minifigs,
Also the printed tiles food platter looks great..

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By in United States,

This is another marvelous half building. You would think that after the great complete Emmet house Lego wpuld make more complete buildings.

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By in Germany,

The food/dishes tiles are great!!! I so hope this will be available soon in Europe as well.

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By in Sweden,

I'm just repeating it here in case TLG are reading this. We need this set in Europe too!!!

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By in United States,

This is such a disappointing misstep from a distribution standpoint. One of several recent mistakes (I'm talking about you, Marvel Bricktober set that broke my heart) that always makes me wonder, does Lego want to make money? Don't get me wrong, they are a company with a conscious and rigid internal standards and it's part of the reason they do so well...but it's still a company. They basically released this set to build interest in the Asian scalping community. "Hey, we know our product isn't very popular there...but what if you could sell it back to Europe/US at a 40% mark up, then will you love us???" That is the only reason to make it exclusive the way they did.

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By in United States,

I don't usually buy sets like this, but I would be tempted if this was avalible.

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By in United Kingdom,

Incredible set. You can actually get quite a few of the printed pieces on Bricks and Pieces in the UK

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By in Germany,

Oh come on LEGO, it's 2019 already! Didn't you know it is now considered non-politically correct to portray Asian characters with yellow skin? Shame on you...
(sarcasm over)

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By in Australia,

I'm fortunate enough that this is available down under, despite having to queue from 6am to get one of a very limited number of sets available. Just a comment on all the griping about the lack of availability of this set. LEGO having been doing this for years, I should know as Australia seem to be the last country considered to release other limited sets/themes that always seem available in the US and Europe. Sure it's a disappointment but the griping voices are a lot quieter when the shoes on the other foot.

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By in Germany,

If Lego don't want to have our money, they won't get it. While I'm no expert, I wonder if this is a solid business strategy. ;-)

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By in United States,

@Your future president

Black market? Ah the extreme lengths AFOLs will go to these days... haha

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By in United States,

@Your future president:
I know, both this and the Dragon Dance set look marvelous, IMO, with very clever parts usage and detailing. The exclusivity issue, however, is a different matter....I really honestly have to ask myself, and say "Why on earth would TLG do something that, in the end, would greatly reduce their sales of these products? I have thought it over and over, and still can't wrap my mind around why they wouldn't want people all over the world to be able to buy these sets easily. (I know a lot of people would.)
I watched just2good's review, and he said basically echoed the same thing - wonderful, awesome sets, great parts usage, fun builds, great detailing and figures, new recolors of parts, etc, etc. - but the exclusivity.....
Hopefully, if TLG releases more of these sets, they'll release them worldwide.

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By in Australia,

This is truly one of the more popular sets. the queue at the Lego discovery center in Melb, Australia was massive with the anticipation of this set and the dragon dance set. from what I know, it has been sold out already. Thank you for the close up and in-depth review. Certainly worth getting it when it becomes available again.

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By in Netherlands,

This is an amazing set and I am happy to own it. Only thing that is wrong about it is the fact not all rice bowls can be placed according to the instructions. Two of them will hit the central round plate and cannot be placed fully upright. Simple to fix though. Considering it has so many printed elements, it is somewhat strange it also contains some stickers.

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By in United States,

Nice set, lots of printings for the food, which is awesome. These are nice minifigures. As soon as I saw the girl I thought her hair looked perfect for an Inkling Girl minifigure from Splatoon 2.

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By in United States,

It's humorous how confident people are in their interpretation of a large corporation's (LEGO) decisions. Grafting on incompetence, greed, stupidity, spite etc. as motives is probably incorrect and most certainly unhelpful.

I come here because I enjoy a Lego and it's a nice break from other parts of my life. Let's stick to intelligent and enjoyable conversation.

As to the set, it looks beautiful and I most certainly would like to purchase at some point, through Bricklink or otherwise. Great review!

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By in United States,

Do we know what countries sell these sets? I've seen China and Australia mentioned, any others?
I have a friend of a friend headed to S. Korea in June and have asked for a favor.

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By in Canada,

Nice review, MeganL.

I'd love to get this set, but, as I learned in kindergarten, you can't have everything you want, and you're not entitled to it, either.

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By in United States,

Jeffrey: From information on the web, it looks like Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and (maybe) Thailand

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By in Australia,

Saw an interesting comment from elsewhere that distribution was originally only going to be in China but successful lobbying by LEGO distribution in other countries got some allocated elsewhere, although only a portion of the original intended production volume!

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By in Canada,

@redbeardlegoman, while you could call it a kind of entitlement, I just want to be able to give a company my money for their product!

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By in United States,

When "Year of the 'Chinese Zodiac Animal' " sets began to be made, they were also regionally limited; now, just a few years later, they've become available to all. Perhaps, given the enthusiastic reception these sets have been given, TLG will do similar ones next year to sell worldwide. I can't blame TLG for being cautious about adding a new culture-specific group to its large number of seasonal sets--or for making the first versions of those sets extra-special, either! There was a lot less complaining about the Architecture sets with regional distribution (remember Marina Bay Sands?), after all....

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By in United States,

This is the one set released this year that would have been an instabuy for me. Sadly, I can not get it here. I love vignettes, and this one looks wonderful.

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By in United States,

Dear Lego, The US and Canada have the second largest ethnic Chinese population, outside of China itself. I think the North American Chinese population exceeds Taiwans.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great material for some Asian inspired builds, nice to have some parts already available to order. Superb talent is shown here and in the dragon set - fingers crossed these designers have more and more sets coming out!

It is really hard to keep AFOLs happy...can we complain about the set? No. Is it overpriced? No. Is it limited? Yes, finally - let the floodgates open.

*hints
- You can ACTUALLY travel to countries where this is available and buy it! No kidding.
- But I have to queue up! Wait for the hype to slow down.
- Ask friends / colleagues to buy them for you!
- Live with the thought that you can't have it all - OUTRAGEOUS

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By in United Kingdom,

@csiramokus Or you can simply buy the Chinese copy of the set for a fraction of the price.

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By in United Kingdom,

Love it! I would buy this in a heartbeat if available in the UK, but I’d bet that it would probably shelfwarm after initial moderate l success. I think the Dragon would do much better.

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By in Germany,

I hate TLG for showing us Europeans and the rest of the world ex Asia the F.U. sign once again! Such an awesome set + scarcity on purpose = feeding the scalpers. TLG loves to do this, there is no denying.
And printed exclusive pieces? While far more expensive standard sets are decked in stickers. Yeah right, printing is so much more expensive, we need to make stickers instead. As if!

Read this: I just bought Lepin 46001 on Aliexpress! I hope everyone from "not Asia" who is interested in this set does the same. Show TLG that we have enough of their stupid marketing fails! If they deny us this beauty of a set fully on purpose, they deserve every single smeggin one of those Lepin set sales!

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By in United Kingdom,

@AustinPowers Fully agree! I bought all three exclusive sets from Ali (including the not-yet-released Dragon Boat Race)

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By in Germany,

Just to clarify: I would never have thought TLG would get me to this point, but they do it on purpose, so they really can't complain.
They give us so many mediocre and overprices sets nowadays, yet the best sets are only sold exclusively in certain regions or at certain places few people have a chance to visit in time.

Why on Earth not sell these sets worldwide. Like others have said, if TLG wanted to cater for Chinese people in particular, then why forget all those Chinese who live all over the world, and not only in China! It just doesn't make any sense.
Then again, a lot of TLG's recent decisions don't make any sense, so why change?

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By in South Africa,

All you spoilt brats need to take a breath. Down here in South Africa we are fortunate enough to have our first and only Lego Certified Store now for almost a year. It is the only place you can buy certain exclusive sets. We have Hamley's and Toys R Us and other local stores that sell Lego, which Lego SA distributes to to their liking. Previously, we were reliant on family and friends to ship us exclusive sets from around the world at crazy shipping rates if we wanted any of the great sets, e.g. Downtown Diner, Joker Manor, Cloud City and 007 Aston Martin (which have now this week only become available to general toy stores), Roller Coaster, Corner Garage & Voltron (still only available at the LCS). We don't have part of the normal Lego VIP, although the local Lego Store does have its own VIP programme. I was lucky enough to buy around 10 of each of these 2 sets 80101 and 80102 from Singapore and import them to SA for me and my friends, but on average, we are very lucky to receive any of these kinds of sets here, so be thankful for the choice in sets you do have.

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By in United States,

Very nice set. The only thing that appears odd is the computer in the corner of the room. I wonder why it was necessary to include that?

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By in Luxembourg,

People likely overestimate the demand for this set outside the APAC region. It would probably sell to people with Chinese ancestry and some AFOL's, but outside that audience? Probably only a fraction of the sales numbers for the Winter Village sets.

Having built the set myself, I can echo MeganL's opinion that it is indeed fantastic.

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By in United Kingdom,

Oh wow, this set looks really nice! I was impressed even from the first pictures, and now I'm just even more so; it has such a lovely aesthetic to it, and I love all the detailing they've put into it.

However, that said, I'm perfectly content to admire it from a distance, like I do with most sets nowadays. Thanks for the great review! :D

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By in United States,

I have a feeling they're keeping it exclusive for the Chinese New Year, then later in the year offer it to the rest of the world.

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By in United States,

@legoDad42:
Yeah, I never thought about that....I really wonder if that’s what they’re going to do. It seems like that would totally be a reasonable and smart thing for them to do, knowing how many fans that would buy this that don’t live in Asia...

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By in United States,

@Koolbrix2018
I'm thinking, they see quite a buzz for it outside of Asia and why not cash in.
Like make it a VIP exclusive and/or limited run at every Lego Store and online later in the year/end of year.
I thought they missed out like here in NYC to have a nice big display of all the Chinese lego sets for the New Year. They're having celebrations in the mall near me with the Lego Store and the other smaller mall with Target there.
But hopefully later in the year. I'm thinking they will.

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By in Hong Kong,

Just to clarify to the author. FU character should not be inverted when pasted on the door facing out.

? (FU) means blessing, and inverted is ? but it also means dumping something. ? has the same sound as ? (arrive). So when you have the FU inverted, it is like ?? blessing arrived.

HOWEVER, it only works when you paste this inside the house, meaning blessing is really here and arrived. If you have it outside, it means ?? meaning trashing your blessing to the outside. That is a taboo.

Hope this is clearer to those who are interested in Chinese traditions. BTW I am from Hong Kong :)

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By in United States,

LEGO minifigures have no fingers (Besides that one HP guy we shall never speak of.) but clearly everyone at LEGO has fingers, they are currently giving millions of fans a certain middle one.

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By in Germany,

@awniteangel: I am really interested in Chinese history and traditions, but I must admit I don't really understand what you are trying to convey, sorry. "Trashing your blessing to the outside"? What is that supposed to mean?

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By in United States,

^It’s like throwing out your blessing. Not wanting it in your home.

Well, I think.

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By in Hong Kong,

Managed to get this and the Dragon Dance set a day before launch in Hong Kong. The lines were long both in HK and Penang on launch day, so it was indeed popular.

Loved the build, especially the movement on the Dragon Dance.

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By in United States,

Is there an easier way to search for things on Bricks and Pieces? Like importing a list? It seems SO cumbersome. Sorry, I'm a new AFOL.

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