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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Completed Model
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.