The Monkie Kid

What is the Monkie Kid all about?

Recently, the LEGO® Group announced their new theme, the Monkie Kid. Earlier this week, I published a look at the sets (click here to see them). However, what is it all about? In short, the LEGO® theme produced their first ever theme based on Chinese folklore. In fact, the LEGO® Group developed the idea through close consultation with Chinese families to stay true to the story and its values.

The Monkie Kid is based on Chinese folklore.
The Monkie Kid is based on Chinese folklore (©2020 The LEGO® Group).

Monkie Kid is based on the classic tale of the Monkey King. The Monkey King is not mythology per se. However, Western culture often mistakes it as such due to its long-standing roots in China. The first written record of the Monkey King comes from the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). Wu Cheng’en published the novel Journey to the West in 1592. However, the Monkey King himself dates to the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). Journey to the West is the most popular literary work in in East Asia and is one of China’s four great classical novels.

The Monkie Kid finds roots in the classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King.

The Monkey King (©2020 The LEGO® Group).

The Monkey King is an ape-like man with supernatural powers learned from a Taoist monk. He is mischievous and not-to-be trusted. However, the Monkey King is fearless in his constant quest for enlightenment and recognition in the heavens. His exploits cause him to rebel against the Chinese deities of old. Though victorious in many of his battles, the Gods ultimately imprison the Monkey King under a mountain for 500 years. Eventually, Buddha releases the Monkey King to help a monk retrieve Buddhist scriptures from the west (the premise of Journey to the West). Ultimately, the Monkey King is everyman. He is a flawed character from simple origins seeking to better himself despite higher powers that try to hold him down.

The Monkie Kid
The Monkie Kid (©2020 The LEGO® Group).

So, what about the Monkie Kid? According the LEGO® Group press release, Monkie Kid is the next chapter in the story of the Monkey King. The press release states:

Inspired by the 500-year-old story of the Monkey King, LEGO Monkie Kid is the LEGO Group’s take on a new, untold chapter of the legendary tale. Featuring eight exciting sets, an animated mini movie and TV series, LEGO Monkie Kid is the first ever LEGO theme… inspired by a Chinese legend and rooted firmly in the country’s culture and values… The tale begins when an ordinary boy, Monkie Kid, finds Monkey King’s legendary staff and he becomes the chosen one. Together with his brave and loyal friends, Monkie Kid begins his quest to stop the Demon Bull King and his army of Bull Clones from taking over the city.

The Monkie crew (©2020 The LEGO® Group).

A modern continuation of a 500 year old story.

Many elements from the original Monkey King tale are evident in the early material released about this theme. The Monkey King’s staff, for example. In the original story, this is an iron staff banded with gold that can change its size. The Monkey King gets it from a sea dragon, and it is his weapon of choice. Additionally, the characters of Sandy and Pigsy both join the Monkey King on his quest in Journey to the West. Red Boy and the Demon Bull King are antagonists in the tale. It will be interesting to see what other references to the source material make their way into the Monkie Kid.

Monkie Kid teaser trailer (©2020 The LEGO® Group).

The LEGO® Group has certainly taken a new direction with this theme. I am intrigued enough to look at the upcoming movie and series. However, only time will tell what the series has in store.

Until next time,

-Tom

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