Lunar New Year Ice Festival (80109) Review

The LEGO® Group released three sets this year to commemorate the upcoming Chinese New Year. Additionally, they sent True North Bricks all three for review. We have already looked at the Lion Dance BrickHeadz character, as well as the Lunar New Year Traditions set. Today, we delve into the largest of the three, Lunar New Year Ice Festival. Interestingly, as I write this, the set has not officially released. It has a street date of January 10. However, certain retailers in Canada already have it out on shelves. I received reports of Toys R Us stores across the country selling it already. So, while this is technically a pre-release review, you can potentially score yourself a copy.

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. True North Bricks’ usual rating system applies (click here for more information).

LUNAR NEW YEAR ICE FESTIVAL SUMMARY

  • NAME: Lunar New Year Ice Festival
  • SET #: 80109
  • THEME: Chinese New Year
  • COST: $149.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 1519
  • MINIFIGURES: 13
  • RELEASE DATE: January 10, 2022
Lunar New Year Ice Festival

LUNAR NEW YEAR ICE FESTIVAL QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 89% (Very good cost-per-brick and build time.)
  • BUILD: 85% (The set uses nice landscaping techniques.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 88% (Good number of figs for a set this size, too many stumpy kids though.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 85% (Will appeal to fans of the theme and Winter Village builders.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 87% (Good set.)

Lunar New Year Ice Festival skate shack
The skate shack features a fun interior as well as a secret drawer filled with winter sport equipment.

LUNAR NEW YEAR ICE FESTIVAL REVIEW

VALUE: 89%

Ice Festival costs $149.99 in Canada and consists of 1519 bricks. Consequently, the cost-per-brick works out to $0.099. On average, I usually spend about $0.138/brick on sets. As such, Ice Festival is a great value. You get a lot of bricks for the price compared to LEGO® sets in general. However, compared only to other Chinese New Year sets, the value is more average. I have reviewed six of these sets at this point, and the average cost-per-brick across all of them is $0.101. I rate the cost-per-brick for Ice Festival at 90%.

This set took me three hours and 33 minutes to assemble. Consequently, at full price, the cost-per-minute of build time was $0.70. On average, build time across all themes costs me about $0.849. As such, Ice Festival provides a good amount of build time for the price. However, compared only to the other Chinese New Year sets, it does not fare quite as well. My average for those sets is $0.66. Overall, I rate the build time value for Ice Festival at 85%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 89%.

Lunar New Year Ice Festival photo booth
The photo board insert is a printed piece of carboard.

BUILD: 85%

The brunt of this set is actually the base. There is not that much built on top of it. Perhaps that led to my initial apprehension for this set. When looking at the early photos of Ice Festival, I felt it lacked the substance of its predecessors. In the past, we got elaborate temple entrances and beautiful gardens. Here, the early photos revealed a base of white with only a small corner shack offering anything building-like. However, in building Ice Festival, I began to appreciate the structure more.

True, the base of this set is the main build. It features a skating rink. The ice is composed of 6×6 wall elements recolored in translucent opal. That is the first time I have seen the element in that color. The wall elements give the ice the sense of depth. I used a similar technique recently in a custom build to add depth to a river I built. Like Ice Festival, I also included fish under the surface. The wall elements work wonderfully in that respect. They raise the surface just enough to add depth and allow the inclusion of objects in the “water”. Ice Festival took it a step further and included a lost cell phone in the ice. I thought that was comical. I only wish that the baseplates under the ice were covered with tiles to make the surface appear more liquidy.

Lunar New Year Ice Festival includes a new tiger costumed Minifigure.

Otherwise, I quite like the SNOT (studs not on top) techniques used to construct the shore. You build up the base to cover the wall elements used for the ice. Once above the wall elements, the shore construction continues on multiple plains. The build style creates the look of snowy banks around the rink. Therefore, as mentioned before, this set is pretty much just a base. However, it is a nice one that uses interesting techniques you can re-employ to construct landscape features in your own custom work. Sadly, the structures assembled above the ground are not that interesting in my opinion. I rate the build for this set at 85%.

MINIFIGURES: 88%

Ice Festival includes 13 Minifigures. Sadly, four of them are stumpy kids with unmoving legs. This set should include the shorter, moving legs also available from the LEGO® Group. I would like to be able to pose all the characters fully in a scene like this. Otherwise, seven of the characters feature double-sided faces, while all have front and back torso printing. However, only one character has leg printing. The set also contains a number of interesting accessories, including a recolor of the gold nougat piece seen in the City theme a few years back. Additionally, there are no stickers. All the tiles and signs you see on the box are printed. While a lot of the accessories are run-of-the-mill, I am happy to note the penguin figurine has returned.

A detail bound to excite many AFOLs is the two Ice Planet throwbacks. Ice Planet was a theme launched in 1993 featuring astronauts exploring a frozen world. The expedition was lead by the intrepid Commander Cold, who bears a striking resemblance to one of the characters in this set. Two characters feature a torso design similar to the Ice Planet costume of old. The jacket prints even include the Ice Planet logo. Additionally, there is a new tiger costumed minifig as well as a couple of unique or rarer torso prints. I rate the character designs and accessories at 89%. These characters would rate higher in my books if there were no unmoving legs.

Lunar New Year Ice Festival features throwbacks to Ice Planet.

Ice Planet fans get a fun throwback in this set.

With that said, 13 Minifigures in a 1519-piece kit is quite good. You get a brick-to-fig ratio of 177 bricks/fig. On average, LEGO® sets provide 171 bricks/fig. Therefore, while this is not the most amazing ratio I have ever seen, it is nothing to balk at either. You get a good number of Minifigures for a set this size. I rate that at 87%. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 88%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 85%

Is this my favorite Chinese New Year set? No, it is not. However, I like it more than I thought I would. I will not keep this set built and will recycle the parts for MOCs. However, the techniques learned are wonderful and easily applicable to custom landscapes. Additionally, winter village fans gain a lot from this set. I have a feeling many fans of that collection will acquire Ice Festival for the proper sized skating rink. This set will look wonderful in all those seasonal displays. While the set does not fully appeal to me, I do recognize that it has wider appeal beyond just collectors of Chinese New Year kits. I rate the entertainment score at 85%.

OVERALL SCORE: 87%

Lunar New Year Ice Festival is a good value with good Minifigures and good build techniques. I was not blown away by anything in the set, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. AFOLs will appreciate the landscaping techniques, as well as the Ice Planet Minifigure throwbacks. I think this is a good set, but not a great one. Of the Chinese New Year sets that came out this year, it is my favorite. However, older sets like the Lantern Festival and Temple Fair still take the cake for me. What do you think? Feel free to reach out in the comment below or on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

Lunar New Year Ice Festival ice sculptor

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Skating at the Lunar New Year Ice Festival