Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 at 9:01am by Benjamin, BZPower Reporter
Monkie Kid returns in 2022, and BZPower has advanced copies of the sets! Today we start with the big one: The City of Lanterns. This is part of the next wave of sets that will be available in the Asian market on December 26 and in the rest of the world on January 1, 2022. Here we get a city with a bustling street scene, complete with metro rail, hotel, and eateries. It gives off major Ninjago City vibes, so read, and watch, on to see just how it stacks up.
This is a pretty massive set. With 2,187 pieces and 7 minifigs, this will only cost $150 USD when released. As you read the review I think you'll agree that's quite a deal! Even so, a big thanks to LEGO for providing the set so I can give my opinions on it. Finally, you'll see lots of decals with Chinese characters, which Ta-Metru Defender has volunteered to translate. There was a lot of work put into this set, and you'll see that even in the city signage.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box art is very flashy with the Monkie Kid logo and other paraphernalia. There is a map in the bottom left corner and some rings in the top right. It seems that the theme this year will be â€ścollect the rings,â€ť gathered from Monkey King lore. In fact, we see a few recurring characters from the myth in these sets, such as Pigsy in the city with his flying contraption restaurant and branded train. Of course, the city itself takes center stage, full of color and bustling city life. The back of the box then shows the back of the city, with open restaurants and stores showing play features and internal structure. You also see that the individual businesses can be removed and lined up like a city block!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The set has 18 polybags, three sticker sheets (which I did use, shocker!), and two instruction booklets. The books and stickers came in an impressive heavy paper envelope to keep everything flat. Thanks, LEGO!
The first thing you build is Pigsy's hot air balloon and cooking backpack. With binoculars and what I think is a ketchup gun, I worry about what he might do in the skies with a loaded array of utensils at his disposal.
Next up is the structure of the City of Lanterns. It contains Technic beams and overlaps with plates and bricks, but what was really impressive was the angled Technic axels holding up the teal train line. In the end you can really pick up the whole city from the base.
Eagle eyes builders will notice the Bionicle graffiti!
Along with the base come a few additions on the side that don't come off like the other businesses do. They hold up the rest of the track and support the upper city. There's a karaoke booth with a transliterated sign above it.
Pigsy has reskinned the metro train as an advertisement for his food. The Chinese characters on the side roughly translate to â€śthe taste of food is supreme.â€ť
Now we have some shops opening up! The shrimp place advertises â€śLittle Shrimp Soldiersâ€ť (because that's what shrimp are?) and is probably called â€ťBig Trouble in the Heavenly Palace.â€ť The bubble tea place advertises â€śmilk teaâ€ť in one of the circles and the poster at the booth advertises â€śflat peach oolongâ€ť tea. All these shops are placed on smooth tiles with a few 2x2 jumper plates to secure them, but allowing them to be picked off easily if need be. The bubble tea store also has stairs leading up to the next level of the city, but you'd probably have to get off assuming the train stopped there.
The biggest shop is a restaurant named Fire Flame Mountain (est 1990) serving hot pot up above and bao down below.
And now maybe the most important store, The LEGO Store! It's got the classic dragon wrapping around the outside and the shelves are full of sets and a colorful Pick a Brick wall.
The Panda store doesn't seem to be selling anything unique, just maybe a convenience store. But it has a cool tree growing on its roof. Next to it is a power line and a billboard featuring Chang'e and â€śMoon Palace Moon Cakes.â€ť (Just wait until you see our review of Chang'e Moon Cake Factory.â€ť)
Finally we have the Lotus Hotel, with a freshly made bed and computer console to call robot staff. The lotus on the top is very pretty and contains a certain ring that Monkie Kid is probably looking for. This hotel gets placed in the center and we see the complete city:
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Lots of cool new and/or interesting parts with this set. The teal tracks stand out, of course. More basic designs that look new are the 2x6 tile and 2x4 rounded tile. I also love the â€śgoldâ€ť nougat in dark green and bright green heart. What pieces stand out to you?
There is a great cast of minifigs in this set (and two robot helpers). The main cast includes Monkie Kid, Mei, and Pigsy. The city population consists of Huang, Mr. Tang, a train driver, and Han. The robots are listed as Citybot A05 and Citybot A16. They're all wearing pretty casual clothes and most have a second print on the back of their head. Some even have cool accessories, like Monkie Kid's map, Mr. Tang's bowl and chopsticks, and Han's LEGO store bag.
More constraction Easter eggs. Awesome!
We'll look at the individual shops in a moment, but first a view of what makes the city run. We've got the train line and ticket sales. There's an Octan can and a trash can and traffic cone. And the scooter rental with Bionicle graffiti. There's also a walkway between shops. But maybe my favorite inclusion is an additional track piece, the longer version. This way if a kid wants to make a new city, the oval isn't limited to just this one size! And underneath the city lay a dozen Technic pins so you can string the shops together as a city street (more on that later).
The karaoke place is pretty clever.
The Fire Flame Mountain is well stocked with hot pots, bao, cow horns, and condiments for your meal. I'm very impressed with this two-story establishment.
This outdoor shrimp eatery uses red claws/fangs to represent shrimp. The neon sign and mascot is really well done!
The Bubble Tea has a nice storefront and a staircase that leads up to the other shops.
The LEGO store fits in snugly in the corner so the dragon's tale can peek out the side. I love the enlarged bricks (ala Ant-Man) and all the little sets that are in the store.
The Panda convenience store has trinkets and stuff inside.
The Lotus Hotel has a magnificent exterior. You'll also notice in the bedroom a computer display for the robot helpers. They're sure to make your stay as relaxing as possible.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with.
Unlike most sets where there is conflict and action, The City of Lanterns is mostly static and peaceful. It's a place for our heroes to relax, shop, and eat. But it isn't without its merits. First off are all the different stores to engage the characters in. The train moves around and can seat minifigs. The little surprises here and there are delightful to find. But maybe the coolest feature is how you can remove the stores and line them up like a city block. Now you've gone from towering city to lengthy street scene, and it all looks great. Perhaps LEGO plans on making more shops in this size so you can mix and match the city set up? If nothing else, Monkie Kid's apartment from last year's mech set should fit in quite well.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Great price point.
Minifig heroes in casual wear.
City can disassemble into a city block.
Playability in your imagination, not conflict.
Can lift it by the structure.
What's not to like?
None of the new baddie minifigs.
Might not fit on my shelf for display.
This set was a fun time building it from start to finish. From seeing the base be so secure to all the little shops come to life, the City of Lanterns grew with each new polybag. Several surprises delighted me, from the extra track to the Bionicle, Hero Factory, and Znap stickers. Plus it can turn into a street scene! With the unique playability, this set stands out as a conflict-free kit that still lets you tell a story as you play. This just might be my new favorite set!