After releasing the hugely popular Lunar New Year Reunion Dinner and Dragon Dance sets recently, Lego has come up with yet another Asian limited edition set for yet another traditional Chinese festival - ‘Duan Wu Jie’ or the Duanwu Festival, or better known as the Dragon Boat Festival, which actually falls tomorrow.
But what exactly is Duan Wu Jie? It is actually a traditional summer solstice holiday that occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Lunar calender. The festival originated in China, where it is also known as ‘Zhong Xiao Jie’ (Fealty Festival).
Also celebrated in Malaysia (albeit not as an actual holiday), the most unique elements of this festival are dragon boat races, as well as the sticky rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves known as zong zi (or ba chang in Hokkien), which are meant to symbolise luck.
Happily the Lego Dragon Boat Race set actually incorporates these two distinct elements of the festival, with a little rice dumpling store, two dragon boat teams, and even a podium stage with a trophy for the winner of the race.
Granted, this set has fewer bricks than both the Lunar New Year sets (471 pieces compared to 615 for the Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner set and 652 for the Dragon Dance set), but it more than makes up for that with an impressive 15 mini figures, including two dragon boat helmsmen, six paddlers, two drummers, two spectators, a judge, a little boy and a stall keeper.
The centrepiece of the set is definitely the two Dragon Boats, and rightly so. Each boat has a dragon head with articulated mouths, posable tails, and even some small hidden wheels underneath for you to race them (they don’t float on water, in case you were wondering).
My favourite part of it, however, has to be the mini dumpling stall, which, for me, is THE most distinct aspect of the Duan Wu Festival. The pond underneath the podium stage (which even has lily pads and frogs!) is also a nice touch, giving this set a lot more detail than I expected.
This is a relatively easy set to build, with both boats pretty similar in terms of design. It does seem a little sparse compared to the two Lunar New Year sets, but more than makes up for that with the playability of the overall set as well as the number of mini figures it comes with.
Overall, this is a set that really captures the essence of the Dragon Boat Festival. If you already have the Lunar New Year sets, this would go perfectly alongside them.
With that in mind, we've also come up with a few more suggestions of Chinese festivals we'd love to see Lego create sets for:
While it would be great to see a Lego set with children playing lanterns and tiny Lego versions of mooncakes, we would also love to see an alternative Lego set based more on Chinese folklore and legends about the moon, especially Chang Er, the Chinese goddess of the moon and also her rabbit companion. Yes, we’d love a Moon Rabbit mini-figure please, Lego.
Dongzhi Festival/Winter Solstice
Hey, Western countries have Christmas themed Lego sets, so why not have a Chinese themed Winter Solstice set as well?
Since the festival is more of a family-oriented affair where everyone gathers for meals and eats tang yuen (glutinous rice balls), this could be a similar set to the Lunar New Year Eve Dinner one, but with different mini-figures, and tiny bowls of tang yuen as well. Oh, and a winter-themed garden outside the house, of course.
Hungry Ghost Festival
Ok, fine, it's not be very auspicious to have a Lego set dedicated to the Hungry Ghost festival in your home, but hear us out.
We’ve had horror-themed Lego sets before, but there has never actually been one that pays tribute to Asian horror figures. Lego mummy, vampire and skeleton mini-figures are all very nice, but we’d love to see a Lego mini-figure of a Chinese vampire (you know, the ones that jump around with two hands outstretched), or even a long-haired, white robe spirit. Besides, it'll make a great alternative Halloween decoration as well!