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#2417 Tips: Cultural Context of the 2024 Monkie Kid Summer Wave

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LEGO launched Monkie Kid in 2020, inspired by the classic novel Journey to the West, after it tested well in China, US, and Germany. Let us take you on a journey as well, to bridge the link between the designs and their literary inspiration!

#2417 Tips: Cultural Context of the 2024 Monkie Kid Summer Wave LEGO launched Monkie Kid in 2020, inspired by the classic novel Journey to the West, after it tested well in China, US, and Germany. Are you also intrigued by the otherworldly look but unsure what you're seeing? Let us take you on a journey as well, to bridge the link between the designs and their literary inspiration!

Journey to the West is about a monk’s long and treacherous pilgrimage to India with his three disciples. On the way they help locals and defeat monsters while undergoing self-growth. The episodic and fantastical nature makes it suitable for a story-driven theme. Monkie Kid characters are pulled straight from the book, and LEGO has captured their widely-accepted image well, even outside of the show's context. In short, the story is like Percy Jackson but with Chinese mythology, while the design is Nexo-Knighted, futuristic, and mechanised. Let’s look at how this turns out for the characters of this summer wave.

Nezha (né zhà) is a commander of the heavenly forces in Journey to the West. Appearance: hot-headed kid in red. Signature weapon: fiery wheels, fiery spear. Alter ego: 3-headed, 6-armed lotus root. Fun fact: born with his clothes and weapons, killed the dragon-son over a quarrel not long after, died for exactly that but was revived. In the first arc, he tries to stop Monkey King from causing havoc in the heavenly realms to no avail, but becomes an ally later on. When Monkey King faces an extra tricky monster on the road, he may seek help from Nezha and his father.

One of the most beloved deities, protector of children and of drivers, for his speed and  agility given by the fiery wheels. Check out his 2022 minifig debut! LEGO has captured his lotus and fire motif well, as well as his weapons and childlike hairstyle. In this wave we get to see him in full armour… and maybe his alter ego next time? Now you know why 80057 Nezha's Ring of Fire Mech has wheels and is on fire. But why the lavender armour? Lotus petals of course!

Li Jing is not pleased when Monkey King crushes Nezha and his army in the first arc, and tries to have him killed when Monkey King visits his palace. He is later reconciled with Monkey King and even lends him help alongside Nezha when called upon. Title: military general, one of the heavenly lords. Signature object: golden miniature tower. Fun fact: estranged father of Nezha, was gifted the miniature tower by an even higher being to help amend their father-son relationship. 80058 Celestial Pagoda cleverly depicts Li Jing’s home in the form of his signature object. The miniature tower actually has the power to capture any opponents in other stories – perhaps that’s why this set has a Dungeon?

Nüwa is the goddess of marriage and fertility. While not mentioned in Journey to the West, some imagine the stone from which Monkey King is born to be one of her colourful stones left behind, hence his powers. Appearance: goddess with serpentine lower body. Fun fact: creator and protector of humankind, replaced a broken pillar of the world and mended the sky with smelted colourful stones (rainbows as byproducts ever since) for humans. Her minifig debuts in 80058 Celestial Pagoda, while the mural in 80056 Nine-Headed Beast portrays her deeds. Looks like her five-coloured stones are the main collectable and plot device of this wave!

Like other monsters in this worldview, the Hundred-Eyed Demon is a centipede that has lived long enough to assimilate the essence of the world to obtain human form and powers. Unlike others in Journey to the West, his initial motive of abducting Mr. Tang the monk isn’t to eat him, but to avenge his fallen sisters, the 7 spider demons. Appearance: in Taoist attire, with prominent features. True form: centipede. Powers: the numerous eyes on both sides of his torso radiate golden light and mist that form a barrier to trap and blind victims. He appears in 80057 Nezha's Ring of Fire Mech, and in 80055 Monkie Kid's Team Power Truck as well, fittingly riding a huge centipede. The reused headgear matches the male style during 200 BC to AD 400 and the common portrayal of Taoists.

As the prince consort, the Nine-Headed Demon convinced the local dragon king to steal the national treasure of a nearby city state. Monkey King and Pigsy decide to help to get it back and challenge him. Appearance: nine faces around the head, with shiny armour and fancy robes. Signature weapon: crescent spade. True form: nine-headed bird-like beast. His weapons differ in set 80056 and 80057, but unfortunately neither are the more accurate special mould seen last year in Sandy’s hand in 80044 Monkie Kid's Team Hideout.

Monkey King and Pigsy are overpowered when he shows his true form as the Nine-Headed Beast. In the end, Monkey King calls in a favour from some other heavenly beings passing by, and they defeat the beast together. This is the focus of the eponymous set 80056. Journey to the West didn’t specify its species but mention some bird-like features, and LEGO chose to portray exactly that. Also check out the comparison with the art on the cover!

The development process of Monkie Kid is somewhat unusual. Along with the Lunar New Year line, the designers include the Shanghai hub into the feedback loop; this provides a base of authenticity for creative spins, in contrast to the purely fantastical nature of Ninjago. Whether this makes the theme more popular is another question, but it does bring “Aha” moments to discerning fans and some highly desirable minifigs, prints, and moulds. Wen, Xiaodong is the concept designer behind Monkie Kid, who pitched the idea when applying to LEGO. Check out #2202 for our interview, and comment below if you fancy seeing more posts on Monkie Kid from us!

Did you find the post interesting? Are there other characters or sets you’d like us to write about? Let us know in the comments!

1 Comment

This was a fun read and definitely helped to bring the characters represented within the sets more of a better understanding of who they are and the literature influence. Journey to the West is one of my favorite stories and seeing the sets was such a great concept of a theme! Thank you for the great article and the literature history lesson!

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