“Lego® Group Unveils New Monkie Kid Theme Inspired by Chinese Mythology”
Inspired by the Monkey King of Chinese mythology, folklore, and literature, the new LEGO® Monkie Kid™ theme was released in mid-May, the Danish toymaker Lego System A/S (doing business as The LEGO® Group) announced on Friday, May 15, A.D. 2020. This is the first LEGO® theme inspired by Chinese mythology.
Sun Wukong (known in English as the Monkey King) was a character in the 16th Century Chinese novel Journey to the West that appeared in later tales. The character ultimately derived from a fusion in Chinese folklore of the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman and the White Monkey legend told under the Han Dynasty, which ruled the Chinese Empire from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D., and that White Monkey legenditself evolved from earlier legends about white gibbons in the Chu Kingdom, which occupied the center of the Yangtze River Basin from 700 B.C. to 223 B.C.
Through the free LEGO® Life app, parents or older siblings can help reach Instructions PLUS for each set, which offers owners the chance to view the model with options to zoom in and rotate the view, which can help young builders visualize what they are supposed to do next.
In a press release, The LEGO® Group stated, “Inspired by the 500-year-old story of the Monkey King, LEGO Monkey 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 to be inspired by a Chinese legend and is rooted firmly in the country’s culture and values. The theme’s sets are packed with fun, excitement and an epic story just waiting to unfold… 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…Paying tribute to stories known and admired by so many children parents in China and [the rest of] Asia, this latest LEGO play theme brings new life to the iconic Monkey King fable and provides a common ground for children, parents and grandparents to build and play together.”
“I am super excited about the launch of LEGO Monkie Kid. This fantastic new play theme is deeply inspired by Chinese culture and built on an esteemed story that is treasured by all generations,” enthused Julia Goldin, Chief marketing Officer at The LEGO® Group. “We know kids will be delighted by the world of LEGO Monkie Kid, and I can’t wait to see how they immerse themselves in building, role playing and creating new stories through this theme. This is a very exciting innovation for the LEGO brand and one that demonstrates our commitment to building a strong future.”
The LEGO® Group stated, “With a modern Chinese twist, LEGO Monkie Kid celebrates bravery and friendship and lets children engage in great building experiences whilst helping them to develop their imagination and creativity.”
Paul Huang, General Manager of LEGO® China, stated, “The launch of Monkie Kid is another important milestone in our journey to provide the creative LEGO play experience to many more Chinese children. Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, the new theme line is created with inspiration from China, for China, and at the same time empowers children around the world to be brave, resilient and optimistic through creative play with LEGO bricks.”
The LEGO® Group stated, “Children can look forward to eight action-packed sets with colourful characters, impressive vehicles with exciting new and hidden features – plus a blue cat with an orange mohawk! The sets are a result of two years of close collaboration with children and parents in China to ensure they are authentic to local culture. Never before has the LEGO Group launched a theme inspired by one culture and with so much attention to local details, values and traits.”
Whomever wrote the last sentence of the paragraph in the quote lacked knowledge of The LEGO® Group’s history. The LEGO® Ninja theme (1998-2000) was firmly rooted in Japanese culture, and the LEGO® Vikings theme (2005-2007) was firmly rooted in Norse culture, which, obviously, includes Denmark. The LEGO® Castle theme (1978-2014) was rooted in Medieval Western European and Central European cultures and only lacked representation of how pervasive Christianity was in Europe and would have been represented in the landscape by churches, chapels, cathedrals, abbeys, monasteries, and convents. As for LEGO® Monkie Kid™ being a modern twist or update on the Monkey King of Chinese myth, legend, and folklore, the popular LEGO® Ninjago™ theme released in 2011 is a science fiction and fantasy twist on the earlier LEGO® Ninja theme and LEGO® Nexo Knights™ theme (2016-2018) was a science fiction twist on the LEGO® Castle theme. Also, as I pointed out in “Other Lego Castles,” the LEGO® Vikings theme was inspired by both Nordic mythology as well as history, and included several dragons, a wyvern, a sea serpent, and a monstrous wolf that appeared to be machines rather than living creatures like something out of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummy Bears (1985-1991).
“I have been touched and inspired by China’s rich history and culture, the passion and pride of the people and the incredible creativity of China,” stated Simon Lucas, Senior Design Director at The LEGO® Group. “It has been an honour and privilege to be able to immerse myself in China’s culture of storytelling, in particular – Journey to the West and the Monkey King. The epic stories and incredible characters have been a huge inspiration to the LEGO design team and me. It is with deepest respect for Chinese culture and the 500-year-old legend that we have created the next chapter in the story of the Monkey King – The Monkie Kid.”
Sets were released in LEGO® Stores, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center giftshops, and TMall Flagship stores in Mainland China; and in LEGO® Stores and LEGOLAND Discovery Center giftshops in the city-state of Hong Kong, the sovereign city-state of Singapore, and the federated kingdoms of Malaysia on Friday, May 15, A.D. 2020. They were released via the online LEGO® Shop (https://www.LEGO.com) and in LEGO® Stores, LEGOLAND® giftshops, and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center giftshops in the rest of the world on Saturday, May 16, A.D. 2020. In markets that remain under COVID 19-related lockdown, LEGO® Stores are, of course, closed until government guidelines allow them to re-open. Click here to find out if the LEGO® Store nearest you is open.
In other Chinese-related LEGO® news, The LEGO® Group announced on Sunday, January 19, A.D. 2020 that it had won multiple victories in the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court and announced on Monday, April 6, A.D. 2020 that in the second half of the year it would open a LEGO® flagship store in Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province. The LEGO® Group announced it had “received favorable final decisions from the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court against the appeals raised by defendants of multiple intellectual property infringement cases in China.” The Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court upheld rulings in eighteen copyright infringement cases and one unfair competition case.
The LEGO® Group stated, “In these cases, Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd. and its affiliates are liable of manufacturing and selling infringing Lepin products. The 18 LEGO® sets and corresponding LEGO minifigures at dispute, are ruled as artworks protected under China Copyright Law belonging to the LEGO Group. Unauthorized copies of the same constitute copyright infringement, said the court.”
The LEGO® themes LEGO® Ninjago™, LEGO® Nexo Knights™, and LEGO® Legends of Chima™ “are recognized by the court as products of certain influence in China,” The LEGO® Group stated. “The trade dress for these products (and packing) as well as the characters of LEGO NINJAGO are protected under the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of China, the court said in the final ruling.” Further, The LEGO® Group stated, “Meizhi Model and all other defendants are ordered to cease infringement immediately, and to pay the LEGO Group a total of RMB 4.7 million (around DKK 4.5m) in damages. They are also ordered to make a public apology on the websites of China Toy and Juvenile Products Association and Guangdong Toy Association to the LEGO Group for Lepin infringement…The LEGO Group will follow up with the court on the collection of damages granted and enforcement of public apologies by Meizhi Model. It will also continue to support Shanghai police and procuratorate in the ongoing criminal case against executives of Meizhi Model who were arrested during the police’s raid against Lepin factories in April 2019.”
Robin Smith, Vice President and General Counsel, China and Asia Pacific, The LEGO® Group, stated, “[i]ntellectual property rights are very important to the LEGO Group, and we constantly strive to enforce and protect our LEGO trademarks, copyrights, designs and patents. We are pleased with the court’s final decision and appreciate the efforts from all stakeholders in this case. It also shows the Chinese authorities’ commitment in creating a favourable business environment for multinational companies.”
This is the latest in a number of court victories The LEGO® Group has won in China in the past few years. In July of 2017, a Beijing Higher Court ruled that “the LEGO logo and the LEGO word mark were recognized as ‘well-known’ trademarks in China,” The LEGO® Group related. A few months later, in October of that year, The LEGO® Group prevailed in the Shantou Intermediate Court over the Chinese toy manufacturer Bela.
As for the new flagship LEGO® Store, it will be in the COCO Park shopping mall in the Futian District of Shenzhen. This will be the fifth flagship store that The LEGO® Group has opened in Mainland China and the first in South China.
Paul Huang, General Manager of LEGO® China, stated, “We are excited to open a new flagship store in Shenzhen, a vibrant city well-known for its innovation spirit. We hope the new store can bring the creative LEGO play to more children in Shenzhen and the south China region, inspiring their creativity and imagination, and helping them learn through play.”
The LEGO® Group opened its first Chinese flagship LEGO® Store in Shanghai Disneytown four years ago on May 11, A.D. 2016. It is over 800 square meters. The second one opened on Nanjing Road East at Shanghai People’s Square on September 27, A.D. 2018. It is 599 square meters. The third one is Beijing Wangfujing, which opened on February 22, A.D. 2019 in Bejing’s Wangfujing shopping district. It is 626 square meters. The fourth one is Hangzhou West Lake, which The LEGO® Group announced would open in Hangzhou City this year at the second China International Import Exhibition last year. It is expected to open this summer.
Late last year, The LEGO® Group released two sets to mark Chinese New Year for what is the year 2020 on the Christian calendar. On Tuesday, November 5, A.D. 2020, The LEGO Group announced the sets would be Lion Dance and Chinese New Year Temple Fair. Last year, The LEGO® Group released three sets to mark Chinese New Year for the first time: Dragon Boat race, Dragon Dance, and Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner. The playsets were released in China and Asia Pacific markets on Thursday, December 26, A.D. 2019 and the rest of the world on Friday, January 10, A.D. 2020.
LEGO® Product Designer Markus Rollbühler commented, “We were incredibly thorough with our research when designing the sets. For the Chinese New Year Temple Fair, we looked closely at the types of things vendors sell in the market stalls and all of the various good on offer.”
Mr. Rollbühler added, “Both sets include amazing minifigures and details to encourage role play. The Lion dance set comes with many interesting play features. For example, you can fully pose the lions and you can also open and close their mouths to help recreate the spectacular dances we all know and love.”
 See Hera S. Walker, “Indigenous or Foreign? A Look at the Origins of the Monkey Hero Sun Wukong,” Sino-Platonic Papers, Number 81, September, 1998, pages 1-16, 53-78
 A mech is a giant robot soldier controlled by a human operator in Japanese anime (animated movies and television shows) and manga (comic books), such as the RX-78-Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-1980). In Robot Jox (1990), instead of fighting wars, fifty years after a nuclear war the surviving countries settle international disputes by having mech champions fight in gladiatorial-style games. In Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013) and its sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018), humanity uses mechs called Jaegers to defend countries from attacks by Kaiju (giant alien monsters) that invaded the Earth from another world through a wormhole at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Smaller powered exoskeletal battle suits in fiction include the battle suits used by Terrans (humans) and Neosapians (a human-made race of synthetic humans) alike in an interplanetary war in the animated series Exosquad (1993-95); the suits used by humans to defend the city Zion from an attack by Sentinels (robots) in The Matrix: Revolutions (2003); Tony Stark’s Iron Man’s suits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger suit in Iron Man (2008); and the suits used by Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), Sargent Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), and others in the United Defense Force to defend Europe from an invasion by aliens called Mimics in the epic science fictionwar film/comedy comic book adaptation Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Also, in Aliens(1986), Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) used a cargo-loader, a Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader, as a weapon to combat the Alien Queen.
Help Keep the Lights On
If you like this content, you can help keep more of it coming with a one-time donation of as little as $1.