Theme: The Lego Ninjago Movie
I’ll be honest; I’m pretty ambivalent to the Ninjago theme as a whole. There were some very cool sets in the 2011 and 2012 releases, back when it was kind of a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe setting, but with Ninjas as the heroes. But it’s since moved into more heavily sci-fi territory, and I don’t really like the tech-heavy look they’ve gone with for the Ninjas. If I had my way, Lego would instead update the Ninja sets from the 90s, which were originally a sub-line of Castle.
However, money talks and AFOL bullshit walks – there’s no doubt that Ninjago has been a huge success for Lego. It’s spawned a huge amount of spinoff material, including books, clothes, TV series and a theatrically released movie. For any theme that isn’t City to run for 7 years continuously is a huge achievement.
As might be expected, the aforementioned film – The Lego Ninjago Movie – got its own series of building sets, which is where the subject of today’s review stems from. But if I’m not that fussed on Ninjago, why did I pick this set up?
Well, despite my ambivalence to Ninjago specifically, I am a bit of a ninja tragic. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helped spark my interest as a kid, but it quickly grew into its own thing. I think it was the black outfits that did it, to be quite honest. Also probably the combination of myth, folklore and flat-out pseudohistory that surrounds the subject. See also: Men in Black.
As the name of the set implies, this looks like a small training dojo; it’s a total martial arts film cliché, which I find very endearing. There’s four primary elements and two minifigures:
- a Wing Chun-style training dummy – ideal for practicing close quarters combat
- a bop-bag style dummy, complete with samurai helmet
- a katana rack, for safe weapon storage
- a “shrine”. Presumably, this is where students bow upon entering and exiting the dojo.
- Kai (the red ninja)
- Zane (the white ninja)
The shrine is probably my favourite of the bunch. As a corner piece, it could be slotted into other sets easily enough, and it has some nice touches; the scroll on the wall and the red lantern look great, and the sides provide storage for two more weapons.
The minifigures are also pretty solid. The white ninja is particularly striking (if impractical for “real” ninja missions). While I think they should have stuck to solid red for Kai, the added black does make for a nice contrast. My only real misgivings are about how the cowl has been split into two pieces now. I liked the turban-style mask from the original sets, as well as the armoured masks that were introduced later on. The new ones look pretty good if you can align them properly, but I don’t feel they stand up to play quite as well.
Nonetheless, this is a nice back-to-basics set. It’s well-priced and can be enjoyed entirely separately from its larger franchise. My main disappointment is that it doesn’t include a traditional black-clad Ninja, but this seems like a relatively small gripe.