In which I am confronted with another set that is predominantly sand green in appearance; I need to reconsider ‘Sand Green September’ as a concept and take cues from Lord Business and the Australian Football League. I go to the movies and have mixed feelings but a predominantly positive experience about the LEGO Ninjago Movie. I build a set and am amazed at the number of relatively uncommon/recently released elements. If you thought you had never seen anything quite like the Green Ninja Dragon Mech before, it might just be because 25% of the 516 elements are fairly new! Now read on…
I recently spoke about the three sets which I am in the process of building, with sand green as a dominant colour. Sand Green September. A lofty idea, and I suspect almost unachievable, unless I take a cue from both Wyldstyle in the LEGO Movie (Freedom Friday, but still on a Tuesday), and the Australian Football League.
For those without a classical Victorian Education, the AFL (and Previously VFL) Grand Final is traditionally played on the last Saturday in September. Today in fact. This ‘One Day in September’ was immortalised in song by Mike Brady in the early 1980’s in the theme song for Channel 7’s Big League. Of course, occasionally, this one day in September occurs in October ( I am looking at you 2011, 2015 and 2016. I could look at 2010 in accusatory tones as well, except the Grand Final in October was a replay of the drawn match from the previous weekend. The AFL have taken steps to ensure this does not ever happen again…)
Yes… we are looking at the final instalment of Sand Green September being released in October. But I digress.
And I shall again.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
This week I also went to see the LEGO Ninjago Movie. Sorry to all of the those living in the UK and Ireland: hang in there a couple more weeks. Multiply that feeling you currently have on this subject by three and you will begin to understand the frustration we experienced waiting for the release of the LEGO Batman Movie to be released in Australia at the end of March. Add an extra couple of weeks if you would like to understand how those in New Zealand or Israel felt.
Quick Movie Review: I went to see it on my own, with a relatively quiet weekday morning session at a local cinema. Every other patron that session was either a child or a Grandparent. I saw the film in 2-D: 3-D was not on offer at my local cinema at that time. It was not necessary to have any prior knowledge of Ninjago, and from my little knowledge of the series and previous sets, I get the feeling that the movie may have been ‘not in continuity’ or non canon. Or is the series? Only time will tell.
The Ninja we have come to know from the sets and the series: Cole, Kai, Nya, Jay, Zane and Lloyd are all there, leading mysterious double lives; and the entire world seems to know that Lloyd is the son of Lord Garmadon, who is determined to take over Ninjago City. However, nobody except for his colleagues, is aware (or would even believe) that he is the Green Ninja.
The cinematography (can I call it that if it is a computer animated product?) and rendering of the city, and opening sequence of city life was visually stunning. And the design of the LEGO models: scenery, buildings, interiors and vehicles were terrific. Very few of the named characters in the Ninjago Movie sets were developed, or even offered significant speaking roles in the movie.
We are introduced to our heroes early, and are rapidly given thumbnail sketches of their characters, but it is Lloyd who the story focuses on. If you are reading this, you are likely to have seen images of sets that imply a level of conflict between the Ninja, and Garmadon’s army (so I presume any comment to this effect is not a spoiler). The battles between the Ninja’s Mechs and the Garmadon’s Army are visually stunning, and like Star Wars, Top Gun and the Avengers, seeing it on the big screen was definitely an advantage. I was grateful to have seen the film in only two dimensions. I think that the addition of a third may well have left me feeling slightly ill. Beyond this I should be circumspect in what I say. The story explores the relationship between father and son, as well as the consequences of one’s actions. There are twists and turns that I did not expect. There are jokes aimed at all ages and there are also nods to more traditional martial arts and Anime screen storytelling.
The soundtrack is upbeat and poppy, with some tracks borrowing cues from traditional martial arts cinema . I am sure the young people will love it. The soundtrack was written by Mark Mothersbough, previously known for his work with punk band Devo, as well as the soundtracks to Nickelodeon’s ‘Rugrats’, Syfy Network’s ‘Eureka’ and of course ‘The LEGO Movie.’ It’s on iTunes and Spotify, in case you are interested… I’m listening to it as I write this post.
On the whole, I found the whole story was enjoyable, but not quite as engaging as The LEGO Movie. It might be because I found the metaphor of the absent father as would be world conqueror trying to build a relationship with sixteen year old son either not feeling totally relatable to me, or else perhaps cutting a little close to the bone. I can’t really decide. I suspect that as a child, having Lloyd or Nya as their ‘point of view’ character, it would be a much more enjoyable experience.
Am I glad that I took the time and money to see the film in the cinema? Yes. Will I happily see the film again? Yes. Would I pay money to do so? Yes. Would I pay extra to see it in Gold Class? No. Would I watch it on TV, Streaming services or as part of an international in-flight entertainment package? Yes. Am I likely to buy it on DVD or BluRay? Yes. Would I still buy it DVD or Blu-ray in the absence of a Gift with Purchase such as a polybag set or minifigure? I guess so. Will my Non-AFOL Significant Other enjoy it? I am not certain. This gives it an Arbitrary Movie Experience Score of five out of seven.
So…What of the Green Ninja Dragon Mech?
When the first teaser trailer for the LEGO Ninjago Movie dropped earlier in the year, the onscreen version of The Green Ninja Dragon Mech caused many to stop and say ‘Wow!’ It looked unlike any LEGO model seen on screen before. While moving in a ‘LEGO real’ way, it still flexed and swerved as it flew across the screen. LEGO sets have featured dragons previously, but there has often been a limitation on their apparent realism. There appeared to be a good balance between the use of general elements, and more specific elements, such as the lower jaw and nose. As the Dragon Mech flowed across the screen, it looked as though the belly was more consistently coloured than had happened on previous dragon sets. I have some other theories regarding the unique appearance of the dragon that I will come to shortly.
Set 70612 Green Ninja Mech Dragon has 519 pieces, and four minifigures: Lloyd, Master Wu, Lord Garmadon and a Shark Army Thug. Master Wu is much as he appears in 70608 Master Falls. Garmadon has his Samurai style helmet, as well as armour and robes. He has 4 arms, 2 swords and a laser pointer… Lloyd has 2 arms, making it harder to understand how they might come to be related, a sword with a hanging tassel and a Dragon mech. The Shark Army Gunner has an earth blue beanie and a pale blue fish spear weapon, which make slightly more sense than the fish mallet weapon wields by other shark army minions in other sets. The Gunner otherwise is only found in the Ninjago City set. Each figure has printing on the back of the torso, as wells printing on the legs. Wu and Garmadon also have fabric portions to their clothes: Garmadon has a gown, and Wu has a skirt attachment as part of his kimono.
On to the building. We have two instruction manuals, 4 bags of pieces and one sheet of stickers. The stickers are not compulsory: some aid in conveying the mechanical nature of the dragon, and others are decorative. I was intrigued to see the words ‘no step’ written in Latin script, when most of Ninjago’s writing is using the substitution cipher font developed for the film. The coded writing on the stickers appears to read ‘Lloyd’, which should be adequate giveaway as to the Green Ninja’s identity for those uncertain…. Tucked away in the back of the second manual is an advertisement for the video game LEGO Worlds. Included here is a code to unload the Police Tuk Tuk featured in 70607: Ninjago City Chase as an in game vehicle.
There are three dominant colours of elements in construction: black, for the basic structure, the outer bricks of sand green, and pearl gold as decorative elements. These three colours account for 356 (68%) of the elements in the set! One hundred and fifteen elements (22%) are making their debut in the colours used here this year! And this is one of the things that I think contributed to the Wow! Factor when we saw the trailer. One of the reasons the Dragon Mech looks unlike anything we have seen in a LEGO Set previously is that 25% of the elements used in this set are new either in 2016 or 2017. That is a relatively high number of new elements – predominantly new colours of established part designs, but relatively novel in appearance in any case.
We build up the lower torso and rear legs; the tail, upper torso and front legs, and finally the neck and head. While the build was quite satisfying to complete, there were several aspects that piqued my interest:
The SNOT work on the legs, and the inclusion of the shooters here.
The mid torso articulation: this joint swings from side to side, but is limited in its movement by the use of the rubber damper 2M (Element ID 4198367). This provides a realistic amount of bend at this joint.
The attachment of the eyes: an inverted set of motorcycle handlebars wedged in place, in such a way the transparent fluorescent green minifigure head is secured in an eggcup, which fits through the eye sockets of the upper head element and is held in place here
The way in which a small set of ‘wings’ work to conceal the opening jet elements for the mech.
These engines have inspired me to complete another project sitting on the back burner: an entry in the Rebrick Freighter Wars competition – closing around October 11-12, 2017 – check your local clocks for confirmation. I won’t give things away too much at this time. Suffice to say, the most excellent “Haynes Owners Workshop Manual – Millennium Falcon” provides great inspiration for alternative engines used in the YT series freighters produced by the Corellian Engineering Corporation. And for me, this element will assist greatly, particularly at the scale of the 7778 Midi-Scale Millennium Falcon. However – I would be better served by 3 in dark blueish grey/medium stone grey. I have just realised, however, that there are three included with my 75167 Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack, waiting to be put together after travelling across the world earlier in the year…
And the finished object… I suppose we should present that here as well.
It would be remiss of me to not mention the aspects of this set that differ from the film. The first I can live with, in the interests of maintaining an affordable set: there are many more segments in the neck, body and tail of the mech in the movie, giving it a much more fluid appearance in the film. The other I consider to be a bit of a cheat on the part of the filmmakers: while pearl gold/warm gold is used for the trim on the set, in the set, these parts seem to have a more metallic appearance, glistening in the sun in the movie than they have in real life. I was certainly unable to get the plastic to glisten in the same way in the springtime sun. It certainly made it look better in the film, but I am a little disappointed that the colour used is not in the current LEGO palette.
I enjoyed the film; I enjoyed this build, and despite its shortcomings compared to the actual movie vehicle, it is a great model to look at, pose, hold and swoosh. The pose-ability is nifty, with click joints at the hips preventing unwanted slippage. All in all, I give it four out of five Arbitrary Praise Units.
The next instalment in Sand Green September will be in October, but there may be another couple of posts before that one. In the absence of somebody gifting me 3450: Statue of Liberty, I shall finally get around to building the Ideas Set: 21310 The Old Fishing Store.
In the mean time, you have a few hours to submit an entry in out raffle to share something Star Wars on Instagram: tag it #ramblingbricketts and look for @ramblingbrick to find details (you have until midnight, Australian eastern standard time to get it posted). Alternatively, or also , you can enter a seperate raffle by email I am looking forward to your entries. Remember, the draw is random, so your entry image does not have to feature the world’s greatest MOC or photo. You have nothing to lose but about 5 minutes.
Until next time,