It was 2011, January, and extraordinarily hot. Brickvention was underway at the Melbourne Town Hall. And there, at one of the vendor’s stands I saw it: a strange new theme: it seemed part ninja, part card/spinner game. I was getting mixed messages. Anyway, I handed over $10 to buy one of the smallest sets in theme: 2516 Ninja Training Outpost. I took at it home, stared at it a little while, and put it in a cupboard. Today, I found it again, stil in the box.
Brickvention is not on this year… not in real life. We will miss out on our regular January fix of AFOL company and fellowship, but there is still time to catch the action with this year’s virtual event: You can find out more at Brickvention.online.
However, today is the 10th anniversary of the first Pilot Episode going to air on Cartoon Network. I was hopoing to review the Ninjago® City Gardens today, but it arrived a little late in the day. So I thought i’d crack open the first Ninjago set that I ever bought. A sticker on the bottom of the box suggests that I paid $AUD10 for it.
It’s a small box, and contains an instruction booklet, as well as two small bags of parts. Apparently 45 parts all up, according to Brickset.com’s database. There are no brand new elements in this set, except for the minifigure prints and headwear.
The set comes with one minifigure, Cole, the Black Ninja. He represents the Earth elemental power.At the time, I recall this printing looking pretty special. There is only printing on the front, but the head wear has a clip on the back for convenient attaching of any weapon he might like to hide. Cole’s head print is single sided, and he has a serious expression, with eyebrows that appear ready to attack!
The build is fairly simple: we start building a target, I presume for Cole’s box and arrow. I was impressed by the way it was built to include a red technic axle as a cross in the centre.
Next, we build the small training station. It is set on a 6×6 plate with a 3 stud radius curve, in medium stone grey. I was intrigued as I built it, as there are both a technic brick with hole, and another with technic connector, facing outwards: I find myself wondering if it was designed to plug into another set or two. Reviewing the instructions to similar sized sets from the drop. I appreciate the way that the top of the antenna is secured in place by the plate with a clip on the side.
Cole is equipped with multiple weapons: a Katana, spear, Bow amd Arrow, and two daggers. There is a place for all of them on the training station. For additional drama, there is also a scorpion to threaten Cole, in the absence of the Skeleton army. The use of clack, red and gold, along with the cheese slopes at the top gives this final model a definite Asiatic feel, with regard to its design language.
Overall, its a nice little set: today I would prbably expect to find it in a polybag or similar. While I am disappointed that there is only one minifigure, training (rather than teaching or learning) can be a solitary activity. The addition of the scorpion to this set enhances the drama, and it is no effort to have an enemy stumble upon Cole in his jungle training ground.
As a debut for the theme, I am sorry I did not open this set sooner. Because… ninja! This set doesn’t really give a feel to the direction that the show is going to take, but it does provide a realistic scenario for Cole
At this stage, the overall design is fairly simple: stacked bricks, slopes and plates, although it does make use of a good number of clips: a sign of things to come on future set designs.
Is there anything I dont like about this set? not really. If I were to change anything, it might be the target – using the circular tile with a hole in the middle, as well as the 2×2 quarter circle tiles and an axle to form the target. But these are new elements since 2011: perhaps I would incorporate them in a Legacy reissue of this set.
Overall, I give the set 3.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units. Its a solid start for the theme. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near the size of the Ninjago City Gardens, which I hope to get built over the next week or three.
What was your first Ninjago set? If you still had it Mint in Sealed Box, would you open it today? why dont you leave your comments below, and until next time,
As part of the 10th aniversary of Ninjago, the Rambling Brick is celebrating with a selection of reviews, articles and announcements. Check out the tag #Ninjagopalooza to find related posts.