For a theme steeped in classical Chinese mythology, Monkie Kid continues to bring us some of the LEGO Group’s best homegrown Science Fiction type content: mechs, flyers and drivers, along with more organic elements, including animals and landscapes. The latest wave is no exception. Now entering its fourth year/season we see a refresh of the original 80012 Monkie King Warrior Mech. Manifested through sheer willpower by MK, it makes sense that as he develops his powers, the mech will become upgraded. I initially started thinking about this set as MK Ultra… and then I was reminded about the use of this designation for the CIA’s experiments into mind control in the ’60s and ’70s.
I was excited when the opportunity to take a pre-release look at this set came along, and I appreciate the LEGO Group sending it over for an early review.
As you may recall, the Monkie Kid series is based on a reimagining of the Classic Chinese Novel, Journey to the West. This tale brings us the story of a Buddhist Monk travelling to India from China, for the purpose of retrieving scripture. Along the way, he is joined by the Monkey King, Sun Wukong; a Sand Demon and a Pig Demon. In the meantime, he is riding a horse, which was transformed from a dragon. This theme brings us into a contemporary society, where MK finds the Monkey King’s staff one day. The other characters are descended from, or at least bear a strong resemblance to their classical antecedents. After facing the challenge of the Demon Bull King, the Spider Demon and the Lady Bone Demon in the first three years, we are now ready to move towards Lion Camel Ridge, to face the Rulers there: The Azure Lion, the Yellow Tusked Elephant and the Golden Winged Eagle, along with Ink Demons (These Ink Demons are found in some of the smaller sets of the wave.)
The set has 1705 elements, including 6 minifigures – some of which are brand new for 2023. The build took me about 4 – 5 hours to build, including the time taken to photograph.
If you don’t want the whole build process spoiled, stop now! Suffice to say, this is one of the most intricate mechs I have ever put together. The colour blocking is well handled, but some of the skirting aspects of the mech are easily dislodged with a bit of enthusiastic play.
The minifigures are beautifully decorated, and I appreciate the optional jet for MK to fly. I am happy to give this set 4.5 Arbitrary Praise Units out of 5. Read on for a more detailed, spoiler-filled rundown.
Warning: Spoilers Follow
The Build Experience/Instructions.
The Monkie Kid sets set the new standard for LEGO Instructions, when they were first released in 2020, and we continue to see little nuances added each year.
The instruction manual features the somewhat lacklustre graphics which have become de rigeur this year. That said, they are thick: around 270 pages.
The instructions open with an overview of what is achieved with each of the numbered bags:
And, at the start of each bag, we are given an idea of what we should have at the end of the current bag:
We have previously spoken about the App-ification of the instructions: featuring a progress counter, as well as an exclamatory decoration on completing a subbuild:
On the whole, I found the instructions easy to follow, and the contrast is good on the printed page, although I sometimes had difficulty distinguishing accurate colours from the manual. That said, the numbered bags typically contain elements of one colour,. As such, so long as you reach for a piece of the right shape, odds on it will be the correct colour.
The set comes with 6 mini-figures: Our heroes MK, The Monkey King, Tang along with new villains: The Azure Lion , the Yellow Tusked Elephant and the Golden Winged Eagle, who appear in the novel Journey to the West as the rulers of Lion Camel Ridge. Let us take a closer look:
We have Monie Kid, the Monkey King and Tang. All characters feature ornate torso printing, which continues down to the legs. They all have double sided face prints.
Monkie Kid appears in a whight pilot’s suit with red, gold and jade trim. He has greay armoured shoulders and wears a red headband depicting the Monkey King’s circlet around his touseled hair.
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King is wearing yellow robes, as the disciple of a Buddhist Monk. His outer robe is crafter from a tiger pelt. He hasnougat coloured ears and face and hands, and the circlet is printed onto his head. There is a dark orange rubber tail which is attached between the legs and torso elements. He has a determined face on one side, while on the other, he is wincing in pain, as if Tang is reciting the meditation which causes the circlet to tighten.
Tang is wearing full on moks robes, making him appear more and more like the Tripitaka of legend. On the reverse side, his eyes are closed, as if meditating. I suspect Sun Wukong has been misbehaving.
Both Tang and Sun Wukong have detailed printing on the sides of their legs we well. These are vcertainly some of the more elegantly decorated figures that I have seen for a while, and demonstrates the importance of this aspect of the theme to the target audience.
Meanwhile, the antagonists have equally interesting figures:
Here we have the Yellow Tusked Elephant, the Golden Winged Eagle and the Azure lion (Who is, oddly enough, teal!). All have intricate torso printing. The elephant and eagle demons also have additional elements that fit in under their heads to provide a tusk and trunks, as well as the eagle’s beak. they all feature unitque hair pieces, and the lion features an elgant bright light orange mane.
None of the demons feature arm printing or printing on the side of their legs. The lion features a new soft cloak, while the eagle has a golden wing element.
The build is spread out over 15 numbered bags and consists of a small jet, the Mech itself and a giant staff for the mech. Unlike the previous version of the set, there are no ancillary builds, such as the shop, Bull Henchman mech, Monkey King’s cloud, and the small tree build. These additional environmental builds are conspicuously absent in this wave of Monkie Kid sets, and I am intrigued to see if this remains the case as the year’s progress. Once again, Ann has kindly knolled out the elements prior to construction.
As well as the 15 bags (all plastic at this time), there is a sticker sheet, along with a sheet of ‘vinyl’ foil. The adhesivestickers are printed on transparent stock, which is typically very robust, although they can pick up fingure prints from the other side.
Our first few bags bring us the parts for a small jet that MK can fly. Looking at the elements in the bags, it becomes apparent that this theme uses some very definite colour blocking for builds associated with certain characters. This set is particularly loaded with elements that at red, warm gold, gold lacquer, as well as bright yellowish orange and teal. Black and grey elements are typically hidden within the build.
There are some conspicuous elements, such as the new giant gold blade elements and the small bag of golden elements that contains the key elements for our heroes’ weapons – although not all are seen in action in this particular wave of sets.
Bag 1 starts with the fuselage of the jet: the angled plate elements introduced last year help contribute to its unique shape. the transparent red canopy gives us a bit of an updated Space Police vibe.
Bag 2 brings us a set of guns, which attach to the main fuselage thanks to a pair of clips, as well as the modified rounded 2×1 plate, with bars – introduced last year, this element is now taking on a life of its own. In this set, its first use of to connect the cannons to the main fuselage.
The cannons are covered by curved slopes, with a sticker decoration. These covers serve to prevent missiles from flying across the room at random.
Finally, we add some blades as wings, and add a small nosecone, forming the front part of the ship, as well as the jets, encased in a shell element, initially introduced in Ninjago. These jets are mounted on bal joints to allow adjustment of their position.
Bags 4-5: The Torso
The elements that attract my attention the most in these bags are the golden elements: Pearl gold sloped elements, as well as gold lacquered tiles.
As we build up the torso, we put a lot of brackets around the outer surfaces and, as we go through the set, it is not so hard to identify the correct brackets: 2×2 down; 1×2 down are all red. 2×2 up, 2×1 up – yellow. 1×1 up: Bright yellowish orange; 1×2 up: teal. 2×1 down: black. As I went through the build, I was able to easily pick the correct bracket for a given set by the shape, and limited colour palette in use.
While building up the torso, we leave room for the cabin, which includes a set, as well as controls for MK’s hands to grip.
We encase the torso in red and gold elements: tiles and slopes. There are a few clips and sockets that remain exposed: these will accept additional plating later in the build, while the cabin clips down over the front using the large V-slope that had its origins in NEXO Knights, all those years ago. It’s weird: I still think of this as a new part, but it is a good 7 years old by now! A sticker on the window in the torso makes for a multifunction viewscreen for the pilot.
Bags 6-7: The Legs
We have some tan bricks that will get hidden away here, but otherwise we have technic hinges, ball joints. Teal 3×3 quarter circle curved slopes, along with plates and pointed 2×2 curved slopes add to the overall colour blocking of the model
We start with the thighs, attached to the hips via the rotating hinges and 3 technic click joints. The details of the multiple curves and ingots are enhanced by the use of stickers on the curved slopes at the top of the thigh.
Gold tiles enhance the details of the calves, and the shape of these tiles feels like pure Monkie Kid! The knees are held in place using a technic ball joint in conjunction with 2 smaller mixel joints.
Bags 8-11: Feet, Hips and Arms
We finish off the feet and add kneecaps and hip details before moving up to the shoulders and arms. Red is our major colour, but the jade and gold highlights work so smoothly together. We see further lacquered tiles in these bags, as well as lots of pearl gold elements, including the 1×1 round plate with bar.
The feet are wrapped in golden highlights, with a balljoint making up the key part of the ankle. There is limited scope to flex or extend the heel, although the ankle can readily twist in and out.
Next, we add in the kneecaps, hiding the functional innards of the joint, as well as thrusters for either side of the calves, and ultimately tiled skirting which overlies the hip joints. I love the way that the golden pattern wraps around the plates.
We move up to the upper limbs, attaching the upper arms to the torso via a round joint. The upper arms are identical and terminate in double click-hinge elbows.
The forearms attach to the elbows, and finish in a ball joint which will attach to the hands. On the underside of the forearms we have some 1x1plates with bars which attach directly to the central brick core of the limbs. Check out the way those elements connect: plates with clips attached to brackets wrapping that central core.
On the upper aspect, there is an axle connector, in a whole framed by chamfered curved slopes. I’m sure we will find a way to use this later.
Bag 12-14: The Hands, Head and Extra Trim.
Plenty of red tiles and compound slopes, as well as pearl gold and gold lacquered elements. In these bags, we see some of the printed elements – a 3×3 red tile with a print stylised after the Monkie King, as well as the pupils of the mech’s face. These bags also include a light brick: useful to enable the MK Ultra Mech’s ‘Gold Vision’
We start this section by completing the hands, which include 2 wide fingers and a thumb. More Transparent stickers are applied to curved slopes here. As all elements receiving stickers at this point are essentially square, they are relatively straightforward to apply, and not especially onerous. They do, however, add to the look immensely. I may have applied the thumbs back to front initially. I’m sure I will fix it in due course.
Now, if you look at the image above, it is apparent that there are a few gaps present on our mech: perhaps the areas around the joints are a little sparse. to say nothing about those two visible studs above the mech’s codpiece. Our next steps add a number of small panels designed to fill these gaps and make our mech look more impressive. So, we further cover the front of the hips and build up the pectoral regions. A tail and oversized comedic belt buckle complete the look… but can that be enough? However, can anyone tell me why the tail has a tassel on the end?
Our final selection from this tray brings us up to the shoulders: You can’t expect to be able to mount an impressive attack without strong shoulders: let’s bulk them up a bit. These shoulders use the 2×5 shell elements which debuted in the Ninjago Core sets in 2022,
There are a remarkable number of elements included in the head of the MK Ultra Mech. Eighty all up! Is there any other set where we have so many elements contained within such a small volume?
Let’s put the head and shoulders in place, and as you can see, he looks pretty happy!
Bag 15: The Staff
But something is missing: and we have just one bag left to go:
Lots of red knurled round 2×2 bricks, ready to be mounted over a 32 module long axle.
But first, we add some further flags over its shoulders: let’s start with a quick frame to mount them on. These attach, using ball joints, to the back of the Mech’s torso, after mounting the final foil flourishes.
But, of course, Monkey King wouldn’t be the Monkey King without his staff: designed to be gripped in his hands using the old ‘convenient axle in the palm trick.’
And here is all we have done so far.
We have a Fantastic looking Mech, and a nifty little jet for MK. But what if we could make the mech just a little more ULTRA?
Let’s Make This Monkey King Mech A Little More ULTRA!
The jet looks a little odd on its own. I mean, its fun, but it turs out there is a plan afoot for it. It turns out, it is degned to fall into several pieces… and each has its place.
So… first, the nose of the jet, with its two blades attaches to the left arm:
We add the blades to the rear of the Mech’s hips:
The jets are reoriented, and the missile launchers are repositioned on the fuselage.
Finally, we attach this module to the mech’s torso.
And the missile launchers drop over the shoulders:
And we are done:
Unfortunately, I do not have the previous Monkey King Warrior Mech to compare it to, head to head. However, I can compare it to Nya’s Samurai X Mech from Ninjago:
However, the knees have limited functionality here: you can dislocate one of the ball joints to allow the knee to flex, but it is limited to around 40º It allows a jaunty pose, but nothing too dynamic.
Overall, I found the build to be quite satisfying. Unlike the previous Mech, it lacks the ancillary builds, which gave that model some context – the first two years gave us lots of shops and streetscape, whereas this is just the Mech, plus some minifigures. (with or without a small jet).
The cockpit of the Mech gives MK plenty of room to sit, as well as ensuring he gets a cool heads-up display.
It is great to get the three rulers of the Lion Camel Ridge in the one set: and these minifigures offer the characters in great detail. The level of detail clearly printed on their heads, as well as their torso printing is amazing, and certainly shows off just what can be achieved on the surface of a minifigure torso.
As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed this build. The Minifigure detail is certainly impressive, but would it be churlish of me to ask if the Azure lion should be Azur in colour, rather than teal? The build is extremely detailed, however, the one criticism I would give is that some elements are prone to fall off, especially those covering the hip joints. Not such an issue if it is going to be on display, but it happened often enough during some casual play, that it began to challenge my patience. I would recommend this set to anyone with a budget, as well as an interest in Mech Building. This set is missing the surrounding buildings as well as additional characters such as those seen in the original Monkey King Warrior Mech, but the presence. of the rulers. ofLion Camel ridge gives us the scope to launch into additional play.
80045 Monkey King Ultra Mech goes on sale 1st January 2022. It is restricted to LEGO Online sales, except in China, and selected locations in Asia.
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What do you think of this mech? A fitting successor to the original? A great red, gold and green/teal parts pack? Why don’t you leave your comments below, and until next time… Play Well!