With a little over a week before the first episodes of the new Ninjago Series are aired, I am excited to be able to reveal some new posters/desktop wallpapers for the new series, which have been released to LEGO Fan Media before they go live on LEGO.com on Monday.
The posters give us some of the clearest images that we have had of our heroes (and a couple of the leaders of the Imperium) to date.
The Palace of the Dragon of the East Sea is a key location in both the animated series Monkie Kid, as well as in the classic novel, The Journey to the West. Set 80049 Dragon of the East Palace focuses on the original story, which tells of how the Monkey King gained his staff, while also providing references to the animated series. Let’s take a look at the set, one of the more splendid builds from the Monkie Kid range – due for release in June 2023. In fact, you might almost mistaken it for a castle set!
At the time I received this set (kind thanks to the LEGO group for sending it over for an early review: all opinions are mine), I had not spent any time reading The Journey to the West. I had watched the 1978 Japanese production of Monkey, featuring dubbed English dialogue, back when it was screened in Australia as an evening show for a few years in the 80s. But not since then. So I relished the opportunity to return to the source.
It was 1992, and the long awaited sequel to Time Butron’s Batman was released: Batman Returns took a left turn on the tone set by the first film, and felt like Tim Burton was well and truly establishing the franchise as his own. While 1989’s Batman was a single villain romp, retaining a bit of campiness thanks to Jack Nicholson’s portrayal as the Joker, this film felt more serious, introducing Catwoman, the Penguin and the self-serving Max Shreck. With a more wintry setting, it was a darker film to watch, without the same bursts of colour that we saw from the Joker in the earlier film. We have seen a couple of releases related to Batman – the 89 Batmobile and the ’89 Batwing, along with a smaller version of the Batmobile, but we have not ventured further in to franchise yet.
Today, we see a unique display model with play features unveiled: the Batcave Shadow Box. With 3981 pieces, and priced at $USD399.99 /£344.99/€ 399.99/ 599.99 AUD/8999.9 TRY/3699.0 CNY/169990.0 HUF/519.99 CAD, this set pushes the boundaries of what has been previously attempted with LEGO Batman, and brings us a new format for displaying such models.
LEGO® Minifigures: they add life to our sets and our MOCs as well as a little personality to the benchtop. Over the last few years, since the advent of the first Collectable Minfigiures, they have become increasingly intricate in their designs. In the life of a casual LEGO Reviewer, I realise that I have been making photographing my minifigures for reviews unnecessarily challenging for myself.
A couple of weeks ago, the title of the new Ninjago Series: Dragons Rising was revealed. The series will arrive, along with new sets on the first of June in most of the world, although it might take a little longer to arrive elsewhere. – July 1 in Australia for example.
In the series we see the result of the Mergequake – the Realms that have been previously seen on Ninjago, as well as others not seen to date – join together to present a new world, with some familiar aspects. The series will focus on two new characters: Sora and Arin, along with a baby dragon names Riyu.
This will be a great opportunity for the Ninjago-Curious to step into the world, with no knowledge of previous canon necessary to watch the program, although the creative team assured us at a round table meeting a few weeks ago that there will be plenty of tidbits to keep the long time fans of the show happy.
The Ninjago Core range has provided us with a number of sets featuring Dragons, Vehicles and locations that may not have appeared in the Ninjago animated series. As such, a knowledge of the Ninjago Canon is not required to be able to enjoy these sets. 71800 Nya’s Water Dragon EVO is the smallest of the buildable dragon sets in the first half of 2023. That said, it comes with 3 minifigures and has terrific play value. That said… when I first looked at it I was reminded of something strangely familiar…
There are three minifigures: The Nya and Lloyd figures have been seen previously in Ninjago Core sets, with this version, featuring a shoulder pauldron, appearing in four sets in this wave. Lloyd’s Torso has appeared in a number of sets, with and without hair, but this version features the shoulder pad, a gold katana as well as the standard Ninja Hood
They face off together against a Bone Guard, based on the same format as the Bone warrior, but with a broad red hat, this figure also comes with a neck bracket, with several of the ubiquitous bone weapons attached.
Dark Blue and light royal blue dominate the colour palette, with round plates and curved tiles dominating the parts. There is a collection of golden elements to add when the Dragon undergoes the EVO transformation, to power up. I really appreciate the contrast between the light and darker shades of blue.
The build starts off creating a serpentine form, with the lighter blue framing the dark colour along the sides of the creature’s body. The head looks brilliant, with the contrasting colour, while transparent light blue filagree elements give us horns resembling waterspouts – just perfect for this creature. I love the silver printed accents around the eye of the dragon.
The legs are attached at the hips and ankles by small ball and socket joints. The legs are fixed in shape, with the front longer than the rear – utilising the 45º angled plate introduced last year. The rear legs are more simply angled behind quarter circle plates. The front claws are brick built using a rounded plate and larger claw elements, while the rear ones involve several tooth elements. An articulated tail, trimmed with transparent light blue elements, finishes the base model.
The EVO aspect follows, building up golden shells on the front legs and wing-like blades, while a reddish brown saddle is added to the back, with a banner attached. This part of the build is previously demonstrated on the back of the box. A golden scythe completes the model.
The final appearance is simple and immediately playable. Unlike other dragons, this model holds its head yup relatively high – with posing slightly reduced. Having 3 minifigures in the set increases play options significantly. I have to admit, I looked for a couple of spare arrow elements and converted some of the bone shurikens into spinning tops – Spinjitsu V2.1.
But have we seen it all before? I was thinking this feeling terribly familiar – and then I flashed back to 2016, when LEGO Elves was on our shelves. The Elemental-based characters – Water, Fire, Earth and Air, take on Ragana, leading the forces of Darkness. While 41172 The Water Dragon Adventure presented us with some magical scenery, it doesn’t take much to give this water dragon an Elves Compatible version of 71800.
The Elves sets were wonderful for the way that they focussed on colourful scenery-based side builds, while Ninjago sets currently focus to a greater extent on conflict-based play. I was disappointed to discover that the Ninjago masks and Elves faces fail to line up properly…
That said, I really enjoy the whimsical curls that make up the dragon’s horns and the detail printed around the Dragon’s face.
Now, while the set contains plenty of play value, I also enjoyed the illustrations featured in the instructions, bringing us some of the story of how the dragon came to help Lloyd and Nya. This gives some context for the play while not being dependent on external media, which might not be readily available to all.
As a set aimed at a 6+ audience, it feels about right, and I give it 3.8 Arbitrary Praise Units out of 5, in particular due to the great minifigure count, as well as two of the core Ninja.
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I think this is a lovely small set with a great minifigure selection for younger builders. The Water Dragon is quite stable on its feet, and I am grateful that there is some variation in the shape of the front and rear legs, as I feel when the fixed flexion plate has been used used on the rear legs, it often makes the dragon feel as if it is facing head down.
What do you think of this smaller Ninjago set? Do you collect all dragons of a certain price range? Does this one appeal to you?
Why not leave your comments below, and until next time…
There has been a lot of chatter over the last few months about this latest original LEGO theme. First revealed when the trademark filing was located, there have been little tidbits leaked through the usual sources. Today, we get the full story… Well, we get the story about the story, at any rate.
LEGO Dreamzzzz is the latest Big Bang Product launch – and unlike other recent exercises such as Hidden Side and Vidiyo, there is no immediate need for an app in sight. The cornerstone of the theme will be a new Animated series, available on Youtube – with 10 episodes Launching on May 15th. There will be a further drop of episodes in August, along with the launch of some of the most interesting sets we have seen for some time. Hopefully, the nature of the series will a new generation of imaginations fired up for creative play.
We have had another few sets in the August LEGO Super Mario wave revealed. Focusing on life in the jungle with Donkey Kong, his family and his friends. The sets will be available on August 1, 2023. The range continues to mix-up the way in which children can engage with the interactive Mario, Luigi or Peach characters, including sharing food, playing the bongos, flying a plane or just having a chat. Read on for further details.
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