Last year, I started to explore the way in which the LEGO® Castle theme has developed over the years. In our first installment, we looked at some of the ‘Pre-minifigure’ Castle history and continued to look at the way the Castle theme developed during the period of LEGOLAND Branding (1978-1991). In particular, we saw the development of factions, advanced use of landscaping, compared to other themes and the development of multiple animal moulds.
But what happened next? We have previously seen that 1990s were a period of diversification of material in both the LEGO Town and Space themes, with an increased number of factions and sub-themes. I apologize to those who have been waiting patiently for the follow up to last year’s article: Let’s take a look to see what happens in the realms of the Castle themes during the SYSTEM era..
Here’s your first look at the hi resolution images from the long rumoured Gringott’s bank With over 4800 pieces and 14 minifigures, it is designed to fit in to be part of your diagonally display. It will be released on September 1 for VIPs and 4th September: Everyone else. It is priced at AUD629.99/ USD429.99/ £369.99/429.99€
One of the first major releases since Discovery took over Warner Brothers, Wizarding world is now under construction in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products. A somewhat unwieldy name, if I say so myself.
Fun Fact: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first ever LEGO Dragon being released, as part of the Dragon Knights range in 1993. This year, we have seen lots of dragons appearing in Ninjago Core, as well as the forthcoming Dragons Rising series. However, Ninjago does not have the Monopoly on LEGO Dragons.
Dragons are frequent characters in The Journey to the West, the novel which inspires the Monkie Kid range. We recently looked at the 80049 Dragon of the East Palace – and Mei is descended from the Yu Long, the White Dragon horse, 3rd son of the Dragon of the West – brother of the Dragon of the East, featured in that set. As such, it is quite reasonable for Mei to have a Guardian Dragon, probably sent by her ancestors, to provide protection in times of trouble.
This set was sent to me by the LEGO Group for review purposes, and I’ll admit, there was something intriguing about its appearance from the outset, that I couldn’t initially put my finger on. But we will get to that later.
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…
It’s a funny time of the year: the Christmas/Holiday season sets have been announced, but the Gifts with Purchase are a bit unpredictable until we enter November: We went with early October purchases to secure the Gift with Purchase Ideas Set ‘Ray the Castaway’ and then out of nowhere… This Happens.
The 40562 Mystic Witch set is a Creator 3-in-1 set that will be available as a gift with purchase in the second half of October 2022 (there might even be a day or two of overlap with double GWP Points if you are really clever). In Australia, the purchase threshold is $165 AUD (or $USD100/€100/£100 ROTW): Perfect if you are looking at 10308 – The Holiday Main Street in time for the holidays- or another copy of 10497 Galaxy Explorer because it is an awesome set!
I was fortunate to be sent a copy to look at: will it be enough to trigger purchases during the latter half of October, before the Christmas GWPs start to appear, and indeed before Black Friday in November? Let’s take a look!
If you have been following the LEGO Social Media feed over the last few days you may have felt a little baffled. Following a 10 second teaser, featuring a man carrying an oversized bow and arrow… cross to an anthropomorphised lion and deer sharing a coffee… a life size LEGO Fire truck and a crowd of people dressed as minifigures – with oversized minifigure accessories: camera, flower, flippers look to the sky to see a rubber raft fly by. We are now excited to be able to bring you the short film in its entirety. (after the break)
Regular readers of this blog will be getting a little tired of its self referential nature. Sorry about that. New readers may find this to be a useful place to start (or not…)
The Story so Far:
I Like the Elves Dragons set, especially the Fire Dragon’s Lava Cave Set, but I am not a fan of the dedicated Dragon’s head mould, except for the obvious reason: great colors, printing, fits lot of detail into a small space. I looked at the Red Creatures Creator set, which was never really found in Australian Shops, as it gave me some ideas on how to approach a Dragon Head. In order to get a good supply of FYOBLO curves, bows and small arches, I picked up a copy of the McClaren P1 Speed Champions set. I found my self working through 5 drafts of dragons head, before being properly satisfied. Except that left me with some Light Stone Grey on view in the dragon’s snout. So I go a copy of Super Soarers (31042) because it had some FYOBLO brackets in it.
Now read on.
So I got myself some Flame Yellowish Orange/Bright Light Orange (FYO/BLO) brackets. They are inverted compared to the ones that I got in the McLaren set. So I needed to rebuild the dragon’s snout a little in order to accommodate the changed directions of brackets: this moved the cheeks back, and revealed a coloured plate holding on the 2x2x2/3 bow that makes up the forehead: so I replaced it with some small plates.
I also substituted two 1×1 tiles on the cheeks with 2x1x2/3 baby bows, just in from of the eyes, enhancing the curved structure of the head.
Here is the main hidden structure of the snout of the dragon, just in case you feel possessed by a desire to try recreating the effect. Other color palettes may allow different solutions, and I think that would be fantastic. Please share them here or on the Rambling Brick Facebook page.
I appear to have been discussing LEGO Dragons on this blog a little more than I do in real life. I have no good explanation for this. Of interest, dragons appear in LEGO sets a little more often than they appear in real life. Coincidence? I think not. Dragons are creatures inspired over the years by human imagination, and LEGO bricks are intended to inspire the human imagination. Earlier this year, I looked at the Fire Dragon’s Lava cave: Part of the Elves Dragon’s Series this set contained some great scenery, but the brick built head was not entirely to my taste at the time. Kai’s Elemental Dragon (70602) was an impressive dragon, and the head featured interesting use of arches. However, the final effect was fairly large compared with the Elves Dragon’s heads.
Red Creatures (31032) was released at the start of 2015 (this means anytime between early December 2014 and February 2015, depending on where in the world you happen to be standing.) At the time of its release, it was overshadowed somewhat by the release of 31031 – the Rainforest Animals. This colourful Creator Set featured a brick built parrot, with a controversial play feature. I didn’t see red creatures around the department stores in Australia, but it may have been on limited release around some of the independent toy sellers. There always appear to be a couple of small Creator sets on shop.lego.com that don’t get general release on this side of the globe. The current Park Animals (31044) and Future Flyers (31034)would both appear to be in this category [NOTE: this is a tip for anyone seeing them in an airport, or overseas, wondering what sets to buy for their LEGO fans back home in Australia.]
I never intended to build this set. By the way, I am talking about Jay’s Elemental Dragon. I bought it primarily to boost my supply of pearl gold pieces, which in turn was going to add some bling to the Raid Zeppelin (70603). The Zeppelin is predominantly reddish brown, black, dark tan with orange highlights. I wasn’t a fan of the use of the orange in that set, and wanted to use a more metallic option to make the airship look a little more ‘steam punk’. I understand why orange was used over a more metallic colour: pearl gold is a colour used as trim in the Ninja sets, for their vehicles and dragons, as well as their swords. The sky pirates skate along with a colour scheme that includes black, brown, dark tan/dark orange and so using orange rather than gold made sense. It doesn’t mean I have to like it as an example of steampunk airshipness.
And the dragon in this set is covered with bling: the chains, blades, claws, fancy wing trim all in pearl gold. And they should just slot in nicely to the airship. So… Mission almost complete? Possibly if I hadn’t been distracted by the actual build here.
This set has 2 minifigs (Ninja Jay, and Skypirate Cyren)- and a robot monkey ‘Monkey Wretch’- and a total of 350 pieces. Continue reading →