Ninjagopalooza III: My First Ninjago Set 2516 Ninja Training Outpost [Rapid Review]

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.

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Ninjagopalooza II: Concept Art and Prototyping 2009-2012

This week, we are celebrating 10 years since the first release of Ninjago on an unsuspecting world. It was never expected to last as as long as it has, now becoming an evergreen theme:

“Originally, the NINJAGO theme was supposed to end after season 2 in 2012,” says Tommy Andreasen, Sr. Manager, Entertainment Development at the LEGO Group, who worked on the LEGO NINJAGO product line and show from the beginning. However, sets of the theme were still planned to be on sale throughout 2013. The continued success led to both the TV series and products continuing to the current day. “It just shows an incredible commitment from our fans that we are still going strong 10 years later,” he adds.

In this post, we will look through some of the concept art, as well as marketing artwork that has been released over the years. Some will be new, and some have been taken from the LEGO® archive, for a special exhibition at the LEGO House in Billund.

All images have been supplied by the LEGO group as part of a celebration of the 10 years of LEGO Ninjago.

Before we go any further, lets take a quick look a Ninjago Timeline:

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Ninjagopalooza I: Ninjago City Gardens 71741 [Official Images/Preview]

This week, around about afternoon tea time on Thursday, we celebrate 10 years since Ninjago made its debut on Cartoon Network. Today saw the release of the latest Ninjago® City set: Ninjago City Gardens. An epic modular set, following in the tradition of 70620 Ninjago City from 2017, and followed up in 2018 by 20657 Ninjago City Docks. Chances are you have seen the images elsewhere, so I’ll take a quick dive into what we have seen in the set, and point out some of the obvious highlights.

For reasons best known to the LEGO marketing team, first official images for this set came from the North American Shop at Home print catalog. Why does an online store still get a print catalog in this day and age? Are there that many sales that are placed by phone? These images were followed up with a scattering from the LEGO Certified Store in Singapore. Finally, on Wednesday, the LEGO online store listed the set, going on sale on Thursday 14th January. So, by the time you have read this, it has been available for the better part of a day depending on where in the world you are standing! (so long as you are a VIP at your local LEGO retailer, and they had stock in a timely fashion.)

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Sand Green September II: Green Ninja Mech Dragon

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…

IMG_7642I 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

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Breaking the Ninjago Code: Spoiler Alert

A meta-post  In which I draw together a summary of the works of others, in order to solve the mysteries of the Ninjago Language.  Only to discover the ultimate tool was waiting to be unveiled all along.  Well Played, marketing department, well played!

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One of the exciting things regarding the LEGO Ninjago Movie over the last few weeks has been watching one of the mysteries slowly unravel and drop into place.  I am particularly thinking about the Ninjago script.

It has been discussed on brickset.com that the graphic designers involved with the LEGO Ninjago Movie have developed a written script – essentially a substitution cipher, where each symbol represents a roman alphabet character – to be used in most of the writing in the movie.  Following some obvious cues, and then using applying logic to help fill the gaps, most of the letters were able to be filled in.

This was confirmed recently in the Designer Video, which surfaced a couple of days ago, and some further clues were provided there as to completing the alphabet. Not the least of which was “As you put the set together you get a chance to learn it using the building instructions.” Now, these instructions are yet to be made available on LEGO’s servers, so further details are not yet available.

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Play On: Ninjago Skybound

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So… having never invested in Ninjago as a theme, it seems to have taken up a little more of my time than originally planned this year.  So, having looked at a couple of sets, I thought I would (once again) succumb to the message on the side of the box… Free App: Available on iTunes or Google Play.  So, while Mighty Micros is an arcade racer, and Adventures in Elvendale is a colour matching casual game, Ninjago: Skybound is a platform game.  The opening screens reveal that the Ninjas’s souls, except for Kai, have been captured within the djinn blade of the evil  Nadakhan.  Kai must pass through a number of quests to rescue his friends. Continue reading

Set Upgrade:Raid Zeppelin 70603

I’ve not previously been invested in Ninjago as a theme.  Since emerging from my Dark Ages though, I have hopped from City to Lord of the Rings, with a stop off a long the way via Harry Potter and Atlantis, in recent times settling for the relative psychedelia of Friends and Elves (This is not an endorsement of minidoll design, more just a quest for more colour), as well as participating in my other joy: Super Heroes.  My MOCs over the last few years are as likely to be Miniland Scale, Micro Scale or even a combination of the two.

So: as you can see, not a strong thematic structure to my builds or collection as there may be for other builders. It is, I admit, a bit of a hodge podge.  So, when someone said to me this year, “Look at that: Ninja Steampunk Pirate Airship,” how could I refuse? It was an offer too good to refuse.. Pirates, Ninja, Airship, and also  Kai’s little Ninja Glider looked extremely swooshable too.  Wait a minute.  What’s the deal with Kai (I’ve not followed the show at all)?  So thats Cyborg Ninja Steampunk Pirate Airship.  Mashup complete.

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Or is it?

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Enter the Dragon: A set I never intended to build (70602)

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 IMG_8222Wretch’- and a total of 350 pieces.  Continue reading