Since the very beginning, Ninjago sets have involved some sort of play gimmick – be it character spinners wihin an arena, flyers or fist powered tornado spinners, and the latest wave, coinciding with the new story of Dragons Rising is no exception. With the least expensive boxed sets in the theme, and containing one each of Core ‘veteran’ ninja that feature regularly in the series, these sets have some new elements, new minifigures and interesting play potential. To say nothing of inconsistent fluorescence under UV light.
We have 3 such sets in this Dragon Power range: 71777 Kai’s Dragon Power Spinjitzu Flip; 71778 Nya’s Dragon Power Spinjitzu Drift; and 71779 Lloyd’s Dragon Power Spinjitzu Spin. Each set comes with a Ninja minifigure, a Droid like figure from the Imperium, Some Gates and a trap, holding a golden Dragon Elemental Orb. The orbs are perhaps the most interesting new elements included in these sets. We will come to these shortly.But first, here are the elements included in all of these sets:
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…
This article is the result of a recent unexpected convergence: I’ve had this year’s first drop of Ninjago sets on my desk for a little while. I’ve put a couple together, but I have been trying to work out how to stretch it from ‘Just Another Review’ – something I used to do back in the early days of the blog, but less so in recent times.
I have found myself developing an increasingly soft spot for Ninjago and Monkie Kid: It has become apparent to me that they serve as the natural creative extensions of both Classic Space and Castle Themes: Fantasy, and Science Fiction, with their emphasis shifting in either direction from season to season.
In the past, I have predominantly observed the builds in Ninjago from a distance without feeling the need to understand them in the show’s context. As time passed, it became apparent that I was unlikely to fully catch up and appreciate the lore any time soon. As such, I was actually immensely grateful last year when we saw our first round of Ninjago CORE sets: These sets provide us with the opportunity to engage with the traditional subjects of Ninjago sets: Mechs, Dragons, Vehicles and Temples, without needing to be concerned with the 10 or more years of established Lore and Back Catalogue: just get in there and play, with models aimed at a variety of ages.
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