I have spent weeks waiting for this moment. I finally get to review Ninjago City. This set was released back in August for VIP members, and became available to the general public on September 1, 2017. I had planned to make this purchase when I first heard of the set. But, I decided to wait until double VIP points, dragging out the wait. When October rolled around, I was finally able to get my hands on the set (and double points). However, time was not on my side. In true the-universe-is-out-to-get-you fashion, work suddenly became ten times busier than the usual frantic pace. I finally got a day to build in early December. Ninjago City is the fourth largest LEGO set ever produced though (click here to see the top 10 biggest sets), and one day turned out to not be long enough. So, after one solid day of building, the rest had to be sprinkled in wherever I could find time. I am happy to say that the set is finally complete, and I am super eager to share my thoughts. Get cozy, this is going to be a long one!
NAME: Ninjago City
SET #: 70620
THEME: Ninjago Movie
COST: $349.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 4867
RELEASE DATE: August 16, 2017
Summary Review: 95%
VALUE: 100% ($0.07 per brick is amazing.)
BUILD: 100% (There is nothing I don’t like about Ninjago City.)
MINIFIGURES: 80% (Really nice Minifigs, load of accessories, not great brick-to-fig ratio.)
ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (Awesome, awesome, awesome.)
The price tag for this set probably seems really inhibiting for many people. However, if you break it down to the cost per brick, this set is actually a great value. With a price of $349.99 in Canada, and 4867 pieces, each brick will cost you $0.07. That is phenomenal, and well below the current average of $0.13 a brick seen in the LEGO Holiday 2017 catalogue (click here to read my review). It is also below the average for Ninjago Movie sets ($0.10/brick). You are essentially buying LEGO in bulk with this set, so that does make sense. This set gets a full 5/5 (100%) for value.
I don’t even know where to start with this set. The box does not do it justice, and that says a lot because it looks amazing on the box. There are just so many details and hidden features. I am sure that if I had watched all the reviews and previews that swept the internet when Ninjago City came out, I would have seen all of these features. But, I avoided any reviews of this set so as not to bias my own review. I am really happy that I did that, because it made building the set that much better. There were numerous points in the build where I found myself wondering: “what is the point of this?” And then pieces would come together in a way I had not imagined, and really cool features resulted.
Ninjago City comes with three instruction manuals, one for each level of the city. The design for this set is beyond cool. The bottom layer features an old, Asian style town built around a river. I love the arched bridge over the river. There is also a fish/crab shop, a charging room for the sweeper robot, and a small apartment with a tea room. There are lots of signs written in the Ninjago language, but my favorite is the tiger painting in the tea room. The apartment and tea room also have Asian-style sliding doors, which look and work great. Another really nice, new use of pieces was the application of crowbars to make the roof of the fish/crab shop. This layer also comes with a buildable fishing boat for the river. The river achieves a cool, watery look using different colour plates covered with translucent 1×2 tiles. What makes this layer even better is that it is built with connectors that are compatible with the Creator modular buildings (though you would have to modify the sidewalks of the modulars to incorporate steps, as the Ninjago City sidewalk is elevated compared to the Creator sets).
Each layer of the city is connected by a working elevator. Moving to the second layer brings you to a more modern shopping promenade. Again, there are many signs advertising all sorts of products. There are also some movie posters, one of which seems to be a variant of the Brick Separator poster seen in the Palace Cinema modular displays. On the shopping promenade, you will find a crab restaurant with a working crab cooker. This was one of those features that I couldn’t figure out as I building it. But, there is a knob that you turn behind the building that rotates the interior of the cooker when it is closed. Two crabs placed inside give the appearance of having cooked a crab because as you turn the knob, the interior cooking surface flips to swap one crab for the other. You also have a comic book shop next door to the crab restaurant (which I love as a comic book fan), and a trendy apparel shop above the restaurant. A cherry blossom tree seems to have grown in an abandoned building space, and now juts out of a former window. The final feature I will mention here is the working ATM. This was also one of those things I could not figure out at first, but was just amazed when I had a finished ATM spewing out $100 plates like nobody’s business.
The third layer comes complete with a sushi restaurant, bathroom, and the apartment where Lloyd and his mother live. The sushi restaurant is a roof-top, terrace-style hangout with multiple places to sit. There are individual tables, as well as stools at a revolving sushi counter. The bathroom is hidden behind a sliding door in the decorative green structure that rises up from the roof. The apartment is actually accessed from the apparel store level below. A ladder leads up to a separate platform from which you can enter the apartment. It is a tiny space with a small kitchen counter, a table and chair, and bunk beds for Lloyd and his mom. Each has a photo pinned up by their bed.
I won’t go into too much more detail here, because that would make this post even longer than it is already going to be. Also, like I mentioned before, I really enjoyed finding all of the little details for myself. So, go forth and build your own Ninjago City!
There are an impressive 18 Minifigures, and a buildable robot in this set. Two of the Minifigures are not even advertised on the box because they are faceless mannequins used in the apparel store windows. I am not going to go into my usual detail on rating these characters. They have loads of fun details. One of my favorites is actually the comic book store clerk with his “Galidor” shirt. There are two stumpy ape-children, and they would normally cost this set some Minifigure design points. But, there are so many accessories that come with this set that any points Ninjago City might lose for Minifigure design are more than made up for by all the stuff you get. You also get both Lloyd, and an extra Green Ninja costume to change him into. I give the Minifigures in this set a full 100% for design.
In terms of the brick-to-Minifigure ratio, with 4867 bricks, you are looking at 1 Minifig for every 270 pieces. That is not the best, but it is passable. Compared with the Creator modulars, that is actually pretty good. You tend to get a lot of bricks for cheap with these large sets, but not very many Minifigures comparatively. So, I am happy that this set includes quite few, but the score still takes a bit of a knocking there. I give Ninjago City 3/5 (60%) for its brick-to-Minifigure ratio. Combining that with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 80%.
This set is so big that I couldn’t even finish it in one sitting. It took me 15 hours and 41 minutes in all to build. That is 941 minutes total. At $349.99, this means that each minute cost me $0.37. My current average for all the LEGO sets that I have reviewed this year is $0.72 per minute. That means that Ninjago City is a really awesome value in my books, and earns 100%.
How much to I like Ninjago City? In case you have not guessed, I love it. I will not change a single thing about it, and it will be placed into my LEGO city exactly as it. In fact, I will probably modify some of my MOCs to conform more to the style of Ninjago City. It has really inspired me to take a new direction with the construction of my city. So, it earns another 100% here.
I have to say that Ninjago City is my favorite LEGO set of all time. That might change some day, but for now I have new reigning champion. This set has an amazing value in terms of bricks and build time. It is crammed full of fun details and play features, and has a really great assortment of Minifigures and accesories. My only complaint about this set is that it has a low brick-to-Minifigure ratio, despite coming with 18 Minifigs. Without a doubt, I highly recommend Ninjago City, even if you are not a Ninjago fan.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on Ninjago City in the comments below.
Until next time,