Ninjago City Gardens (71741) Review

Ninjago City Gardens (71741) celebrates the tenth anniversary of the famed LEGO® theme. The set offers an expansion to two of the most beloved Ninjago sets of all time: Ninjago City and Ninjago City Docks. While those predecessors focused on the Ninjago Movie, Gardens highlights the series. However, it remains fully compatible with the older sets. Incidentally, Ninjago City is one of my favorite sets of all time. Therefore, I could not wait to get my hands on this addition. I even stayed up until midnight on the eve of the set’s release to make sure I got one. Additionally, the set did not end up in my pile of shame. Rather, I set aside time to build it promptly. Consequently, this week, we take a detailed look at this epic build.

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NINJAGO CITY GARDENS SUMMARY

  • NAME: Ninjago City Gardens
  • SET #: 71741
  • THEME: Ninjago
  • COST: $399.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 5685
  • MINIFIGURES: 21
  • VIP RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2021
  • GENERAL RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2021

NINJAGO CITY GARDENS QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 99% (high price tag, but excellent value in terms of build time and brick count.)
  • BUILD: 80% (The design looks great but lacks the finesse of the original Ninjago City.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 84% (The ratio of bricks to figs is bad. But they are nice minifigs.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 85% (I really wish this were not a corner piece, it is hard to place.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 87%

NINJAGO CITY GARDENS (71741) REVIEW

VALUE: 99%

Ninjago City Gardens is bigger than the original Ninjago City, and knocks the Docks set right out of the park. However, it comes with a larger price tag too. With that said, the kit contains 5685 pieces. Incidentally, as I write this, that makes it the fourth largest LEGO® set of all time. At full price, you pay $0.070/brick. That is a hair better than Ninjago City, which clocked in at $0.072/brick. Compared to all LEGO® sets I have reviewed, the value is excellent. My average cost-per-brick is currently $0.14. For the Ninjago theme alone, my average is $0.11/brick. Therefore, no matter how you splice it, Ninjago City Gardens is an amazing value. It earns 100% in this category.

This set took me 15 hours and 54 minutes (954 minutes total) to assemble. At full price, the cost-per-minute of build time is $0.42. Comparatively, my overall average rests at $0.83/minute, while my average for Ninjago is $0.64/minute. Once again, the value is excellent. Compared to all sets, I rate Gardens at 100%. Compared to other Ninjago sets, it earns 95%. Therefore, the value-per-minute of build time is 98%. Taken with the value-per-brick, the overall value grade is 99%.

BUILD: 80%

There is a lot going on in Ninjago City Gardens. In fact, there is too much for me to talk about in one review. I built this set, marveling at all the details as I went. However, as more details piled on, I honestly forgot about many of the earlier points. I rediscovered a lot as I was photographing the set for this review. As such, I will not exhaustively go through every aspect of this build. Alternatively, I will discuss some of what I deem are the key issues.

Firstly, I was intrigued by the large tree featuring centrally in the design. I have been working on a MOC with a similar concept for some time. I am having difficulty making my tree look right. Consequently, I was curious to see how the LEGO® Group executed the idea. Sadly, it is not my favorite part of this set. The main trunk on the lower level looks more like a series of tentacles than gnarled roots and a trunk. However, I do not hate this design. It looks alright in the finished set. But it did not inspire me and my own custom attempt.

Ninjago City Gardens (71741) is lovely, but it lacks the finesse of the original.

My second point of contention with Ninjago City Gardens is a lack of finesse. Ninjago City was full of detail and sturdy at the same time. Ninjago City Gardens feels flimsy in places. Buildings and rooftops do not lock in place, decorative pieces fall off easily, and the middle platform bends when lifted. The interior spaces are tiny as well. I have a lot of trouble positioning Minifigures inside the buildings. Additionally, the museum is a bit of a failure in my eyes. The concept is a good one for a tenth anniversary set. However, it does not scream “museum” to me. I wish the space were an apartment instead. Finally, the whole thing lacks functionality. There is one staircase and a ladder, but five levels. The set needs an elevator, or more stairs. Functional little treats like the ATM and crab cooker from Ninjago City are also lacking.

Otherwise, I love the design of this set. I am a big fan of the multi-level city approach. While I am by no means an expert on the Ninjago show, I appreciate the details and Easter eggs packed into Ninjago City Gardens. Additionally, interesting build techniques and new pieces abound in this set. I love all the little restaurants. Chen’s Noodle House is my favorite. Interestingly, the set also has a small side garden on a separate 16×32 baseplate. The little pagoda in that garden is great. Despite the issues I have with this build, I still like it a lot. However, I cannot overlook the flimsiness of certain areas. To a lesser extent, the tree and museum bother me too. I rate the build at 8/10 (80%).

MINIFIGURES: 84%

The official product description says this set includes 19 Minifigures. However, there are 21. The set includes a Minifigure used as part of the sign for Chen’s Noodle House. Additionally, the pagoda garden has a plain grey Minifigure statue, and Jay comes with an alternate ninja body. Two characters are stumpy kids without moveable legs. Apart from the statue, all characters have front and back torso printing. On top of that, 13 have double sided head printing and eight have leg printing. Finally, Ninjago City Gardens has loads of accessories. I counted 59 around the set. I might have missed a few, and I did not count the extras that typically come in sets, like extra bowls and teacups. This is a nice selection. With a little more printing and no stumpy legs, it could do a little better. All the same, I rate these character designs at 90%.

Ninjago City Gardens (71741) comes with a golden Wu minifig.

As with other 10th anniversary Ninjago sets, this one has a commemorative golden Minifigure. In this case, the character is Sensei Wu. However, it is truly all gold. In other sets, the ninjas feature golden costumes, but regular skin tones. Not so with Wu. Additionally, he has a braid printed on the back of his head since he cannot have a double-sided face. Like the other golden minifigs, Wu also has a buildable display base.

21 Minifigures seems like a lot. Truthfully, it is an impressive number. However, considering the size of the kit, it still falls flat. 21 minfigs in a kit containing 5685 pieces is a brick-to-fig ratio of 271:1. Comparatively, my average across all themes is 144:1. Compared to all sets, Ninjago City Gardens earns 54%. However, large sets like this never come with good brick-to-fig ratios. Looking at large sets like the modular buildings or fairground sets, my average ratio is 408:1. Compared to that, this set earns 100%. Taking these two scores together gives a final ratio score of 77%. Averaged with the minifig design score gives Ninjago City Gardens an overall Minifigure rating of 84%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 85%

Do I like Ninjago City Gardens? Yes, I like it a lot. However, I do not love it. If I ranked the three Ninjago City sets, the original remains my favorite. However, I place this one slightly above Ninjago City Docks. There is a lot more going on in this set than on the docks. I will keep Gardens built and on display in the Ninjago district of my city. I am also still happy that I bought it. Strangely, I do not like that it is a corner piece though. It does not flow with the existing segments. This city needed another straight segment before it another corner. The upper levels of the two corner pieces do not connect if you place the docks or the pagoda garden in between them. This corner build limits set arrangement. I rate the AFOL entertainment score at 4/5 (80%).

Ninjago City Gardens (71741) with its predecessors.
Ninjago City, Ninjago City Docks, and Ninjago City Gardens.

Ninjago City Gardens is a kids’ dream come true. There is so much going on and so many spaces for play. Smaller hands will not have the same issues I do in placing Minifigures either. However, the structural issues mentioned in the build section are a problem for play. Even placing items for photography, little bits and pieces were constantly falling off this set. Additionally, this is a long, hard build for smaller children. I know a few kids in awe of Ninjago City Gardens though. For that reason, I give it 4.5/5 (90%). Averaging this with the AFOL score gives an entertainment grade of 85%.

OVERALL SCORE: 87%

Ninjago City Gardens (71741) is a cool set. However, I did not like it as much as Ninjago City. This set comes at a slightly better value than its predecessor. However, it is structurally inferior. There are loose bits everywhere. Additionally, accessing the interiors is hard, and the museum is a flop. I also feel like some of the bells and whistles are missing in this set. The Minifigures are nice though, and you get the golden Sensei Wu. On top of that, Ninjago City Gardens is an amazing value. On display, the set looks wonderful. Perhaps there was too much hype before this set came out. Perhaps it is just not as good as Ninjago City. Either way, I liked it, but it did not blow me away. What are your thoughts on Ninjago City Gardens? Comment below or reach out on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

What do others think?

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7 comments

  • Great review. I’m building mine at the moment. But purposely doing only one bag a night to make it last longer.

    I think it’s a shame they didn’t make more of the missing characters from the cartoon as minifigures. I’ve often lobbied Lego for a full Ninjago City museum, since it features in the cartoon so much. I already know that this little museum space will not cut it for me.

    I’ve only made three of the buildings so far. Or 1 layer of each as it were. And I have to agree they are far too small to be of much use. Though as an AFOL this doesn’t bother me since I don’t play with it I just display it.

    Great comprehensive review as ever

    • Thanks! Mine will be a display piece too… But I like posing minifigs all over… Did you like this one more than the original?

      • Oh yeah. Posing the minifigures is the best bit.

        I was soo hyped before the set pictures were released. Then disappointed with the overall look of the pictures.
        It’s not old school Ninjago enough for me. I wasn’t going to buy it at first.
        The visuals grew on me with time and I have to say I’m really enjoying the build. So far it has all the intricate and innovative design features of the other two sets.
        I love the City Docks best. Ninjago City is 2nd place for me and this is 3rd based on the visuals.
        I’m considering trying to mod it to make it lie flat at the back of my display cabinet as a cityscape background.
        That said I thought I was going to do that with Ninjago City until I built it and realised it was too interconnected to pull out and make flat. So I’ve left it whole. I’ve modded City docks to fit it in my display cabinet right at the back and allow me to have scenes in front of it.

        At present it does look like this one might be more amenable to modding.

        If not I may need to convert our attic into a sort of Lego playroom so I have space to display everything. I just need a small lottery win to pay for that dream 😊

      • I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that lottery win🤞. I love having a LEGO room. It was one of the criteria I applied to buying a house😂. I agree with you, I think this set is easier to mod than the original.

  • I LOVE this set, and will forever be grateful for that little Jaya scene, it’s just the cutest thing ever. And I love Jay’s jacket, it’s an awesome mix of his civilian outfit in seasons 5 and 6, and his current suit. Sad that Nya didn’t get a new outfit. But I can work with it.
    Great review!

    • There is a lot to love about it for sure😀 Out of curiosity, do you like it more than the original?

      • I definitely do, I love the clashing universes. It has elements from the tv show, like The Mechanic and Clutch Powers, and Zane’s memorial, and elements from the movie, with the fangirls, and the city complex itself. 10/10 for me!