My makeshift course in LEGO® dragon anatomy continues with the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon (71721). In my quest to learn how to build a MOC dragon, I am building my way through several official LEGO® dragons to learn new techniques. Incidentally, this inspired an entire dragon week here at True North Bricks. In terms of other Ninjago sets, I have already looked at Fire Dragon Attack and Water Dragon. Each of those sets offered interesting techniques and designs, let’s see if the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon follows suit.
On a side note, I was quite excited to get this set. I picked it up in my January 2022 haul. Originally, I intended to not buy it, despite initial interest. I had no need for dragons when the set came out. However, I decided early this year that I wanted to try and build a custom dragon. I needed several to learn applicable build techniques. Consequently, I decided to finally acquire the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon. I managed to scoop one of these sets up just before it retired. The box art initially drew me to this set. I do not watch Ninjago, so I do not know about the character. However, the undead dragon looks menacing and impressive. Time to see if it lives up to my expectations!
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SKULL SORCERER’S DRAGON SUMMARY
- NAME: Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon
- SET #: 71721
- THEME: Ninjago
- COST: $109.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 1016
- MINIFIGURES: 7
- RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2020
SKULL SORCERER’S DRAGON QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 91% (Great amount of build time at a very good cost-per-brick.)
- BUILD: 90% (Amazing dragon design, but the wings lack mobility.)
- MINIFIGURES: 92% (Several nicely detailed characters with lots of accessories.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 90% (Fun experience, but more playset than display piece.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 91% (Great set)
SKULL SORCERER’S DRAGON REVIEW
While Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon recently retired, it originally cost $109.99 in Canada. Additionally, the set contains 1016 bricks. As a result, the cost-per-brick works out to $0.108, which is actually quite good. Comparatively, the True North Bricks average for all Ninjago sets is currently $0.114/brick, while across all LEGO® themes it sits at $0.138/brick. Considering both comparisons, I rate the cost-per-brick at 89%. You get a solid number of bricks for the price.
The build time Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon provides is nothing to balk at either. I assembled this kit in three hours and 23 minutes. Consequently, the cost-per-minute of build time is $0.54. To give you an idea, our average cost-per-minute for Ninjago is $0.65, while across all LEGO® themes, it is $0.847. By either comparison, the set gives you a lot of build time for the price. I rate that at 92%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 91%. Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon comes at a very good value… though sadly, the set has retired. Secondary market prices will not reflect that.
Let’s get the contentious issues out of the way first. This set includes a few weak side builds. I bought this set for a kick-ass undead dragon, not for peripherals. Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon came in a wave of Ninjago sets that combined to form a board game. I will discuss that more in the entertainment section of the review. While that is an interesting concept, it was not why I wanted this set. The builds are what you’d expect from a board game, and not really inspired or detailed build pieces that offer interesting techniques. For someone seeking a dragon build, the side builds do not offer much towards the appeal of the set. You assemble two Minifigure stands, as well as two interactive sections of the game board.
With that said, the side builds do not take away from the amazing dragon build. Despite not being impressed with the game pieces, I did not feel that designers skimped on the dragon’s design. This is an impressive build. Of the dragons I’ve assembled so far, this is the most detailed, and the beefiest model. That is a little ironic considering the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon is a skeleton. The brick work used to achieve the skeletal look is phenomenal. Like other dragons, this set has a number of exposed ball joints. However, in this case, that concept works. As a skeleton, the exposed joints are believable.
The brick work used to achieve the skeletal look is phenomenal.
My favorite components of the design are the head and ribs. The ribs are simple in design, using Technic elements to achieve curves. But the effect is dramatic. Additionally, unlike the Fire Dragon and Water Dragon, Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon has a brick-built skull. I think I prefer building the head. While I have not built many dragons in the past, other sets in my repertoire offered interesting techniques in that regard. Off the top of my head, the bow from Destiny’s Bounty (LEGO® Ninjago Movie version) comes to mind.
In this case, I made a small alteration to the instructions. The design calls for the brow bones and horns in the reverse order of what I actually built. The instructions place the horns medially, and the brow bones to their exterior. In that order, the brow bones easily shift to cover the dragon’s eyes. Reversing them causes the main body of the skull to prevent the brows from sinking too low. Otherwise, I quite like the skull. However, including fangs would make it more fearsome.
Including fangs would make it more fearsome.
In terms of the legs, Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon is also my favorite build so far. The front legs in particular feature more joints than previous models I have built. However, the toes stick out as the coolest feature in the design. They look so much better than on the Water Dragon or Fire Dragon. This dragon design makes the feet plantigrade, which does not look bad in this case. However, I find it cool that the joint structure allows the dragon to pose digitigrade too. With that said, the ankle joints are too loose to maintain this pose sturdily.
The tail on Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon uses the same basic design as the Water Dragon. I love that. As a result, the tail whips around when you move the dragon. However, the tail does not feature as many joints as the Water Dragon’s. Rather, it ends in one of those large blade elements. That is a bit of a cop out in terms of adding length, but not a major issue.
The tail whips around when you move the dragon.
The final design point I will bring up is the wings. They sprawl out laterally, looking amazing and adding to the fearsome and imposing look of the beast. Like the Fire and Water dragons, the membranes are soft, supple cloth. However, in this case, they are laden with holes to enhance the dead, rotting look of the dragon. The limited mobility of the wings is an issue though. You cannot fold them in or backwards. The only motion allowed by the design is up and down. Additionally, you have to physically move each wing by hand. The set contains a play feature whereby pushing a button causes the rib cage to open up. This drops an orb filled with spiders and bones. I would prefer if it caused the wings to flap instead.
Ultimately, Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon is my favorite dragon build so far in this series. It looks great and has a fearsome and imposing presence. I wish the wings featured more mobility though. However, my other complaints about the set design are minor. The side builds are unimpressive, but they do not take away from the main dragon build at all. Additionally, I love the bone work, skull, whipping tail, and leg design. This is a solid dragon design, earning 90%.
Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon includes seven Minifigures. Two of them are skeletons, so not proper minifigs perse. Also, one character is solid grey and used as a statue on one of the game pieces. But I will still count them. Each of the characters includes all of the standard parts, except for the Skull Sorcerer and statue. They have the robes piece instead of moveable legs. The ninjas and Skull Sorcerer have front and back torso printing, and each of the ninjas has a double-sided face. Additionally, the accessories are amazing. I particularly love the shields and their dragon prints. You also acquire four swords of varying type, two crates, five pieces of should armor, two skulls, a crystal, a total of four shields, samurai armor, three spiders, a trans-green rock piece, and a spinjitzu/dice game spinner.
I’m going to take a minute to discuss the Skull Sorcerer. I have not watched much Ninjago, and none of the season this character is in. But what a great Minifigure it is. It is one of the creepier characters I have ever seen in Minifigure form. It is totally believable as a sorcerer who can command a skeletal dragon. All of these Minifigures are great, but the Skull Sorcerer really gets the imagination going. He could very well feature in custom, non-Ninjago builds as an imposing villain as well. I love this Minifigure. Considering all these factors, I rate the Minifigure design score at 100%.
The Skull Sorcerer is one of the creepiest characters I have seen in minifig form.
Seven Minifigures in a 1016-piece kit gives a brick-to-fig ratio of 145-to-1. For the Ninjago theme, that is fairly average. You tend to get a lot of Minifigures/set in this theme. Compared to LEGO® sets in general, it fares even better. I normally see around 171 bricks/fig with LEGO® sets. So, no matter how you look at it, Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon comes with a good number of characters. I rate the brick-to-fig ratio at 83%. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 92%.
Am I entertained by the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon? That is a resounding yes. Of the dragons I have built so far, this is my favorite. If I still had the castles set-up of my youth, this dragon would have gotten a lot of display and play. It just looks evil, perfect for the villain of any fantasy story set in medieval times. This is a great playset that teaches you good dragon-building techniques. With that said, for an adult, it is not much of a display piece without a custom castles set-up to go with it. Ultimately, I will take it apart for pieces to use in my custom dragon build. I rate this build at 90%.
This set also has a game element. It includes a paper gameboard on which you place brick-built game elements. I really think this is an interesting concept for kids. I mentioned in past reviews that I like sets that build upon each other. While I wish the game was a bit more robust, it works well for the target age group. I wish a brick built gameboard came as a separate set though.
OVERALL SCORE: 91%
If you are on a dragon building quest like me, Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon is an amazing set to pick up. While the dragon is skeletal, you still get good techniques applicable to custom designs. The tail technique is similar to Water Dragon, which I love. However, the limb structure is better than both the Water Dragon and Fire Dragon. I only wish the wings featured more flexibility. Otherwise, the value is great, as are the Minifigures. The dragon shields the Minifigures have are particularly impressive. But the set is more playset than AFOL display piece. Overall, I very much enjoyed Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon. What do you think of the set? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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