Review – Ninjago City Docks (70657)

Ninjago City is one of my all time favorite LEGO® sets (click here to read my review). It may even be at the top of the list. So, when I heard that an extension was being released, I was over the moon. I could hardly contain my excitement when Ninjago City Docks finally came out. However, just as I do with all big ticket sets, I waited for a double VIP points event before I picked one up. Then, there was the usual work induced delay in actually building it. But, now it has been built, and I am ready to share my thoughts on it. Does it live up to its predecessor?

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Ninjago City Docks box art.

SET SUMMARY

NAME: Ninjago City Docks
SET #: 70657
THEME: Ninjago Movie
COST: $269.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 3553
MINIFIGURES: 13
OF INTEREST: 1 baby figure
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2018

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Ninjago City Docks

SUMMARY REVIEW: 90%

VALUE: 100% (Excellent value at $0.08 per brick.)
BUILD: 85% (Some more detail in places would be nice, but generally well designed.)
MINIFIGURES: 80% (Nice designs, loads of accessories, but low brick:fig.)
ENTERTAINMENT:
95% (Not as awe-inspiring as Ninjago City, but fun all the same.)

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Ninjago City Docks

REVIEW

VALUE: 100%
Ninjago City Docks comes with 3553 pieces. It costs $269.99 in Canada. At that price, you are paying $0.08 per brick. That is an excellent value, and earns a full 5/5 (100%). Like most other sets in this price bracket, you are essentially buying LEGO® in bulk. The price may seem high overall, but in the end you get a lot of product for it.

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Ninjago City Docks

BUILD: 85%
There is a lot going on in Ninjago City Docks. Is it as much as Ninjago City? No, sadly not. But, it is a really great set all the same. There is not much that I don’t like about it. However, it doesn’t leave me with the same sense of awe as Ninjago City did. I think I would have liked this set more if it had been designed more compactly, and higher, like Ninjago City. I really liked the three layers of city built one on top of the other. Ninjago City Docks is really mostly just the ground, old level. There is a partial street, or second, level, but the third tier is missing entirely.

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Ninjago City and Ninjago City Docks joined.

Another point of contention that I have with Ninjago City Docks is the grocery store on the base level. The outside looks awesome with the fruit stand, and the rotisserie turkey (that actually turns). However, the inside of the shop is completely empty except for a cleaver. There is so much detail in all of the other shops and homes, why not here? It is actually a fairly large space to leave devoid of anything.

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Ninjago City and Ninjago City Docks joined.

Other than the aforementioned points, there isn’t anything that I don’t like about Ninjago City Docks. It clicks into place perfectly next to Ninjago City, and adds a grocery store, map store, sculptor’s shop, tea shop, arcade, small dojo, and an apartment. The arcade lines up with the comic book shop in Ninjago City, and has a soda vending machine outside. Shoving a printed money tile into the vending machine causes a can to roll out. I love that it actually works. There is also a lot of new signage, and one of the billboards comes with interchangeable ads.

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There is a functioning soda machine outside of the arcade on the street level of Ninjago City Docks.

There are several really interesting build techniques that have been employed in Ninjago City Docks. You get the aforementioned soda machine, but the arcade also features some gaming machines inside. The tea shop has some nice shelving and drawer builds, and you get those neat sliding doors seen in Ninjago City. What I like most about this set is the Asian inspired look of the buildings. The roofs in particular are built using some interesting techniques that I plan to employ again in my own future MOCs. There is also the fun added touch of many of the buildings having wall mounted air conditioning units.

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Ninjago City Docks grocery store front.

Overall, the build for this set is quite nice. It really bothers me that the grocery store interior was left empty, so it does lose a mark for that. I also wish the height of this set and been made to match its predecessor, but that is a lesser concern and I will only take off half a mark there. The buildings look really nice, and use some novel building techniques, especially where the roofs are concerned. I give Ninjago City Docks 8.5/10 (85%) as its build score.

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The Ninjago City Docks arcade.

MINIFIGURES: 80%
There are 13 characters included in Ninjago City Docks, and they are fairly well detailed. Each one comes with a hairpiece, hat, or helmet. They all feature front and back printed torsos. Nine of them have front printing on their legs, and six have a double sided face. One of them is sadly a stumpy-legged child… but one out of 13 is not terrible in that regard. Using my rating system for Minifigure design, I would give these characters 143 out of a total possible 195 marks (15 points per Minifigure). That earns a design score of 73%. However, there are SO MANY accessories included in this set from household items, to weapons, to printed tiles, and food. I stopped counting when I hit 60. The plethora of accessories brings the design score up to an easy 100%.

With 13 Minifigures and an overall brick count of 3553, you are looking at a brick-to-fig ratio of 273:1. That is passable in my opinion. Usually when you get a big set, the lower price per brick coincides with a lower brick-to-fig ratio as well. So, to get 13 Minifigures in a set this size is actually pretty good when compared with, say, the Creator Expert modulars. All the same, when you compare that ratio to a smaller piece count in a Super Heroes set, for example, the ratio is not that great. I rate Ninjago City Docks at 3/5 (60%) for its brick-to-fig ratio.

If you average the design and ratio scores for the characters included in Ninjago City Docks, you get a solid Minifigure grade of 80%. I very much like the look of these Minifigs, and the low brick-to-fig ratio was not unexpected.

ENTERTAINMENT: 95%
Ninjago City Docks took me exactly 10 hours to build (600 minutes). With a price tag of $269.99, each minute of build time set me back $0.45. My current average cost per minute of build time is $0.85, so this is WAY below that. Large sets tend to give you a good value in terms of build time, and Ninjago City Docks was no exception. It gets a full 5/5 for build time value.

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Ninjago City Docks sculptor’s shop.

Do I like this set? Yes, I do, and I would even go so far as to say that I love it. But, do I love it as much as Ninjago City? No, like I said earlier, the same sense of awe is just not there. I will leave this set built pretty much as is in my city. I think I will move the dock back a little though. I would prefer if it touched right up against the sidewalk in front of the grocery store, rather than having a channel of water in between. But, that is a personal preference, and the dock still looks nice as is. I will only give Ninjago City Docks 4.5/5 (90%) though, for those reasons.

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Ninjago City Docks dojo.

You get a great build time and a really fun set in Ninjago City Docks. Averaging the build time score with the enjoyment score yields and overall entertainment grade of 95%. Looking at this set from a play perspective, I think that kids would have a lot of fun with it too. It is a nice display piece, but I can imagine a much younger version of myself chomping at the bit to play with this and all its little features. Combine it with Ninjago City, and you are looking at even more fun.

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Lloyd prowls the nicely designed rooftops as the Green Ninja.

OVERALL: 90%

Even though it clocks in at $270 in Canada, Ninjago City Docks is a great value in terms of both bricks, build time, and play time. From an AFOL perspective, it is a nice display piece, and I had days of fun photographing it (with probably more days yet to come). As a set, it is not as inspiring as Ninjago City that came before it, and it also suffers from a low brick-to-fig ratio (though that is not uncommon in large sets). You do get 13 nicely design characters though. I do recommend this set, even at full price (though lately I have seen a number of sales for as much as 30% off).

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The fishing boat build included in Ninjago City Docks.

How do you feel about Ninjago City Docks? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

Until next time,

-Tom

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Review – 2018 Hallmark Ninjago Ornament

It’s that time of year again. The Holiday Season is in full swing, and folks are digging out those boxes of ornaments and trimming their trees. Well, much like last year, there is a new Hallmark ornament that I have added to my geeked-out Christmas tree. Last year, they released a LEGO® Batman (click here to read my review). This year, we have gotten Lloyd from the LEGO® Ninjago movie.

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Box art for the 2018 Hallmark Ninjago ornament.

This is a nicely designed ornament. Lloyd is quite detailed, with a lot of printing on his torso and arms. Obviously, since this is an ornament, Lloyd is fixed in one position. He is a touch smaller than the Batman that we got last year. Lloyd also does not have any neat textures like Batman did. But, I don’t think that really takes away from the ornament, because it is nicely designed and painted.

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This year’s Lloyd Hallmark ornament alongside last year’s Batman.

Hallmark employees make a habit of opening the ornament boxes before you actually buy them. They always show you that the ornament is in good condition. Buying Lloyd was no exception. But, I do offer a word of caution. While my ornament was in good condition in the store, when the employee repackaged it, she unintentionally bent Lloyd’s sword. I was able to bend it back into shape, but I am sure that too much of that will cause it to break right off. So, be careful repackaging your ornament…

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How ornament Lloyd (left) compares to Minifigure Lloyd (right).

Hallmark ornaments tend to be a little on the pricey side. In Canada, you will usually pay about $20-$25 for one. That is why I only buy one of these every year. They are nice though, and this one is great for the LEGO® fans out there. This year, you can also get Joker from the LEGO® Batman Movie. My local Hallmark did not carry that one, I found out about it while perusing their website. I am glad that I was able to get Lloyd though.

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Lloyd in my Christmas tree.

What are your thoughts on the LEGO® Hallmark ornaments? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. As always, if you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

Until next time,

-Tom

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Another shot of Lloyd and Lloyd.

Minifigure Monday – Living With This Infamy

Living With This Infamy
(An original LEGO® inspired poem from True North Bricks)

In the street they stop and stare,
I pretend that I don’t care.
Whispers fly from ear to ear,
I pretend that I don’t hear.
Living with this infamy,
I cling to my dignity.
Walking by, my head held high,
But, inside I want to cry.

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This poem was inspired by Lloyd from the LEGO® Ninjago Movie.

Coloring Page – Kabuki Nya

For the last few weeks, I have been posting Harry Potter themed coloring pages. Rest assured Potter fans, I have more in store for you. However, this week, I thought I would mix it up a little. Since I have a Ninjago related review coming your way this week, I thought it was time for another Ninjago coloring page to go with it. One of the 2018 Bricktober Minifigure packs offered at Toys R Us featured four Ninjago Minifigures. These same characters were offered again at the LEGO® Store in conjunction with Brick Friday (which is when I got them, click here to read about that). My favorite Minifig from the set was the Kabuki Nya character. So, this week, she gets her own coloring page! You can use the link below to download a free PDF to print and color (it will open in a new window). If you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for weekly coloring pages. Happy coloring!

Click here to download a free copy of the Kabuki Nya coloring page.

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This is a sample of the Kabuki Nya coloring page, it is not print quality.

Coloring Page – Secret Ninja Force

Truth be told, this week’s coloring page is not an original work. By browsing my previous Ninjago coloring pages, you will note that I have drawn all of these ninjas in these exact poses before. Even then, they were replicas of official LEGO® promotional images. But, I thought it would be fun to have all of the characters on one coloring page, so I used Photoshop to stick all of them together. You can click here to download your free PDF (it will open in a new window). Happy coloring!

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This is a sample of the Secret Ninja Force coloring page, it is not print quality. Use the link above to download a free, printable PDF.

Review – Destiny’s Bounty [70618]

The LEGO® Ninjago Movie has spurred some really epic sets. From Ninjago City (click here to read my review), to the Ninjago City Docks, and Destiny’s Bounty, this theme has really gone all out on detail. The latter set, Destiny’s Bounty, is the subject of this week’s review. While I was enthralled by the design of this set when it was first announced in 2017, my original plan was not to buy it. I didn’t think it would fit well with my growing, modern city. But, the idea of this epic ship stayed at the back of my mind until finally, I gave in. I bought it in late June 2018, almost a year after its release, in conjunction with a double VIP points event at the LEGO® Store. Since then, I have built it and had time to marvel at all its brick-built glory. Is it as amazing as it looks in the pictures? Absolutely, and now we’ll take a look at why.

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Destiny’s Bounty box art.

SET SUMMARY

NAME: Destiny’s Bounty
SET #: 70618
THEME: The LEGO® Ninjago Movie
COST: $199.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 2295
MINIFIGURES: 7
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017

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Destiny’s Bounty front view.

SUMMARY REVIEW: 97%

VALUE: 100% (Excellent value at $0.09 per brick.)
BUILD:
99% (This ship is near perfect, with only a tiny amount of unused space.)
MINIFIGURES:
89% (Excellent Minifigures, loads of accessories, but bad brick:fig.)
ENTERTAINMENT:
100% (Great build time, and a childhood dream come true.)

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Destiny’s Bounty rear view.

REVIEW

VALUE: 100%
Destiny’s Bounty costs $199.99 in Canada. After a year on store shelves, you are able to find it on sale occasionally, the best I have seen being 20% off. I bought mine at full price from the LEGO® Store in order to get double VIP points and a beach tote. There are 2295 parts in this kit, meaning that each brick will cost you $0.09. As with most large sets, you are essentially buying bricks in bulk with this purchase. So, you are looking at a really good value (the average cost per brick that I calculated for the last LEGO® catalog I got in the mail was $0.12, while the average for all of last year’s catalogs was $0.13). I give Destiny’s Bounty a full 5/5 (100%) in this department.

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The stern of the ship is adorned with ornate dragon heads.

BUILD: 99%
I can’t think of anything that I don’t like about this set. Destiny’s Bounty is intricately detailed straight from the bottom of the hull, right up to the tip of the highest mast. Below decks, you have Master Wu’s sleeping quarters and a bathroom. There is a little bit of unused space at the front, behind the ladder leading to the main deck. Given the anchor assembly right above it, I can see how it would have been challenging to make that space accessible. But, if I had to nit-pick, that would be where I took off points. The rest of the below-decks area is accessible by removing portions of the main deck, in modular style.

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On deck aboard Destiny’s Bounty.

Moving to the main deck, you have some potted plants (growing tea, I am assuming, since the ship is supposed to appear as a tea barge to the common folk). Entering the cabin, you find a training dojo for the Secret Ninja Force. It is loaded with weapons, floored with tatami, and even has a training dummy. There is a small observation deck behind it with a telescope. Towards the bow of the ship, there are some hidden compartments for weapons storage, and a functional anchor mechanism. The anchors are attached by chains, and can be lowered by turning the mechanism. The deck is decorated with numerous lanterns, and ornate dragon heads on the stern.

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Destiny’s Bounty dojo.

A ladder beside the dojo leads up to the quarter deck, where the helmsman’s post is located, and behind it is a covered poop deck with some cartography tools. The roof here is composed of garage door elements usually seen in City theme police and fire stations. The lower edges of these elements are not fastened on Destiny’s Bounty, allowing you to roll them back and access the cabin inside. This whole segment of the ship is also built in modular fashion to sit on top of the dojo.

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Quarter deck and poop deck aboard Destiny’s Bounty.

The exterior of Destiny’s Bounty just looks amazing. It employs a clever use of hinged parts to achieve some really nice curves. There are what I assume to be bumpers hanging off of the side, as well as the anchors. The sails are adorned with a dragon motif. Like I said before, there is nothing I don’t like about this set. But again, if I nit-pick, there is some unused space in the stern. I give Destiny’s Bounty 99% for build.

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Side detailing on Destiny’s Bounty.

MINIFIGURES: 89%
This is the only set in the Ninjago Movie theme to come with all of the ninjas in full ninja regalia. They can all be acquired in the Temple of the Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon, but without their cowls. You also get Master Wu in this set. Each Minifigure comes with a double-sided face, except for Wu. They all have front and back printed torsos, and front leg printing as well. Wu and Nya also sport cloth extensions to their robes/armor. All characters come with their signature weapons, each ninja has a two-piece cowl, and Wu has a beard and his trademark hat. Each character is nicely designed. Based on these points alone, and using my rating scale, I would give the Minifigures of Destiny’s Bounty a design score of 101/105 (96%). However, you also have loads of accessories stowed around the ship which more than make up for the missing four marks. I won’t list them all, but I count 33 extras. So, for design, I give these characters 100%.

As with many large LEGO® sets, this one appears to come with a large number of characters on first inspection. But, when you break down the brick-to-Minifigure ratio, you are actually only looking at 328 bricks per Minifig. It is not the worst I have seen, but it is not very good either. I give Destiny’s Bounty a ratio score of 2.5/5 (50%). Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure score of 75%. I feel that is a bit of a bum rap for this set though… so if I add a point for each of the 33 accessories to the design score (I normally do this, but only up to 100%), you would get 134/105 (128%). That would average these Minifigs out at 89%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 100%
Destiny’s Bounty took me six hours and 32 minutes to build (392 minutes). At $199.99, each minute of build times costs $0.51. That is really good, and earns a full 5/5 (100%). As for how much I like it, I think I have already established that I love it. I will not be changing a thing about it. I am going to try to make a nice harbor for it in my city eventually, but until then, it is sitting on my shelf. My wife has even said it looks really nice there. For her to allow a LEGO® set on her nice living room shelf says something about the set (or perhaps how much she loves me…. or both…)

Destiny’s Bounty is crazy amounts of fun. As an adult, I am in awe of it. As a kid, I would have died for a ship like this. Pirates and castles were my favorite themes. The original Ninja theme came out just as I was entering my LEGO® dark age, so I never had any, but I remember wanting them. This is like a ninja pirate ship. I can easily imagine how this ship would have fit into my LEGO® world of the time, and the intricate story lines my sister and I came up with. I had two pirate ships in my youth, but both were smaller scale ships, not the really big ones. Destiny’s Bounty is like the big ship I never had. I give this set 100% for my enjoyment of it. This means that the entertainment rating for Destiny’s Bounty is also 100%.

OVERALL: 97%

Destiny’s Bounty is easily one of my favorite LEGO® sets. Personally, it is a childhood dream realized. Pirates is no longer and active theme, and I missed out on the original Ninjas theme. While there has been a resurgence of Pirates during my AFOL years, I didn’t collect it for budget reasons. This one was not on my buy-list either, but I can make a stretch and still include it in my city. Ninjago City does have a more traditional lower level, after all. You are also getting a great value in terms of the cost per brick, as well as the build time. You can collect the ninjas in other sets, but here you get them all in one shot, and they are nice. There are tons of accessories too. This set is fun for adults and kids alike.

What are your thoughts about Destiny’s Bounty? I would love to hear them in the comments below. Until next time,

-Tom

“N” is for Ninjago

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A few of you might remember that during last year’s A-to-Z Challenge, I also did “N is for Ninjago”… A little unoriginal? Perhaps. But, last year, the Ninjago Movie had not hit theaters yet. Now it has, and has even come out on Blu-ray. I know a lot of fans had mixed feelings about the Ninjago Movie. It also did not perform as well in theaters as other LEGO movies have. One complaint that I heard frequently was that the movie did not remain true to the established stories in the show. Having never watched the show, I quite enjoyed the movie. LEGO also developed some amazing sets to go along with the film.

In addition, there was a nice book that came out with the movie, and I review it last year (click here to read it). The Ninjago Movie – The Making of the Movie had a lot of really great artwork detailing the development of the film. I particularly liked the cover of the book. Rather than recreate the movie poster for the Ninjago Movie, I decided to recreate the cover of the book. I don’t know if it really counts as being “LEGO-fied”, since it was LEGO to begin with… but, it was concept art for a digital movie, and I made it with actual Minifigures. I went through a few trials and iterations of this LEGO-fied post, and I am still not sure that I got this one right. But, I have run out of time to continue trying!

In terms of the Minifigures, Wu is from the Ninjago Minifigure series. Lloyd and Jay are from the Ninjago City set (click here for my review). Kai and Zane are from the Spinjitzu Training set (which I will review later this week). While Nya and Cole are on the cover of the book, they are so small that I decided not to include them. I did initially try to make this poster with all of the Minifigures in one shot, but I didn’t like the out-of-focus look of the characters in the background (even though they are out of focus on the book cover). I went with individual photos of each character taken standing in cat grass. The background was made using two little containers of bamboo that I bought at Walmart. The same photo was superimposed on itself a few times to create some depth and thickness to the jungle. I went with real plants, as opposed to LEGO, because that was what the creators of the movie chose to do with the film.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts about Ninjago or anything in this post in the comments below. This LEGO-fied post was made as part of the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. You can click here to visit the official site for more information.

Until next time,

-Tom

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My recreation of the cover for “The Ninjago Movie – Making of the Movie” book.