Block Talk: Lego Ninjago The Golden Dragon

Joe Stando has entirely too many Legos (and similar building brick brands). Block Talk is a regular column in which he discusses the good, the bad, and the painful to step on of some of those sets.

Welcome to Block Talk! This is a relatively new idea, spurred by a sudden influx of Lego purchases. I figured I may as well get a little more mileage out of them and post some reviews. The concept of Lego reviews isn’t new; YouTube is choked with video reviews of varying degrees of quality, but the Brothers Brick, a fanblog I follow, has done some nice ones in the past. Without further ado, let’s get into the meat of it!

For my first review, let’s look at The Ninjago Golden Dragon (70503, 252 pieces, $29.99). [EDITOR’S NOTE: The parentheticals indicate item code number, piece count, and suggested retail price, respectively.] I know almost nothing about Ninjago as a theme. Apparently it’s been adapted into a very successful cartoon on Cartoon Network, involves a top-based battling system, and seems kind of like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, minus the “mutant” and “turtle” parts. I’m not interested in the story, but I do have a fondness for brick-built (as opposed to one or two specialized pieces) dragons and monsters, so I picked it up. It was a simple but decently satisfying build. The color choices (gold and a deep green) were pretty, and I haven’t seen a lot of pieces in those colors before. Most of the articulation was hinge-based, which was both good and bad. On the one hand, it gives the Golden Dragon a defined pose and silhouette, which is cool, but it also limits broader poseability in a way that ball joints don’t. It’s a clear choice though, and I can’t fault then for that. The Golden Dragon’s head also contains a squeeze launcher, which seems like a pretty standard play feature on $30 sets.

The set comes with three minifigures and a small base. The hero minifigure, the Golden Ninja, is entirely gold plastic, which is an interesting look. He comes with a back sheath piece for a sword and a bitchin’ golden dragon sword, but unfortunately the sword doesn’t fit the sheath (I’m sure the more basic swords do). The set also comes with two demonic-looking villains: a smaller figure with the short, static legs used for Yoda and hobbits and a crossbow and quiver, and a full-sized guy with some intricate samurai armor and a clever brick-built hammer. The base is decent; it’s built in the villains’ red and black color scheme and comes with a couple of weapons and a pack of dynamite (a favorite piece of mine). It includes a small catapult, presumably to launch the villains up at the dragon. Lego gets a lot of mileage out of catapults in sets, and I’ve never found them to be that interesting myself.

All in all, The Golden Dragon was a decent build. It’s pretty as a model and has some playability, although not as much as I’d like. The minifigures and props are solid, and good for a collection. Worth checking out, even if you’re not a Ninjago fan.

RATING: 4/5 BRICKS

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