Let me start by saying I’m not a huge LEGO® Ninjago follower. I don’t know the story, and have little idea who’s who – or why they’ve gone from fighting skeletons to snakemen and in the latest wave have become Ghostbusters. One thing I do like about the series are the dragons. I’ve got a thing for brick-built dragons, so when the latest Ninjago sets were released, I naturally set my eyes on Master Wu’s Dragon (70734).
The set is priced at $60 RRP for 575 pieces, which seems right for a mid-tier set, especially considering that there are five minifigures included. In comparison, Titanium Dragon (70748) in the last release was the same price, but only had 360 pieces and three figs. There’s also a number of new elements in the set, both new moulds as well as new colours, some of which are exclusive to this set thus far. But how does the set stack up as a whole? Let’s get into it.
Out of the box, you get two instruction booklets, five bags, and a sticker sheet. I’m surprised at the number of bags they’ve split the build into; it could easily have fit into three or four.
Bag 1 yields some very interesting elements. We’ve got a number of pieces in yellowish-green, swords, and the like. For those who haven’t seen this colour in person before (it’s not overly common), it does look a little neon, but unfortunately does NOT glow in the dark. The ghost discs are printed – not stickers – which makes sense considering their inclusion in the set is as ammunition, which needs to stand up to quite a bit of handling. We also get a number of other interesting pieces: the 2 x 2 x 1 corner panel, a round tile with stud in dark orange, a saucepan in white, and a disc shooter – which I’ve never seen before.
Building Bag 1 yields the baddies and their haunted tea cart. The tea cart itself is an interesting build. Some nice pieces and techniques are used to achieve the shape and look, and it works extremely well.
The ghost blob launcher is simple but effective. Slot a disc into the front, push the back knob in, and off it goes. The LEGO Group finds yet another mechanism to let us launch and lose our parts. Mine aren’t in the photo, but the two spare discs are meant to sit in the little box on the cart. I feel the need to point out how nice it is that the ghosts have taken the time to register their tea cart with the proper authorities, and have their own tea cart license plate. These gentlemen are outstanding law abiding citizens!
And some of these guys have names! We have Pitch, the pitchfork guy; Hackler, the guy with the axe; and a soul archer. The colour scheme used on the minifigures is cohesive and gives an excellent ghostly vibe. The accessories are amongst my favourite parts of the current sets. In particular, all three have amazing headgear and that new raggedy armour which I’m sure will find plenty of use in assembling custom minifigures. The archer also comes with the new ghostly leg mould with two colours mixed in. Great minifigures overall and Bag 1 has delivered the goods.
There aren’t as many interesting pieces in Bag 2, but it’s still pretty cool. Included is a husky, some of the olive green plant pieces, a yellowish green round tile, and the new Skreemer. An interesting new mould and concept, the Skreemer can sit atop a minifigure’s head like a helmet and supposedly possess it. It also has two clips to hold weapons or accessories.
A nice quick build gives us the gate to Master Wu’s tea plantation. I particularly like the use of the swords and sai as decorative arch elements, and the lanterns do a lot for the overall look. There’s also a little stone statuette, and of course flick fire missiles. What kind of set would it be without these? These missiles even come with a stickered ghost targeting piece!
Bags 3, 4 and 5 all contribute towards the building of the dragon so I’ll look at them together. The more interesting parts include a dark orange reverse slope piece which I’ve not seen before, pearl gold arch pieces and wing elements, a pair of curved pipe pieces (originally the elephant’s tail) in tan, Unikitty’s tail also in tan, and the gun mould in white. In addition, we get the teapot in azure blue, which has previously only come in pearl gold as a genie’s lamp.
The body of the dragon is an average build. You do have to build some elements twice, like two pairs of legs and the wings, but it’s fast enough to go through two at a time. Nothing particularly remarkable about it, just your standard brick built creature body. If anything, it does feel a little thin towards the back half.
My biggest criticism of the dragon would be the legs. Because of the way they’re built, there’s limited outward articulation and the dragon cannot be displayed in a ‘legs splayed’ pose. The legs also look quickly tossed together and unfinished to me, which is a shame considering how well built the rest is. For example, the underbelly, which has traditionally been overlooked in most designs, is well covered using the sloped pieces.
The head of the dragon, however, is what made it great for me. Excellent use of parts and the entire thing comes together amazingly well.
All the funky bits come into play here, with the Unikitty and elephant tails being used as the moustache and whiskers, and the guns and croissants used as horns. The highest praise I can give it is that it feels like a MOC design, rather than a stock standard one.
As a whole, the dragon leaves me with mixed feelings. The head is amazing, the wings and body are OK, but the legs and tail feel very hastily tossed together. Master Wu sits in a box which attaches to the top of the dragon, along with a little teapot stand and a flag. Similar to our ghost buddies, Master Wu has registered his dragon ride and has even sprung for custom plates. Major style points.
The two minifigures included in these bags are Cole and the man himself, Master Wu. Cole’s torso and legs sport the standard print for the current wave, the Deepstone armour. His headpiece is new as well, featuring a two toned design. Fancy. Master Wu’s torso is largely obscured by his beard, but it is beautifully printed and continues on to the legs. On the good guys’ side is the husky, which by the way is rocking a crossbow. Yep. A dog with a bow. Good doggy.
From a broader perspective, I think the set is great value with a $60 RRP, particularly if you can get it on sale at 20% off, bringing it down to $48. The five minifigures are well printed and accessorised, and even the filler component of the set (the cart and gateway) feel substantial and well designed. The dragon was a bit of a mixed bag, an amazingly designed head let down by the legs and body. This however, is from the viewpoint of an AFOL and most kids should be more than happy with it – I know eight-year-old me would have loved the set as a whole. Another major bonus is the number of spares that have been tossed in – amongst them three katanas, a sai, and a bow, parts for two more axes, and another ghost blade. As a kid I always lacked weapons for my minifigures, and this mini parts pack is sure to be well received.
In summary, I have no regrets purchasing the set and if you secure a discount on it I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The obvious flaws have been pointed out but the pros outweigh the cons. A bit of modifying would set the dragon right for me, and that’s probably what I’ll end up doing. The clincher for me? It’s a set where a ninja, a crossbow-toting husky and a moustached dragon – carrying an old man with a magic blue teapot – defend his missile firing tea plantation from a haunted ghost-blob-shooting tea cart manned by three ninja spectres and a Skreemer. What’s not to love?
One last dragon picture.