Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thoughts on March 2016 Ninjago sets

The Brothers Brick just posted some details about the March 2016 Ninjago sets that we were missing. I was a bit disappointed that these sets got pushed back from what we thought would be a January release, but now we have a concrete release date of March 1st for the United States. More interestingly, we now have piece counts and, best of all, prices for these sets, and I'm becoming pretty excited to get my hands on some of them!
I'm 99% sure I'm going to get a copy of 70604 Tiger Widow Island to review here on the blog, by the way, so look for that in early- to mid-March...

On with the preview! 

70599 Cole's Dragon has 98 pieces and sell for $9.99:
This looks like an excellent $10 set: two new, high-quality minifigs and a fair amount of nice pieces. I'm interested in the new "key/sword hilt" element and there are also a lot of clips, mini ball joints, slopes, and decorative elements. I might end up getting a couple of these if I have the budget... haha, wishful thinking of a poor TFOL...

70600 Ninja Bike Chase has 231 pieces and will sell for $19.99:
In my opinion this may be the weakest of these new sets, especially in terms of design. None of the models look remotely well-designed, there are no interesting features, and none of the minifigs are exclusive. As a parts pack there's nothing you can't get elsewhere that I can see, so despite the nice price-per-piece, you can probably give this one a pass. 

70601 Sky Shark has 221 pieces and will sell for $19.99:
Despite the slightly smaller piece count I think this set is far superior to the previous one, which shares its price point. 70601 has a better selection of pieces, including some cool new recolors. The fish and the large blades on the front are new in orange, and the burnt-orange rounded windows will probably be of interest to certain builders. The minifigs are also pretty nice. I could care less about the design of the craft (look at those ugly cockpit gaps), but this is a well-priced parts pack. 

70602 Jay's Elemental Dragon has 350 pieces and will sell for $29.99:
Lots of blue here, in all different shades. If you like blue decorative elements, this may be the set for you! I'm not too keen on that recolored monkey - it seems weird to me that LEGO's classic monkey hasn't gotten a redesign yet. It looks outdated compared to the new crocodiles, sharks, horses, and the rest. This isn't a bad purchase but once again I find the design of the models somewhat lacking. 

70603 Raid Zeppelin has 294 pieces and will sell for $29.99:
The Brothers Brick's early review of this set was highly positive, and I would be inclined to agree. I could nitpick a couple design points but on the whole it's one of the best-looking sets of this wave. The star of the show in terms of pieces may be the burnt-orange hot air balloon panels. Unfortunately there are only seven, so you'll need to either buy two sets or get an extra copy of the piece online if you want to make a complete balloon, which is unfortunate but perhaps a good marketing strategy on LEGO's part. 

In addition, the minifigs are top-notch, Zane's flyer is a good build, and there are plenty of nice parts: sharp-eyed readers will note the new "Ninjago pirate sword" not only in the usual dark pearl gray, but also in white (on the sides of the wheelhouse). This looks like a great set and another one I'd like to buy if I can.

70604 Tiger Widow Island has 450 pieces and will sell for $49.99:

Man, I'm excited for this one. It just looks like a nice set. I had my fingers crossed in hopes it wouldn't be overpriced, and $50 seems like the way to go for this one. There are nice pieces here (weapons; foliage; some light azure, one of my fave brick colors), but it'll be hard for me to buy this as a parts pack when I like the model so much! And who can ignore the appeal of Sensei's mini hot-air balloon and coconut bombs?

This is the only set to include the "Ghost Cole" minifig. I'm torn over the bigfig; it looks fine but seems too big to place on the main model and no doubt drove up the cost of the set. I do really like the palm tree (with coconut crab!), Power Miners drill as a rocky spire, the little spider-mech, and other details.

As I mentioned, readers can expect a review of 70604 sometime in the next month. It'll be my first purchase of the spring, I think, along with maybe some Star Wars battlepacks.

Finally, 70605 Misfortune's Keep has 754 pieces and will sell for $79.99:
The Brothers Brick also got to review this one early (lucky guys) and their opinion was favorable. The ship was called "gorgeous" and praised for its steampunk style; Lloyd's jetpack was dismissed as "one of the worst Ninjago craft I've ever seen." I agree, and given that this set is too big to be a parts pack, all the models need to be up to par. Maybe LEGO should've ditched the jetpack and contributed more pieces to the Keep itself. But all in all it's hard to dislike this set. Unless one of us gets either a sudden influx of cash or a very strong desire to buy a steampunk ninja pirate ship, we won't be reviewing 70605, so you can trust the Brothers' review for this one. 

Overall I'm happy with this wave. Ninjago has been among my favorite themes since its 2011 release (is it really that old already?) and these sets mark a near return to the glory days of Rise of the Snakes. The sets that lack in design specs make up for it by being good parts packs, and vice versa. Also, these sets are very well-priced, with most being under the "magic ratio" of 10 cents per piece. 

We'll bring you whatever reviews we can when these sets become available in March.

What upcoming sets would you like to see us preview next? This summer's City lineup looks pretty enticing in my opinion (volcano explorers!)... 

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