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Ninja
Ninja-Logo
Years

1998-2000

Subtheme of

Castle

Related themes

Ninjago


Ninja is a LEGO theme based around the Samurai and Ninja of feudal Japan. It ran from 1998 to 1999, with additional figures created for the Mini Heroes Collection one year later, in 2000.

It is frequently considered to be a subtheme of Castle, as the traditional European-style medieval sets were discontinued the year prior, and the Ninja packaging sports the same shade of orange as the Castle boxes throughout the 1990s. However, the line was never explicitly advertised as a Castle theme by LEGO.

Design

The Ninja line draws visual inspiration from feudal Japan and oriental architecture in general. However, the presence of firearms (flintlocks, muskets and cannons) sets the line in a somewhat amorphous historical period. Interesting new elements for the Ninja line include samurai helmets and armour, ninja hoods, katana swords, and ornamental fish statues.

Story

United States

NinjaStoryMania1

1998

Shogun Gi-Dan leads the Shogun's Defense to protect his treasure. Among his allies is Grey Ninja Ito. The Shogun is threatened by Bandit Chief Kendo and his band of Robbers, aided by Dark Ninja Bonsai.

1999

From LEGO MANIA Magazine:

An evil emperor invades the land of the ninja. He robs from the rich. He robs from the poor. He even robs from the Shogun. This evil emperor keeps the treasure hidden in a super stronghold. Dangerous traps, secret entrances, and a booming cannon protect the castle. No one has tried to stop him - until now.

From a secret fire fortress, the mysterious Ninja Princess leads a brave band of red ninjas against the emperor. Trained by the wise Ninja Master, the red ninjas are the sneakiest ninjas around. The Ninja Princess plans to invade the emperor's castle and return the treasure to her people.

Notably, this story does not seem to match the actual models, where the red ninja are clearly shown serving the evil emperor - for example, they man his boat in 3050 Shanghai Surprise. Their home base, 3052 Ninja's Fire Fortress, is also emblazoned with the emperor's symbol.

United Kingdom

The story is laid out in the January/Febuary 1999 issue of Bricks n' Pieces Magazine:

For years, peace has reigned across the land thanks to the wisdom and power of Shogun Gi-Dan. He has ruled with an iron fist - helped by his loyal Samurai warriors, the trusted and noble Grey Ninjas.

They have fought to keep the unruly bands of robbers at bay by threatening war if they dare steal the Shogun's treasure.

But now the Bandits have a new leader - the cunning and dangerous Chief Kendo, who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the precious loot!

The 1999 Ninja launch in the UK was in fact the same product line that had debuted in 1998 in the US, and it appears the UK marketing team borrowed heavily from the US story. Names and roles are copied over, with only the sillier elements of the US character descriptions being omitted (pizza-slinging shogun, we hardly knew ye). Even the LEGO Maniac comic featuring Ninja is copied over into the Jan/Feb issue of Bricks n' Pieces - although this was common practice at the time.

Japan

NinjaStoryWC1

In a 1999 commercial, the red ninja army, the white ninja, the emperor from the 1999 wave, and the shogun from the 1998 wave are all shown to be allied against the robbers, who are led by the robber figure wearing a black samurai helmet.

Germany

The May/June 1999 issue of World Club Magazine includes a story that details some of the names and roles of the Ninja characters in Germany. The shogun character is known as The Old Shogun. He is accompanied by a bodyguard, the 'Ninja Shogun.' The leader of the robbers, as in Japan, is the helmeted robber figure, going by the title of 'Ninja Bandit.'

Mini Heroes Collection

3344

In 2000, after the main Ninja line had been retired, LEGO produced three packs of Ninja figures as part of the Mini Heroes Collection. These introduced a new Shogun Warrior character in red (set 3344), as well as two matching samurai (Old Samurai and Young Samurai) for him to lead (set 3346). Two Green Ninja accompanied the emperor figure from the 1999 wave in set 3346. Here, the 'emperor' is described on his card as a "fair and righteous" Samurai Lord.

Minifigures

Sets

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Image Item number Set Number of pieces Minifigures Price Release
1099 Box 1099  Ninja Blaster  23  Green Ninja Robber   $2.00  1999 
1184 Box 1184  Ninja Blaster  24  Green Ninja Robber     1999 
1185 Mini-River Ninja 1185  Mini River Ninja  24  Bonsai   $2.00  1999 
1186 Box Front 1186  Mini Siege-Cart Ninja  26  Gi-Dan     1999 
1187 1187  Glider  22  Ito   $2.00  1999 
1269-1 1269  White Ninja  22  White Ninja Princess   $2.99  1999 
3016 Box 3016  Ninja Blaster  23  Green Ninja Robber     1998 
3017 Package 3017  Mini River Ninja  24  Bonsai   $2.00  1998 
3018 Box 3018  Mini Siege-Cart Ninja  25  Gi-Dan     1998 
3019 Ninpo Bat Attack 3019  Gray Ninja  22  Ito   $1.99  1998 
3050 3050  Shanghai Surprise  104  White Ninja ShogunRed Ninja (2)   $10.00  1999 
3051 3051  Blaze Attack  143  Red Ninja (2)   $14.99  1999 
3052-1-1 3052  Ninja's Fire Fortress  167  Red Ninja MasterRed NinjaRed Ninja   $30.00  1999 
3053-1-1 3053  Emperor's Stronghold  328  White Ninja ShogunWhite Ninja PrincessRed NinjaRed Ninja   $40.00  1999 
3074 3074  Red Ninja's Dragon Glider  20  Red Ninja     1999 
3075 Ninja Master's Boat 3075  Ninja Master's Boat  21  Red Ninja Master     1999 
Display11 3076  White Ninja's Attack Cart  23  White Ninja Princess     1999 
3077 Ninja Shoguns Small Fort 3077  Ninja Shogun's Small Fort  16  White Ninja Shogun     1999 
3344 3344  Ninja 1  Red Ninja Shogun     2000 
3345 Box 3345  Black Ninja and 2 Robbers  19  BonsaiRed Samurai 1Red Samurai 2     2000 
3346 3346  Green Ninja & Samurai Lord  23  White Ninja ShogunGreen NinjaFemale Green Ninja   $5.00  2000 
4805 Box 4805  Ninja Knights  31  BonsaiItoGreen Ninja RobberBlue Samurai 2Gi-Dan   $3.99  1999 
6013-1 6013  Samurai Swordsman  13  Samurai     1998 
6033 Box 6033  Treasure Transport  81  ItoGreen Ninja RobberChief Kendo   $5.99  1998 
6045-1 6045  Ninja Surprise  109  3   $13.00  1998 
6083-2 6083  Samurai Stronghold  272  BonsaiDojoGi-Dan   $20.00   
6088-1 6088  Robber's Retreat  273  4   $30.00  1998 
6089 Box 6089  Stone Tower Bridge  402  BonsaiItoGi-DanDojoGreen Ninja Robber   $50.00  1998 
6093-1-1 6093  Flying Ninja Fortress  687  9   $90.00  1998 
Pin24-Ninja Pin24  Ninja       1998 
Ninja Puzzle RoseArt  Ninja Puzzle          

Four Ninja mini-sets were available around 1998. They were each sold under more than one stock number, and the only set to be named was the small catapult wagon 1099 Ninja Blaster, which also used the numbers 1184 and 3016. The other three sets included a ninja raft 1185/3017, a sword cart 1186/3018, and a bat-winged hang glider 1187/3019, each with a Ninja minifigure.

Four (circa) 1999 Ninja mini-sets were available, sold as promotions from Kabaya, a Japanese candy company. This the sets in this group had two different stock numbers.

Trivia

Gallery