2013 has the potential to be a very influential year in LEGO, both in good ways and bad. One particular cause of controversy among LEGO fans is the upcoming theme Legends of Chima, which deals with warring humanoid animals, described by many as a Fabuland-esque style.
Plenty of these fans are sad to see one of LEGO's recent successes, Ninjago, come to an end; mixed reactions are abound. In this first edition of 2013 in LEGO, I will examine the building style and possible appeal of these sets.
70500 Kai's Fire Robot
70500 Kai's Fire Robot, like 9440 Venomari Shrine, is a great little set that may serve as an introduction to the theme for those who are new to LEGO, or an entertaining build for skilled builders. Built in a style resembling 9448 Samurai Mech, the robot keeps using the blade pieces of the previous year for decoration. The Hero Factory "ball-and-socket" joint pieces help to reduce the number of pieces to an inexpensive level while apparantly giving the model stability. Although I have heard complaints about the feet, they are actually well designed and contain bricks that could easily be repurposed for MOCs; the golden katanas and numerous blades could incorporate well into a traditional Japanese dojo MOC.
One hand of the robot appears to have a rotating blaster-type weapon, while the other holds the Elemental Fire Blade, giving the poor lone Stone Scout no chance alone...
70501 Samurai Bike
70501 Samurai Bike takes after other motorcycle vehicles in this theme, such as 2259 Skull Motorbike and 9447 Lasha's Bite Cycle, all of which are built in the style of the rider, whether it be a Skulkin or a Stone Warrior.
When viewed from a top angle, I assume that the red tread piece would appear as fire coming out of the mouth of the brick-built samurai head on the bike, almost like a raging dragon. The wheel pieces on either side toward the back of the vehicle appear to be spread out wide enough, and, if I'm not mistaken, may even be able to be adjusted up and down a tiny bit. From the current pictures, I can't fully see the back area where the warrior stands, and I'll hopefully come back to that later. The helmet decoration puts the dragon tail tip and long blades to good use, however, they might be somewhat fragile in the actual model. LEGO even managed to fit flick-fire missiles into this set, which is another matter for debate...
The only thing wrong (albeit minor), in my opinion, about Jay's jetpack (which is designed rather simplistically) is the color scheme, which doesn't follow the blue and silver that Jay himself uses.
70502 Cole's Earth Driller
70502 Cole's Power Drill is a bit of a black sheep for the 2013 Ninjago line; it feels as if it is overwhelmed by the large wheels compared to the overall size of the vehicle. The boxy shape is underwhelming, especially because this vehicle could have potentially been much more; the varied color scheme with stickers (or printing?) tries to act as a clever camouflage, but the light green provides a welcomed throwback to 2509 Earth Dragon Defence.
The drill could have undergone a "monster truck treatement," like some of the Chima sets use, and I feel as if, in this case, it would have done the vehicle's design justice. The back area of the vehicle, including the cockpit, can be "salvaged," consisting of an artful arrangement of bricks embellished by the decorative rock-slope pieces, first used in 8962 Crystal King?
70503 Golden Dragon
70503 Golden Dragon is one of those sets that embodies one of the core concepts of Ninjago: Dragons. While retaining the basic design of the 2011 dragons, the Golden Dragon differs in smaller details, which is a good thing to keep customers/consumers satisfied, giving them what they like, but in a new way.
The Earth Dragon head is put to good use here, and although the green isn't exactly the best secondary color to choose (since it's not really subdued), the abundant gold nearly balances it out. The split tail, using the long blades, evokes (at least for me) the image of the split tongue of a snake, drawing Lloyd's connection to the Serpentine. The body of the dragon has a layered armor appearance because of the SNOT (Studs Not On Top, for those who don't know) techniques used.
The Stone Warrior outpost could have been allotted more bricks, or even made into two seperate outposts. After testing out several similar catapults, I find that the design used in this set could be modified to fit and launch a minifigure better, without them slipping out as easily.
70504 Garmatron appears to have a "messy" design at first, but upon closer examination, you can fully appreciate its design, and understand why it was built that way.
Zane's vehicle, which could function as either a hover-vehicle or a spider-vehicle, uses the "Technic angle" pieces to define the shape of the craft. The spatters of blue mix in well with the white supplemented by gold. I am unsure if their are any other functions of the hinge plates on the back arms, or if they add to poseability at all, but it seems as if some sort of grey plate attaches to them. The black monotone stickers on the front arms feel as if they need a slight bit of grey.
The Garmatron itself is made around another "angry Samurai face" (or that of Garmadon?), and the back treads add support to the vehicle... and possibly to the upper platform? The cannon in the mouth of the vehicle was difficult to see (quite well concealed) without the silver blades, but it WILL pack quite a punch. The faces this year are, arguably, more creative and difficult to think of. However, the gap underneath the cannon might be something to worry about, which might be one of the main reasons for the full back treads.
Because of the smaller number of Ninjago sets this year, and the lack of spinners, exclusive figures are more common. The four-armed "General Kozu" has a similar extension piece as Garmadon, except with more "artistic" flourishes, that imitates warriors' armor. The General's white and red face gives a menacing and demon-like look, not entirely unlike Garmadon himself. It would be interesting to equip him with four of the "butterfly" scimitars.
70505 Temple of Light
70505 Temple of Light resembles ancient Japanese building probably more than any other building in this theme, possibly even on comparison with 2507 Fire Temple. The stacked towers and support pillars of the temple resemble the inside of a mountaintop castle, or a pagoda.
The bottom layer contains many interesting placements: a fire pit, on one side, a lone plant (which seems out of place; this could have been expanded into a garden), on the other side, a weapon rack with a sai, two swords, and a spear, and toward the back underneath the second floor, what appears to be a gong or bell. A ladder leads up to the top floor, the home of the four elemental blades.
Around the building are guard rails of sorts, and two lanterns hanging down from above on the second floor. The little section of slanted roof leads up to the two previously-mentioned towers, with dragons on their tops. Currently, we cannot see the other side of the temple.
The golden robot/mech holds a giant katana, complete with crossguard and hilt. The robot's legs are a blend of Technic/BIONICLE and traditional System styles for articulation of the knees and feet. The shape and size of the feet spreads out would keep the robot from falling, unless places precariously titled backwards.
The Garmadon figure exclusive to this set has exchanged his headgear for a darker helmet, more closely resembling that worn by the Stone Warriors. The staff is long enough to be possible to hold in two hands, and, at the tip, uses the same decoration as on the helmet.
The final section of the 2013 Ninjago analysis I will dedicate to this year's spinners, or, rather, the lack of them. Over the past two years, the spinners have come far from their original concept and been improved with the addition of custom modifications (shields, chains, spinner boosts, etc); it is foolish to merely dump that central idea and never use it again.
The spinners help to make rare Ninjago figures easier to obtain, and they have even been the source of some exclusive minifigures before; the booster packs allow for more affordability and selection for the company's customers/consumers.
Legends of Chima
70000 Razcal's Raven Glider
70000 Razcal's Raven Glider reuses pieces from Ninjago, as well as using new pieces; although I can't criticize the selection of parts used, the way they are put together into the model is rather bland and unpleasing to the eyes. The front looks makeshift and haphazard, while the far back DOES seem to express more creativity with the angles and pieces utilized. The red sections underneath are too bulky and, in my opinion, would look better if replaced by purple (not just a favorable bias toward purple pieces, I assure you) and/or black.
The raven Razcal uses a new armor piece, wing pieces, and helmet. The animal helmets, imitating the Atlantis Warrior helmets, are colorful and multi-use (for tribal warriors, perhaps?), but head molds could have been used instead, in a slightly smaller size.
70001 Crawley's Reptile Gripper
70001 Crawley's Reptile Gripper introduces the animal motif into Chima more: sporting a crocodile mouth in the front, boldly chomping its way foward. One of the first things that catches your eye with this set, aside from the jaws, are the treads and large wheels in the back, hiding the shape of the cockpit where Crawley sits. Although, using the curve-bricks, the designer(s) manages to give the top some shape, the wheels obstruct any horizontal depth aside from that required to fit the minifigure into the vehicle. The "column" pieces used on the sides could be supplemented by slope bricks going further back, to add slight size to the vehicle, and smaller wheels could be used; when slightly downward, it would allow for modification of the back, resulting in a less "cramped" build.
70002 Lennox's Lion Buggy
70002 Lennox's Lion Buggy is comparable to an old monster truck that has been outfitted for war. The extravagant, "oversized" features on the vehicle, although not contributing to its war-like appearance, bring to mind something that can smash over obstacles with ease (this, particularly). The lion head, while it takes up too much of the vehicle, adds a detailed and ferocious apparance to the buggy, the mane, eyes, and teeth capturing the image of a charging lion.
The frame of the vehicle seems rather exposed and maybe even delicate, though it could be balanced out by minor additions to the vehicle. The flick-fire laser cannons should be closer in to the vehicle, something which could easily be remedied by attaching them to the back "chariot" part where Lennox stands, also solving the issue of the horrendous lack of shape, consisting only, as it appears from this angle, of curved slope bricks with stickers.
Crug's weapon, although fine for the relatively small number of pieces used, could be allocated to two hands to reduce the weight on one side of the minifigure, which is a contributing cause to minifigures suddenly falling over when standing freely. However, it might be possible to use the weapon, in fact, to hold Crug up, sacrificing the "use" of it in combat.
70003 Eris' Eagle Hunter
70003 Eris' Eagle Hunter/Jet, simply put, is a jet modeled off of the eagle faction of Chima, including a smaller vehicle for the ravens. The bigger aircraft, the jet, has a nicely crafted body, using such pieces as grated slopes and tiles, engine/exhaust pieces, "shell" pieces, and a variety of wing pieces on the areas branching off. The cockpit jooks jagged, on the inside even appearing to not use any slope bricks, but the design works nicely when used with that specific windshield piece. From this angle, unless my eyes deceive me, the beak of the jet seems to use a brick that slants to one side, giving a lopsided feel.
The wings look uneven, as if the wing tips- the new wing pieces- together are bigger than the actual wings holding them up. The "tail feather," though, at the back of the jet, makes good use of these wing pieces. The "legs" of the jet are awful: square, block, with little definition, they leave much to be desired; the only saving grace is the hinge pieces attached to the claws. It appears as if there are some flick-fire missiles on the jet, perhaps two to six.
The raven vehicle is designed in a way that conserves pieces, while still not neglecting the attributes of the vehicle itself. The swords attached to the front make good laser cannons, which I feel is a better use for them than handheld minifigure weapons. The wings are spread out far enough to allow a minifigure to sit on it, while the downscaled raven motif is blended nicely with the aircraft.
70004 Wakz's Wolf Tracker
70004 Wakz's Wolf Tracker can clearly be seen as taking at least some inspiration from Ninjago sets such as 2506 Skull Truck and 9445 Fangpyre Truck Ambush. However, what those sets accomplished, the wolf tracker fails to do. A cross between a cumbersome cab and an exposed frame, combined with a wolf head in front, gives the feeling of a distorted monster truck. The wolf head's design is nice, with the various slope bricks, angle/hinge bricks, and plates used together harmoniously, but it takes up too much of the vehicle, crowding the wolves in back.
The suspension frame itself is poorly made; the extreme visibility of the Technic "bushes" detracts from any visible appeal it has. The flame jets, compared to the Skull Truck's, are out of place on the wolf vehicle, and are clearly "artificial" looking. The cannon in the "cab" or "chariot" appears like it could be moved back more, giving more space for enhancements around the area.
70005 Laval's Lion Quad
70005 Laval's Lion Quad, I feel, personally, is one of the better vehicles in the Legends of Chima theme, although far from complete. As with Lennox's Lion Buggy, the lion head takes the front-and-center of the tank's design; despite being well designed, the area beneath it and between the treads feels hollow and sparse. The tubes of energy leading to the spikes on the outside are a nice touch, and they could easily be supplemented by something else to accompany them.
The shell design of the tank gives it a meager, hollow, vulnerable, and empty feel. The tri-cannon, whether or not it's precariously balanced, is of nice design, using technic, angle, slope, plate, and circular pieces well, in addition to the "grabbable hinge" bricks to give it shape, while, all the combinations still allow for a minifigure to be placed on it.
Crawley, the lone crocodile in this set, could use a small vehicle of his own to combat the lions' tank, and provide another use for his handheld cannon/flamethrower. The main imporvement that could be made on this vehicle is the uninspired interior.
70006 Cragger's Croc-Boat Headquarters
70006 Cragger's Croc-Boat Headquarters is currently, what appears to be the largest set in the Legends of Chima line. Although the set is decent, it still has a few shortcomings:
- "One-piece" boat base could easily be replaced by bricks, or by a smaller base with more bricks.
- Cragger's double bladed sword is too cumbersome and overly extravagant, something that looks like it would fit better with a larger minifigure.
- Bug-eyed crocodile??
The two life boats on the side (which can, hopefully, detach) are a good addition, simple details that can be added in order to improve the build. Details further in, such as grates, plates, circular disks, teeth, etc. provide a mechanical feel to the otherwise "natural" boat. The set might do good with a few more "generic crocodile soldiers"; however, they are not necessary.
The lower deck, beneath the command station, is spacious; one advantage of using the single boat base piece? As I have seen in a preliminary picture, the command station appears to detach from the main boat, although I am unsure whether this feature has been kept or not. The hinge and joints used for the propellers and tail contribute to an additional feature for this set, albeit simple. The command station is, personally, one of the best sections of the boat, toppling all the other main-wave vehicles, some of which, I feel, are poorly (and almost thoughtlessly) constructed and designed.
The two miniature lion boats are not too bad; without getting nitpicky, the only thing that could be improved is to extend their main plates (if that is their construction) back a little further, or allow them to connect, similarly to as in 7067 Jet-Copter Encounter.
70011 Eagle's Castle
70011 Eagle's Castle is a very interesting set: as with several previous Ninjago sets, this appears to be a regular brick-built set that includes Speedorz! One of the characters featured is Lennox, who appears to be one of the main/major characters, in addition to Laval, since he is prominently featured in the sets, especially in such a case where an eagle could have been substituted for him.
Although I expected a giant, magnificent castle, I must say that I am pleased with this set. The architecture of the set is wonderful, and features an amazing animal motif built into a type of obelisk. For a theme that holds many vehicles, it is great to see that buildings such as this have their special place.
70012 Razar's Chi Raider
70012 Razar's Chi Raider does not currently have any official pictures released. I will update when they become available.
70013 Equila's Ultra Striker
70013 Equila's Ultra Striker is the eagle's tank, essentially, a slightly different and condensed version of the Eagle Jet with treads. There isn't much substance to the outside of the vehicle, much of which is the treads themselves and their associated pieces. The cannons on the ends of the wings are unconducive to them being lifted up, leading to a case where they actually look better when lowered, in a semi-shell-like way, contributing to the tank. The "talons" inside the treads are similar to 70001's "claws," both featuring the same general appearance and pieces used (different in color).
Despite a design which could be seen as disappointing for some people, the tank is among the better of Chima's vehicles.
70100 Fire Ring
70100 Speedorz Fire Ring is an interesting set; the central fire ring consists of transparent orange and red pieces on a grassy base. However, the full red slope seems to be lacking flat tiles, as if it were a MOC made from spare pieces. Both the weapons are directly from Ninjago, with only one piece added.
70101 Target Practice
70101 Speedorz Target Practice focuses on three birds holding up targets. The cannon-launcher makes the inclusion of the Speedorz seem out of place; rather, a miniature cannon mounted on the vehicle itself would be better to serve the purpose of the set.
70102 Chi Waterfall
70102 Chi Waterfall, compared to the other Speedorz sets, contains less "amazing" brick-built elements, instead providing more practical purpose for the goal of the set, which appears to be to knock the balanced ball down by hitting the target between the rocks. The waterfall could easily have been made larger, the central aspect of the set entirely, giving it less of a square pillar shape.
70103 Rock Bowling
70103 Speedorz Rock Bowling is well designed, but the unbalanced rocks look as if they'd provide more frustrating experiences than actually playing the Speedorz's game. The teeth on the bottom sides bring to mind fields of spikes that the character must mavigate through. The sword, unlike the other swords used by characters in the main sets, appears fitting for a joust of sorts.
70104 Jungle Gates
70104 Jungle Gates, containing two identical gates, is among the best, I feel, of the Speedorz sets; what little parts they had were put to efficient use to make natural, rugged, and pleasing-looking structures; they even included lion "carvings" on the inside, a small (but not overpowering) feature.
70105 Nest Jump
70105 Nest Jump is the second Speedorz set containing an Eagle. As such, the challenge presented this set revolves around a (revolving?) nest. Branches coming out from the sides on Technic axles and hinge pieces presumably serve as obstacles, hindering the snowmobile-esque vehicle (as they have been compared to) from "jumping."
70106 Ice Tower
70106 Speedorz Ice Tower, the final "normal-sized" Speedorz set in the current wave of Legends of Chima, holds a tower of ice that stands out against the gray and green base; possibly representing some sort of artificial structure? Through the use of slope and regular bricks, the designers give defining shape and quality to the tower, something that could be, potentially, replicated with larger sets.
70113 Chi Battles
70113 Starter Set Chi Tournament appears to be a mix of various obstacles, structures, and challenges, some similar to those presented in previous Speedorz sets. More details as more pictures become available.
70115 Ultimate Tournament
70115 Ultimate Tournament consists of various brick-built parts, each with a challenge similar to previous ones:
- The magnificent lion gate, smaller than ones on the vehicles, yet equally intricate in many ways, is almost like Chi-Waterfall and Jungle Gates.
- The miniature tower and ramp resemble a cross between Fire Rings and Ice Tower, using similar objectives, achieved in only slightly different ways.
The flame jets, with other Speedorz sets, might look better if they were attached to an already-included structure, but, seperate, may serve as loose obstacles.
To form a direct opinion based on the information presented in the above sections would be difficult, and would not do justice to the many opinions held by the customers/consumers. Although reasonable facts can be analyzed when observing the building styles of these themes, preference of the builder plays a factor in which theme they prefer, or whether they choose both themes. It is almost completely undeniable, however, to say that there is sadness whenever a cherished (and, in the opposite way, despised by some) theme ends and is replaced.