Monday, January 10th, 2022 at 3:57am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
We're diving into another 2021 Ninjago set review. Today BZPower Reporter Xccj examines 71754 Water Dragon to see if this wets your appetite for dragon sets. Read on for more details, or check out the Instagram story.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Part of the Seabound wave of Ninjago sets, the Water Dragon features Nya's first solo dragon. (And Spoilers: she doesn't even ride the dragon in the show. She, uh, kind of turns into it.) Seabound was an interesting season to watch, but the sets offer a basic premise: Ninja underwater adventures. And this set has that going for it. It goes for $59.99 USD and has 737 pieces, so a good deal.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
What kinds of interesting pieces are included with the set? What are the minifigures like?
You get an interesting selection of parts, with the major standouts being in dark blue, dark azure, medium azure, and trans light blue. There's a lot of curved slopes, wedge plates, and even a rare dark blue technic liftarm. (Some of the trans light blue elements even glow under a UV light, which the old trans light blue color did not used to do but the retired trans medium blue color did.) For the mix of useful blue elements here, the dragon is likely worth it for the parts alone. And then, of course, there are the cloth wings!
You get five minifigures: NRG Nya, Seabound Zane, Prince Kalmaar, and two Maaray Guards. Nya is in her full elemental glory, with water elements attached to her back and a special stand made of flowing water. (It's a bit different from the ghost legs we've been seeing in the past few years. I guess it has been used once in Hidden Side in 2020 and once with Mysterio in 2021.) It's an impressive fig for her, and helps make up for the fact that she hasn't gotten an exclusive spinner pack fig for the last few years. The clips on the back are a bit loose and awkward to pose, but hey the piece appears in sand blue so that's interesting.
Zane has his new scuba gear, which includes a scuba tank that attaches to his hips and then up around his neck to be the base of his headgear. I've complained about this before, but the Seabound scuba gear doesn't quite cover the mouth of the fig head, but the glass of the top helmet kind of obscures it. Still looks a bit awkward. Zane also comes with a harpoon gun with an appropriate gold ski pole attachment, and he can store his katana through his air tank. (Yeah, this seems like a poor design choice, but Zane is also a Nindroid so his air intake isn't a requirement.)
This is the cheapest set Prince Kalmaar appears in. He has a crazy head design with fancy purple fins and a squid-like body that is a new mold. (And also allows him to hold onto a bar in one of his front tentacles; it's in an impractical location but hey it's there.) He's joined by two identical Maaray Guards, which reuse the snake head from 2019. They also have flippers, and I must admit that I'm impressed at the stronger stud connection the flippers have now compared to the weaker design from the 90s. You actual get three flavors of flippers: teal on the Maaray Guards, black with Zane, and dark azure on the Dragon.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
There are two small builds before you get to the dragon. The first is Zane's mini sub, which is similar to the subs used in some of the other Seabound sets. (Jay and Nya don't get minisubs, but I guess Jay gets a sub car and Nya just swims with / as her dragon.) It's a bit of a flimsy design, but you can fit Zane in with his full scuba gear (weapons removed, of course) and it reflects his Ninja colors on the side wedges. Not the greatest mini build, but I appreciate that these are included for many of the Ninjas. The second is a small landscape (seascape?) display are for the dragon sea amulet. It's not very impressive, but I like the tridents and little shells spread across the build.
The dragon is, in a word, long. The main body is already quite lengthy, and then the tail just doubles that. She's about two feet long, which is about 2/3 of a meter for those who measure in "the rest of the world" Metric. The color scheme is quite impressive with dark blue flowing down the center of the back with dark azure along the sides. Medium azure is mostly used as highlights, but is also displayed as the neck fins and in the wings. Meanwhile, the underbelly remains mostly dark gray. Some nice trans light blue elements are sprinkled throughout the build too. The only thing that really deviate from the scheme is the use of gold horns on the head and in the bars of the feet; an unnecessary use of the color, which could've easily just been black instead.
There are some impressive design elements. The dark azure curved slopes along the sides of the body are consistent and give it a nice flow. (Yes, some of the stickers add more details but I decided against using them.) I also like the rounded tile designs on the legs give some fun patterns to otherwise bland limbs. The medium azure flags on the back / neck give her a really nice texture, and a similar effect is done with dark azure flippers along the tail.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The dragon doesn't exactly have a lot of posability going for her. The legs have a click joint at the hips and a ball joint at the ankles; this is somewhat decent articulation but the legs are all too short to really change the poses at all, and the dragon is so long that she can't really transition to any other poses. (No standing for her.) The tail is perhaps a few segments too long; it is five sections connected to swivel plates, which means that the joint is quite loose. This has been used on many other dragons before, and gives the dragon a nice whip action with her tail, but it makes posing quite difficult. Plus, the tail's connection to the rear hips is only via two pins, and whipping it back and forth causes them to pull out and thus the tail to fall off. (As it turns, the edge of the last section hits the back of the hips, which in turn pulls the pins out ever so slightly. After a few swivels, that's enough for them to pop out entirely.) The back hips also swivel from the main body, which would be more fun if the tail wasn't so long. While the full length of the model does make it impressive, it makes display more difficult and the play feature is somewhat ruined by loose connection points.
The main play feature is a bit more deliberate; when you press onto the liftarms on the back of the dragon, the wings flap. Kind of, anyway. The wings are loosely attached to the body by three long joints, but pressing the back only really manages to make the center joint move up. There's movement, but not the most impressive. And because of this, the wings lack any other mobility, thus further restricting the poses of the dragon. Still, the current pose does offer a bit of swoosh-ability, so the flapping wings and swivel tail work for that regard. Other poses, not so much. (Despite everything, the head and neck have decent articulation.)
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good value for some nice blue pieces
- Nice selection of detailed figs
- Dragon color scheme and texturing really works
What's not to like?
- Length makes it impractical to pose or display easily
- Whipping tail easily disconnects
- Wing flap function underwhelming
The Water Dragon feels very middle of the road as far as a dragon set goes. The color scheme works great and the texture are good, but the shaping is a bit much in places and posing and role play feels more limited. The minifigures do help boost the overall set up, and the pieces would also be enticing for some builders. This wouldn't necessarily be the set I'd recommend to represent the Ninjago Seabound theme (sorry the Hydro Bounty steals the show there) but if you have a chance to pick this up it wouldn't be the worst purchase. Granted, it's listed as "Temporarily Sold Out" on LEGO.com, so availability might be tough, but I saw this one at lots of retail stores so some might still have it even after the holiday rush.
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