Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 10:37pm by Jason, BZPower Reporter
In todayís review, Iím going to look at one of LEGOís newest themes: Ninjago. Specifically, Iíll be looking at the 2259 Skull Motorbike, priced at $14.99 USD. Is this a set youíll want to add to your collection? Letís find out.
First of all, letís look at the Ninjago theme as a whole. I missed out on buying any of the traditional Ninja sets when LEGO first came out in the late 90s. So it was much to my delight when I heard that there was a new Ninja line coming out. But wait... this set has a Ninja fighting a motorcycle! Thatís crazy stuff right there! Weíve got Ninjas fighting against evil Skeletons, with a full blown storyline and lots of characters. No, this is not a remake of the old Ninja line, but itís something new and cool. But enough about the theme; letís get to the set!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Here we have the front of the box, featuring Jay, the blue Ninja of Lightning, against Chopov, the Skeleton warrior of earth. Chopov is cruising around on his bike, but then heís attacked by Jay, whoís spinning around in a blue tornado and wielding some golden Nunchucks. Now tell me, does this scene not catch your eye? Besides that, we have the LEGO and Ninjago logos. (And a subtitle saying "Masters of Spinjitzu." I guess thatís whatís allowing Jay to summon his blue tornado.) We also have the age limit (7-14), a piece count (157), and a warning about choking hazards. You know, the usual.
The back of the box features yet another scene of Jay fighting Chopov. Only this time, a giant finger from the sky is pressing on something on the bike, and part of it seems to be lashing out at Jay. Could this be an... action feature? We have the logos on the top again, with some extra artwork featuring Jay in the middle of a cool martial arts move. And on the bottom, thereís a chart showing us the four weapons we can collect if we buy Ninjago sets. The Nunchucks are highlighted so we know exactly what weíll be getting.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
When you open the box, you get four plastic bags full of pieces and an instruction booklet. But once the box is opened, those plastic bags donít stay closed for long, and the pieces come together to make something whole. Thatís the joy of every LEGO set, after all.
The main part of this set is the bike. Really, itís the only thing you build here. Thereís no small landscape piece, no wimpy opposing vehicle. All the pieces come together to create this Skull Motorbike. And the building isnít over in thirty seconds either; it took me a while to piece together this bike, and made for an enjoyable build. There was nothing overly complex about it, but I think itís a design that will appease older and younger builders alike.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
This set comes with a good amount of pieces; 157, plus 8 extras. Overall, that means youíre getting more than 10 pieces per dollar. That seems like a decent amount to me. Plus, there are a lot of technic pieces included with the system elements.
Here are some pieces I thought stood out from the rest.
- Thereís the new bone piece, which I believe is being introduced for the first time in the Ninjago line. In addition to looking like a great bone, the middle of the piece is a bar that can be easily held or, as done in this set, turned into an axe.
- The golden nunchucks are the collectable of the set, and theyíre brand new pieces too. Theyíre comprised of three pieces; two new handle designs, and a short length of chain. I can see lots of potential for these to be used in MOCs.
- The 1x4 tile isnít new, but it has never come in trans-red before.
- No, these round 2x2 tiles donít have the skull printed on them; thatís a sticker that you have to apply. But itís still a cool design.
- The black army hat is a new color for a piece that previously only been found in green.
- Chopovís torso armor is also a cool new piece. More on that later.
- The dark purple 1x1 round piece and 1x1 slope piece have been seen before, but theyíre still a fairly rare color, and this set comes with an extra of each piece.
This set also comes with two new minifigures: Jay and Chopov.
The protagonist for this set is Jay, the blue Ninja of Lightning. In this set, he comes with a basic black katana and the gold nunchuck (of lightning). He has the standard ninja head piece, but this time itís in blue, which is a first for that piece. His torso is a new robe design, and he has a new emblem on it, which looks like a cloud with lightning coming out of it. If you take off his mask, though, you see a very determined face. Jay here looks like heís all business, which deviates from his Bio slightly, which says heís a jokester.
The only complaint I have here is about the nunchucks. Itís a little awkward for Jay to hold them, and then they just look bulky. I see potential for MOCing with the nunchuck pieces, but as far as minifigure weapon action goes, theyíre not as good as a katana.
Chopov is the earth skeleton warrior, and he uses the new skeleton design thatís being used in Ninjago. This time, LEGO completely redesigned the skeletons with all new pieces, from the new leg and arm pieces to a brand new torso and armor. The new skeleton design now feels much studier than either of the previous skeleton, which makes for greater playability. Chopov does has some unique features that are all for him. First, his loincloth is colored grey, showing which element heís with. (Itís earth.) His torso armor is spiky and again has the skull emblem printed on it. And Chopovís face has plenty of character; besides a red gleam in his eye, his skull is also scarred and fractured, showing that heís survived quite a few fights. And if Chopovís looks alone donít send you into panic, then perhaps his bone axe will.
The Skull Motorbike is a very intriguing design. The bulk of it is designed to help the action feature. (Iíll get to that later). But this bike isnít just made for functionality; itís designed to strike fear into the hearts of those who see it speeding towards them. Many of the white pieces look like pieces of bones jutting out from the sides, and the skull design on the front is very menacing, especially considering that the trans-red tile gives it glowing red eyes. Oh, and it has flames shooting out the back, which implies that this motorbike is really fast. The color scheme is also a plus; the blacks, whites, and grays blend together well, with the occasional red and purple highlights. Itís a very cool looking bike.
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?
This set features two great characters to fight each other. Jay may have the Golden Nunchucks of Lightning, but Chopovís got his Skull Motorbike, and he can drive circles around Jay. But if Jay can keep dodging, then he shouldnít have anything to worry about, right?
Oh, right. Thereís something I havenít talked about yet. The bikeís action feature!
If you pull a lever on the back of the bike, then the skull on the front will swing down to hammer on any Ninja foolish enough to be standing in front of the bike. The bulk of the bike is designed to allow the lever and chain function to work smoothly, and itís a ton of fun to play with. Personally, it reminds me of some of the old Rahi sets from Bionicleís early days. Back when you could press a lever on the set and something would lash out.
Thatís not to say that the function is flawless. If youíre pointing the bike upward when you pull the lever, you wonít get enough momentum for the skull to swing out properly. (This means that Chopovís attack is useless when driving uphill.) Also, once the skull has swung out, it doesnít retract. The design doesnít incorporate anything (like rubber bands) that could pull the skull back into its original position, so youíll have to do that manually. Thus, this is a one time only attack. If Chopov misses the first time, heís not going to get a second shot.
I also have a few complaints about the bike in general. Since this is a motorcycle, the whole vehicle is balanced only on two wheels, and has a tendency to fall over if not properly balanced. Additionally, the white spikes situated over the back tire can cause problems. Since theyíre freely positioned, then can be pressed down against the tire and cause it to stop spinning freely. This is mostly an issue because they are the natural handle to grab onto when playing with the action feature.
And one last minor issue; Chopov can not actually drive this motorbike. There is space for him to stand on the back, but thereís no steering wheel or other controls that would let him operate the bike. But I supposed this could be explained away by saying that Chopov controls it via some dark magic. Itís not as realistic, but hey, heís a walking skeleton on a motorbike, so itís not much of a stretch.
But all these little quirks aside, the Skull Motorbike is not a bad design. It can speed around on the ground, and it has a useful function. While role playing, it does seem like Chopov has the advantage here. But Jayís a Ninja; even when heís at a disadvantage, he can still find a way to win.
Jay jumps up on the Skull Motorbike and confronts Chopov.
Jay defeats Chopov and leaps off the Skull Motorbike victoriously.
Now the true fight begins.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Jay is a cool Ninja minifigure
- Chopov (and the new skeleton figures in general) are awesome
- Skull Motorbike has a great action feature
- Skeleton theme clearly present in bikeís design
- Nice color scheme
- Decent price
- No, seriously, a great action feature
What's not to like?
- Function doesnít retract when used
- Bike can easily tip over
- Back spikes can press down on back tire too easily
- Chopov does not actually have any controls for the bike
- Jay seems a little outmatched by Chopov and his bike
Really, I donít see why you shouldnít get this bike. You get a cool design, a fun action feature, and a ton of great pieces for only $14.99. I feel this set has more going for it than many other sets Iíve bought recently. If you like the theme even a little bit, you should grab this set.
Best of all, you can combine this set with other Ninjago sets and play out the epic battle between the Ninjas and Skeleton warriors.
Note: The other Ninjas, skeletons, and trans clear beams are not included with the set.
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