Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 at 7:37pm by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Summer sets are starting to get stacked on shelves, but let us not want for writings of wonderful works from the winter. Today, xccj reviews the Ninjago Earth Drill set, where Ninja Cole faces off against a ruthless Stone Warrior. Continue on to collect clarity of the coolness or classlessness of this constructed concoction.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This shows off Cole piloting the Earth Drill against a Stone Warrior. But why does this Earth Drill belong to Cole, when it is clearly shown in the show that Nya designed it. Sure, Cole is the first to drive it, and he proceeds to quickly crash and wreck it. Nya's the one who pilots it in its second appearance on the show, and lasts much longer in the chase. So why don't we get an updated Nya fig here instead? Okay, I guess Cole is still the more logical minifig choice, but I had to bring this up.
Anyway, the basics are covered here. It's part of Ninjago's "The Final Battle" series, has 171 pieces, and is intended for ages 7-14. They make it obvious that Cole is included, even though there is a giant gold ninja decorating the top corner. The back of the box shows off the vehicle's function, clips from the show, an advertisement for the Ninjago website, which collectible elemental blade the set contains, as well as an epic battle scene between Cole and the Stone Warrior.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The entire build revolves around the vehicle. There's no wimpy landscape piece or simple cart for the opponent; all the bricks go into the Earth Drill. The build itself isn't too complex, but it does utilize some nice gears, which pleases those of us who remember the functional glory days of Bionicle.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
You get a fair amount of bricks here. Most of them are in black or grey, but you also get splashes of brown, sand green, and gold. There are also a handful of orange 1x2 plates, which are used to build the interior but whose color sometimes leaks through. Only a few pieces are really unique to the set, like the gold 4x4 round plate, gold drill piece, and the green/black elemental blade. (In case you haven't read one of my other Ninjago reviews, I'll mention that I'm a big fan of these new blade designs, and I particularly like the green/black coloring of this one, which adds some vibrancy to Cole's arsenal.) The only new molds in this set are the bracket pieces, and while they're widespread, they're appearance here is still appreciated.
The minifigs from this set again look spectacular. Cole's kimono doesn't stand out as much as that of his colorful cohorts, due to the blackness of his color scheme, but the design still looks very nice. It has more of the orient feel, and its dark color will also allow him to blend into the shadows easier, like all ninjas should. The Stone Warrior has more detailed torso and leg printing, as well as a head with blue face paint on it. His appearance is similar to that of the other Stone Warrior figs, but slightly different in a way that makes him unique. (The different colors of face paint, for example, are a nice touch as a way to differentiate rank within Garmadon's army.) He also has new shoulder armor in red, as well as the new red conical hat. One on one, he looks like he can challenge Cole in a fight.
The vehicle is, in short, amazing. Maybe the best even from Ninjago. I can't make that claim for sure, since I've only bought the lower priced Ninjago vehicles for the last two years. But compared to other vehicles in that price range, and compared to the pictures of the pricier ones, I must say that this is my personal favorite.
For the most part, the flow of the vehicle works. There's no weird blades sticking out randomly like with Cole's Tread Assault, and while the vehicle is a bit blocky, it works. Even the drill on the front seems like a natural extension of the vehicle, and not just a thrown-on gimmick. The color scheme of black and grey highlighted by gold, brown, and sand green is also well done, and fit well with the element of earth. Other parts of the vehicle also reference its earthy connections, from the rocky wedges on the side to the general idea of the massive drill. But for even more added detail, you can take a look at the various stickers decorating the set. They're a pain to put on in some cases, but they show off a variety of dials and valves, and give the set a steampunk feel. Yes, I think this set has both an elemental earth and steampunk feel to it, and the design allows these two styles to mesh together seamlessly. Color me impressed.
That's not to say this vehicle is without flaws. The back is pitifully empty. The gold blades try to distract from this, but when viewed from behind it's clear that there's too much air between the back wheels. I understand that adding more bricks to bulk this section up would've driven up the price, but it's still a grievance. And, as I mentioned earlier, some of the orange plates, which are supposed to be used for interior support, do show through if viewed from behind.
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?
Does this set have a function? Oh yes, it has a function. Remember the gears? Well, thanks to their special placement, when the Earth Drill is pushed forward, the outer part of the drill turns one way, and the golden drill piece turns another way. It's a pretty awesome function and shows off the cool things that can be done with LEGO gear pieces! (Although it's not entirely new; a Power Miners vehicle had the same basic function, although it was lacking the coherent color scheme of the Earth Drill.) In short, Cole can drive around this set and drill through stuff; can you ask for more?
There's also role playing potential, since you're given a ninja and a Stone Warrior, and have to fight it out to see who wins. But while the Stone Warrior can hold his own in a one on one fight, he hasn't got a chance against the Earth Drill. Best he can do is run and hope Cole doesn't catch up to him. If you really want to give Cole a worthy opponent, you'll need to purchase one of the other Stone Warrior vehicles. Luckily, the Warrior Bike is the same price as the Earth Drill, so it's also affordable to purchase and use as Cole's opponent, even if it's design isn't quite as good.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Great pieces, especially the green/black elemental blade
- Cole and Stone Warrior minifigures are great too
- Coherent earthy color scheme
- Awesome vehicle design has both an earth elemental theme and steampunk look at the same time
- Drill function is super fun
- Priced at $19.99, it's rather affordable
What's not to like?
- Back of Earth Drill is empty
- Orange plates can be seen, which mess with the color scheme
- Stone Warrior is severely outmatched
In the end, I cannot get over how good this set looks. And it has some decent functionality on top of that. Of all the Ninjago sets released this year, this one is my favorite, and I would recommend it to Ninjago fans, steampunk fans, and anybody else who's into vehicles with giant drills on them. Pick one up while you still can!
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