Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at 2:14am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Ninjago is back for another wave of sets in the newly rebooted theme! Today, BZPower Reporter xccj looks at 70721: Kai Fighter, in both a standard and video review! Read on to see if this set is something to take to the skies for!
We still have a month left of 2013, but the 2014 Ninjago sets are already starting to hit store shelves. And so I'm going to take a chance and review them now, and give you an idea of what the sets are like ahead of the holiday shopping season. Of course, I am already a big fan of the series and the sets, but hopefully my insight will help you decide if you want to grab one yourself or not. (Fair warning, I'll be pushing for the "grab one" option but I'll try to stay fair.)
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
We start out with set 70721: Kai Fighter. It is $19.99 USD and has 196 pieces, plus some extras. The front of the box shows off the fighter flying across the Ninjago City skyscape. In the background, you can see the tall tower that was prominent in the trailer for next year's Ninjago TV series, so I'm sure it'll play an important role, and it's cool to see that reflected in the box art. The Ninjago logo is along the top, with a white scheme this year, and an image of Zane, who seems to be the poster child for this wave of robotic Nindroid sets.
The back of the box shows off some of the features on the jet, including the moving wings and flick fire missiles. The upper right hand corner features some art of Zane watching a Nindroid jump out of a laptop, which is neat enough. The lower left hand corner shows off which collectible Techno-Blade comes in this set. Ninjago always seems to have a collectible weapon aspect every year, but these blades are pretty cool and it'll be nice to have them in cool colors.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is fairly straight forward, although there was a part where it only put on the bottom turn-table piece, and I snapped the top part on, only to realize that it's actually easier to wait to add that one later in the build. I thought I knew better than the instructions, but I was wrong. The instructions themselves are also kind of interesting because the cover looks very much like a blueprint, and the background details on the inside pages show off designs of the Zane nindroid, as well as some other weapons and such. It was a nice touch, anyway. For the full build, including the bits about putting together the function, watch the video.
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 a fair amount of parts here, and lots of them are nice red ones, including curved slopes, wedge plates, and tiles. One of the newer parts is the 1x2 black curved slopes, which appeared in some summer 2013 sets, but it's always nice to get more of. There are also 4 long gold blades, inverted 2x2 tiles, and an inverted bracket in red. But the two pieces that jump out as really cool are the new Techno-Blade and Kai's hairpiece. The Techno-Blade is part hatchet, part saw blade, and somehow lets the ninjas hack and create robot vehicles or something. It's a good design and the trans red color is awesome. Kai's hairpiece also references the character from the show, who never had a comparable hairpiece in set form until now. It's rubbery and dark brown, and kind of spiky, but does capture Kai's appearance well. Finally, there are two copies of Kai's new mouth cover in red, which are the new ninja face-masks for 2014.
Of course, the minifigures in this set are amazing. Kai does have a new look, and this is first iteration without leg printing. However, he still has the same fire emblem on his back, so that's nice continuity. His headpiece is also the same used in all prior versions, but you can see more of it with his new scarf mouth cover, and he has the hair. It's a new look for the ninjas, but I think it helps connect to their personalities from the show, so I'm all for it. General Cryptor is also a menacing new character. His helmet is reminiscent of last year's ninja headpiece, but altered with the new robot eyepiece. He has some cool robe and android printing on his torso and legs, and a good robot head. To note, most of these elements are reused for all the nindroids in the sets this year, but this General Cryptor also has hefty shoulder armor that can hold two katanas, like the Ninja armor of 2012, which is a plus.
The bulk of the build in this set revolves around the jet, which is simply referred to as Kai Fighter. It has some nice SNOT (Studs Not On Top) building with the slopes along the body and the engines. The design on the engines is actually a sticker placed on a window piece, which allows for some awesome detail. (At first I thought it was some involved interior complex build, but it's just a sticker. It works, but I was kind of disappointed.) In fact, there are only a few stickers on the entire jet, mostly on the engines and on the fin blades, which seems relatively light compared to some Ninjago sets of the past. The sticker on top of the engines reads "TS 70721." The number refers to the set number, but I don't know what "TS" stands for. I assume it must be a designer, because LEGO likes to include those kinds of Easter Eggs, but I don't know for sure. Let me know in the talkback topic if you know the story behind that!
The set has some nice colors, which are mostly red with gold and black highlights. But one of the sets main shortcomings is the visibility of many green plates. There was a significant amount of green 1x2 plates used in the interior build of the model, but a couple show through around the wing joints. I feel that they could've used a less contrasting color than green for those pieces (like grey or black or maybe RED) but the added color does break up the flow a little bit. However, moving away from color, there's not really any part of this model that feels "empty". The back of the jet over the function could qualify, but I think the angled red fins do a good job at covering that section.
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 main design of the Kai Fighter involves a nice play feature. When the wings are pointed forward, you can push a knob in the back and swing the wings back, allowing the jet to go to fast mode and zoom across the skies. The feature is pretty neat, with some nice usages of turntables to pull off the simple movement on both wings simultaneously. However, if you want to reset the wings, you can't just pull back on the knob, because the grip is difficult and the piece will just pop off. You'll have better luck just gripping the wings themselves. All in all, it's similar to the function of Jay's Storm Fighter from 2012, although the design is different enough. I think it's a nice touch for the jet.
The other feature is the flick fire missiles. I personally don't like flick fire missiles at all, but I recognize that some have good sustainable designs. But not this one. There very little room for you to actually flick at the missiles to send them any good distance, and it really feels like they were just thrown on. Not a highlight in my book. Coincidentally, General Cryptor's weapon is built on a flick fire missiles, but it has no actual flick function.
The jet is also fairly swooshable, and the wing function just adds to the aerial combat moves. There are a few parts that tend to fall off with ease, including the gold blades underneath the wings, the red fins on the back of the jet, and the function's knob piece. Coincidentally, the engines pieces, which are just held on by clips, have stayed on very securely for me.
And, of course, there's plenty of role play potential. Kai and General Cryptor are great figs, and can have minfig-to-minifig martial arts combat over who will carry off the Techno-Blade. But when Kai gets in his jet, the contest is over. General Cryptor is totally outmatched, and if you really want them to be on even footing, you'll need to purchase one of the Nindroid vehicles.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good parts and overall flow
- Fun function
- Excellent Minifigures
- Decent price
What's not to like?
- Function only swings the wings one direction
- Some green plates show through
- Some parts fall off with ease
- General Cryptor is totally outmatched
- Flick Fire missiles not well placed
Overall, I think this is a fun jet set, and while it does have some flaws, none of them outshine the overall model. I think Ninjago fans will very much appreciate this set, especially now that we're getting Kai with hair. I think Space fans will also like a new jet design, which has a very futuristic spaceship-like feel to it. (I'm sorry for those who don't like Ninjago because it doesn't have the East Asia feel to it anymore, but I never felt that was the defining characteristic of Ninjago so the lack of it here doesn't bug me.) For parts collectors, this set doesn't have too many new pieces beyond the minifigs, but it does have a decent selection of slopes and wedges in red, so if you're looking for something in that color, then this set will be useful. And finally, at $19.99 USD, the set is affordable while still having a decent amount of bricks to it, which is my favorite price range. It would be a decent purchase for a holiday gift.
I hope you enjoyed the review and can now decide for yourself if this set is worth it or not. Thanks for reading, and keep checking back to BZPower for more Lego and Ninjago set reviews!
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