Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 at 3:57pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's been quite a while since I last wrote a set review, so let's dust off that part of my brain and see if it still works. LEGO has been kind enough to send BZPower five of the 2021 Ninjago Legacy sets, and today we're taking a look at 71737 X-1 Ninja Charger, reimagining the vehicle seen in Season 3 of Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu as well as the earlier set of the same name. How well does it stand on its own, and how does it compare to the original? Well, you'll have to read on to learn about the set, as I go in-depth with a probably-too-long review video and share some pictures and thoughts on the set in written form as well!
As a small disclaimer, although LEGO sent us this set to review, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and have not been influence by LEGO.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This 599-piece set comes in an appropriately-sized box that will certainly stand out on the shelves (and by shelves I mean online marketplaces). We can clearly see that this is part of the Ninjago Legacy series, where designers are going through the now ten year history of the franchise and are recreating creatures, vehicles, and moments using updated elements and techniques. We see in the bottom left that this particular model is from Season 3 of the TV series. And speaking of ten years, in addition to the minifigures in the bottom right, we see the set includes a "Limited Edition Golden Cole" to celebrate a decade of LEGO Spinjitzu Ninjas. Oh and the set is there too, right in the middle, speeding down the road blasting Nindroids all the way.
The back of the box shows off the play features, including the motorcycle that launches out of the front and the spring-loaded launchers. We learn that the car is 9.3" long and see some stills from the TV show that featured the set originally. Finally, we learn that Golden Cole is just one of six golden ninja that you can collect in this wave of sets - instead of weapons, tools, or other MacGuffins this time we're collecting minifigs!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build was pretty engaging - you can watch the video review to see it come together - and featured some cool techniques. Like many medium-to-large sets it utilizes a Technic frame to keep things sturdy as well as a lot of SNOT brackets to build in every direction. It was definitely interesting building the launching mechanism that used a shock absorber part. The set is entirely symmetric apart from the stickers, so you can save some time doing both halves at once. Speaking of stickers, there are thirteen here, and thankfully they're all pretty easy to apply. It was a fun experience that took me around an hour or so.
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 lot of useful parts in this set, including Technic elements, lots of curved slopes, and a broad collection of plates, wedges, and detail pieces. There's a good variety and a lot that would be useful to have in your collection for building MOCs. The only unique part that I could identify was the 2x2 round tile in pearl gold that's printed with the Ninjago 10 year anniversary logo. Interesting enough, this is the only printed element in the set, apart from the minifigs. Some other standouts were the titanium metallic weapon piece, the shock absorber, the fairly-new 2x4 wedge plates, the also new-I-think 2x2 inverted curved slope, and the pearl gold Exo-Force arm.
I am no Ninjago figure expert, so I'm just going to assume that Kai here is a new print. I believe the hair piece has been in use since The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and the face certainly looks like the Kai I remember from when I was watching the TV show and the film. The printing is solid and captures the character well.
As far as Jay goes, see above. Hair is from the movie, face looks accurate, torso and leg printing is solid. 'Nuff said!
This set includes a Nindroid Warrior and Mindroid, who I remember from the show vaguely and assume is a unique character. Both figures have the same head, torso, and head covering. The head and torso are new prints but are definitely inspired by the originals and the helmet/wrap looks to be the same piece with just slightly different printing. The warrior's jetpack is a nice little build, although as you might expect it makes it hard for him to stand on his own. It's not a bad accessory though and both figs are welcome additions here.
Finally we've got Golden Cole, who comes with his own little display stand that included the printed tile I mentioned earlier. I don't think the helmet or armor are new, but I like both of them, especially since the helmet is dual-molded. I also like the overall printing on the torso and legs, which has enough details to let you know it's Cole while still being very gold. If I had to nitpick, it would have been nice if they had included a hairpiece for him to wear without the helmet, but that's really minor. Also, the choice of orange 1x1 round plates in the stand instead of the gold ones used elsewhere is very odd.
It just so happens that this set is more than a collection of minifigures - there's a car here too! I really like the design of the X-1: the use of curve slopes and tiles gives it a very smooth and sleek look, almost aerodynamic. In contrast, the Nexo Knights shield piece and the fender in the middle of the hood let you know that there's a big engine inside with a lot of power, so you can imagine this thing is fast! On the sides of the Charger, there is a small half-plate gap left due to the way the SNOT brackets and plates interact with each other. I love how the designers used this to their advantage by having the large katana element slide into the gap, making it look like it is part of the whole rather than something that's just tacked on. My least favorite part is how the dark stone grey Technic axles stick out of the rims on the rear tires. Continuing that idea, this might have been the one opportunity where using a red axle would have looked good, and it's a shame they weren't able to incorporate those instead. That's just a minor quibble though, and overall I really like how it all comes together.
As we'll see below, this little motorcycle pops out of the X-1 Ninja Charger in case Kai needs to go even faster, or perhaps maneuver around tricky obstacles. It's a very simple design, but it works and I like it. I think the technique of attaching the 2x2 inverted tile to the pneumatic tube couplers with 1x1 clips is brilliant, and it creates a solid, smooth surface for the launching mechanism to hit.
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?
Now we come to the area where the X-1 falls a little short. The first two pictures show the entire range of motion of the spring-loaded launchers - it's not much. It would have been nice if they could tilt back more or even swivel from side to side. The third picture is not staged - that's really how far the motorcycle launched out of the car. I tested it many times, and you can see some more results in the video, and for every time I got it to break a foot traveled, there were three times where it barely left the car. This is pretty disappointing, especially since building the Technic mechanism for the launcher was so much fun. It just doesn't work very well. It also would have been nice if there was a place to store Kai's katanas while he's driving. The saving grace is that the set includes five minifigures, so even though one is ostensibly a display piece, there's still lots of roleplaying opportunities available even if the actual play features aren't that fun.
Way back in 2014 I reviewed the original 70727 X-1 Ninja Charger, and it just so happened that I still had it assembled, since it's one of my favorite Ninjago sets that I've picked up over the years. First, I assume it's a coincidence, but the set number going from 70727 to 71737 is kind of cool, like what were the chances? Anyway, the original set was $40 compared to $50 for the new one, but contained only 425 parts to the new set's 599. Those extra 174 parts do result in a set that feels a good bit bigger, even if in actuality it's only about two studs wider and longer. I think overall the new one looks better and is aided by six years of design experience, new elements, and techniques added to the LEGO portfolio.
From a playability perspective though, the old set is clearly the winner. The spring loaded launchers have a bigger range of motion, plus the are hidden better in the body of the car. And as much as I'm not a fan of them, the flick-fire missiles do add some more play potential. There's even two clips on the side to attach Kai's katanas while he's not using them. Although I've since sorted its pieces into my collection, the original set also included a small vehicle for the Nindroids, plus the recon drone, which evens the fight out a little bit compared to the lopsided battle the new set portrays. The final nail in the coffin is the motorcycle launcher. I actually had to move the bike from the old set so it would be in the frame of the above picture, while I didn't touch the one from the new set. The old one had a much simpler mechanism that isn't as cool, but obviously works a lot better.
All that is to say, if you have the old X-1 Ninja Charger, I don't think there's a reason to get the new one, unless you really like how it looks. The new set is a great model, but if you're the kind of person who likes to play with their toys (what are you, some kind of weirdo?) you might be disappointed.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Great design with a sleek, aerodynamic feel
- Five minifigures in a $50 set is a lot
- Nearly 600 pieces in a $50 is also a good value
- Plus there's a good collection of useful parts
What's not to like?
- Play features are very disappointing, especially the motorcycle launcher
If you like LEGO sets that look cool when displayed on a shelf, the X-1 Ninja Charger won't disappoint. If you like fun build experiences, collecting cool minifigures, or buying sets with lots of useful parts for your own creations, there's a lot to like here too. If you're a Ninjago fan who missed out on the original, this is a great way to catch up on or grow your collection without having to turn to the secondary market. But if you buy sets to check out the cool play features and to vroom or swoosh them around, I have to recommend you give this set a pass.
Many thanks to BZPower's Ambassador Tufi Piyufi for coordinating everything so I could get this set from LEGO to review, and obviously thanks to LEGO too for sending it! I hope you enjoyed our look at this 2021 Ninjago set, and suggest you keep your eyes peeled to BZPower for more Ninjago set reviews coming soon!
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