The Temple of Airjitzu is one of the most expensive sets I’ve ever bought. This took a whole afternoon to build (with Hobbit making-of video in the background.) But it was certainly quite interesting, and certainly makes for a highly detailed Ninjago set.
First off, the figs. On one hand, it’s absolutely amazing that all the main protagonist characters are in the same set; it’s usually a challenge to get the full set of Ninjas, but they’re all here. I was planning on just getting this set to fulfill my Ninja collecting desire… but I did end up getting a bunch of other Ghost sets, so this will be my second full set of Ninjas. They’re all pretty cool, but then again they have all been seen before.
You do get some extras. Sensei Wu is always a nice addition, and he’s in a unique outfit here. Dareth also gets to show up in a proper set, although still without a brown ninja hood; maybe later. Clair and Jesper seem to be civilian characters; I don’t remember them in the show, and they’re basically rehashes of city characters. But whatevs, you need your civilians in Ninjago too. The Postman is a neat addition and a nice surprise, but the real deal breaker is the Misako fig. She’s played a moderate role for at least three seasons, so it’s about time she got made as a fig. And the details match the show perfectly, which is great. So if you were after this for the figs, then it’s delivers. I mean, still a bit pricey to pay $200 for twelve figs (thirteen if you count the statue) but still, they’re good.
But the main set is also amazing, and that’s probably what drew in so many non-Ninjago AFOLs to get this set. The two smaller buildings are fairly well done and stand off well enough on their own. The Blacksmith shop has a good interior, a nice sloped roof, and a few interesting trees on the outside. The marketplace is less interesting on the inside, but they did a fabulous job using the garage door panels as the sloped roof, which also has the benefit of folding back to reveal some hidden crates.
The overall temple tower has five main levels; the shadow theater, a tea room, a training room, a study, and a small attic. The shadow theater mechanism is build into the base and isn’t really accessible. The lever for activating the light is a bit different; it hardly has any room to move, but it turns out to be just enough to switch the light on and off, so a clever design idea. And the theater works, so very neat. Another thing that caught me off guard were the doors on the tea room level; they are actually sliding doors, and they totally work. (I expected the window pieces to go in a wall panel or something, so was pleasantly surprised with that design.) The sloped roof elements are also a neat touch, if a little flimsy at times.
The way the final product sits is angled differently than most models; it still covers about a square 48x48 base, but rotated 45 degrees, which means it can be troublesome to display. The fountain in the center is a neat touch, but I especially like the angled stairs leading to it. The bridge is also neat, but surprisingly doesn’t have a stud attachment to the main structure, so it just kind of sits in place.
There’s a lot of playability with this, from the various features in all the rooms to some of the extra vehicles. (The firework shooter has the six stud launcher, but it comes with medium azure studs, so it’s worth it. The hang glider seems like too simple of a design and I would write it off as lame... except it’s a callback to the original Ninja line, so I guess it’s also passable.) There’s plenty to role play, since you have quite a diverse cast of characters. You don’t really have any enemies, but if you’ve collected other Ninjago sets, you can have the baddies storm the temple and force the Ninjas to defend it. But it’s also a stellar piece of Asian architecture, and makes for a great display piece, which is primarily what I’m using it for. And plenty of room to showcase the figs too. (It even makes sense to put the Ninjas on the roof, because that just means they’re training.)
A great set, both for Ninjago fans and architecture fans. Good cast of characters, amazing designs, and a few neat pieces pop up here and there. (Sorry, not going to make a full list, but lots of special plates and bricks and walls that you’d expect to find in a larger structure set. Although there were four golden rings of power used in some of the pillars.) I can see why people have been praising this set, and it totally deserves it. Granted, at the price point ($200 USD) it’s not an easy buy. (Like I said, it’s tied with the Ferris Wheel as the most expensive set I’ve ever purchased.) But if you have the cash (not to mention the display space) it would be worth it.