Ninjago occasionally releases a set that’s basically an arena for the latest spinners. Usually it’s a couple of walls built to contain the spinners with a few functions and themed sculptures thrown in. Some of the designs are better than others, but mostly their appeal is in playability or unique minifigures. Well, in the case of 70640 S.O.G. Headquarters, I totally got it for the figs, although 530 pieces for $40 did convince me to get the full set and not just Bricklink Lloyd’s exclusive fig.
So, character wise, you get five figs. Spinjitzu Lloyd is in the same style as the other ninjas from the spinner packs, and I’ll admit that I needed him as a completionist. You also get two generic S.O.G. goons in Nails (the short one) and Skip Vicious. (Technically they’re both unique characters, but I think thing their components are reused in other sets.) Snake Jaguar also reuses Skip’s torso, but with a more familiar head. (Spoiler: he’s actually Zane in disguise. It’s odd that this fig didn’t come in the set named after him.) The final fig is one of the leaders, Ultra Violet. She appears in another set, but has a unique torso here. (And I like how they’re using a stud with a hole to hold onto the ponytail piece; when the ponytail previously had to fit straight into the minifig head, the connection was too loose.) As a collectible, you also get the cool Oni Mask of Hatred.
You get seven basic builds; the spinner launcher, a motorcycle, and five wall pieces. The first section of wall (moving from left to right) has a spinner stand for Nails (complete with a gear control) and what appears to be some sort of ATM that you can knock over. (I didn’t apply the stickers to this set, since I’m going to be parting it out, but the stickers seem to imply that it’s part of the Ninjago subway. Maybe it’s a ticket machine?) There’s also a big stoplight attached to the end, which looks kind of cool with the Samurai X horns. The second section has a wall with graffiti art... if you apply the stickers, anyway. It also has another spinner bit with two hammers.
The third section is the big entrance door; I guess it could be an abstract Oni mouth, with the yellow lights as eyes. There’s a bar on the back so that if you push the doors opened, it knocks down the Oni Mask of Hatred from the top. The forth section is pretty bare, but it includes a small stand for the bike. The fifth and final section includes another geared spinner, this time with a big red sawblade attached. All in all, nothing particularly impressive about these bits, but I know I can use the extra plates and slopes in my MOCs, so it’s not a total waste.
The spinner build is the exact same design as those used in the Spinjitzu sets for the other Ninja, with only the element colors changing. (And, in fact, the design is only slightly different from the Airjitzu launchers from two years ago.) But the real gem of this set is the motorcycle. I was complaining earlier that all the motorcycles in Ninjago were meh… well, I hadn’t taken a closer look at this one, with the unconventional front bar design and neat angles. This is one of the better Lego motorcycles designs ever for its size. (I have a feeling that maybe it’s been used before in another theme, but I can’t recall which?)
But while the rest of this set is pretty blah worthy as far as visual designs go, it turns out there’s quite a bit of playability. The new spinner launcher makes the top spin so much faster and longer than the original Ninjago spinners, and it can really tear around the room if you can angle it right. (Well, it works better on a hard surface; carpeting really restricts it’s movement.) I thought all the use of tires on the wall attached spinners were kind of odd, but it turns out they’re positioned at the right height to line up with Lloyd’s spinner when it’s in action, and when it hits them it sets them spinning. This works out nicely for the hammer and Nails spinner. The sawblade spinner is a bit more difficult, as the saw blade is more likely to hit Lloyd’s spinner than the tire unless Lloyd is perfectly level. (It also doesn’t help that I’ve found Lloyd’s spinner to drift to the left, so it usually spins away from the sawblade.) The function of hitting the doors and knocking the Oni-Mask down kinda works, but it’s not as nifty as setting the hammer section spinning.
Overall, for figs and pieces, this set is okay, but still a bit expensive to just be a parts pack. (I mean, the pieces are useful, but not exactly rare or plentiful. You do get the 2x2 red wedge plates, red 1x1x1.66 SNOT bricks, and a red 6x6 tile.) Some of the figs are exclusive, but none of the characters really are, so there’s no must-have fig here. For display purposes, the designs are pretty generic, with the exception of the cool motorcycle. But for play value, this set has a lot going for it. Bring in a second spinner (from one of the cheaper sets that also include their own exclusive Ninjas... yes, I’ve bought all of those for the figs too) and there’s definitely some competitive play options here. Although this clearly isn’t intended for the standard AFOL, I think it’s actually a pretty cool set to tinker with as a kid, even with the lackluster designs. There’s plenty to do. So, all in all, an easy enough set to pass up on, but if you do pick it up, it will be worth it.