Oh no, the evil Serpentine have appeared in their snake-like Rattlecopter, and only Kai the Fire Ninja can save the day! That's the premise of Ninjago set 9443: Rattlecopter. BZPower Reporter xccj reviews this set and determines if it's a good enough addition to your ninja or snake army.
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From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The Rattlecopter comes in a rather large box. For reference, the front is about as large as the one Jay's Storm Fighter comes it, but this one is ticker. The front depicts the Rattlecopter diving in to attack Lloyd, while Kai swoops down on it from above. The back of the box shows the Rattlecopter landed, as Kai drags Lloyd away from the red Fangpyre snake Fang-Suei. There are also a few highlights of the Rattlecopter. The sides also include more images of the minifigs, the legal stuff, and a poorly timed advertisement for the now-defunct Lego Universe game. Overall, the box shows off the design of the snake-like copter rather well, and should draw in any Ninjago fan.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The bulk of the construction is based on the Rattlecopter. Most of the body's construction is fairly straight forward. However, the head is truly a marvel, and utilizes some nice angles in the design. However, despite the complexity of the design, the instructions are very straightforward, and it isn't very hard to put it all together. This means that older builders can enjoy the cool designs, but it's still simple enough for younger builders to put together. It was a fun process.
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 were lots of parts: 327 pieces plus a handful of extras. The set is only $29.99 USD, so that means you pay less than 10 cents per piece! Shown above are some of the unique / cooler pieces in the set. There are lots of new pieces recolored in lime, although many of them come with other Ninjago sets this year. Still, it's not a bad selection.
We get three minifigures this time: Kai ZX, Lloyd Garmadon, and Fang-Suei. Kai is of particular interest because of his nifty jetpack, which features Alien Conquest guns, brown snowshoes, and bucket pieces. It's an odd selection of pieces, but they really come together to form a cool jetpack. The rest of Kai ZX is the same as the other sets, and the only downside here is that he doesn't have his cool shoulder armor on because he's wearing a jetpack.
Lloyd is the son of last years baddie, Garmadon, and he even has his father's zappy weapon. He comes with a black hood, a short black cape, and a rib-cage torso with a green five printed on it‚Ä¶ I wonder what that could stand for?? (Spoiler: it means he's part of the secret Emerald Pentagon club! Or is it supposed to mean something else?) Anyway, Lloyd isn't bad, but he's not the star of this set.
Next, we have Fang-Suei, one of the evil Serpentine snake-people, with his golden Constrictai staff. (Even though he's a Fangpyre snake... what's he doing with another tribe's staff?) His torso (front and back) and legs have some nice scaly printing on them, and he has a special head mold with two big goofy fangs hanging out of his mouth. (But whatever you do, don't let him bite you.) Overall he looks a bit goofier than some of the other Serpentine, but since he spends most of his time piloting the Rattlecopter it's not too much of an issue.
Finally, the real gem of the set: The Rattlecopter. It used to just be a big pile of junk, but then the Fangpyre bit it, and their venom turned it into a living snake helicopter! Or at least that's the official story based on the television show.
I'll just come out and say it right now; the Rattlecopter does not look like a snake to me. Instead, it looks like a fish. Seriously, with the tail and fins, it looks more fish-like than snake-like. Even the head, which is reptilian enough, could still pass off as a fish. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; as it stands, I think it's an awesome fishy helicopter. It just doesn't fit in as well with the snake theme.
As mentioned before, the coolest part of the Rattlecopter is the head, which uses hinges and clips to get some very unusual angles. But the coolest thing is how well this set pulls it off. The construction is easy to put together, and the end result is fairly sturdy too. The angles all make for a very good looking fish / snake face. Whoever designed this thing really knew what they were doing; it's totally awesome. My main complaint would be that the tail of the Rattlecopter seems a little too plain in comparison. They tried to work out a bit of a curve with the back snake blades, but it just doesn't look as cool next to the head.
Inside the head is a compartment for Fang-Suei to pilot the Rattlecopter. It's a tight fit, but the snake-guy squeezes into it perfectly. Even the white slope piece on the top acts as a decent headrest. The strange thing is, there are no studs for Fang-Suei to connect to, but he fits in so tightly that he still doesn't fall out. Another great design feature!
Finally, there is one other cool feature that I must point out. The grey cones within the side engines are actually old pointy Castle helmets, and their use in the engines is just genius. It's a great reuse of an older piece in a cool new way.
One thing to be aware of: there are a fair amount of stickers to apply to the set. The stickers do give it some extra scaly flair, but I still dislike the process of adding sticker, especially to long narrow pieces where it's possible to mess up their attachment.
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 Rattlecopter actually has a couple of nice play features. To start of with, it's a helicopter, and it has spinning blades. The joy with any Lego helicopter is being able to spin those blades around as you swoosh it through the air, and the Rattlecopter is no different. It is a very swoosh-able aircraft, and there's a good place to grip it on the back. Plus, the slanted blades also aim away from the carrier, so you can carry it and still spin the blades. Another nice simple feature also involves the white teeth. When the Rattlecopter is landed, they fold up out of the way. But when it's flying through the air, they hang down and give it an even more ferocious look.
Additionally, the Rattlecopter has a snake-bomb drop compartment near the back. You push the two green tabs in and the mini white snake pieces can fall out and hit whatever's below. The feature is decent enough; it certainly works better than the Tridax pods from the Makuta Phantoka, in my opinion. It can be a little tricky loading the white snake pieces in. In theory, I think you're supposed to jam them in from the top, but I prefer to open the side tab and place them in that way. Finally, the Rattlecopter has four flick-fire missiles. Because we all know how well those work!
Overall, the strength of this set is its role-playing potential. Kai has his jetpack and Fang-Suei has his Rattlecopter; it doesn't seem like a fair fight, but a ninja isn't going to be scared away by a big snake/fish helicopter! Plus, you have Lloyd to throw into the mix. Who's side is he really on? You decide!!
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Awesome head design with unique building styles
- Pilot compartment area fits Fang-Suei perfectly
- Castle helmet incorporated into the engines
- Great helicopter: swooshable with spinning blades
- Even snake-bomb dropper isn't bad
- Kai's jetpack is great too
- Lots of good pieces, especially in lime
- Good piece to price ratio
What's not to like?
- Lloyd just isn't that appealing
- Rattlecopter tail is a little lackluster
- Flickfire missies: really?
- Looks less like a snake and more like a fish
This set has lots of fun playability that should appeal to younger builders, plus an awesome design and piece count to appeal to older builders. I suppose if you're not into the whole snake-vehicle theme that Ninjago has going this year, that could turn you off, but if that's the case then there was really nothing here for you to start with. Overall, I think it's a well designed set that fits in great with the Ninjago theme.
At $29.99 USD, it isn't exactly cheap. However, it is one of the lower-priced Serpentine vehicle sets, and it contains enough pieces that it's still a good value.