Garmadon has sent his evil scout out to find the ninjas, but the Stone Warrior has found more than he can handle when he comes across Kai in his new Fire Mech. Wielding an elemental fire sword, Kai is ready to beat down the armies of darkness. This is the smallest of the 2013 Ninjago sets, only priced at $9.99 USD, but is it worth it? Read BZPower Reporter xccj's review and see for yourself.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
It's a small box, and it shows Kai in his Fire Mech beating on a mini Stone Warrior scout. And although he's not in the set, the mythical gold ninja decorates the corner, as a reminder that this is the Final Battle wave of Ninjago sets. (But not to be confused with the final wave of sets.) The back shows off Kai exiting the mech, which has the Stone Warrior in its clutches. The corners all have little extras: in the top right, there's a screenshot of the mech from the show; in the lower right, Sensei Wu is reminding you to visit the Ninjago website; and in the lower left, there's a chart letting you know which collectible elemental blade this set contains. (Hint, it's the fire one!)
But then you open the box, take out the contents, and recycle the cardboard. (You recycle it and don't throw it away, right? You can recycle the plastic bags that the pieces come in too. . . once the pieces have been removed from them, of course.)
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
It's a pretty straightforward build, but that doesn't make it any less unique. It relies heavily on SNOT (Studs Not On Top) and in fact there are hardly any upward facing studs on the whole mech. The use of ball joints and Hero Factory limbs also make it seem like you're building a construction figure. There are a few stickers to put on, and it's a painful process, but they do make the fire mech look pretty awesome in the end.Set Design
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
You get 102 pieces plus some extras, including a spare golden katana. There are lots of good pieces in red and gold, plus some blacks and grays. There's lots of gold, from circular tiles to cheese slopes to blades to robot arms. And you get a couple of the new styles of brackets, some claw hinge plates, and a handful of Hero Factory limbs (making this one of the first system sets to include them). The newest pieces are the inverted tiles, which were introduced in this last wave of sets. And there's also the collectible elemental fire blade. I think these new weapons are some of the coolest given to the Ninjas, although the fire blade doesn't stand out quite so much with this set.
The minifigs are great as always. This has to be one of my favorite iterations of Kai. The red and black kimono outfit looks great, and also has more of an oriental feel than earlier versions. The Stone Warrior scout also has a detailed torso and face print, which are similar to other Stone Warrior figs but exclusive to the short scout. (However, I should mention that the scout himself is in two other sets too, so he's fairly common.) He comes with a conical hat and quiver, both in red for the first time, and a crossbow. Since he has short legs, he's not the scariest villain ever, but he's not bad as a part of Garmadon's evil army.
And then there's the robot. I think this is the best small mech LEGO has ever made, and this is helped by the use of the Hero Factory pieces. It feels very much like I'm reviewing a Bionicle humanoid MOC; I'm looking at the design of the body, limbs, hands, and feet. The use of Hero Factory limbs is excellent; it utilized those pieces in the best possible way and fills out the arms and legs, thus allowing for more effort to be put into the rest of the robot.
The body does a good job at connecting all the ball joint and giving a simple stand for Kai to pilot the mech from. It's not quite as well protected as other LEGO Mechs (like the Samurai Mech from last year) but it's effective. The only thing I don't really like is the gold sword spikes on the top; they seem to ruin the sturdy flow of the mech for me. But it's hard say no to extra gold elements.
The robot has two different hands: one's an actual hand and the other has fire blasters or something on it. The hand design is pretty great with the three fingers and thumb. It has all the functionality that you'd expect from a hand, but its design is simple and small enough to fit with the rest of the mech. The fire blasters use the new bracket pieces and trans orange cones and looks decent enough. My problem is that the cones tend to fell off, so I would've rather had two full hands instead. Another issue is that there's no way to connect the sword in the hand; the design allows for it to be wedged in pretty securely, but it can still fall out.
But really, little nitpicking aside, this is a great mech. Not only does it look good, but it has descent mobility too thanks to the useful Hero Factory elements. It's just as good as some of the cheaper humanoids from Hero Factory and Bionicle, and even more detailed than some. (The stickers especially add certain flair, from the fire emblems to the vent sticker on the back.) When Kai's done fighting the Stone Warriors, he could easily join Furno in his fight against the latest baddies, or team up with Tahu and take on the Rahkshi.
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?
You get two figs, so in theory this should be a great set for role playing. But really, the puny Stone Warrior is no match for Kai in his mech. Talk about uneven sides; Kai could squish that guy just by stepping on him with the mech. I suppose it would be a little better if Kai was facing off against an army of little scouts, but you'll need to collect some more Ninjago sets for that to happen.
As mentioned earlier, the Fire Mech is very mobile, and so it can get in a bunch of poses with ease. The gold blades on the limbs can get stuck a little bit while moving the arms and legs around, but there aren't really any bad restrictions to movement. Yes, it doesn't have elbows or knees, so it's not quite as posable as a Hero Factory humanoid. But for the mech this size, it does extremely well.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Great Pieces
- Great Figs
- Very posable mech
- Good flow for its size
- Good Price ($9.99 USD)
What's not to like?
- Why the top gold blades?
- Cones on blaster hand can fall off easily
- The mini Stone Warrior is totally outmatched
This is a great set. I don't know if I can say that enough. It captures the essence of Ninjago very well, but also has the best part of mech building and ball joint humanoid figures, which is something I'm sure Bionicle and Hero Factory fans appreciate. And if you do get tired of the set itself, the pieces that make it are also good. And it's cheap enough that most people can pick it up impulsively and not be disappointed. So yes, you should get this set. Already have it? Buy another one, if just so you can build a second hand to replace the blasters.
"Oh, so you found yourself an army, did you?"
That's all for now, but stayed tuned to BZPower for more set reviews from Hero Factory, Ninjago, and other LEGO themes, as well as more LEGO news!