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    Set Review: 9441 Kai's Blade Cycle
    ReviewSaturday, December 24th, 2011 at 4:47am by Jason, BZPower Reporter

    Ninjago is heading into its second year in 2012, and that means we have more sets to review! Today xccj looks at 9441: Kai's Blade Cycle. It shows Kai, in a new outfit, driving a fiery motorbike as he chases down a new snake minifigure. Is this a set that will burn brightly in your collection, or will it just crash and burn? Read on to find out, and keep an eye opened for bonus content.

    Presentation
    From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

    Image of Box Front Image of Box Back

    The box features the new set that's part of the Mighty Morphing Ninjago Rangers… er, sorry, the Ninjago theme. The bulk of the box is now green, to match the new style for the theme. This is broken up with Kai driving his new Blade Cycle against an orangish background, with a snake-dude named Rattla attacking him with sonic vibrations. It's quite a lot to take in. On one hand, it clearly shows the new heroes and villains fighting each other, and both have great designs. On the other hand, it seems to have lost the oriental feel completely, and looks more high tech. Personally, this doesn't turn me off too much, but I'm sure some people will be disappointed as the theme moves away from traditional Ninjas and into more of a Power Rangers mode.

    Anyway, all the usual stuff is on the box, from logos to set details to disclaimers. The front has a teaser image that shows Kai's bike transforming. (Although it uses the word "Convert" which just doesn't sound right to me.) The back of the box shows off this action feature in more detail. The back also shows us that this set contains one of four collectible snake staffs! It's not as varied as last years 4 gold weapons, but hey, I guess we gotta buy all the sets to collect something, right? Rattla is also in the corner, as he's either trying to hypnotize the buyer or is just dizzy. Strangely, there is an advertisement for Lego Universe on the side, which isn't helpful since LU is ending in January.

    Image of Box Contents

    Looks, bags of pieces. And a sticker sheet! And an instruction booklet! Oh boy, forget about all this "It's not oriental enough" stuff; let's get building!

    Building
    Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?

    Image of Building Stand 1 Image of Building Stand 2

    The first thing you build is the landscape piece, which is basically a small stand for the snake staff. Exciting? No, not really.

    Image of Building Cycle 1 Image of Building Cycle 2 Image of Building Cycle 3
    Image of Building Cycle 4 Image of Building Cycle 5 Image of Building Cycle 6

    The Blade Cycle takes up most of the pieces in the set. It's a fairly sturdy design. It uses a fair bit of technic pieces on the inside, and the finishes the outside with some nice red slopes. It wasn't an overly complex build, but it's creative enough. The one downside was putting the stickers on the long red slopes was difficult. Overall, they add some nice detail, but it's hard to get them on straight, and I'm sure many people could do without them. (It depends on if you're a sticker person or not.)

    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.

    Image of All Parts Image of Special Parts

    Onto the parts. This set contains a whopping 188 pieces, with a handful of spare parts on the side. For only $14.99 USD, this means that you pay less than ten cents per piece! Most of the new and interesting elements are in gold. First off, there's the new snake staff, which has some really nice details put into it. The smaller gold spikes are also nice, if a bit flimsy. There are also two really long blades in gold, which I believe is also a new element. A nice surprise is to the Hero Factory spikes that appear in gold. Also noteworthy is the new 1x1 round tile. This set comes with two of the trans blue ones with printing on them; one is used to decorate the snake staff and make it collectible or something. Also, the set comes with three of these tiles in white, although I overlooked them when I took the picture.

    Image of Overall Set

    Kai and Rattla are the two minifigs in this set, and they're both rather unique.

    Image of Minifigs Front Image of Minifigs Back Image of Minifigs Back Special
    Image of Kai Bare Head Image of Many Kai Figs

    Kai himself is in his third or forth generation. Now he's Kai ZX! He appeared this way after getting doused in protodermis / bitten by a Visorak spider / struck by lightning from the Red Star. Or, y'know, he was just given new armor. (But is it adaptable armor…?) He still has on his bright red ninja robe, but he's added some dark red armoring to it. His headgear is also a new piece, which is red with a gold piece on the forehead area. However, the big draw here is the new shoulder armor. It's gold, spikey, and makes Kai look buff. But it also doubles as a backpack, and it allows for two katanas to be slid on, similarly to Dastan's backpack from the Prince of Persia sets. This works for Kai, and I like it better than the back clip on the traditional ninja helmets. (Although to be fair, Kai's new backpack will only hold katanas, and won't work with other weapons.) To make things even cooler, if you take the swords out of the backpack, it leaves a hold through which you can see a fire emblem printed onto Kai's back. Now that's an awesome design!

    Rattla is supposed to be a man snake. I'm not quite sure how this works out, since he has arms and legs, when clearly snakes have neither. But I digress. His body and legs have a scaly dark blue pattern that runs down the front (and also along the back of the torso.) His head is dark blue, and features two fangs and red eyes. He has circular patterns in his eyes, which he obviously uses the hypnotize Ninjas with. (Obviously.) The next cool bit is his headgear, which resembles a snake's mane. It has printing on the top which continues the dark blue pattern, and the back of it ends in a spiked tail that rests just below his shoulders. I wouldn't say Rattla is the greatest fig ever, but he has some nice features to him, and it a step up from the crazy skeletons the ninjas were fighting last year. I would put him on par with the Alien Conquest invaders or the Atlantis sea critters from last year.

    Image of Cycle Side Image of Cycle Front Image of Cycle Back

    Onto the cycle. As I mentioned before, it's a solid build. It only has two wheels, but they are wide enough that balance isn't a problem. The red slopes give a nice flow to it, and the various gold elements also highlight the red. As I also said earlier, the stickers do add a certain flair to some of the slopes, making it almost look like the bike is on fire. I suppose this would be something to worry about for anybody except the Kai, Ninja of Fire.

    Playability
    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?

    Image of Cycle Action 1 Image of Cycle Action 2 Image of Cycle Action 3

    One thing I liked about last year's Ninjago sets were the various action features they had. (Remember the Skull Motorbike, which had a skull hammer you could trigger? Good times.) This year is no different, as Kai's bike has the ability to "convert" into something… I think. Anyway, the idea is you press down on the slope in the middle of the bike, and the sides pop out. I guess this puts the long gold swords into a position where Kai can ram somebody with them. The action feature relied on wedges and clips, and while it is unique, it doesn't work too well. What I keep noticing is that when I press down, only one side of the bike shoots out, when it was clearly intended for both to open simultaneously. Overall, it's slightly disappointing. But the bike still looks good without it, so you could always just pretend its not there.

    Image of Kai vs Rattla Image of Kai Winning

    The set offers two great figures that can fight over the snake staff. Yet with the addition of the Blade Cycle, I think Kai has the clear advantage. Rattla can try to hypnotize the ninja, but Kai's probably ripping along so fast that Rattla's just a blur to him, so he's not going to fall for his spinning eyes. And if Rattla is too busy staring at the road, he might not be able to get out of the way in time. Then his nickname could be Flatta. (Okay, was that joke cheesy enough?)

    Final Thoughts
    Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

    Pros
    What's to like?

    • Awesome amount of pieces
    • Great Kai figure, with new armor / backpack piece that can hold katanas
    • Rattla is a good fig too
    • Sturdy bike design

    Cons
    What's not to like?

    • Stickers hard to put on
    • Bike action feature isn't too great
    • Rattla outmatched

    This is a decent Ninjago set to get. It has two great figs and a decent motor bike. The best part is that it has a ton of great pieces, from 1x1 round tiles to gold spikes to red slopes. Additionally, at only $14.99 USD, it's fairly inexpensive. All these qualities combined will make it a good choice as a gift for someone. I wouldn't go as far to say it's one of the better Ninjago sets yet, but if you're into the theme, then you likely won't be disappointed.

    And that's it for Kai's Blade Cycle. But this review isn't over yet! I also purchased the Booster Pack 9553: Lightning Ninja Jay, and I'll give you a quick glance at it too. These booster packs are intended to provide you with a minifigure and weapons just like the spinner sets. The perk is that it doesn't contain the actual spinner piece, so it's half the price. ($4.99 vs $9.99 USD)

    Presentation
    From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

    Image of Jay Booster Pack Front Image of Jay Booster Pack Back Image of Jay Booster Pack Compare

    I found Jay's package in a box similar to the ones that collectible minifigures come in. The actual pouch is slightly larger than a collectible minifig pack, and it has lots of details showing exactly what it contains. (This isn't a mystery bag like the collectible minifigs.) The one drawback is that there isn't a tab on the back of the pouch, making it nearly impossible to open by hand. (I had to resort to scissors.)

    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.

    Image of Contents Image of All Pieces
    Image of Jay Front Image of Jay Back Image of Jay Bare Head
    Image of Jay Old vs Jay New Image of Jay on Spinner

    Inside, you get a pack of five cards (1 character card and 4 battle cards, as per usual), a foldout that outlines the game's rules, and a bag of parts. You get a full 23 pieces. (The outside says 28, but I think it's counting the cards.) Jay ZX is built similarly to Kai; he has the neat shoulder armor backpack in silver, plus a new helmet in blue. He has three weapons: a pike, which utilized a new dagger piece; a weird gold claw piece, which uses two new gold spikes attached to a gold chainsaw piece; and a standard silver katana. He also has swinging blades that can be attached to the bottom of a spinner, and blue spikes that can be attached to the top. Sadly, the bottom blades do not fit onto the 2011 style spinners (as pictured), so I'm guessing that the new 2012 spinners are new designs that allow for them.

    Final Thoughts
    Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

    Pros
    What's to like?

    • Cool Minifig
    • Nice weapons assortment
    • Cheap

    Cons
    What's not to like?

    • Without a spinner, kind of pointless

    Lightning Ninja Jay is a good set for the minifig and the weapons, and if you're into the Ninjago theme and want to get the characters for cheap, then this is a no-brainer. However, if you get some of the larger sets that also include Jay, then the booster pack could become redundant. But for a casual fan, I think this is a nice cheap way to get a hold of a Ninja.

    Image of Kai and Jay Vs Rattla

    Together, now Kai and Jay can defeat Rattla, once and for all. I hope you enjoyed this look into some of the cheaper sets from the 2012 Ninjago theme. Expect more Hero Factory and Lego set reviews to come to the front page in the near future.

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