So I've been forced to relearn how to deal with images in BZP blogs. (Yeah, this isn't the highest traffic place around anymore, but how else am I supposed to scream my thoughts out into the void??) Flickr restructured and became unusable for a large quantity of images, and Brickshelf is another older platform that I just don't use that much anymore. I was trying to go for the Instagram route for photos of sets to do quick reviews on, but then embedding broke on BZP (I don't know which side is responsible, but knowing the issues with the forum's server I bet it's on our side.) But, lo and behold, we have that whole gallery thing that I've never utilized. And sooooo... went and spammed a bunch of review pictures there and updated all my mini reviews from the last couple of years. I'll still upload full galleries to Instagram but I'll at least have some visuals to post here. And I still have some Ninjago stuff to cover from last year before I start focusing on the new sets. So without further ado...
The Skull Sorcerer's Dragon, AKA Skeleton Dragon, goes for $79.99 USD and has 1016 pieces. I'm reluctant to call it the largest Ninjago dragon ever (it probably ranks up there) but it's the largest I've owned so far, so it's still quite impressive. The wings are the biggest stand out for me; they are cloth and have a really awesome printing to them, even as they take up a TON of space. The dragon is mainly white with dark grey along its spine and trans bright green highlights. The torso is impressive with it's skeletal rib designs, and guess what, it also has a Tridax pod built in! If you push a lever on the dragon's back, the ribs pop opened and the trans green boulder can be dropped. The head tops it off with an impressive spikey design.
Of course, the dragon has its faults, and the biggest one is possibility. While the hind legs have the standard motions you'd expect from a Ninjago dragon, the front legs are locked at the shoulders, forcing it to remain in the same forward stance at all times. (It has elbows to allow it to raise itself up and down a bit, but I think too much mobility is lost without the shoulders.) As such, the dragon only really looks good in one pose, and trying to adjust that just looks awkward. And it doesn't help that the front legs also tend to hide the cooler rib designs of the torso. I also found the swinging tail to be quite annoying after a while; it's hard to pose in a position that is not wrapping back around the dragon's body. Good as a play feature, yes, bad for posing.
Of course, keeping with the game-board-like designs of all these Ninjago Master of the Mountain sets, this one has some landscape bits, but they are rather weak. You have a turntable that can act as a switch to swing them to three different islands in the laval. One of those islands also has a statue that's built on a neat little action feature; press down slightly on the game stand that the Ninja is supposed to land on, and the statue falls on top of them. It also comes with two of the game stands with heath hearts, which are in most of this theme's sets, as well as the dice-spinner.
The figs are decent, but again are secondary to the main dragon. You get Kai, Jay, and Nya in their new armor. (Fun fact, the other half of the Ninjas come in the Skull Sorcerer's Dungeon, so if you get both of those sets then you get a full team of ninja!) The new armor and helmets are interesting, and while Nya and Jay have neat torso designs, Kai's feels a bit bland with just a giant emblem. Printed shields are a plus tho. On the bad guy's side, you have the Skull Sorcerer himself, with a detailed robe and a fancy special mask (built into the hat tho, sorry). The two black skeletons are identical and a bit generic, but hey it can help build up your skeleton army.
In the end, I'm not quite sure if this is the most worthwhile set. The dragon is massive and detailed but is not exactly the best to display with it's lack of posability. (I might remove the front legs entirely and make it a Wyvern, but then it would be far too front heavy.) The figs are great, the landscape is meh, and the pieces are actually pretty good, with a lot of fun whites. (Not a while lot of new stuff that I could see.) A fitting dragon for sure.
Anyway, more Ninjago stuff to come. Allow me to continue to scream into the void.