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REVIEW | 70657 Ninjago City Docks

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Name: 70657 Ninjago City Docks
Theme: Ninjago (The Ninjago Movie subline)
Year: 2018
Pieces: 3553
Price: $229.99 - $269.99 - £199.99 - €229.99 - €259.99 
Resources: Brickset | Bricklink

Hello everyone and welcome to my review of the Ninjago City Docks! This set was the highly anticipated "sequel" to the fantastic Ninjago City set, meant to be a seamless modular addition to it's predecessor. Today I'll be offering a unique viewpoint on this set- the view of someone who does not yet have (but will be purchasing this year) the Ninjago City itself. Sure, we all know this set looks great with Ninjago City... but how does it stack up on it's own? Is there any reason to buy this if you don't own it's pricier brother? Well, time to find out. As you might have anticipated, this set is absolutely crammed with great parts, great building techniques, and so many details. It's tough to choose what to include in my review but I also wanted to leave you with some surprises whenever you eventually get this set.

By the way, this review is made possible thanks to the support of the LEGO team. With that said, all comments are going to be my unbiased thoughts toward this set- but spoiler alert, they are pretty positive thoughts.

 

The Box

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Let's be honest, the box is something you can easily see in your nearest LEGO store- spoiler alert, it's  a large box, with plenty of nice CGI Ninjago goodness going on in the background. Something interesting about this set is that it's the first modular where the "back" of the set is actually the front- the main shot you see above is technically the back, and is not the side you would see when this is connected to Ninjago City (viewed from the front.)

Sticker Sheet

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As far as things like contents go, the most interesting to me was this amazingly diverse sicker sheet. I know our old friend Nick Vaas had some influence here, with that sneaky Mask of Ultimate Power sticker tossed in there. Some of the larger stickers are my favorites, like the Sushi one and the woman beneath it. I also love the Junkbot and Adventures references- there's a little bit of everything here, and tons of clever little details to look at.

Sticker Sheet 2

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Minifigures

Lloyd, Garmadon, Private Puffer

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First we have some of my favorite minifigures in the set. Lloyd comes with an alternate face and a hairpiece. Private Puffer is a hilarious figure, and I love that new headpiece! I also really enjoyed Garmadon, since I don't usually buy Ninjago set's I haven't experienced the extra-tall design of this guy just yet.

Rear

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Runde, Dareth, Lil' Nelson, Runme, Runje, Mystake

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Here's what I would refer to as more traditional figures. All decent figures, I think Runje is my personal favorite- that fish rack is great! Only one alternate expression here, on Runme.

Back Printing

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I also really like Dareth and Lil Nelson's outfits. 

Chan Kong-Sang, Chad, Cole, Betsy w/ baby

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Here's our last set of figures, the most notable one being Cole in a casual outfit. As someone who is interested in Ninjago City and the Docks and not in regular Ninajgo sets (well, not really giving myself any budget for them,) I do wish these sets gave us access to a wider range of the ninjas.

 

Back printing

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Alternate faces

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Everyone in this group has alt faces.

Building The Set

Base

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First we start building the base of the docks- there's a lot of 1x2 technic connectors used here for the actual wooden portion of the docks, and a massive quantity of 1x2 tiles used for the water. It's a little tedious, but goes relatively quickly.

Scope

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Here we start building the boat house with a rather large telescope on the top. One thing I really love here is how a BURP is used to form the back wall, but is one of the most well integrated BURPs I've ever seen.

 

Grocery Function
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Here's a little peak at how the functionality works behind the tipping food crates.

 

Turkey Rotisserie
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A simple function that adds a lot of life to this little part of the set.

Shovel Roof
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This set has no shortage of unique building techniques, every roof surface is unique in it's own way. This one was on of my favorites, adding a new spin to these timeless shovel pieces.

 

Finished first level
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Here we have the completed lower level of the  Old World. We added on the sculptors workshop and some additional details around the back- but we will look at details more later in this review, trust me.

 

Cartography Room

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This room is pretty neat using some stickers to decorate the walls with unique map prints. We also have a globe, and a book with a stickered tile inside. It's simple, but there's a good amount of stuff in here for such a small space. 

 

Runde & Mystake's house

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Next we start building one of the larger modules

Kitchen

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I really love the interior they've built here, for such a small space there is an incredible amount of detail.

 

Roofing

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Next we build up the two different roof sections that will cover Mystake's house. The main piece uses a lot of simple flag and square road sign pieces- this design is good, but can be slightly annoying when you want to remove in in the finished product (you need to grab it at the ends near the frogs, otherwise the flag pieces will flip up.)

Connected

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One thing I'm not so crazy about here is that while the main section lifts off, the angle roof simple hinges into a more vertical position. I get why it was done this way, but it doesn't really provide tremendous access.

Dareth's Dojo build

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Structurally, the dojo is one of my favorite builds due to the unique SNOT technique they used with all of those tan brick pieces.

Continuing

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There's something really satisfying about placing the SNOT sections in and processing to build regularly on top of them.

Stairs

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We decorate with some finishing touches, and work on one of the many staircases you'll see in this set.

 

Tearoom

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Here we begin the third tier of the docks, with the Tearoom. I really had no idea what this was supposed to be until I looked it up afterwards. I love the use of hinges to look like drawers with room inside of them.

Finished walls

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We add some ladders, finish the wall off with a window, and of course add some detail around back that we will look at later.

 

Arcade module

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Here we have the other largest module, I believe this one is larger than the house module. We start building an arcade, which also houses two main functions of the set- billboard storage, and a fantastic little vending machine.

 

Arcade Machines

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We build some fun little arcade machines, one of them rocks the old Junkbot game which takes me back. I'm not sure what that other game is, though personally I hope we see other bizarre games like Backlot Studio and that Alpha team game referenced at some point.

 

Roof

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The arcade also features a neat roof using those flat plow pieces, and similar to Ninjago City itself we have a balloon construction - this time a pig. 

 

Finished Model

Boat

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The only "sub-build" of the set is this small boat, which is a different design than the one we saw in the Ninjago City set. While not quite as interesting of a build as that one, I really like how the end result here looks, it's a great color scheme and a very solid build overall.

Features

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The roof of the boat is on a hinge to allow easy placement of a minifigure. There's also a printed compass piece, and an opening hatch which has two Ninjago "cards" in it (both are stickers.)

Rear

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As I mentioned up near the box pic, this is technically the "back," but is the main part of the set we usually see. The frontmost section is the docks surrounded by water, giving you ample room to take the boat out from the boathouse and move it around. Overall, I think this angle of the set looks pretty good- if you didn't like the aesthetic of Ninjago City, then this likely isn't going to appeal much more to you. It continues the very hectic and detail oriented build, it's a fantastic style that's really unique and certainly sets these sets apart from the regular creator Modulars. 

Side 1

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THe sides of these buildings are meant to be flat and connected to other modulars, so as you would expect there's not much to look at here.

Side 2

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Again, not much to look at, though this side has a window that would be rendered rather useless once another building is connected. 

Front

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Often an under-photographed shot of this set, the proper front still looks really nice, and continues the waterline and stone walkway that wind around the front of the City.

Details

Crane

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Now then, let's take a look at the star pieces of this set- the details! First, we have this nice little crane build, which can rotate 360 degrees, and given the standard string setup, the hook can be raised & lowered.

 

Barrels

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The barrel being hoisted by the crane contains two gems. Additionally, there is a set of three barrels that can be pulled out from the wall just behind the crane with ease, and they contain some cookies/pastries, a can, and a skull.

Fishing area

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Moving on to the other side, we see a fishing setup, as well as a small cavern covered by a fern. The fern can be easily moved, as it's just mounted with a mixel joint.

Market

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Here we have the market with various crates for fruit. As we saw earlier, this is built with a very simply function allowing it to trip the fruit into the water. It's a cool function, though resetting the scene can be a little tedious, especially getting the cherries back in there. Also, the room behind this is empty- you see a bit of the rear of the crates, but other than that there's really no interior to speak of.

Rotisserie 

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We also have this very simple rotation mechanism to allow this turkey to spin. A small meat cleaver is just around the corner. Again, a cool function that really doesn't take any fancy mechanisms, though again it's a little tough to reach the gear. 

Sculptor

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Here we have a sculptors workshop- I pulled one of the walls off so that you could see the variety of stone creations on the shelves. 

Left staircase

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Now we are ready to move to the second level. One thing I love about this set, similar to the newly release Welcome to Apocalypseburg, is that every area has access. Every area where a minifigure could reasonably go has some sort of stars or ladder or path, you don't have to leave anything to imagination here. Both module that you see to the left and right have a neat sliding door concept...

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By using a printed window piece that resembles a very traditional design. They work great, and definitely set a tone down here.

Map Room

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We saw this earlier, not much has changed after the walls went up. Although, now you can see that additional ship sticker on the wall.

House

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Again, we saw a lot of this earlier, but now we have finished the walls. It's a tough space to get into, but the golden wheel window can be lowered a bit to allow for additional access.

Bunk Beds

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Another example of fun details- the top bunk has a sticker underneath! It also easily drops into place for easy removal when you want to access the bottom bunk.

Roof

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Here's the two roof panels added to the house. The top piece pulls off for access to the kitchen area, while the angled roof can move into a more vertical position. Unlike the structures to either side of it, this one does not continue any further up beyond this point.

Dareth's Dojo

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To the far right, we have the exterior of the Dojo. Again, you can see stairs giving you proper access to this scene.

Interior

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The interior is loaded with detail, from swords on the walls to trophies and a rather large scroll. Since this modular building is made up of smaller sections, rooms like this can be...tough to access. I do wish they had made it easier to maybe remove a wall.

Tearoom

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Next we have the Tearoom, which also features multiple stands full of printed newspapers. The little handcuffs are meant to act like a scale, and again I love the design on the drawers against the back wall. It's a very unique and different interior, but again is tough to access.

 

News rack

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Here's another look at the balcony on the rear side. 

Arcade

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Moving to the opposite side, we have one of my favorite buildings, the arcade. Note the small gunmetal pipe to the left, that will come into play in a moment.

Interior

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Inside we have a counter, as well as the arcade machines we build earlier. It's a slightly bigger interior than some of the other modules in this set, but still tough to access. You can also see where you load drink dans for the vending machine here.

Vending Machine

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The vending machine is pure magic. You insert a bill, and out comes a can. It works extremely fluently, and is easy to reset. Once in a while the can will not roll out and you hae the tip the building to get it out, but no huge deal. The huge deal is that drinks cost $100 in this city.

Signs

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Remember that gunmetal pipe I mentioned earlier? When you push it, it forces a stack of different signs out through two little doors at the front. You can peel back the roof which is made of garage door pieces, and swap out the billboard on the side of the building. 

 

Concluding Thoughts and Rating

Now let's get to the important question, should you buy this set?

If you have Ninjago City, 1000x yes. While I do not yet have said set, there is no denying this set is a beautiful expansion to that set- it connects so seamlessly, and in many ways each set feels incomplete unless you have them together. This set doesn't feel like a sequel, so much as it does "the other half" of Ninjago City. 

But what if you don't have Ninjago City? This set has a lot to offer- a good selection of minifigures, a variety of fun and creative building techniques, a gloriously diverse inventory of parts, and a very unique final product. The final result looks good, but like I mentioned above, parts of this set feel incomplete. While it has a beautiful dock area, I can't help but feel like certain areas (such as the stairways that wake you to a second level, or the balcony off of the tearoom that is really meant to connect to further sidewalk) are screaming for connection with Ninjago City. Plus, this set isn't exactly a looker from the sides, and I really hope that in time we get further additions to this lineup.

With that said, this is a cheaper alternative to Ninjago City, and at just over $200 for 3.5k parts? That is an absolute steal, even considering how small some of these parts are.It has a lot of the elements that make Ninjago City great, and this set has made me want that one all the more. It's a good way to test out this style of set, and I assure you, you will not be disappointed with this set.

 

Something new that I'll be including in my review for 2019 is a review scale. In the past, I've been very inconsistent with what criteria I use to rate a set, and some reviews would have a breakdown of these ratings, some would not. So, time to introduce the VBBN Review Scale!

This scale will score sets based on a variety of categories.

Design: How well was the set designed? This will take many factors into consideration, from how the set was built structurally and how that affects the final model, and the overall creativity of the final set.

Minifigure Selection: This will take factors such as number of figures, the design of the figures, usage of new elements or prints, etc.

Parts: Will consider the number of new pieces, number of recolors, the amount of parts you get for the price, and what pieces are actually offered.

Build: This one's easy, how fun was the set to build?

Price: This will also consider the quantity of pieces, but a stronger factor in this rating is what you get as a finished product for your money. It's kind of an overall ranking measure that takes a lot of the previous ones into consideration.

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In the screenshot above, you can see how I've rated this set among other reviews I have done for sets in a similar price range ($200+.) Why am I comparing this to things like the Tumbler, and Hogwarts Castle? Those are very different sets, and in the case of the Tumbler or the Batcave, old sets. But these criteria don't really take into account the accuracy to films, or the level of nostalgia they bring you- simply, this scale shows you how Ninjago City Docks stacks up against other sets in a similar price range. And it scores very well. It excels in almost all categories, and regardless of if you collect Ninjago sets or not, it's a set worth getting- and I anticipate Ninjago City will be the only set to surpass this one in the near future. 

So my overall rating for Ninjago City Docks is 92%. 

 

A few notes about the review scale:

1) It is currently a work in progress, I have years of old reviews to dig through and add to this file. 
2) When I add those older reviews, I re-evaluate my thoughts on the set. If I liked the minifigure selection at the time, but not now, it will likely receive a lower score. I of course will consider certain factors (like with the Tumbler, could it be done better now? Sure, because newer parts exist that didn't before. That won't affect my rating)
3) This will eventually be available for your viewing online. My plan is to utilize Google Docs or something so that this can be a public list for you to go and have a look at. 

Thank you all for reading, please let me know what you think of this set! 

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Very cool set, excellent review. 

The one thing I wish with these is that they had a couple of traditional Japanese costumes like the kimono girl in CMFs. 

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Great review! This set really utilises many interesting building techniques.

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Has anyone noticed that there is also a Ultra Agents reference Sticker? Man, this is a great set. Never have I seen so many easter eggs/references in one set. Great Review!

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Excellent review and I like your new scoring system. I like both this and the Ninjago City sets and will definitely be adding them to my collection.

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I like how the designers put in that bionicle Easter egg/reference in the arcade it really made my day a little better knowing that they still acknowledge the fact that bionicle is still really popular.

i just saw the mata nui island oh boy my prediction is a somewhat remake/rerun of bionicle with the original cast and matoran return but knowing lego they just put this in to pay tribute or homage to bionicle because it help with the idea of ninjago man such a great theme.

Edited by Steven the toa of flight

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28 minutes ago, Steven the toa of flight said:

I like how the designers put in that bionicle Easter egg/reference in the arcade it really made my day a little better knowing that they still acknowledge the fact that bionicle is still really popular.

i just saw the mata nui island oh boy my prediction is a somewhat remake/rerun of bionicle with the original cast and matoran return but knowing lego they just put this in to pay tribute or homage to bionicle because it help with the idea of ninjago man such a great theme.

Nick Vaas (Brickthing on here) used to be the old Action Figure Mod before me before becoming a designer at LEGO, I know he was the primary designer of Ninjago City and am pretty sure he worked on this one too, I have a feeling he influenced those Bionicle sticker choices- and the Galidor ones in Ninjago City  

 

Thanks everyone for the comments! I guess I should touch briefly on my thoughts on the stickers, there are a lot but I don’t mind them too much, they blend well with the surrounding colors and for the most part are used on simple pieces. 

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I've been playing with LEGO for 30 years.  I've gone through my Castle phases (several of them), my Technic phase, my paradisa phase, my Cafe Corner phase, my Adventurers phase, and others. Even my Bionicle phase. 

But I have to say that in all those years, to the present time, I have never enjoyed any sets as much as Ninjago City and Ninjago docks. They were a joy a build and a joy to display.  The combination of the two on display is spectacular.  I keep the combined sets on display in my office at work,and they always draw amazement from visitors.

I fear that after Ninjago Docks, my expectations for the next great LEGO set have been set so high that they will never be surpassed. Even the Cafe Corner series seems dull by comparison.  In my extremely humble opinion, these are the best LEGO sets ever made. 

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It is a great set but imho completely overshadowed by its predecessor. That being said, the construction of the white house in the middle is one of the most satisfying builds I've experienced in an official set.

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I agree its a great set , especially in conjunction with Ninjago City. They are amongst my favourite sets and I have bought 2 of each and a number of the more architectural ninjago sets (such as temple of airjitsu) so I can expand my whole ninjago. FYI a great way to get all the ninjas is 70618 Destiny's Bounty, which offers all the ninja and sensei wu and a value in line with ninjago city and docks IMO.

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On 2/23/2019 at 11:54 PM, Lego David said:

Has anyone noticed that there is also a Ultra Agents reference Sticker? Man, this is a great set. Never have I seen so many easter eggs/references in one set. Great Review!

I noticed! though after I noticed the Mask of Ultimate Power

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3 hours ago, Thedarkmaster2 said:

I noticed! though after I noticed the Mask of Ultimate Power

So, here are all the refrences:

-Two Refrences to LEGO Adventures

-Two Bionicle refrences

-A Ultra Agents refrence

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14 hours ago, Lego David said:

So, here are all the refrences:

-Two Refrences to LEGO Adventures

-Two Bionicle refrences

-A Ultra Agents refrence

There are a lot more than that, even if you disregard references to the Ninjago theme itself!

  • As the review points out, one of the arcade machines is Junkbot, an online game from the Lego website in the early 2000s.
  • Sticker number 22 reads "River Dragon" in the Ninjago alphabet alongside the symbol used for aerial mechs in the Exo-Force theme, referencing 8111 River Dragon.
  • The signs outside the blacksmith shop read "J. Stone" in the Ninjago alphabet with a subtle background matching the logo from Jack Stone's outfits.
  • Sticker number 26 reads "ADU" and features the silhouette of a Vic Viper, both referencing that iconic spaceship style from Gradius that has become a popular MOC subject in the AFOL community and the Alien Conquest theme that featured such a ship for the Alien Defense Unit.
  • One of the trading cards isn't of a Ninjago character but rather one of the squid warriors from Atlantis.
  • Sticker 46 is an Exploriens logo.

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On 2/25/2019 at 7:20 AM, Renny The Spaceman said:

I love this set, it's a real shame we're likely not getting anymore sets in this series

That is really sad to see and no offence, I hope you are wrong mate. Other than the Ginormous Millennium Falcon the two Ninjago City Sets are my favourite Lego sets so far. They spectacularly intricate, colourful and incredibly fun. I love the Modular Expert City stuff, but they way back second compared to Ninjago City and I cannot but help that the next Ninjago City set, is for me, the most anticipated future Lego set.

Wonderful review VBBN and I really enjoyed going through your post, brings back fun memories of my build.

Fingers crossed there is another,....and another,....and another.....

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1 hour ago, PBRStreetgang said:

That is really sad to see and no offence, I hope you are wrong mate. Other than the Ginormous Millennium Falcon the two Ninjago City Sets are my favourite Lego sets so far. They spectacularly intricate, colourful and incredibly fun. I love the Modular Expert City stuff, but they way back second compared to Ninjago City and I cannot but help that the next Ninjago City set, is for me, the most anticipated future Lego set

I hope I'm wrong to, another set in this line would be amazing but this time last year we knew aboutthe docks.

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1 hour ago, Renny The Spaceman said:

I hope I'm wrong to, another set in this line would be amazing but this time last year we knew aboutthe docks.

I see,...well, I hope Lego's security is better than last year. :laugh: I guess they are big and expensive sets (although I think they are terrific value for money) and perhaps more need to be sold before Lego considers developing a new one. Mind you, I have no idea what method Lego utilises in deciding to add to a theme. No doubt its been explained in this place a number of times. But I am new so Ill learn as I go along. :classic:

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4 hours ago, PBRStreetgang said:

I see,...well, I hope Lego's security is better than last year. 

That does seem to be true this year, it'd be nice to get some of the characters the themes missing

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A bit late, but great review @VBBN

Lots of cool details. I'm sorry I didn't have the time to do a combined review.

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