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  1. The LEGO Ninjago Movie does not come out in theatres until September 2017. While waiting, let's look at the NINJAGO sets from the latest TV season, Hands of Time. This is my 4th Eurobricks review - set number 70621, The Vermillion Attack. Overview Name: 70621 The Vermillion Attack Theme: LEGO System / NINJAGO / Hands of Time Year: 2017 (1H) Pieces: 63 Minifigures: 3 Price: USD 9.99 / EUR 9.99 / GBP 8.99 / SGD 19.99 / MYR 49.90 Resources: Brickset and Bricklink Introduction I’ll use the Forward Time Blade and I cut into the chase to tell you that the 2 main selling points of this set are the 3 minifigures and the usefulness of the parts that comes with it. This is essentially for army building if you consider Kai just a uniformed foot soldier ninja. Is this the best army building set currently out there? Read until the end to find out the answer. How can you get wrong when you get Kai, 2 villains, 5 red snakes, a time blade and a small tree stump with an egg? Looking at the front box art cover, we see Kai fleeing the tree stump with the Forward Time Blade. The Time Blades are the main collectible items in the Hands of Time season. Two Vermillion warriors namely Rivett and Slackjaw are armed with their weapon of choice. Behind the box we see how a lever behind the tree stump pops the egg open revealing several red snakes inside. At the side of the box it shows Kai in his new suit. Inside we get 2 clear bags without numbers and an instruction booklet. There is no sticker sheet (yes!) Build All parts laid down before building Before completing the build, I want to show you the internal mechanism that makes the egg pop-open. The technic pieces push the bottom axle upwards, forcing it against another axle attached with the top egg shell. Twisting the lever opens up the egg. Simple yet ingenious play feature. Popping mechanism Other than the egg, there is nothing to write home about the build. Admittedly, I find it so plain because it took me less than 10 minutes to finish the build. Obviously AFOLs are not the target market for NINJAGO so I asked my son for second opinion. His first reaction is to pop the egg open; it mesmerises him because it has a metallic finish. He also thinks that the snakes peeking out are "cute"... I think his playful reaction is due to his exposure to "surprise egg" toys. If your kids like surprise egg, then he/she will be amused with this set. Let's talk more about the egg. These are the same egg moulds used in Galaxy Squad sets but in metallic grey colour; instead of hatching alien buggoids, they hatch red snakes. In the show these red snakes merge together to form the Vermillion warriors. According to some interviews, the NINJAGO designers like to put easter eggs (pun intended) that connect the other LEGO themes with Ninjago. Perhaps this is one of those. They could have just used the new egg moulds used in Elves but they decided to use the Galaxy Squad eggs instead. In the middle of tree stump -- a chainsaw blade is used to hold the time blade in the middle. Kai's mission is to take the Time Blade from the Vermillion army. This is not accurate to the TV show but kids can use their imagination for the role play. The only thing that bothers me in this small build is that.... Tree stump is brown; the vines are dark green. Some olives are nice, but why the plate is lime green!? Colour me intrigued. I’ve watched the entire Hands of Time season already and the swamp is much darker than the vibrant lime green 6x6 round corner plate. It should have been olive or any dark shade of green. One more thing -- there are light bluish grey clips at the back of the tree which makes it attachable to the Iron Doom set. Nifty but not necessary in my opinion. Completed build Parts The only new mould in this set is the time blade. The other parts shown below are existing design elements in new colour. I'm surprised that the bar piece in metallic grey is only produced this year. Minifigures The Ninjago minifigures are now on-par with Nexo Knights. All the minifigures in this set have fully-printed front and back torso as well as very detailed leg printing. You can even see that the latest Kai minifigure (right) wears a jika-tabi (tabi boots) because the leg printing extends at the very tip of the minifigure’s legs. Comparison of the last 3 Kai design No armour, scabbard or headwrap is included in this small set but it comes with Kai’s hair and a bandana. I continue to believe TLG should always include the headwrap and not just the hairpiece. I guess you have to buy the bigger set (Dragon’s Forge) to get that, or borrow the headwrap from Kai minifigure in the Days of the Departed (centre) because that headwrap matches the new outfit. There is no 2nd face print; same old Kai face with a scar. . Why can't I have these both? Tell me. Why do I have to choose?? -- Kai The two Vermillion warriors are Rivett and Slackjaw. Just looking at the design of the headgear and chain mail armour, I can tell that the designers really put a lot of effort on these minifigures. The chain mail armour has a stud at the back so you can put attachment for other weapons or anything you wish to attach at the back of the minifigure. Both villains have identical dual head printing. The leg prints are also identical. Fortunately, the torsos are different. If you buy a couple of this set then you can mix and match the armour and headgears to make the other Vermillion warriors since the foot soldiers are just permutations of these 2. However, you still need to get the 2 commanders and General Machia from the other sets to complete the Vermillion army ranks. Fun fact: The Vermilions rely on their iron armours to hold them together in humanoid form so -- essentially they use them as exoskeleton. The 2 snake heads sticking out of Slackjaw’s headgear is a reminder that these Vermillion warriors are made of many red snakes that morph together. . Ekkk!! This is so gross! Below are pictures exploring the armour compatibility with hair piece and other head gears not included in the set. The chain mail armour looks good for custom samurai warlords but you need to remove the face cover because it is held upwards by the throat guard. In fact, in order to fit the headgear, I need to slightly pull the headpiece upward by a few millimetres so that the studs will attach to the anti-studs firmly. Using short hair piece should be fine. Headgears that cover the entire face like all the ninja headwraps are not compatible because they won't attach to the head due to the throat guard. By mistake I put the armour on reverse side and as you can see below, it still looks decent, reminiscent of the Chima armours with studs, but looks more badass. Conclusion In the history of Ninjago sets, this is the first time 3 minifigures are included at this price range. Usually you'll get 3 minifigures from sets that are 2 to 3 times more expensive. Consequently, some bricks need to go. The build is small but there are many good parts that you can use for your own creations. The premise of this set is that you'll stage a fight so that Kai can win the Forward Time Blade. Not show accurate but surely, the playability is a pass for kids. I just wish there is some kind of mechanism that entraps Kai or make some of the villains fly away to add more play features. For adult collectors, this is the best Ninjago army building set so far. Compared to other non-licensed themes (except City), its overall value is better than most. If we consider City starter sets as "army builder" because they somehow fulfil the same purpose, then I wish TLG can also release a similar Ninjago set with 4 minifigures at the same price as the City Starter Sets. I really miss the good old days when the army building sets like 4805 Ninja Knights have 5 minifigures included and it didn't matter if there was no build at all. Man, I wish the Time Blades are real. I need the Reversal Time Blade! Review summary Playability: 6/10 - The egg-popping feature is cool but that's about it Design / Building Experience: 7/10 - Kids in appropriate age will enjoy the build. Design is very simple but is expected for the price. Minifigures: 9/10 - the minifigures have top-notch prints. The villain armours and headgears are very well sculpted. Price / Value for money: 9/10 - Comes with 3 minifigures; good assortment of parts you can easily re-purpose for other builds. Overall: 7.5/10 - It's better than most army building sets but I wish there is 1 more minifigure & less fluff to make it a better army builder / army pack.
  2. Following my previous NINJAGO review, let’s take a look at another interesting set from The Hands of Time season. Let’s dive right in my 5th Reviewers Academy review, set number 70623 - Destiny’s Shadow. Overview Name: 70623 - Destiny’s Shadow Theme: LEGO System / NINJAGO / The Hands of Time Year: 2017 (1H) Pieces: 346 Minifigures: 3 Price: USD 29.99 / EUR 29.99 / GBP 24.99 / SGD 39.99 / MYR 129.90 Resources: Brickset and Bricklink Introduction If you have been reading my post in the Ninjago topics, I have been sharing that I prefer playsets over vehicles. Occasionally I do make exceptions such as this. I was not supposed to buy this one but I ended up buying this set anyway. Why? Read more to find out. When I first heard the name “Destiny’s Shadow” I can’t help but relate the set to the Destiny’s Bounty. First thing that came to my mind is that it must be smaller because it’s only a shadow. Apparently all these are true because if you look at the front box art you’ll think it is just a scaled down Destiny’s Bounty without sails. At the back of the box, we see Lloyd and Cole teaming up to fight Vermin, the only Vermillion soldier included in the set. What’s striking about this set is the inclusion of 2 olive green canoes that appears detachable from the main boat. I’ll talk more about that later on. At the side we see the common stuff like the minifigures included -- Vermin (villain), Lloyd, Cole and a frog. There is also the “money shot” and an small logo of LEGO Life promoting the new app for kids. Let's do the unboxing! Inside the box, there are 3 numbered plastic bags, 2 plastic cutout sheets, 2 olive green canoes, 2 instruction booklets and... *drum roll*... no sticker sheets. Yes, what you see is not a mistake… there are indeed an extra plastic sheet of the cut-out wings. Build Here is the preview of the booklet and how each bag contributes to the build. Bag #1 contents We’re off to a great start because we are not even on the 5th step of building and we already have an interesting part such as this 2x2 wedge in bluish dark grey. Few steps later we complete the hoverboard used by Vermin. Of all the Ninjago hoverboards I’ve seen and built I think this is one of the better ones. The details provided by the iron ingots and copper Uruk-hai swords make this hoverboard very sharp and edgy. The remaining steps make the hull of the boat if you can even call it a boat. Ok, it is a flying boat or an airship just like the Destiny's Bounty. We also get Cole with the Pause Time Blade. I’ll spend more time on minifigures later. Notice that here are angled plates and ball joints used to construct the stern. Right from the first bag we are greeted with seemingly simple but not-so-basic building techniques. Bag #2 content In bag #2, the wheel holder is used with the Exo-force robot arms to achieve the angle needed for the bow of the airship. I have not built all LEGO sets ever created (I don’t think anybody has) but this is the first time I see robot arms and wheel holder combination to attach something in an angle. The warm gold [BL: pearl gold] hoses are held by 4 pairs of clips in an odd way that the hoses form a shape of a bowling pin or sexy soda bottle. On the sides of the airship, the titanium metallic [BL: pearl dark grey] elbow pieces, which others affectionately called macaroni pieces, give the airship a very industrial look and steam-punky vibe. Moving on, hold your breathe because we are opening the last bag... Bag #3 contents Bag #3 adds the wing frames. The wings are attached using the ball joints to the stern. You’ll find out later why it has to be connect with ball joints. You can see the back of the wing frame here. It seems that the wings are smaller than what I saw in the TV series. Also, due to how the plastic wings are fastened to the wing frames with those holes, the already curvy wings curves even more than it should be. The build is already complete at this point. What you see above is the boat mode of Destiny’s Shadow with its wings retracted. Attach the 2 olive green canoes on the sides, expand the wings and you get the flight mode of Destiny’s Shadow. The 2 reddish brown oars for the canoes are attached in front for easy access. I prefer this mode but I really wish those puny little wings on the side are slightly bigger/wider, sharper and less floppy. Remember the ball joints? The wings can be expanded by pushing the yellowish orange protruding part below the engines. Both wings will extend as both wings are attached to the central mechanism with ball joints. Consequently, when you push one wing inwards the other one also retracts back. Notice the solar-panel looking tiles on top of the black wedges? Those are all printed. Remember, there are no stickers in this set. It does look like a proper airship when viewed by the side profile but I love the back view even more. Just look at the big pearl gold jet engine with purple accent. I like big boats and I cannot lie; You other brothers can't deny! Frankly, I was expecting this set to be smaller as the pictures online and even the box art does not give justice to the product in real-life. I find that almost all angles are camera-friendly. It is narrow and slender, and the pearl gold pneumatic hose creates a very unusual curve that makes this airship “sexy” for the lack of a better term. The build is very enjoyable but not free of criticism. Apart from the wings, the other gripe I have on this set is that there isn’t enough firm parts to hold this airship to swoosh it around with one hand. The reddish brown 2x4 tile at the stern doesn’t help either because the moment your hands get a little bit oily those tiles get very slippery. So, you need to pay extra attention to support the weight of the airship below or you’ll find this crashing on the floor. One more thing before I proceed to the next segment -- the official description mentioned about “Lloyd’s compass”. I’m 100% sure there is no compass accessory in this set. I double confirmed it. Maybe when they mentioned compass, they meant the green frog pointing at the north direction? Hey Lloyd I think your compass is a little bit cranky. I think you need to feed it first. Here are the extra parts not used on the build after following the instruction booklet thoroughly. Parts This set is also not shy of new parts. For me, the stand-out parts here are the 2 olive green canoes and macaroni elbow pieces. I won’t go through all the new parts but here are my remarks for the notable ones. The 2 olive green canoes are outstanding. Olive green is not my favourite colour in LEGO colour palette but it is starting to climb up the list of my desired part colour. I think this will be a great fit with the upcoming City sub-theme Jungle if you wish to add some river scene. Fun fact: Don't you know that the first ever LEGO canoe was released in the Islanders sub-theme of Pirates I back in the mid-90'. It came in classic (bright) red colour. The macaroni piece looks great in pearl dark grey and you get 4 of them! If you need to make solar panels the 1x2 trans-black printed tile is very handy. The pearl gold hose which is 16 studs-long is also found in this set for the first time. Having new gold part is always welcome. The new Vermillion sword with the jagged blade is great to have for sci-fi weaponry. There is also 1 stray medium nougat [BL: medium dark flesh] 2x2 round plate that ended up in this set. At the time of writing this review, only this set and 70904 Clayface Splat Attack uses this part. Minifigures Just like what I mentioned in my review of 70621 The Vermillion Attack, the level of detail in this wave of Ninjago minifigures are top-notch. Both Cole and Lloyd wear tabi-boots as the printing extends all the way to the tip of minifigures legs. The tabi boots are more obvious on Cole since he has a dark bluish grey legs. Cole has a black shoulder pads armour but Lloyd does not have it. I am sure the only reason why Lloyd does not have that armour is to differentiate the Lloyd minifigure in the Iron Doom set. Fortunately the black shoulder pads are common enough that it is easy enough to ‘upgrade’ the minifigure with the additional armour. Remove the armours and headgears and you’ll see that Lloyd continues to be the odd one out because he does not have an alternate face print. Conclusion Hold tight Cole, we’ll do a barrel roll! I think that the design of this airship is brilliant even though it appears odd at first sight. As I build it, I find some creative and uncommon building techniques such as the use of wheel holder plates to put angled parts at the bow, as well as the ball joint mechanism used in the wings expansion at the stern. The major factor that attracted me to this set is the price. Even though I initially wanted to skip this, the set is right there at the sweet spot that it does not makes sense for me to give it a pass. It is very easy to dismiss because it looks awkward. I don't know if you can consider this airship steam-punk or diesel-punk. If you ignore the canoes, this is basically a Ninjago version of Star Wars Desert Skiff which is not something you can brag about. Upon building it -- I start to appreciate the design aesthetics more. Piece by piece it became more attractive. It’s like the girl you find awkward and nerdy in school and once you learn how beautiful she is beyond the surface, you suddenly realize how great she is inside out. Finally, if It helps in your buying decision, it's good to know that this airship enjoyed a respectable amount of time in The Hands of Time season. TWO Olive green canoes FTW! Review summary Playability: 8/10 - Fun is written all over it but needs extra care while swooshing Design / Building Experience: 8/10 - Eccentric design that translates to enjoyable build Minifigures: 9/10 - Great minifigures; wish that Lloyd has an armour and alternate face print too Price / Value for money: 9/10 - In terms of parts per piece this is the 2nd best value of all the Hands of Time sets. Also, this is like a 3-in-1 boat set because you get 2 olive green canoes! Overall: 8.5/10 - An excellent attempt to offer a down-sized airship with interesting parts to boot; however, I wish that the wings are more rigid and slightly bigger too. Thanks for reading. As always, wubba lubba dub dub.