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My next Ninjago build. Here it was again important to retain the charm and appearance of the sets as much as possible (for the recognition of the children) Actually, I wanted to install the whole smithy in the environment, but then I had to dismantle it and partly rebuild it. 20200503_123009 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_123025 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_123041 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_123119 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_123101 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_123235 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_125711 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr 20200503_125756 by Fabian Kraus, auf Flickr
Hello All! I just picked up two new Ninjago Hands of Time sets - Dragon Forge and Samurai VXL, and wanted to share a pictorial review. The set contains six minifigures (All new to 2017) and a large, brick-built figure, costs $79.99 in the US, and contains 1,137 pieces not counting spares. Minifigures The set contains six figures - from left to right, there's Ray, Maya, Kai, Nya, Commander Raggmunk, and Slackjaw. All the figures are great and I love the fact that we are getting more and more metallic torsos - in this case gunmetal - but it really is a shame that Ray doesn't have the stunning metallic torso that debuted in Episode 40: Spellbound in a flashback. It's especially unfortunate the metallic highlights are gone, as this wave has a strange abundance of metallic torsos even for foot soldiers, so I'm not sure why this particular outfit wasn't made, especially as Maya has the exact same outfit she wore in the flashback. Removing all headgear, weapons, and accessories, we see that all the figures have alternate faces - Ray and Maya have scared expressions, and Ray gains a headband, Kai and Nya have normal faces (nut new expressions!) compared to their powered-up elemental Fusion faces, and the two Vermillion get slightly different faces - Slackjaw appears to be winking in his. What do I think of Kai and Nya's new faces? As far as the show is concerned, Nya's face is very similar to her previous Samurai X face that debuted in the Ninja DBX, which is fine and pretty accurate to the show. As for Kai's face, there's something about it I can't quite put my finger on, but something about it seems off compared to the show, besides the obvious scar difference. Perhaps it looks a tad too much like an expression Jay would make... As for Ray and Maya, the alt faces are nice, but I wish they had been angry/fighting faces instead - it would work in their captured situation, and that way, you could use the expressions in battle as well. Unfortunately, neither face really works for battle - the other sides are too calm and relaxed. Additionally, you can view the alternate faces with headgear here. Also, you can see Kai and Nya's new regular faces with hair and the new Fusion faces with hair. Build The set is composed of 8 bags, as you can see, and it also comes with instructions with a cardboard backing as per the usual in larger sets like these. There is a sticker sheet included as well. Here's a link to an image of the the built contents of every bag: Bag 1 Bag 2 Bag 3 Bag 4 Bag 5 Bag 6 Bag 7 Bag 8 New/Interesting Parts There are a number of new and recolored parts for 2017 here - the most obvious being the new weapons, armor, snakes, and of course the Hand of Time. The snakes, armor, weapons, and the Hand of Time will be covered in-depth in my review of Samurai VXL up soon, but for now, we can highlight a very nice selection of Apollo studs: The Elementally colored extras are great for bringing the elements to life in the hands of the characters, as you can see. Why so many extra trans-blue Apollo studs, you ask? Well, that's because they're ammo for a special play feature - but we'll get to that later. Model 1: Buffmillion The final character to showcase is Buffmillion, one of the new brick-built Vermillion figures. Since I built Samurai VXL first, to be honest I didn't have too high hopes for this guy - the brick-built figure in VXL was plagued with stability issues and a jumbled color palette. However, I was fortunately surprised with Buffmillion and he is really growing on me - he is completely stable due to the bend in his tail which actually looks more realistic (for a massive cluster of snakes in a suit of armor). The use of bigfig arms are great, and they really make him look... well... buff. (Sorry, I couldn't resist ). The only unfortunate thing is the color of axles, which wreak havoc on the color scheme (a problem Bionicle fans are very aware of). Also, the black Technic element holding the tentacles together stands out as well and is a break from the usually cohesive flow. Overall, though, this is a really great figure and a step-up from his counterpart in Samurai VXL. What I really want to see is how he is handled in the show - I can't think of how he will translate to the screen. I guess we will find out next month... Comparison Photos 1, 2, 3 Model 2: Hydro-Pyro Dragon Kai and Nya's Fusion Dragon is the latest addition to the growing dragon lineup. It's about the size of Jay and Nya's Hydro-Electric Dragon and uses a similar wing design to boot. There's a lot to like about this model, but a lot to dislike as well. I'll start out with some Pros: 1.) The Split design is very unique and hasn't really been seen before in any dragon, not even the previous Fusion Dragon which was really marketed as solely a lightning dragon. 2.) I especially like the backside of the model highlighting a fire/water swirl pattern using the relatively new shorter angled plate elements. This motif is seen throughout the set and looks really good here. It's simple but elegant. 3.) Leg Variety - Compared to some other dragons in the line with no variety in the leg shaping at all (Looking at you, Master Wu Dragon), this contrast between hind and front legs is a welcome breath of fresh air, although it isn't without its problems. Cons: 1.) Figure placement is really, really awkward. Most dragons have a decent enough saddle to seat the figures on, with some better than others. For this dragon, an attempt at a semblance of a saddle occurs with the brown elements under the top of the dragon, but the figures are raised so high up that the brown pieces don't even help. Nya has it a bit better as it's not as obvious how high she is due to the crossbow cannon, but for Kai it is very noticeable. 2.) Having very short back legs and very long front legs make posing a bit of a struggle. 3.) Every Ninjago dragon since Zane's has brought something new to the table, be it a NPU for the head build or a new type of wing. This dragon feels like a bit of a step back. The heads are way too generic and simple, and we've seen the wings before in Jay's Elemental Dragon. The only unique thing it has is the fusion aspect, which is alright but not a standout. Play Features The only play feature the dragon has is a single stud-firing crossbow. The only real interest here is the lovely trans-medium blue Apollo stud ammo, which I'm sure will come in handy. Finally, here's a shot of all Ninjago dragons together on the same shelf for comparison purposes. Model 3: Blacksmith Workshop Ray and Maya's Blacksmith shop is easily one of if not the best blacksmith shop Lego has ever produced. Comparing it to the most recent one in Ninjago in 2011, this new one is leaps and bounds ahead of the old shop. Unfortunately, this is a model that is very photogenic from certain angles only, and looking at it from the top, back, or sides when it is splayed out makes it a lot less appealing. Pros 1.) I love, love, love how the archway entrance was done. The slanting pillars were done well - simple, but effective. The crossed sword logo comes together nicely as well. 2.) The interior is filled with many interesting and accurate features, and even has small printed sushi roles that debuted in the Friends line. Also, note that really nice and re-usable rug sticker. 3.) The play features are all great, and I'll cover them more in-depth in a bit. Cons 1.) When viewed from other angles, especially the top and when it is opened up, the image kinda falls apart - especially because there wasn't the set budget to give it a roof. To be fair, the set was only $79.99, so you win some, you lose some... 2.) The geared play feature, which we are about to get to, features several large, four-tooth gears which jam a lot. Almost every few seconds a lot. Play Features There are two main play features in the set, both of which are closely related to each other. In addition, there are other smaller secondary play features. Lift up the stairs and pull out a shelf holding this mysterious bladed weapon. What is its purpose? We shall see... Now comes something I have never seen before in a LEGO set - and I like how new and innovative it is. See that exposed Technic pin under the fire? Stick the blade into the grooves of the pin and rotate, revealing four different beautiful stickered patterns on the column. Nya: Fusion Dragon: Blacksmith Emblem: Kai: Additionally, there is a minor play feature: Lift up the bench and underneath is yet another collectable ninja card sticker. This time, it's Samurai X. Also, this isn't really a play feature, but the abundance of weapons such as this neat copper Uruk-Hai sword is great. Summary For $79.99 (US), Dragon Forge has really good value for its price. I appreciate the all-new figures, although Ray could have been done a bit better, and Buffmillion is growing on me. The dragon is good, if not great as it brings pretty much nothing new to the table. The shop is much better, and I love the door shaping. Overall, here's my rating chart for this set: Value: 4.5/5 Figure Selection: 4/5 Dragon: 2.5/5 Shop: 4/5 Part Selection: 3.5/5 Playability: 4.5/5 Total: 23/30 "Above Average" PS - This is pretty much my first review ever, so please go easy on me but do give constructive criticism. Thank you!