DK Ninjago Character Encylopedia available now

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DK Ninjago Character EncylopediaApologies if I'm a bit late with this news: I've had a copy of this for a few weeks but have been waiting until it was officially released before reviewing it. It seems that Amazon.co.uk is shipping it already so I guess it's OK to tell you about it now...

So, DK's latest book, and what I believe is the last one due in 2012, is Ninjago Character Encyclopedia. It's the same size and format as the Harry Potter and Star Wars ones: 170-odd pages, 18cm x 24xm, with a thick front cover to house the exclusive minifig.

The minifig is, apparently, Lloyd ZX but given that he's sporting a torso print that will feature on all the Ninjas in the 2013 sets I suspect his real suffix will be something else when it's revealed next year. Unlike the minifigs in all previous DK books, this one comes unassembled. However, like those in recent DK books, it's not made in a European or Mexican LEGO factory so the plastic is not quite so good as those that are.

 

DK Ninjago Character EncylopediaIt's divided into two sections: Ninja vs. Skeleton (the 2011 series) and Ninja vs. snakes (the 2012 sets). Most of the characters have a page profile like that shown, as do the dragons, vehicles and sets. There are also pages covering the weapons, so it's pretty comprehensive (but see my note below). I guess it can be given it only has to cover two years' worth of sets.

I was not a fan of the 2011 sets, the skeletons and their vehicles were too weird for my taste and half the minifigs were 'not made in a European or Mexican LEGO factory' consequently I don't have many of the sets.

 

DK Ninjago Character EncylopediaHowever, LEGO came good in 2012 and I'm really lovin' the minifigs, particularly the snakes, so the second half of the book is much more appealing to me.

Most of the minifigs get a full two-page spread like those shown, but others are glossed over, such as the Kendo and NRG Ninjas, which share two pages between them, which is a bit of a shame.

 

DK Ninjago Character EncylopediaThe last few pages contain a minifig gallery and also a set gallery, which for some reason doesn't contain any of the spinner sets or booster packs: in fact rather bizarrely neither are mentioned in the book at all, other than occasional references in 'ninja file' boxes on the character profile pages, if they didn't come in any other set (e.g. as on the Samurai X page above).

 

So, to summarise, this is, as we've come to expect from DK, an excellent book and one that every young Ninjago fan will love to find under the tree at Christmas. For us more discerning AFOLs, it's not quite a 'definitive guide' but it's pretty close.

You can order it from Amazon:

15 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Awesome! BTW, first comment :P

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By in New Zealand,

^
Hi, welcome :-)

^^
'not made in a European or Mexican LEGO factory'
Very diplomatic ... love it :)

Im really loving the 2012 minifigs too .. well, the baddies anyway

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By in United Kingdom,

^ I get accused of being xenophobic if I use the 'C' word hence the change of phrase :-)

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By in United States,

Looks like a great book! Can you take pictures of the back without the armor? Thanks!

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By in United States,

Good review! Interesting to see that the new Lloyd ZX's emblem is in fact different than his previous emblem. But in some respects this feels more consistent with the other Ninja emblems (which are all some kind of stylized face in front view).

One correction I ought to make is that Samurai X isn't exclusive to a spinner set (she appears in her trademark Samurai Mech), which makes it odd that they list her spinner as her origin but don't do the same for the other characters. However, I suppose she is a special exception in that unlike most of the other Ninjago characters who appeared in mainstream sets, she did [i]originate[/i] in a spinner set (the Samurai Mech came out in the summer while the Samurai X spinner was a January release-- I believe only Lasha and some of the 2011 Ninja DX share this characteristic).

I had read in some descriptions of the book that it would include pages on events from the TV series, but you don't mention any here. Did those not make it into the final book? It's a bit of a shame since I would have loved either a recap of some noteworthy episodes or a "Making of" section like the LEGO Batman Visual Dictionary has for the video game LEGO Batman 2.

Finally, I don't know which is sillier: the fact that they seem intent on not revealing the Green Ninja's identity, which really there's no reason not to know by now, or the fact that they identify the new figure, in a non-ZX uniform, as "Green Ninja ZX" and the original Lloyd ZX figure as "Green Ninja", full stop. Especially since they had no problem identifying the two Lord Garmadon figures by the exact same name, and likewise the 2011 and 2012 Sensei Wu figures. I'm also kind of surprised to see the black-robed Sensei Wu called "Sensei Wu DX", since I've never seen that name used in official material before.

It's a shame the 2013 figs won't be here, but I can see why it would be a poor business decision to release this once the theme is on the wane rather than when it's near its peak popularity.

Thanks so much for the review! I will definitely be picking this up. It might not be an infallible, 100% comprehensive resource, but it will be great reference for fan art any time I don't have all my Ninjago figs with me, and also just a nice colorful piece of nostalgia to hold onto, like my "Makuta's Guide to the Universe" book from the BIONICLE theme.

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By in United Kingdom,

There's nothing in the book about the TV series or 'making of', but then the other char. encls. don't have those sections either.

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By in United States,

Ah, that's a shame. Not sure why they would have planned on having something like that and then later cut that out... I wonder if it's related to their bizarre decision to try and keep the Green Ninja's identity a secret.

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By in United States,

This looks like a nice fig I could use on castle Mocs, any idea if it'll be used anywhere else...?

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By in Netherlands,

Actually.. the non European/mexican Lego as you say have better hair/headgear fitting then the Eu/Mex ones. These are a lot looser. And generally I can't tell the difference between all the factories.

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By in United Kingdom,

Just got this... Just having a flick through on my lunch break, it seems a steal at this price. Nice little stocking filler for my Little 'un!

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By in United States,

@The_Creator: Probably not. It'll almost certainly be just as exclusive as the figs from the Visual Dictionaries and Character Encyclopedias from licensed themes. However, next year's Ninjago sets include four Ninja minifigures that are basically palette swaps of this fig, presumably with different emblems on the back. Those parts might appear elsewhere-- probably not outside the Ninjago theme, but easily as keychain or magnet figures.

@horizon1978: That probably depends on the headgear in question. A lot of Chinese-made minifigures use different molds for both the head and headgear than the other countries' production facilities use. This headgear, however, only appears on non-Chinese figs (except keychain and magnet figs), so I don't know what your point of comparison is, unless the differences you've observed are in the head mold only.

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By in Australia,

Huw, are you sure that the mini-fig is made in .... China? If you look at the back of the book it should say in fine print where the component's are made? The Harry Potter Mini-fig that came with the visual dictionary is made in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and the Czech Republic?

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By in United States,

mine just came in the mail...its awesome!!!

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By in United States,

I got mine the other day, and definitely have some observations. First of all, while there are no sections talking about the TV episodes themselves, there are "story features" at the beginning and end of each year, which is probably what the blurbs were talking about when they said features on "events from" the TV episodes.

Of course, a lot of the story information is slightly inaccurate in order to better fit the sets. For instance, the Zane DX figure's page says "As soon as he thawed out, Zane was able to tame the Dragon and earn his DX (Dragon eXtreme) Ninja status". The episodes themselves don't actually show the taming of the Ice Dragon, but they make it clear that the Ninja don't tame their dragons until after the Golden Weapons of Spinjitzu have been stolen (Greg Farshtey's short story "The Dragon's Roar" tells about this event in more detail; it can be found in the chapter book "Jay: Ninja of Lightning" from Scholastic (US) or the guide book "LEGO Ninjago: Jay" from Puffin (UK), Nelson (Germany), or AMEET (Poland). The European editions are probably the better buy since they also feature full-color illustrations, but the US edition also features a several-chapter-long story which as far as I know isn't published anywhere else.

Likewise, the description of the 2012 story's finale has Sensei Wu get imprisoned by the Serpentine (never happened in the TV episodes) before the Great Devourer is awakened, and afterward get rescued from imprisonment by the Serpentine (also never happened) and immediately tell the Ninja that Lloyd is the Green Ninja (in the TV episodes, Sensei Wu learns of the Green Ninja's identity at the same time as everyone else, a couple episodes before the Devourer is awakened).

There are some other minor factual errors as a result of the use of misleading official images. Perhaps the most obvious is on the Jay DX page, where it describes and shows a picture of his "gold and gray" DX spinner... only that this never appeared in any sets. The finalized version of Jay DX's spinner has a red underside, like the other DX spinners. This shouldn't have slipped by the editors since a few pages later the feature on the Skeleton Bowling set both depicts and describes Jay's actual "gold and red Spinjitzu spinner".

Overall, though, the errors are minor enough that they don't detract from this book's high quality. It was a very entertaining read-- I laughed at the way the book seemed to come up with a different explanation for the banana in the Fangpyre Mech set on every page. And there was some great new information, like the name of Zane's "father" (Dr. Julien). Plus, it was nice that it featured character art from the cards on every character page besides Snike's. =P I definitely recommend this book to Ninjago fans.

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