The Ninjago team is taking to the skies this year and the largest set belonging to the Skybound subtheme is 70605 Misfortune's Keep, priced at £69.99 and containing 754 pieces as well as six minifigures, including three ninja and the exclusive Djinn Nadakhan!
This set stood out to me at once, combining the ramshackle nature of a pirate galleon with a steampunk vessel of some kind. The essence of this design is prevalent throughout all of the pirate craft in the latest wave and they therefore look fairly uniform despite their cobbled together appearance.
However, that has resulted in some issues which I had not anticipated as a few areas of the vessel are rather fragile and the space is not always used to its fullest potential in my opinion. Read on and see what you think...
Three ninja are included: Kai, Jay and Lloyd. They all appear in smaller sets but these versions are exclusive as Kai features a new scabbard element, Jay is wearing an eye patch and is without his mask while Lloyd wears some bulky armour by which he can be clipped to his booster jet.
The new ninja outfits are my favourite yet, combining black designs with the signature colours of each character perfectly. Their respective elemental symbols are printed on their chests alongside some nice metallic gold straps and there is additional printing on the backs of the torsos which can be seen below. The legs feature similar detail which is fairly simple but compliments the rest of the figure nicely.
The updated scabbard is rather impractical as reaching across to draw both swords from one shoulder would be a bit of a hassle. However, it looks fantastic and I very much like the textured armour which stretches over the left shoulder. It would have been nice to see masks included for Lloyd and Jay as an alternative to their respective hair pieces, although that would mean Jay's eyepatch would not be visible. The presence of this eyepatch leaves me very curious. Perhaps Jay loses an eye during the new series or maybe he is simply trying to infiltrate the pirate horde. We shall have to wait and see.
Djinn Nadakhan is the leading antagonist in the Skybound range and is one of the most complex minifigures of the entire Ninjago theme. His hair piece is brand new and is the same as that used on Macy in the Nexo Knights theme, but in black rather than dark red on this occasion. The rubbery material used for this element means that it is not held in place very tightly which is a little disappointing, particularly since the hair piece used for Aurra Sing back in 2011 was made of a hard plastic despite being very similar to this one.
Nadakhan's head is printed with a moustache and a grimace which are hidden when he is wearing his bandana. Conversely, you can hardly miss his elaborate eyebrows which look rather spectacular! The torso consists of two pieces, a standard torso which forms the lower half and an attachment which supports the genie's two upper arms. The upper section features some green armour as well as the skull and cross bones insignia while the lower half shows his exposed chest and a nicely detailed belt. It would have been nice to see the printing continue onto the back of the upper torso but it still looks alright.
The ghostly element introduced last year appears for the first time in trans-red and orange here which is appropriate since Djinn Nadakhan is a genie. He is armed with a Djinn Blade which represents Sensei Wu and features an excellent hilt piece which is brand new and includes plenty of moulded detail.
Two sky pirates, Bucko and Flintlocke, appear in other sets but they are a welcome inclusion here as at least two pirates are required to man the pilot's seat and the rear turret. The entirety of each figure is printed with lovely designs and the scruffy nature of the traditional pirate is represented very effectively.
Flintlocke's epaulettes noticeably obstruct his helmet in the image above and it is surprising that this slight design flaw has made it into the set. Despite this I still like his attire very much and the moustache definitively completes his aviator appearance which is accented by the scarf which is printed on the front of his torso along with the parachute on the back.
The monkey which first appeared in 1989 was seemingly retired in 2011 but it makes a spiritual return here as Monkey Wretch. The piece has been very slightly updated since then but is still faithful to the original. Presumably this is the pirates' pet on board and it is therefore appropriately attired in orange and pearl silver to match the general colour scheme of the faction.
I think this monkey would benefit from some printing. At the very least the eyes, nose and mouth should have been highlighted. Nevertheless this is a fun character and I can only imagine what kinds of mischief he might get up to with a rifle and a hammer in his hands!
The Completed Model
This set consists of three models, a small pirate flier, Lloyd's booster jet and Misfortune's Keep. This combination offers a great deal of play value but there is room for improvement, particularly with the two supporting craft. Finding an appropriate balance between the rickety design of pirate equipment and creating a sturdy model is important but that has not been achieved here unfortunately. The wings look fine and I like how they fold up for landing but the tail is a bit delicate and it is not easy to hold the model without knocking bits off or causing them to move inadvertently.
I don't like the single wheel found at the back of the craft either as it looks out of place to me. It is somewhat effective in conveying the appearance of a salvaged vehicle but the small pirate models in 70604 Tiger Widow Island and other sets are better than this one.
Lloyd's craft is fairly large and occupies a reasonable chunk of the total piece count but the detail and play value is lacking in my opinion. It seems strange to include something so bulky for the use of only a single minifigure and I would have much preferred the size of this model to be reduced and more pieces to be devoted to Misfortune's Keep itself.
Nevertheless, the shape of the flier is unusual and I think it deserves some credit for that as well as the winch feature found underneath which works very nicely. By rotating the golden spinner element on top you can raise and lower a hook underneath. This is shown to be lowering a minifigure on the box but I think some cargo would be more appropriate as there is nowhere for that second figure to sit, unless they are just placed on top or hang from the underside while the vehicle is in flight.
Misfortune's Keep is an enormous vessel, measuring 44cm in length and with a wingspan of 45cm! Despite its large size this is a swooshable model which is light enough to be flown around with one hand but still feels reasonably bulky and therefore offers fair value for money in my view.
However, the engine pods and wing tips are rather fragile and tend to twist during flight which is irritating. The skeleton on the front which acts as a figurehead suffers from a similar issue as it often rotate from side to side when the vehicle is moved around. The wingtips and skeleton could have been anchored very easily so it is a shame that they have been left to swivel more freely than they should.
The runway which hangs beneath the main fuselage looks fantastic. I like the sticker at the end and the shaping of the bodywork around this is very striking, recalling the jagged teeth of a shark. Two of the new swords are clipped to either side which is a nice decoration and matches 70603 Raid Zeppelin which features a similar decorative style.
Unfortunately, the rear section of this runway is very bland. Presumably this area is intended for maintenance or storing the pirate flier, although there is no way of holding this in place. A simple weapons rack, some tools or a method of anchoring the smaller vehicle would have improved this part of the model enormously. In its current state this platform is almost useless.
Cannons are hidden on either side of the vessel and these can be revealed for battle by lowering the panels beneath the wings. These cannons fire 1x1 cylinder bricks and additional ammunition is included which can be stored on the deck beside the cannons or in the crate found on top of the vehicle.
Also stored in this crate are a couple of swords and four printed discs for the shooters located on either side of the cockpit. These are activated remotely by sliding a Technic element on top which could be a little better disguised in my opinion, although it functions perfectly.
The cockpit itself has room for a single minifigure to sit beneath the canopy. This is cleverly constructed using a pair of light bluish grey scimitars and a 4L bar and the entire assembly hinges at the front for access. I like the angled sides of the cockpit very much and the addition of mismatched wheels and some more wooden panelling looks great. The wheels almost give the impression of eyes, further zoomorphising the craft and making it look very menacing!
A tattered flag is placed on the 'mast' and there is a rowing boat at the back which includes a turret mounted on the deck. This can be raised and lowered as well as rotating all the way around and the entire assembly can be removed to be used as an escape craft. There is nothing fitted to the boat to suggest that it could fly, so presumably it simply falls off and lands in the water below, assuming that the vessel is flying over water. I would have been pleased to see a launch mechanism included and there is certainly room for it, but instead you must remove it manually.
A twin boom configuration supports the vertical stabilizers and a moveable elevator stretches between them. This is the sturdiest section of the entire model due in no small part to the fact that large masts are used to good effect.
The main feature of the set is activated by switching the red Technic axle from right to left. This alters the orientation of the enormous engine pods mounted on the wings to assist in take off and landing, much like a real tiltrotor aircraft. I like the idea of this function but the mechanism is fairly rudimentary and the nacelles tend to wobble as a result.
This sums up the entire set in some respects. It looks good and there are plenty of fun features but a few refinements are required in order to maximise the play value and improve the quality of the model as a whole.
My thoughts on this set are mixed. There are many aspects of the model which I like very much but it seems rather crude in places and there are a number of imperfections which bother me. By reducing the size of Lloyd's turbo jet the designer could have used some of the remaining elements to make the keep a little sturdier and add some detail to the rear platform which looks rather bland to me in its current state.
On the other hand, the play value is very high and I like the rugged appearance of the entire model, particularly due to the mismatched wooden planks which form the hull and look fantastic.
This set offers a fantastic minifigure selection as well as plenty of play value and a reasonably attractive main model. However, it has fallen a little short of my expectations on the whole while the quality of some other new Ninjago models far surpass this one and for that reason I would recommend 70603 Raid Zeppelin and 70604 Tiger Widow Island over this one.
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