The LEGO NINJAGO Movie seems to borrow certain aspects of its characters and plot from earlier seasons of the existing animated series. 70608 Master Falls is particularly representative of such a trend, depicting an epic battle between Wu and Garmadon while Kai, the show's original protagonist before Lloyd's arrival, watches on.
The presence of such vital characters is very appealing, particularly since this version of Garmadon is only otherwise available in the larger 70617 Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon. In addition, £24.99 or $29.99 seems like good value based on the size of the bridge and the apparent importance of this scene.
Kai appears in a total of seven sets so is among the most common minifigures in the first wave. However, this variant is a little rarer as we wears his ninja garb without the head wrap, thereby exposing a flame-like hair piece. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this component is made from a hard plastic rather than the rubber which has been used for Kai’s similar hairstyle in the standard NINJAGO sets since 2014. The head is printed with a scar, a plaster and two different expressions, one happy and the other angry.
I love the robes which have been introduced for The LEGO NINJAGO Movie and Kai's red outfit looks particularly good, striking a perfect balance between bright and muted colours. The torso printing is fairly simple but includes an attractive floral symbol on the reverse and the word 'FIRE' written in NINJAGO script along the edge of the shinobi shozoku at the front. A decorative diamond pattern adorns the legs but this might also serve as armour.
Kai wields two pearl silver katana and these are stored in a pearl dark grey sheath which fits around the minifigure's neck. The blades are arranged in parallel which looks splendid and I like the ribbed pauldron which covers the left shoulder. This element was introduced in 2016 but I think it looks better than ever in this new colour.
The design of Master Wu has remained fairly consistent throughout the seven year history of NINJAGO and that trend continues in the movie. Wu continues to sport a conical hat and a white robe, although the fabric component which wraps around the legs is new. This features a grey lining which continues onto the front of the torso while the back is decorated with a red symbol similar to that seen on Kai.
It is difficult to imagine Wu without his beard so I am very pleased to see the traditional rubbery element in use here. The head underneath includes some wrinkles and an angry expression which seems suitable for this combat situation, as does Wu's wooden staff. This is simply represented by a 6L bar cast in reddish brown which is fine but I would love to see a unique bamboo bo staff at some point.
Jungle Garmadon only appears in two sets at the moment, the other being 70617 Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon. The villain is appropriately dressed for the heat of the jungle, swapping his armour for an olive green camouflaged cape which hangs over the shoulder and his enormous helmet for a dark brown coolie. I expect the cape will find extensive use in military-based MOCs, of which there are many.
Garmadon's torso is completely exposed, revealing some impressive muscles which surpass even Batman's in The LEGO Batman Movie! The curly hairs on his chest are a nice touch and I like the hint of his standard dark blue attire through the belt around Garmadon's waist. He comes equipped with four pearl silver katana and an angry expression worthy of someone about to participate in an epic duel.
The box also lists the Skeleton as a minifigure which is not entirely surprising given the tendency for skeletons to become animated in the world of NINJAGO. The head is decorated with a simple skull print and includes hinged arms rather than the flailing ball jointed shoulders which are present on some skeletons.
This figure is more notable for its accessories which are a blade and a new map printed on a 2x2 tile. The design seems to relate directly to the film, depicting a trail which leads from the Destiny's Bounty, across the rope bridge found in this set and terminating at the Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon. The same piece appears in 70618 Destiny's Bounty but I am pleased to see it here as well.
The Completed Model
This set is focused upon a rope bridge which hangs precariously over a river filled with jagged rocks. Such locations are not uncommon in ninja-based films or even in NINJAGO as the small 70753 Lava Falls featured a very similar scenario and employed a few of the same building techniques. This set is far larger and therefore includes much more detail, with rocky cliffs on either side of the river and some aged structures which suggest that the crossing has been in use for many years.
A sheer cliff face presents the first hazard as a minifigure approaches the bridge and only some rocky outcrops allow them to climb to the top. I like the earthy reddish brown, dark tan and green colours which are contrasted with the man-made sand green and black columns marking the end of the bridge. These decorative structures look lovely, with scorpions attached to each one and flaming cressets on top.
The bridge itself is built using eleven medium nougat track links which are clipped to the rocks at either end and hang naturally between them. An identical technique was used in 70753 Lava Falls, but I think these medium nougat elements more suitable, giving the impression of textured wood and presenting a distinctive colour against the surrounding shades of grey and tan which make up the rocks and the buildings on top. Blue Technic pins allow minifigures to stand on the bridge. Such brightly coloured pieces look rather awkward but they are easily removed and placing minifigures will conceal them.
Black strings follow the curvature of the bridge and form the suspension ropes. These are connected to the columns at either end and reddish brown clips are evenly spaced across the entire span to depict bridge supports, although they are actually not attached to the bridge at all. This design look superb and the handgrips underneath are great but it seems a shame that the suspenders are not connected to the bridge in any way, not least because it makes them quite difficult to space or angle properly while building.
A large gateway dominates the end of the bridge, perhaps representing the entrance to another part of the jungle or even the ground belonging to the Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon. The walls are primarily tan which does not match the larger building, although the light bluish grey of 70617 may not have suited the dark bluish grey cliffs. I love the carved figures and the sand green accents look splendid but I think the 1x2 tiles above the door would have benefited from a printed or stickered design, perhaps saying 'BEWARE' in the NINJAGO script. It is worth noting that this set does not contain any stickers.
Cages made from natural materials such as sticks and vines have appeared in LEGO sets for many years, beginning with early models such as 6246 Crocodile Cage from 1994. 4182 The Cannibal Escape, a 2011 Pirates of the Caribbean set, brought about a significant change in how such prisons were constructed and this example is very reminiscent of the latter, using two 4x4 plates with frame at which are then joined using droid arms and bars. A large frond hangs over the top, suggesting that the cage is hanging over the abyss. In fact it rests on the cliff underneath and can be opened on a hinge to imprison or release a minifigure.
A cave is found beneath the gateway and the instructions suggest placing the skeleton, presumably a lost explorer, inside. This area is reasonably well finished but a few more hidden details such as gems or a carving in the rock would have improved the playability. Nevertheless, the cave represents a good use of space and I like the idea of the ninja stumbling across another adventurer who searched for the Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon but perished.
I had high expectations for this set and am definitely satisfied with the results. The minifigure selection is excellent but it is the bridge structure which stands out as the highlight. It is highly detailed and makes use of some interesting building techniques so would be worthy of display in my opinion, particularly alongside 70617 Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon which is situated nearby if the map is to be believed.
My criticisms of this set are few. The absence of a collapsing rope bridge feature is perhaps a little disappointing, although that assumes that the bridge will fall in the movie. It would also have been nice to see an exclusive character included but once again that depends upon the scene in the film as the trailer suggests that only Wu, Garmadon and the ninja will be present. Regardless, this is an excellent set and it comes highly recommended!
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