70612 Green Ninja Mech Dragon is right in the middle of the product range for The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, priced at £44.99 or $49.99 and containing 544 pieces. Spoiler alert here: it's fantastic. You'll have to read on to find out exactly why and how, though.
Upon seeing Lloyd's mighty robotic steed make its debut in the film's first trailer, I was blown away by its design and sheer size. Of course, my hopes of the official set matching the scope of the film version were highly unrealistic, and unsurprisingly we ended up with a heavily scaled-down version.
But hope is not lost. With four fantastic minifigures and some fulfilling play features, the Green Ninja Mech Dragon still stands strong amongst the entire first wave. How strong? Let's see...
Lloyd is the leader of the Secret Ninja Force tasked with defending the island of NINJAGO, and the evil warlord Garmadon's son. In the film, Lloyd will struggle to fight his father, while at the same time getting to know him and why he has the goals he does. This dynamic looks like it will prove to be as emotionally hard-hitting as it was in the show, and I am very much looking forward to it!
Lloyd's shinobi shozoku is perhaps my favorite of the six movie ninja, with very subtle diamond printing on the body only visible in certain lighting. The green belt continues onto the legs, followed by some knee detail.
The NINJAGO script down the robe lining represents the word 'ninja,' although it would have been nice to see Lloyd's element of 'energy' written instead.
Lloyd's mask is in two pieces - mostly black but with some green highlights, particularly in the headband. The forehead is printed with a golden, unidentified symbol. Unfortunately, no hair piece is included but it can easily be found in cheaper sets such as the Lloyd Collectable Minifigure.
Finally, the Green Ninja is equipped with a sword mold known as a dao, tailed by a pearl gold tassel. This mold debuted last year and is very welcomed in this color. He has two expressions, one on either side - determined and happy!
Wu is the sensei and master of Spinjitzu who has sworn to train the ninja to fight any evil that may threaten their home. He appears particularly wise here, with a calm but battle-ready facial expression not unlike the original, as well as his consistent white beard. A brown 6L bar as a staff also complements the look.
The old rice hat is the same as it has been in previous appearances of the character - though a new one, known as a coolie, appears in other sets from this wave on a couple Garmadon variants and generic citizens.
The robe has a grey lining going down the center of it which continues onto the impressive fabric skirt. While it looks great as a continuation of the robe and its material is quite pliable, the open area on the right side slightly bothers me.
The symbol on Wu's back has largely been kept the same as before, and appears on all of the ninjas' backs in some way as the supposed logo of the team. Wu's legs are a plain tan color - with the exception of some brown sandals on his toes, which are appreciated.
One might also notice the lack of arm printing. While this would have been accurate to the film and its absence is indeed unfortunate, the cuffs do appear solely on Wu's Collectible Minifigure. Sneaky LEGO!
Otherwise, this minifigure is very appealing to me as the general design of Wu as a character hasn't changed too much, despite the change of universe.
Garmadon is the self-proclaimed 'worst guy ever' who just so happens to be Lloyd's father. He stands tall amongst the other minifigs in this set, for he has a second torso that fits over the normal one's neck - thereby supporting two more of his unusual four arms.
Garmadon also sports some printing hiding beneath the wonderful dark blue cloth cape and drapes, with a ribcage design and belt very similar (if not identical) to his 2011-2013 minifigures.
He is complete with a maniacal facial expression on his face. The head itself is topped with a beautifully-sculpted, ornate horned helmet piece, which reminds me of a samurai.
Garmadon is equipped with not only a couple silver katanas, but also a brick-built laser pointer. I rather enjoyed the real-world objects used in the first movie and look forward to seeing how this one will factor into NINJAGO - though the second trailer does give us some hints! However, the laser does tend to rotate on the axle on its own. Therefore, it is hard to pose.
The majority of the shark army has simply been identified as nameless goons but Charlie obviously rebels against this trend. It is unclear at this time if the name means a bigger role in the film, as not just your typical thug - perhaps even a commander. I guess we will see!
Regardless of the role he may assume in the end, Charlie has the weakest minifigure design in the set. However, it is by no means bad. I greatly appreciate the dark blue toque which contrasts with the dark orange found in other sets. The sand blue, light grey, and dark grey details on the torso and legs also contrast nicely.
Charlie only has one face, with a gruff expression. This is entirely satisfactorily, as the hat would not be able to hide a second face from the back. He wields a medium blue fish with a spear in its mouth, which may act as a sword. Perfect!
The Completed Model
The entire piece count of the set, besides the minifigures themselves, is devoted to Lloyd's Green Ninja Mech Dragon. A blueprint tile is included in Lloyd's Collectable Minifigure, which suggests he designed and built it on his own. As he is a skilled Master Builder, his abilities shine through quite a bit in this model, don't they!
There are four bags dedicated to the model, with the minifigures dispersed through each. Bag one constructs the torso with jets, while bag two contains the front legs and back body segment. Bag three has the hind legs and tail, and bag four the neck and head.
Once all is said and done, the model measures an impressive 23 inches long. As is apparent on the packaging and indeed in the final model and film, it is based on the mythological Chinese-style dragon (a lot like a serpent) as opposed to a European one (normally with large wings). The dragon offers a beautiful sand green and gold color scheme, with hints of black and trans-green.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the entire model is the head. The trans-yellowish green eyes are the most striking bit, but my favorite detail is the two golden bananas as eyelids. This technique recalls 41546 Forx, which featured grey bananas as eyebrows. Standard, golden NINJAGO blades are the eyebrows, and two pre-molded parts create the snout and lower jaw, which does not bother me at all.
The back of the mouth features a purple and magenta tongue - this is slightly bothersome and clashing, but not very noticeable when the mouth is closed. I do enjoy seeing the flag piece in a rare color, too. The head is complete with a pair of two gold, decorative molds for whiskers. These have appeared in four other sets, including fellow NINJAGO Movie set 70618 Destiny's Bounty.
The four legs are rather short, but do their job. There is a bit of articulation in them through click hinges. Stud shooters are built into the two front legs, while all four make use of the CCBS HERO Factory beast feet - appearing for the first time in sand green.
Although the dragon is fairly organic in its outward appearance, there are indeed some mechanical bits hidden. The most obvious are opening hatches with twin engines. I do like the sticker (of which there are a lot in this set) with a 'no step' warning, However, I am unaware of what the large, Asian-inspired symbol could represent, as it does not correspond to any particular character in the new NINJAGO script.
The hatches cannot be closed fully when the engines are folded in, but they suffice. I am happy that the designers decided to appeal to people uninterested in the sci-fi elements of NINJAGO, by allowing different methods of displayability - and playability.
The cockpit section on the neck is another interesting inclusion, with the control panel on a trans-green NEXO Knights book cover, as well as a stickered console. The screen looks brilliant, particularly as it is mounted on some sand green droid arms which could be rather useful. Alongside it, there is a clip to store Lloyd's dao while not in combat on foot.
Plenty of articulation points exist in the body - the lower jaw, neck, torso, tail, legs and feet can all be positioned as you please. Despite some limitations, they do not hinder much and things can be moved around to allow even more posability.
There are some extra appendages throughout, as well. Posable, small winglets on Mixel joints represent some vestigial limbs rather than full-on wings. Plus, spiked black scales go down the body on click hinges. I greatly appreciate the little details on this set that make it all the more pleasant.
This one final play feature is definitely the most fun: a whipping tail! The same exact action, using identical internal segment pieces, can be found in 70725 Nindroid MechDragon and works just as well here.
This set is near-perfect. Almost every section is rife with details and no stone appears to have been left unturned. I particularly like the details in the head, as stated earlier, despite the couple pre-molded parts used for features that would indeed be harder to replicate using bricks. The body sections are also full of articulation, allowing you to pose in almost any way. Of course, there are some restrictions but they do not detract from the set at all.
The price is also commendable and appropriate in relation to the piece count - generous, actually. Furthermore, the minifigure selection is very appealing, with three important main characters and a goon to grow the conflict. Of course, one more minifig - perhaps a sea creature unit - would have been great, but I am entirely pleased with the contents of the set and can't think of much to improve it at this size.
This is certainly a contender for the best LEGO dragon of all time and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Don't miss out!
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.
Thanks to Huw for the photos.