70656 garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON! was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con in July and includes an enormous robotic Shark Mech from which the eponymous villain directs his army. The design of this vehicle really stands out among the selection based upon The LEGO NINJAGO Movie and the addition of a delightful hot dog cart only increases the appeal of the set!
This should therefore prove to be a very popular model and I have certainly been excited to build it. However, the UK price of £79.99 is a little higher than I was expecting in relation to the excellent value offered by other sets from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. $79.99 in the US seems more reasonable to me, although I hope that the set will be sufficiently impressive to justify even the higher price point.
Lloyd and Garmadon face one another several times during the course of The LEGO NINJAGO Movie so it is pleasing to see them both included here. The black shinobi shozoku looks marvellous, featuring a green trim as well as a few metallic gold accents. A subtle armour weave is present on both sides of the torso and the arms while Wu's insignia, printed in green on this occasion, adorns the back of the figure.
The mask consists of two parts which can be removed to reveal Lloyd's double-sided head. This is decorated with a smile and a determined grimace, both of which look great. However, the same piece appears on most of the Lloyd minifigures and I would have welcomed more variety. The ninja carries a pearl silver dao with a golden tassel into battle.
Intimidation is a vital trait among villains and I think Garmadon is particularly successful in this respect. He stands much taller than most minifigures and possesses four arms so can wield four pearl silver katana at the same time. The black armour covering his upper torso looks splendid and I like the elaborately decorated helmet which lends further height to the figure. He also wears a dark blue belt but his robe is missing, only appearing in 70612 Green Ninja Mech Dragon, which is a bit of a shame.
Garmadon's head is only printed on one side with a cunning grin as well as vivid red eyes and some facial hair. This element is fairly common and a new design would have been excellent, although I do like the current evil expression. The back of the torso is printed with some more of the dark blue belt but the upper element is plain which is disappointing given that the rest of the figure is so detailed. Nevertheless, this is a great minifigure and I love the character design, recalling that seen in early seasons of the animated series.
Frank serves as a gunner on board Garmadon's enormous mech and wears a dark orange knitted cap along with a sand blue uniform which matches the rest of the army. I like the dark bluish grey straps running across both sides of his torso and the legs are similarly detailed, featuring a pair of kneepads. Frank is evidently an experienced warrior given that he sports an eye patch but I expect this would affect his shooting accuracy!
Hammer Head wears a similar sand blue shirt, although his includes sleeves and the arrangement of pouches on his belt is slightly different. The helmet, intended to resemble a hammerhead shark, looks brilliant and I like the combination of light and dark bluish grey on the front and back. Rows of jagged teeth protect the soldier's face which only appears elsewhere in 70614 Lightning Jet so is fairly rare. These two minifigures are properly equipped with a spear and a hammer, both of which include a shaft shaped like a fish.
Fleeing an invading army is undoubtedly quite difficult at the best of times but Nomis faces a particular challenge while dressed as a giant hot dog! This cumbersome costume first appeared in the thirteenth series of the Collectable Minifigures and looks superb, featuring a dark red frankfurter with a line of mustard down the centre. I love Nomis' scowl in contrast with his comical attire and the head can be reversed to reveal a frightened expression on the other side, as one would expect given the approach of a terrifying Shark Mech.
Nancy, on the other hand, seems to feel no such fear. Her head includes two different smiles along with some printed external braces which have not appeared on a minifigure before. The torso is also exclusive as Nancy wears a blue jacket and a white shirt decorated with the M-Tron logo, joining the fans of past LEGO themes from 70813 Rescue Reinforcements and 70620 NINJAGO City! These are a wonderful tribute to some of LEGO's best known lines and I hope to see similar figures in future sets.
The Completed Model
Nomis' hot noodle dog stand is definitely overshadowed by the presence of Garmadon's Shark Mech but this is a marvellous little model. The decorative hot dog on top is reminiscent of a similar structure in 41129 Amusement Park Hot Dog Stand and it looks superb, with a tan bun and a red sausage in the middle. A yellow 2x2 round tile with a sticker represents the noodles quite effectively, although the stand only actually includes sausages and buns as well as a selection of condiments.
There is room to store ingredients beneath the grille and I like the contrast between the muted colours of the base and the bright shades on the roof. Four tiny wheels and a handle allow Nomis to drag the hot dog stand to a new location. These leave the model looking rather top-heavy but this is part of its charm in my opinion and the addition of a traditional lantern along with a hanging sign looks brilliant.
Garmadon's Shark Mech measures 38cm in length so has been considerably scaled down in relation to the gigantic vehicle in the film. Nevertheless, it looks very intimidating and I love the sand blue colour scheme which dominates the model alongside a few grey, white and yellow details. The fundamental idea of a walking shark is a lot of fun and I like how the organic features of the deadly predator have been combined with mechanical elements.
This is particularly apparent at the head of the shark where smooth and jagged edges combine to good effect. The stepped 1x3 inverted slopes might look rather out of place on a model intended to depict a real shark but here they appear suitably jagged for a villainous mech. Red gums and white teeth line the mouth and these really stand out as the colours are not used anywhere else on the model.
A Technic mechanism allows you to open and close the mouth remotely. There is no room to entirely consume any minifigures or other items which is unfortunate, although the teeth could certainly cause some serious damage! I like the trans-light blue eyes on either side but the light bluish grey elements supporting the upper row of teeth look a bit odd and they should have been replaced with white pieces in my opinion.
A section of the roof can be removed to reveal a seat for Garmadon inside. This is fairly deep owing to the villain's height and Garmadon can also stand on a pair of exposed studs to view the battlefield from a vantage point on top of the mech. This is very prominent in the movie and I think a simple geared mechanism, allowing Garmadon to rise up surrounded by control panels, could have been included.
Garmadon can also view his surroundings when sitting inside the mech as a pearl dark grey periscope protrudes from the top. Its traditional shape is quite charming and I like the little hatch wheel despite the absence of an opening hatch. However, more impressive still is the armour on either side of the craft. Gaps between each panel allow you to see some engine detailing inside and these also resemble the gill slits on a real shark!
The dorsal fin is constructed using two panels fitted back to back, presenting an identical studded surface on both the left and right. It looks superb and I like the red light on top which serves a vital structural purpose as well as a visual one. Stickers confirm that the Shark Mech is part of Garmadon's army and it is also numbered '01' on either side, presumably denoting the command role of the vehicle.
A bubble turret is situated just behind the dorsal fin. This is equipped with twin cannons which can be angled up and down but there is no rotation, unfortunately. The turret is attached using just two studs so can be removed very easily to place a minifigure inside quite comfortably. There are no controls but I am pleased that the figure's head can be still seen when the bubble turret is replaced.
Like the dorsal fin, the tail is built with studs facing outwards on both sides. A row of three bright yellow thrusters propel the craft through the water and two matching tanks, perhaps storing fuel or ballast, are fitted to the flanks. The larger thruster in the centre is fitted using a single Technic connector so is not quite as secure as I would like, although it only droops very slightly and this is not noticeable when viewed from most angles.
Garmadon's Shark Mech stands on two legs which consist almost entirely of light and dark bluish grey Technic pieces. I sometimes criticise the visibility of Technic elements on models like this one but here it works perfectly to represent mechanical details. Large gear wheels are found at the top of each leg and these can be rotated to activate the snapping jaws via a simple linkage hidden underneath the model.
The body of the mech rests at a slight angle in relation to the legs due to the geometry of the Technic structure by which the two sections are joined. This does not bother me and you can adjust the angle by changing the position of the legs if you wish. A large spring-loaded shooter is slung beneath each pectoral fin alongside two more yellow thrusters which can be rotated depending on the direction of travel. You can also store Garmadon's weapons here, as shown in the image above.
The feet are very large so there is no risk of the vehicle toppling over. Dark bluish grey crane claws represent the toes and these hang loosely so will adapt to fit an uneven surface. In the movie the Shark Mech has three toes at the front so it is disappointing to see only two here and the two layers of plates beneath the rear claw look somewhat strange to me.
70615 Kai's Fire Mech and 70613 Garma Mecha Man look great but both have been criticised for a lack of leg articulation. I have been hoping that this set would fare better in that respect but in fact it is even worse, including only a single point of articulation in the legs along with some motion in the claws. This is very restrictive when it comes to posing the vehicle and it only feels truly stable when both feet are placed flat on a surface.
70656 garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON! is very impressive on the whole. The Shark Mech's sand blue colour scheme looks absolutely fantastic and I love the combination of traditional submarine and mech features with those of a shark. The gill slits on the sides are particularly pleasing and most of the functions work very well, as one would expect. In addition, the little hot noodle dog cart is a delight and the minifigure selection includes a satisfying array of heroes, villains and citizens to be rescued.
However, the lack of articulation in the legs is very disappointing and it would have been nice to see a little more interior detail, especially for Garmadon's command centre. I also think the UK price of £79.99 feels quite expensive in relation to other sets based upon The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, although this is less apparent in the US where $79.99 seems reasonable. Despite its issues, this is certainly a good set overall and I would recommend adding it to your collection, albeit only after a discount in the UK.
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