Each of the six ninja pilots their own distinctive vehicle in The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, the most unusual of which may be 70632 Quake Mech. Cole's gargantuan machine drives on a single central wheel and features broad shoulders as well as heavily armoured forearms and even an extensive speaker system. Its design therefore feels well suited to the Earth Ninja and I like the black and gold colour scheme too so have been looking forward to this set very much indeed.
The price of £79.99 or $89.99 also seems quite reasonable for a set containing 1202 pieces, despite being among the most expensive of the ninja vehicles. However, the mech appears unstable as an inevitable result of its design and I am a little sceptical about its articulation too, especially at the elbows. Hopefully the designer will have found a way to avoid these potential issues, in which case this could be among my favourite sets from the movie!
The ninja are updated for each new season of the animated series but the designs from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie are perhaps my favourite yet. Not only does their attire include appropriate elemental colours but it is adapted to reflect the skills of each character. Cole therefore wears a loose-fitting robe without sleeves, allowing the strongest of the ninja to move with ease and resembling a judogi, the garment worn in the sport of judo.
I like the combination of black with dark brown and the metallic gold highlights look fantastic, although the printing on the hips of my minifigure is quite thin so does not match the torso perfectly. The bands on the wrists, however, look great and have only appeared in 70617 Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon and 70618 Destiny's Bounty before now. Removing the head wrap reveals smiling and frowning expressions and the figure is suitably equipped with a stone war hammer.
Lady Iron Dragon only appears in this set and 70629 Piranha Attack so should prove to be a highlight. Her combined hair and helmet component is brand new and looks brilliant, as do the intricate designs on both sides of the torso. I love the combination of pearl dark grey and metallic silver which feels perfectly realistic for armour while also looking rather elegant to match a warrior of legendary finesse.
However, the minifigure is let down by the printing on the head. Misako's face looks washed out when compared with the vivid yellow of the hands due to an insufficient application of ink. The black colour of the head therefore seeps through, leaving the face with a strange grey skin tone which looks terrible. I find this especially disappointing as it would surely have been obvious during manufacture and yet no attempt has been made to correct the issue. Hopefully it will be rectified in future production runs.
Otherwise, this is an excellent figure in my opinion. The quiver is new and comes with some detailed texture as well as an attractive pauldron protecting the right shoulder. I also like the fabric element wrapped around Lady Iron Dragon's waist which is printed with a striped design to match the lines on the torso. A black bow completes the minifigure but she does not come with the dao seen in flashbacks, perhaps because Lloyd is using the same weapon.
Several minor characters from NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu have returned for the movie, including Patty Keys and Mother Doomsday. However, Fred Finley is the most obscure of all, having only previously appeared in two books based upon the series! This is a delightful reference for NINJAGO fans and his minifigure looks great, featuring a dark bluish grey suit with a red tie and a microphone, reflecting Fred's role as a news reporter.
The head is brand new, featuring a carefully tended moustache and a confident smile which is ideal for a news reporter. I like his slick hair too and am glad to see this classic element still in use after almost forty years! Fred comes with a handheld microphone so is ready to interview the ninja after the battle. This element is cast in black and does not have any printing which is unusual but the element could prove useful elsewhere, as demonstrated by the plain light bluish grey microphones found in 10259 Winter Village Station.
Two members of Garmadon's army are included, the more interesting of whom is Crusty. This minifigure previously appeared in 70614 Lightning Jet and looks magnificent, wearing a huge helmet designed to resemble a crab. It is made from a rubbery material so fits very tightly over the double-sided head and includes some lovely textured detail on every surface. Crusty wears a pearl dark grey air tank around his neck while his torso and legs feature a sand blue uniform with some pouches and a chest rig.
The Shark Army Thug also wears a sand blue and light bluish grey uniform, although his includes heavier duty kneepads and a different shirt. I particularly like the printing on the back of the torso and the dark blue knitted cap looks good, making a nice change from the more common dark orange headgear. The thug's head is only available here and in 70614 Lightning Jet so is somewhat rare and the warriors are suitably armed with a fish-shaped dagger and a short spear.
The Completed Model
The five ninja vehicles released in the first wave were all appropriately scaled in relation to one another so they look superb on display together. 70632 Quake Mech is a similar size, measuring almost 34cm tall to the top of the sashimono, so completes the team perfectly. A rigid Technic frame forms the core of the model so it feels delightfully tactile and remains very sturdy, despite standing on a relatively narrow base.
The cockpit is situated at the centre of the chest and is protected by a trans-clear windscreen. I like the large speakers fitted to either side and the decorative horns on the roof look great, recalling those seen on a traditional samurai helmet. However, they are attached using a single clip so are somewhat fragile and I think a bulkier pair of horns would be a little more consistent with the design of the model in its entirety.
A hinge allows you to open the cockpit, revealing a reddish brown seat for Cole as well as two printed records on turntables inside. These are decorated with some NINJAGO letters which read 'AC/DC' to match Cole's shirt from the Collectable Minifigures series. The absence of conventional controls is odd but this is faithful to the vehicle in the movie where Cole is shown controlling the mech by rotating the discs.
Two light bluish grey 1x3x1 panels are placed inside the cockpit and some dark red 1x3 jumper plates support the speaker systems. Both elements are new in their respective colours and should become more prolific in the 2018 range based upon the images we have seen. I love the smooth black armour that dominates the Quake Mech but the rows of trans-yellow lights form an attractive accent colour and the pearl gold pieces look splendid too.
Several of the vehicles from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie feature sashimono decorated with symbols unique to each ninja. Cole's mech flies yellow banners with stickers showing a lovely gorilla insignia that also appears on the left shoulder. These large structures are great, giving the model a real sense of strength, while also hiding a neat function as the shoulders open to reveal sixteen more speakers! I think the model looks marvellous in either configuration and the lower four speakers on each side are actually flick-fire missiles which work fairly well.
70615 Fire Mech is an excellent set on the whole but I have found that the weight of its limbs is almost too much for the ratchet joints used at the shoulders and elbows. I was concerned that this set would suffer from a similar issue as it employs the same construction methods and the arms appear even heavier. In fact, it is remarkably easy to pose and every joint seems sufficiently strong to support the weight of the limbs, as shown below.
The shoulders can be rotated all the way around and there is also some lateral movement which is ideal for dynamic posing. A similar range of motion is available at the elbows where the forearms can rotate just below the hinge joint. It might have been more useful to have some rotation above the hinges, thereby allowing you to turn the arms outwards, but the existing articulation exceeds my expectations and adding further joints could risk compromising the stability of the model.
Furthermore, the fingers are individually articulated so can be used to grip a minifigure or other items. The studs on the palm are particularly useful here and I like the combination of black with dark tan on the inner surface of each finger. The pearl gold dishes on the side of each arm resemble buckler shields and look superb but some mechanical detail on top of each arm would have been welcome as the smooth surfaces look rather plain.
The back of the model is far less detailed than the front, as one would expect. There are a few brightly coloured pieces which look out of place but they are unlikely to be visible when the Quake Mech is on display. I am satisfied with this area of the vehicle overall and am particularly impressed by the simple Technic assembly which ensures that the arm rotation remains stiff, shown most clearly in the image below.
Cole's mech drives on a single large wheel which has only appeared in a couple of Technic sets before now. I love the deep tread and the 1x1 round tiles attached in a circle on each side look brilliant. The wheel rolls freely despite being placed between two broad supports and the flexible tubes at the ends of the axle look great, as does the combination of black, pearl gold and dark brown used on the armour in this area.
Of course, a single tyre is not sufficient to support the model alone so a Technic kickstand is fitted just behind it. This works perfectly and is surprisingly well hidden from most angles, becoming almost completely invisible when the vehicle is viewed from the front. The Quake Mech is designed to drive with the stand in place but you may wish to remove it for certain play scenarios. Unfortunately, that would require disassembling the entire wheel support structure which is inconvenient but is also testament to its stout construction.
Those who have seen The LEGO NINJAGO Movie may remember that Cole's mech is able to turn very quickly by placing one hand on the ground and rotating around it. I have been hoping to create a similar pose since this set was revealed but was concerned that the kickstand would get in the way. In fact, it helps to support the vehicle and the articulation of the fingers is also very useful for creating dynamic displays as they can be splayed to provide a truly secure base.
This set has definitely surpassed my high expectations! The stability of the model is remarkable given its design and the articulation is excellent, offering considerable play value as well as plenty of options for display. I am also quite pleased with the functionality of the vehicle and the level of detail throughout is impressive, using a few stickers where necessary but relying primarily upon pearl gold and dark brown accents which look marvellous.
My issues with the set are few. I think some of the brightly coloured pieces on the back of the vehicle could have been covered a little better and Lady Iron Dragon's head printing is very disappointing. Nevertheless, this is a really enjoyable set and it offers reasonable value at £79.99 or $89.99 so I absolutely recommend adding 70632 Quake Mech to your collection, particularly if you own some of the other ninja vehicles to display alongside it.
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