Review: 70641 Ninja Nightcrawler

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The Ninjago Sons of Garmadon wave has been out for a little while now, so it's about time we have a look at some more of the sets. After visiting the filming of the stop-motion film “Chasing the Mask of Vengeance” last October, 70641 Ninja Nightcrawler was the build that I was most looking forward to getting a hold of. With the box in front of me, I'm teased with 552 pieces for £34.99/€39.99/$39.99. It has to deliver something decent for that price surely? Will it live up to my expectations? Find out after the break.


Box and Contents

You can see that the box is a good size – in the hand it feels substantial, but there's only 3 minifigures pictured which I initially thought a bit mean.

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Here's the back showing the play features which I'll examine later.

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Inside there are 5 numbered bags, and two instruction booklets. Over the two books, the main build has 180 steps, which should be enough to entertain for a while.

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There's one sticker sheet, and they're all fairly easy to apply. I found that the pair that go on the sides of the canopy took a little bit of patience to adhere because of the curves, but aside from that I can deal with 12 stickers without complaint.


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The Minifigures

There are three minifigures. Lloyd drives the car as the hero, Ultra Violet rides the bike as the villain, and at this point someone has probably realised that two figures wasn't enough so Nya has been added as a standalone.

First up is Lloyd, and he features a two part printing on his torso and legs for the front...

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...and a gets a large metallic emblem on the rear.

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He has a dual sided head, though as the mouth gets hidden under his face scarf, the only visible difference are the eyebrows.

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View image at flickr

The metallic print on his headband looks great and he has a couple of Sabers as accessories to finish him off. He also appears in 70643 Temple of Resurrection with a different head scabbard but for some reason I find it hard to get excited about him.

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I'm quite partial to Nya though. She is appearing in Pearl Dark Grey which gives her a sheen that looks fantastic. On the front there is a two part print with metallic silver, though the cloth armour skirt hides most of this on her legs.

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The rear is also detailed with metallics but the scabbard hides a lot of it here too.

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Nya has a dual sided head, but to be honest, unless you look without magnifying, it's hard to tell any difference at all. In fact, while putting this review together I thought I'd messed my second picture up until I studied hard.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

She is equipped with a pair of swords and an elaborate spear. It looks great, though it is a little impractical to hold if her feet are not stuck on a baseplate as it's a fine balancing act to make her stand otherwise. It's worth mentioning that this Nya is exclusive to the set.

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The bad gal at play here is Ultra Violet, and this is another brilliant minifig. The torso printing is intricate and detailed on the front. The legs feature metallic silver and the printing goes down as far as the feet. The purple Oni Mask Of Hatred is wonderful and is finished with a pair or black ponytails.

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The rear print is mostly hidden and it's not quite as detailed as the front. The shoulder armour piece is really chunky and as far as I can tell, this is the first time it has appeared in Dark Bluish Grey.

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The head is single sided, probably as it's under a mask for most of the time but it looks great, and for monster or zombie MOCers it may be a useful grey head for the parts bin.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Ultraviolet has an oversize mace as a weapon – again it's a little impractical to use while on the bike as it tends to topple it over and be a test of patience to get it to sit right.

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Her bike is basic, with the only detailing added for effect are a pair of red swords.

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Here you can see how the mace size compares to it.


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The Build

Here's the build split into it's five bags. First the basic chassis, using some technic beams.

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Bag 2 add a little more shape and the seating area.

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Bag 3 concentrates on weaponizing the vehicle. It's fiddly – in a good way – and takes a while to get everything in place just right. Each side has a multi stud shooter that is driven by a technic gear mechanism and these took a bit more time than I anticipated. It's simple, clever and effective.

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Bag 4 adds more to the rear.

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And finally bag 5 wraps it all up, and very nice it looks too. My timing wasn't scientific, and I wasn't speeding through so it ended up around 1 hour 40 minutes, though I did have to go back a few steps to correct an error on my part.

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Let us now all take a moment to enjoy and revel in my handy-work from different angles (haha!).

View image at flic

View image at flickr

It makes really good use of gold detailing throughout and the colour balance is just about right. The big blades on the sides of the canopy are certainly an interesting choice and they even have a perfect curve to shape around the front wheels.

The canopy flips up for easy access and this 6x10x2 element appears in trans clear for the first time. The front splitter is made from a pair of gold swords and a light sabre handle which looks superb and each side has some SNOT work and stickers to give the illusion of big air intakes in front of the shooters.

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The rear is a little Tumbler-esque I think, and probably not it's most attractive side. The gold fins can be set at many angles.

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If we add all the elements together, this is what you get for your money – but is it enough? Let's check out the play features.


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Play Features

The set is all about car vs bike or bike vs car, and to ramp the fun up, the Nightcrawler vehicle has been fitted with a pair of multi-stud shooters. I sense these are worthy of more investigation.

Just behind the cockpit, slung low, are the weapons. The barrels look a bit like the ammo clips on Tommy Guns – just vastly oversized. Each clip holds 6 studs, and in this low position they are in “safe”mode.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

A round metallic 2x2 plate up top is the place to press if you want some action. Push on this and the guns raise up and engage onto the technic gears, driven by one of the rear wheels. The gold blades on each side also raise up as if acting to shield the canopy. Everything is primed at this point, and it only take the smallest push of the vehicle to start the shooters firing away. Before that final push, here's how it looks from the front.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

So does it work? Hell, yeah it works. The studs fire with incredible velocity and can go a long way. If you've used these before you will probably already know this. In fact, it is very easy to lose them as they ping off anything that they collide with. I was shooting these in my kitchen, and after 5 attempts to get photos I was already a few studs short of a shooter (and not the first time I've thought that I might add). There are 30 studs supplied so the powers that be know this is inevitable. The vehicle doesn't need a whole lot of travel before the clips are empty and you have to go stud hunting.

View image at flickr

Loading the shooters is also a little fiddly – if you have the guns too high and they slightly engage it's all to easy for a stud to ping off somewhere. Child sized fingers may be a better bet the mine.

Overall the system works well, and while multi stud shooters have been around for a while, it's the way that they have been integrated into the vehicle that is impressive. I'm sure if I was 40 years younger I would appreciate this touch even more.

However, that's about it – it's a one trick pony. Big guns they may be, but that's the only feature, the rest of play is purely up to imagination. It's a car, and it does what a car does. That doesn't mean I don't like it though. When I think about the target demographic this could definitely be their “new favourite car”.

I think the Nightcrawler is beautifully designed and to me, it seems a more mature product than the Ninjago cars that have gone before it. This could be due to a switch up in the design team, as I know that designer Aske Garling worked on this one, but whatever the reason I think it shows here.

As an AFOL I appreciate that I can put it on a shelf and it looks great as a display piece. Due to it's size, it doesn't look out of place next to the 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van as it covers roughly the same footprint. It's a bit of a beast actually – the size really impresses. When you place it with 70639 Street Race of Snake Jaguar it all starts to make sense. It's probably better matched for play with that set and makes the included bike here look a weedy.


Price

I had a look through the Ninjago back catalogue and I reckon that 70727 X-1 Ninja Charger is the set that matches this the closest. It's listed at the same £34.99/€39.99/$39.99, had three minifigures and contained 426 pieces – around 130 less than the Nightcrawler. That was released back in 2014, so allow for inflation and on paper this look quite good doesn't it? Did I feel like I'd built £35 worth of set at the end? I probably did yes. At least £30 worth anyway (bear in mind I'm tight).

If you're not a day one buyer, it's time to see your patience pay off. The Sons Of Garmadon wave has seen a few discounts – not deep, but worth having. On Amazon in the UK this has been down as low as £28 so far and that's a good price for it.


View image at flickr

Overall

I had high expectations and mostly they've been met. It's a beautiful design, has a clever function, and a satisfying build. The multi-shooters – great as they are – can turn from being a cool feature to a mild irritant depending on where your studs end up though. Combined with other sets from the wave there is certainly a lot more potential for play here.

Nya doesn't seem to have her own place either – unfortunately there is no room for her in the vehicle – but she is my favourite minifig in the set. As this is the only set in the SOG wave that you can get her, this exclusivity helps a little when handing over your money. Overall I'd say this is another good effort from the Ninjago team and is well worth picking up.

So there you go, that's my take on it - what about you? Let us know us know in the comments.


Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing Brickset with a copy of the set. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

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13 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Very nice set and a great review. Really good pictures.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review, and awesome car too,

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By in United Kingdom,

Excellent review.

I was intending to pass on this set, but it's more interesting than I expected.... I'm not really a minifig guy, but I'm loving the Ultraviolet minifig complete with monstrous pink mace!

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By in United States,

I like how you can see the reflection of the room on the back of Ultra Violet's helmet in the picture. Great photographs, thanks for the review!

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By in United States,

Good review! I don't have this set yet but I'm really looking forward to getting it.

I wasn't struck by any sense that the set needs more minifigures. I'm not an army builder, so for me the individual identities of the minifigures and how much play value they offer in the context of the set tend to matter more to me than how many there are. If we had gotten another figure, it probably would have been a fairly generic SoG biker, and there are plenty of those in the other sets. I also feel like considering this set's piece count and size, it may have been pushing against the limit of its price point.

Lloyd's new costume feels not too unlike his movie costume aside from color, but it's still very stylish and I think it suits him nicely. That said, I already have the Lloyd minifigure from the Temple of Resurrection, so he's not a major draw for me in this set. I'm much more impressed with the Nya minifigure! Nya is my favorite of the ninja and her designs continue to impress. Like in last year's Hands of Time sets, Nya's outfit has design attributes that parallel her brother Kai's, specifically the crossed bands of textured cloth on her torso. I still love the choice of Titanium Metallic with Dark Azur accents for her color scheme, although those accents are subtler than they were in the Hands of Time sets and she's dropped the additional Dark Red accents that carried over from her previous costumes. Nya more than any other character does make me miss the ninja's animal insignias that they had prior to the movie, and the ninja team's new lotus flower motif still doesn't excite me a whole lot. But in this case the back is largely covered by the neck accessory so it doesn't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

Ultra Violet on her own might normally feel a bit outmatched by two ninja and a huge car, but considering that this set has her in her Oni mask, I almost feel like such odds help reinforce the idea that the mask has granted her superpowers and made her too big a threat for one ninja to take down alone. I think the reason for the single face print is less because of the helmet and more because the other version of Ultra Violet in #70640-1 uses the same face without any headgear to cover the back of the head. The bike is basic but certainly distinctive with its sleek bladed design and bright colors. I do not like this enhanced version of Ultra Violet as much as her regular design, but I do like the idea of her having a second, more dangerous design for when she's wearing the mask. Her flail is also such an iconic weapon!

The car is the real spotlight of this set. Although there have been a few cars in Ninjago before, the sleek and sporty styling of this one (with almost a Batmobile vibe) puts it in a class of its own. In fact, I'd easily say that it's the first vehicle Lloyd's gotten that really lives up to the giant, edgy, futuristic look of many of the early Ninjago vehicles. I love the way the ninja vehicles for the Sons of Garmadon wave each add a bright secondary color in addition to each ninja's primary color and gold accents — in this case, a striking Bright Yellowish Green. It's a bit of a bummer for me that the other three ninja don't seem to get vehicles along these lines in the more dragon-focused summer wave, but I guess I should see that as an opportunity for me as a MOCist.

The dragon motifs on the stickers are also extremely classy. The uniqueness of the shooter function was also mesmerizing the first time I saw it in videos. Cole's Rock Roader did something similar where you could press down on the vehicle to fire the shooter as you rolled the car, but it didn't have the shooter deploy from its ordinary resting position, which to me is such a satisfying twist compared to having them in a fixed position!

Great review! So excited at the prospect of adding this set to my collection. I've only just started watching season 8 on the Cartoon Network app but it's great that Ninjago has made such a positive return to form after its brief detour into the realm of cinema.

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By in United States,

@iso3200: a solid review, however there was one aspect of it that i cannot ignore. Specifically, the way you refer to the multi-stud shooters as, and i quote, "like the ammo clips on Tommy Guns." I'm sorry, but this is wrong on two counts.

1: assuming that you are referring to the circular part on a Thompson Model 1921, (aka "the Tommy Gun,") that is NOT the clip. That is the magazine, or "mag" for short. The clip is what goes inside the mag, which then goes into the receiver.

2: the Thompson is a single-barrel weapon with one firing chamber. The multi-stud shooter multiple barrels and (presumably) firing chambers. Therefore, the multi-stud shooter would more closely resemble a revolver or, perhaps a tad more relevent to a vehicle-mounted application, the Gatling or it's modern cousins, the M61/M168 Vulcan, the M134 Minigun, and the GAU-8/A.

To be clear, i'm not telling you all this to be mean or a know-it-all, but merely to inform you of a pair of glaring inaccuracies, and to explain why they were inaccurate.

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By in United States,

I sorta like this set, but the lime green kinda clashes with the gold-green color scheme. I wouldn't say that it entirely ruins the set for me, but I'm not still not entirely settled one way or the other. I guess that's the great thing about Lego: if you don't like somethin', you can always use your own pieces to change it! If I can get this set at a discount, I'd be hard pressed not to be tempted to add it to my Ninjago collection!

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By in Canada,

That weapon system though! Good luck finding all the pieces!

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By in United States,

Against another skinny boy's chest. :-)

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By in United States,

Doesn't Lloyd have the same head in Temple of Resurrection? The text says he doesn't.

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By in United Kingdom,

^I stand corrected. On further investigation the difference is that he has a scabbard in 70643. Thanks.

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By in Austria,

This is a super good looking set, with strong construction and cool play-ability. I really like it.

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