Review: 70657 NINJAGO City Docks (1)

Posted by ,
View image at flickr

70620 NINJAGO City stood out among the most popular sets released in 2017, garnering a great deal of attention from seasoned NINJAGO fans as well as those who had little previous interest in the theme. Rumours of an accompanying set have therefore elicited considerable speculation over the last few months.

70657 NINJAGO City Docks was finally revealed in April and received a fairly positive reaction on the whole, although matching the exceptional standard of its predecessor presents a difficult challenge. Nevertheless, I think the set looks brilliant in official images so have been looking forward to constructing it and to discovering how effectively this impressive model can be integrated with 70620 NINJAGO City, as demonstrated on the back of the box.

This set is absolutely enormous, containing 3553 pieces, so we have decided to publish our review in two parts. The first is focused upon the minifigures and the building experience.

Box and Contents

The model is extremely colourful so looks superb against a background of architecturally diverse buildings. A stylised version of 70620 NINJAGO City is situated beside the docks which is interesting as this image gives the impression that 70657 NINJAGO City Docks will almost match the height of the 2017 set. In fact, there is quite a considerable difference between them, although the new set measures 28cm in height so is still reasonably large.

View image at flickr

Opening the box reveals 24 bags which are numbered from one to nineteen as well as two dark bluish grey baseplates. These are packaged in a smaller white box along with some of the numbered bags, the sticker sheets and the instruction manual, reducing the chance that they will become damaged during transit.

View image at flickr

70620 NINJAGO City came with three separate instruction manuals and these featured an interview with the designers as well as some information about the development of the set. Unfortunately, this 380-page booklet is devoted almost entirely to the build so contains no interviews or concept artwork, although you will find a few images from the film and a page which lists the NINJAGO letters alongside their Latin counterparts.

View image at flickr

A total of 56 stickers are included, spread across two large sticker sheets. Printed pieces are generally preferable to stickers but I think it would be unrealistic to expect so many different printed designs in a single set. Thankfully, these are all fairly easy to apply and include fun references to a broad range of past sets as well LEGO's history.

View image at flickr

Minifigures

Lloyd Garmadon is one of the most common minifigures across The LEGO NINJAGO Movie range and he looks fantastic, wearing a black shinobi shozoku with green trim. I like the metallic gold lettering on the band around Lloyd's head wrap and the torso features a subtle armour weave pattern that only becomes visible under certain light conditions. Like 30608 Kendo Lloyd, this version of the Green Ninja does not include arm printing.
View image at flickr

View image at flickr

However, the minifigure does come with a blonde hair piece as well as two different expressions and a pearl silver dao. Cole is not dressed for combat so is instead equipped with a printed mobile phone tile. His textured hair piece has only appeared once before in the Collectable Minifigures series so it is great to see it again here and I love the grimace on one side of the head which contrasts with a relaxed smile on the other.
View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Cole wears a black jacket over a dark blue shirt with an orange and lime green sound bar pattern on the front, reflecting his love for music. Part of the shirt continues onto the legs where one also finds a belt and some light bluish grey pockets. I expect this entire assembly will prove popular among those who enjoy creating their own minifigures as sound bar T-shirts are common in real life but have not appeared on an official figure before!

View image at flickr

Garmadon first appeared during the pilot season of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu and the character from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie feels like an homage to that original design. The minifigure features four arms, heavy chest armour and an elaborate helmet with prominent horns, known as kuwagata. I love the intricate printing on Garmadon's torso and his red eyes look very intimidating, as one would expect of such a terrifying villain. The evil warlord is armed with four pearl silver katana.

View image at flickr

Private Puffer is not the only warrior who wears puffer fish headgear in Garmadon's army, although the minifigure in 70611 Water Strider comes with a lavender helmet rather than an orange one. I absolutely love its spiny texture and the pearl dark grey oxygen tank looks good, featuring a printed battery display on the front as well as some moulded tubing. The minifigure carries a chainsaw into battle which is complete with a fish-shaped handle.

View image at flickr

Several peripheral characters from NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu make brief cameo appearances in the movie. Dareth is among them, wearing a black gi with gold highlights and a dragon symbol on his back. The letters on his torso read 'NINJA' which is nice, although I would rather the graphic designer had made reference to his occasional identity of the Brown Ninja from the television series. Nevertheless, it is brilliant to see Dareth in the universe of The LEGO NINJAGO Movie.

View image at flickr

Lil' Nelson also appears in the animated series as a devout supporter of the ninja, despite having been injured while training with Dareth. The same seems to be true in this set as the character sports white training garb and a cast over his right arm. This element has only been used once before in 41318 Heartlake Hospital and Lil' Nelson's reddish brown hair piece is equally rare, having made its first appearance in 70615 Fire Mech last year.

View image at flickr

This set also includes a selection of civilian characters to populate the docks. Betsy made a brief but memorable appearance in a trailer for The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, reacting with horror alongside her baby as Garmadon invaded the city! Her green attire looks rather plain in relation to some of the other figures in this set but I like the white spotted pattern printed across the front and back of the torso.

70657 NINJAGO City Docks

Betsy's head includes a smile on one side and a frightened expression on the other. The same piece is used on Ivy Walker in 2017's 70620 NINJAGO City which is a shame as the two characters might look strange when displayed together. I like the medium nougat hair piece though as it includes lovely texture and has not appeared in any other sets based upon The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. An aqua baby bottle completes the minifigure.

70657 NINJAGO City Docks

Betsy's baby wears a simple white bodysuit rather than the pale blue one seen in the film and in Series 16 of the Collectable Minifigures. However, these figures are a welcome addition to any LEGO set as they look absolutely adorable. It is interesting to note that the shape of the baby's head has been very slightly revised this year so it now includes a neck.

View image at flickr

Chad is a student at NINJAGO High School and wears a branded dark blue jacket to prove it. This is a delightful design, featuring the school's initials on the left breast alongside a row of white buttons. His tousled dark brown hair piece is shared with the Zombie Businessman from the fourteenth series of the Collectable Minifigures and the head features two expressions, one of which looks calm while the other is terrified.

View image at flickr

The entire world of NINJAGO blends traditional design with more modern styling and that is especially apparent when Chad and Chan Kong-Sang are displayed together. The latter character wears a unique reddish brown shirt with black frog fasteners across the front and a matching belt. A pair of shoes are printed on his feet which look marvellous and the double-sided head is quite rare, having only been used in three other sets.

View image at flickr

Mystake owns a small tea shop in NINJAGO City and made her first onscreen appearance during the pilot season of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu. This minifigure does not perfectly match the character from the animated series but her dark tan cardigan is immediately recognisable, featuring a familiar knitted pattern across the front and back. A brand new head reflecting Mystake's typically surly disposition would have been wonderful but I think this bespectacled component is a reasonable alternative.

View image at flickr

The final three minifigures consist entirely of existing pieces from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie range and beyond. Runde sports a dark tan robe with a pouch hanging from his belt, sharing these parts with Shen-Li from 70609 Manta Ray Bomber. This does not bother me too much but Runde's bearded head also appears on Konrad in 70620 NINJAGO City, unfortunately. Perhaps they are twins, one of whom works as a fisherman while the other is a geographer!

View image at flickr

It seems probable that Runme and Runje are also related to Runde given the similarity of their names. The two female minifigures wear sand blue and dark blue robes respectively, both of which have been used in previous sets from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie theme. New designs are almost always preferable to existing ones but these torsos and legs look excellent so I do not mind seeing them again here.

View image at flickr

Runme features a double-sided head which shows a smile on one side and a frightened expression on the reverse. I like the beads of sweat printed on this alternative face and her hair piece looks good too. Runje, on the other hand, only includes a single smiling expression beneath her medium nougat coolie, suggesting that she has experienced so many of Garmadon's attacks that she no longer believes them to be a cause for alarm.

View image at flickr

The minifigure comes with a wooden carrying pole that fits over her left shoulder. A similar accessory can be found in 70609 Manta Ray Bomber but this one includes medium blue fish at either end rather than pales of water so looks a bit more colourful. I like how the pole is attached to Runje using a reddish brown neck bracket and a clip, resulting in a remarkably realistic design which seems ideally suited to the dockyard environment.

View image at flickr

Construction

70657 NINJAGO City Docks is constructed on a 32x32 baseplate and a 16x32 baseplate, both of which are dark bluish grey. The early stages consist of laying foundations for the buildings and the plates which will show through the water, as one would expect. It therefore feels similar to building 70620 NINJAGO City initially, although the higher levels of the docks feature some unusual techniques which differentiate this set from its predecessor.

View image at flickr

However, the third and fourth bags show no evidence of that as they contain 319 trans-light blue tiles and a few foliage pieces which are laid over the black and dark green plates, just as they were in last year's model. Additional plates and tiles then cover the brick foundations of the docks. The light bluish grey parts will ultimately form external walkways while the dark tan plates represent the flooring inside each building.

View image at flickr

The next stage is focused entirely upon the wooden dock which is primarily constructed using reddish brown 1x1 round bricks and Technic pin connectors. Once again, this might feel familiar to those who own 70620 NINJAGO City but I am pleased that the designers have maintained consistency between the two complementary sets.

View image at flickr

A large 4x10x6 rock panel supports the cave towards the left side of the docks. Elements of this kind are frequently associated with a lack of detail but they also serve a vital structural purpose, as in this instance. It is neatly integrated with some smaller slopes so does not look out of place and I like how 1x1 round tiles with vertical shafts are used to fit a black lattice support upside down behind the cave.

View image at flickr

Construction becomes even more interesting during bags eight and nine. A curved flight of stone steps is built beside the cave, making ingenious use of dark bluish grey A-frame plates. The same technique appeared in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu but the idea of using shovels to form roof tiles is brand new and works brilliantly! I appreciate the subtlety with which some Technic parts have been used in this area of the model too.

View image at flickr

The mason's shop next door is simple by comparison, although its windows are cleverly constructed using 1x1 clips. The resultant design loosely resembles a smaller version of the fence pieces that were introduced last year and they form windows on the upper levels of this set. In addition, two light bluish grey chickens can be found inside the shop which are very rare in this colour, having only appeared twice before.

View image at flickr

A cartographer has taken up residence on the other side of the docks and this part of the model is quite similar to the last, consisting of a reddish brown frame with white bricks between the posts. I absolutely love this technique, particularly on the front corners where 1x8 tiles create some texture in relation to the surrounding walls. The rice paper door is neatly constructed as well, nestling between two 1x8 plates with rails.

View image at flickr

Yet another timber-framed building is the focus of bags thirteen and fourteen. However, this example is far more elaborate than the others and includes a couple of brand new 1x1 brackets! These have the potential to be incredibly useful and seem to be fairly common across the summer range, fortunately. Four of each variant are found in this set, securing a round window frame to the side of the building.

View image at flickr

New pieces are always welcome but I also enjoy seeing how existing parts can be used in innovative ways. The hanging baskets in this set are a perfect example as the Joker's hair, originally created for The LEGO Batman Movie, forms some foliage. The overlapping flags on the roof are impressive as well, creating a wonderful curved shape with each tile course at a different angle.

View image at flickr

Masonry bricks are extremely versatile so have fulfilled a wide range of different functions since their introduction in 2012. Laying them on their side, as shown below, is an interesting innovation and forms a unique textured layer within the walls of Dareth's Mojo Dojo. This structure is assembled separately from the rest of the wall and feels rather fragile until it slots into place around a frame of pearl gold lattice panels.
View image at flickr

View image at flickr

An additional layer of bricks and plates is then fitted over the masonry bricks, anchoring them in place. This construction method is remarkably effective and I have no doubt that we will see it again in future sets. However, not every aspect of the dojo is new as the scroll inside is similar to those found in 70606 Spinjitzu Training and 70618 Destiny's Bounty. The white air conditioning unit is familiar too, matching 70620 NINJAGO City.

Mystake's tea shop is located on the other side of the docks and be reached by climbing a ladder. This ladder is attached to the external wall using two clips which are separated by the height of three bricks. They line up perfectly with the rungs on the ladder, exhibiting the ingenious geometry present across LEGO's entire parts palette. Unfortunately, there is slight colour variation between the sand green bricks which is disappointing, although this only becomes visible from a few angles.

View image at flickr

Three garage door panels form an awning over the entrance to Dareth's dojo. An identical technique was used at a larger scale in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu and I am glad to see it return as the roof looks fantastic. The decorative structure on the arcade wall above the awning is equally impressive, consisting of a parabolic dish which is attached between two medium nougat 1x3 bows and a corresponding 1x6 arch.

View image at flickr

Almost every building in NINJAGO City is topped with a black roof so one might expect some repetition in a set of this size. In fact, the designer of 70657 NINJAGO City Docks has found yet another unique method for creating a pitched roof, assembling the entire structure upside down and then attaching black snow plough pieces to hinge plates. The result is very distinctive within both this set and 70620 NINJAGO City.

View image at flickr

An enormous balloon, shaped like a pig, floats above the arcade. This is constructed around a core of octagonal rings and pink 2x2 sliders are fitted on every side, forming a complete sphere! A similar balloon appears in 70620 NINJAGO City but this version is more advanced as the two rings are offset, thereby allowing room for the sliders to knit together tightly. Gaps do remain but I believe it would be almost impossible to improve upon this design.

View image at flickr

Bag nineteen contains the pieces for the roof covering Mystake's tea shop. This traditional design feels very reminiscent of the central building in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu, including eaves that protrude a long way beyond the walls and ridged tiles. The angled supports at each corner are particularly interesting as they are tightly fixed in place using not only studs but also pairs of pearl gold 1x1 round tiles with vertical shafts.

View image at flickr

Overall

The building experience is an important aspect of any LEGO set but larger models like this one inspire particularly high expectations. 70657 NINJAGO City Docks does not disappoint, including a wonderful selection of unusual techniques and some rare pieces. There are similarities to 70620 NINJAGO City which may disappoint some fans, although that seems inevitable as the two sets have been designed to connect. The minifigure selection is also very impressive, including a sufficient number to adequately populate the docks as well as several popular characters from the animated series.

View image at flickr

Ultimately, I found construction of the entire set to be thoroughly enjoyable and I hope I have provided you with a flavour of that in the first part of this review. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.

This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.

 

Sponsored content

49 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in United States,

I'm really eager to see more photos with it connected to the 2017 set to see if it's as underwhelming as it actually appears.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Feels hectic.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Does anyone know the price for this in the UK yet?

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Kabba, as a city like this should?...

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

It might be a bit OCD, but it really annoys me that LEGO uses the round plates with 5 petals in this set, while the connecting set has the 4 petal pieces (and they're still available on bricks and pieces). Of course, it's easy to switch the part, but why not go for continuity? And the amount of stickers isn't really justified for a set in this price range imho. Use stickers if it's impossible to print the parts, otherwise just print parts for expensive sets, same goes for the 10261 to be honest.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Thank you Captain for taking the time to provide us with such an in-depth review. I was initially somewhat disapointed by the set, as Ninjago City set me up with unrealistic expectations. However, the more I investigate this set the more I warm up to it. It's definately a "must have," just not sure if it's higher on the priority list than 10261 Roller Coaster...

Gravatar
By in United States,

I love the artist's palettes in green as lilypads!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Between this and Harry Potter, I don't think I'll even be able to get any Star Wars sets!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Looking forward to Part 2.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Can you please post a photo of the opposite side of the completed build? And perhaps a photo of it connected to Ninjago City so we can see the two sets together? LEGO has only released one small shot of the other side of the Docks so it's hard to see what that looks like.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

56 stickers? This is crazy!
Thanks for the review!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

What's the price?

Gravatar
By in United States,

@patrizio84: On the contrary, the amount of stickers in this set is a perfect example of an instance where printing would be grossly impractical. 56 stickers (most of them unique) would correspond to around that many brand new printed elements, which would mean retiring that many other unique elements to free up production capacity and storage space. That's a big ask for a single set, even one this size.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I absolutely love that sticker of the island of Mata Nui. I was on the fence about this set, but that's pushed me to get it!

Interesting they respelled Mistaké's name for his set, but I'm glad her, Dareth, and Lil' Neilson are included! I can't wait to see some of the other easter eggs scattered throughout the set in later reviews.

Gravatar
By in Sweden,

@Mania, you CAN actually se the two sets together in the upper right corner of the box backside!! ????

Gravatar
By in United States,

Wait, this thing has released?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

In the Ninjago City set, my two favourite stickers were the Rocket Racer and Island xtreme stunts logo. In this it's the map of the island of Mata Nui (bonus points for using the original font) and the Island Hopper from Dino island.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@brainslugged It is 230 euros so probably 200 pounds.

Gravatar
By in Puerto Rico,

Lovely set, not going to buy but lovely.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

I prefer 10 printed items over 50+ stickers. But I understand that many AFOL accept stickers to make sets more unique/realistic.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I don't know what tickles me more, the totally deserved and appropriate callback to Mata-Nui, or the ridiculous, totally unnecessary but hilarious throwback to the obscure "junkbot" game!

Gravatar
By in United States,

I felt this set was pretty underwhelming initially, and while I'm still not sure if I can afford to pick this one up, it is cool to see plenty of neat design features, even though a lot have been borrowed from other models. (Although that shovel roof is ingenious!) And the minifigure selection is kinda bland too, although lots of nice stickered designs, including the Mata Nui map! I'm still on the fence with this one, but this review was great to get a better look at the designs. Thanks!

Gravatar
By in United States,

UGH. This will probably be the 10th time since January that I've said, "OK, but this is seriously the last set I'm getting this year.."

Meanwhile TLG is lurking over in the shadows saying, "C'mon kid, just try it.. The first polybag is free.."

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Runde reminds me of uncle Owen. I like this, but still want a photo of it next to Ninjago city

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Thank you very much for the first part of the review. I really enjoyed reading it and am surprised what the set actually offers. For the second part of your review, I'd like to second jdubbs request: please take some pics of the opposite side of the building. Cheers

Gravatar
By in United States,

I cant wait to get this set!! Great addition to Ninjago City!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

The second part of our review will include photos of the set from every angle, as well as 70667 NINJAGO City Docks combined with 70620 NINJAGO City. You can view the Flickr album here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brickset/albums/72157669037614138

@The Red Squadron YouTube - LEGO provided us with a copy of the set for review.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@MataNui2009: I've never seen her name written out any way other than Mystake. It was certainly spelled that way the last time the name appeared in a set (one of the stickers from #70596-1).

Great review so far! I'm super hyped for this set and getting a closer look has only added to my excitement! It may not be as big as Ninjago City, but it seems to fit in just fine and definitely seems worth the price. I love all the delightful easter eggs (especially with how many are throwbacks to stuff from MY childhood), the clever building techniques, and the general bustling atmosphere. Having not one but two Ninjago City segments to use as inspiration has inspired me that much more to start designing my own MOCs to expand the series.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I really want this set now!

57 stickers? Was that many really needed?
I wish lego would print more of the parts for these big sets. Then make sure some of the printed pieces get used in some junior sets and other ninjago sets, to offset the cost of producing them.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I'd like to float the pig balloon over a little microscale Battersea Power Station...

Gravatar
By in France,

My modular city is going to become very oriental looking!!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Very nice how the design fits into both sides of NC. It does seem to me that the left tower (when viewed from the docks) wants to be one level higher to ease the transition.

Definitely a must have for me.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

Certainly a detailed build. The end result doesn’t look overly breathtaking though. Looking forward to part 2.

Gravatar
By in United States,

So I'm assuming they haven't announced official price(s) on this yet?

@bananaworld.. I heard that's where JK Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter's Aunt Marge

Gravatar
By in United States,

@kinto they have, it's gonna be $230 USD. Not bad if you ask me.

Gravatar
By in United States,

The Junkbot stickers are magnificent.

Gravatar
By in Singapore,

When I first looked at it, it didn't seem like it connected well with Ninjago City and there was nothing in it that suggested a city setting. Then I realised when I looked at the box art that the view featured so prominently was actually the back view when connected with Ninjago City. Haha! How do u actually display these two on a shelf together??? Ninjago City's best view is the front, whereas the Dockyard's best view is the back?

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I showed this to my wife and she said "I guess we'll have to get it for you for christmas this year, oh and you can't take Ninjago City apart yet." I'm not going to argue with that.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Does this have an official release date?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I feel more excited by this than I was by Ninjago City.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Brick Munkey - I was originally under the impression that this set would be released on the 1st of June. However, information from the recent preview event in New York suggests that it will not be available until the 1st of August.

Gravatar
By in United States,

All I want this set for is the awesome island of Mata Nui map!

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Venunder: While Juniors has offered some great prints, I think they probably already have as many as they have the budget for. I can’t think of any of the stickers here that would be better prints for a current or recent Juniors or Ninjago set than the ones they already include, nor can I think of any prints from a current or recent Juniors or Ninjago set that would have been better for this set than any of the stickers. A lot of the charm of the stickers in this set or the prints in others comes from the fact that they DO have significance that might have seemed out-of-place in other sets. The Mata Nui map is much more fun and surprising than a more homogeneous or current-theme-specific map that might be suited to less AFOL-targeted sets. Dareth’s wall scroll is fun because it references Dareth’s animal stances from his introduction in Season 2, not more generic martial arts or Spinjitzu stances that might be usable in dojos besides his. The most fun thing about the trading card tiles that have been appearing in so many Ninjago sets since 2015 is that every set has different cards than the ones before it, meaning any set that has them expands the collection instead of just repeating ones you’ve seen. Etc.

@CapnRex101: Given all the June release dates I’ve seen on various European shopping sites, I suspect this wave will be out in June across Europe and in August in North America. I don’t mind though, because I still have some sets on my wish list from earlier in the year that I haven’t gotten!

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Great review. Thanks for sharing the interesting building techniques especially on roofs and awnings. The designers creativity and patience must be very much challenged sometimes....however shovals and snow ploughs show marvelous ingenuity!

Might that be Johnny Thunder on one of the stickers? (with the great old-school model - Island Hopper) ?

Gravatar
By in United States,

@waylander: Johnny Thunder is on TWO of the stickers (there’s a signed pic of him above one of the bunk beds in the middle house)!

@Isaac The Animator: $229.99 USD. Around 23% less than Ninjago City.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

@Aanchir : oh cool! didn't see that

Gravatar
By in Australia,

you can see how its connected to ninjago city on the top right of the backcover.

View more reviews »
Return to home page »