70657 NINJAGO City Docks contains over 3500 pieces so we have chosen to divide our review into two sections. Part one was focused upon the minifigure selection as well as construction of this magnificent model.
However, today we are turning our attention to the dockyard once it has been completed and I will also be demonstrating how this set can be combined with 70620 NINJAGO City.
The Completed Model
NINJAGO City is a unique environment, blending traditional architecture with modern design and giving the impression that each new level of the city has been constructed directly over the old. The enormous range of colours found in 70620 NINJAGO City is very striking and this set looks similarly impressive on display, featuring several timber-framed or stone structures alongside others which appear brand new.
The model measures 38cm wide and 28cm in height so it is considerably shorter than 70620 NINJAGO City. Nevertheless, I believe this set might include even greater detail than its predecessor as the same attention has been paid to both sides of the model. 70657 NINJAGO City Docks therefore looks superb whether it is being viewed from the front or the back. In fact, I am quite surprised that the façade shown in the image below is not displayed more prominently on the packaging.
More than 300 trans-light blue tiles are fitted across the base, representing the smooth waters which surround NINJAGO City. Plates of different colours beneath those tiles give the impression of varying depths which is very clever and I particularly like the streak of green algae connecting the two lily pads. The lily pads themselves are ingenious too, making good use of the palette element created for the fourth series of Collectable Minifigures.
A wooden jetty extends over the water and consists of 28 cylindrical logs laid next to one another. The resultant structure looks marvellous and I like the sign welcoming visitors to NINJAGO City, as well as the small mooring bollards beside it. A stone marker defines the end of the jetty which is realistic and this could also be used for securing a large vessel, although no chains or string components are included, unfortunately.
Trade is evidently an important aspect of the economy in NINJAGO City and the dockyard accordingly includes a crane for unloading goods as they arrive. This simple cantilever design feels consistent with the rustic nature of the port and can rotate all the way around, as one would expect. The winch system works perfectly but I think there is room for improvement at the base of the crane as the rocky outcrop on which it stands looks rather small.
A stone staircase connects the dockside with the upper levels of NINJAGO City and three barrels are stored underneath the first flight. These contain a stack of cookies, a beverage can with a printed ring pull on top and a skull, the latter of which seems especially curious! A sign beside the barrels points in the direction of 'Fresh Seafood', making reference to the seafood stalls situated on the ground level of 70620 NINJAGO City.
Two more food stalls can be found in this set. The first claims to sell meat from the Grundle, an extinct reptilian creature which has appeared in NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu on several occasions. This is represented by a dark orange turkey and you can rotate it by twisting a knob, cleverly disguised as a fan unit, on the side of the building. The texture of the roof looks wonderful and there is even a pearl silver cleaver for slicing the meat, demonstrating tremendous attention to detail.
The interior of the food shop is very sparsely furnished but it looks fantastic from the outside, including some familiar signage which matches that found in 70607 NINJAGO City Chase. Presumably the stall from the smaller set is part of the same chain as this one. I like the bright splash of colour offered by the fruit on display and the black roof tiles, formed using shovels laid upside down, are impressive as well.
A dark tan Technic lever is linked to the fruit displays so the three crates can be toppled over in unison, as shown below. The model includes surprisingly few functions when compared with 70620 NINJAGO City, although those which are present work very well and do not interfere with the appearance of the set.
The left side of 70657 NINJAGO City Docks is constructed around a cave and a curved staircase has been carved into the rock, allowing minifigures to walk between the water's edge and the buildings on the next floor. This flight of stairs feels reminiscent of those in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu and looks quite natural, although the gap underneath the second and third steps is not particularly attractive.
An array of different dark bluish grey slopes are used to form the cave. I like the scattered foliage inside and the textured pillar at the entrance looks magnificent, supporting a balcony area above. The cave is remarkably spacious so there is plenty of room to hide treasure or conduct secret meetings between figures in here. However, the packaging shows that it is primarily intended for docking a small boat.
The design of the boat is reasonably simple, consisting of a wooden hull with a decorative dark blue border and an awning. It measures 13cm in length so matches the craft in 70620 NINJAGO City and I think the entire vessel looks great, featuring a luxurious seating area for a minifigure and some tan 1x4 curved slopes which are intended to resemble stretched canvas.
Four narrow struts support the awning which is mounted on hinges so you can access the crew area with ease. Another hinged section towards the prow reveals two pearl gold trading cards. These make use of stickers and do not represent any of the actual trading cards that were released during the early years of NINJAGO, unfortunately. The printed compass in front of the hatch is a lovely detail though, giving an indication of its owner's occupation.
Climbing the staircase will lead to Runde's office. This building looks relatively plain when compared with others spread throughout the set but I love its timber-framed design and the balcony area at the front is delightful. There is more than enough space to stand a couple of minifigures on the balcony where they can watch approaching ships through the telescope. An identical telescope appears in 70618 Destiny's Bounty.
The amount of space available is often extremely limited in a richly detailed set like 70657 NINJAGO City Docks. Sliding doors, known as shoji, are therefore very useful as they only occupy a small area and this example looks absolutely brilliant in my opinion. The printed window panel beautifully evokes traditional Japanese architecture and slots perfectly between two dark bluish grey rails.
A table, a rotating globe and two wall-mounted maps are found inside the office. One map shows the island of NINJAGO, just as it appears in the film, while the other features Mata Nui from BIONICLE and is labelled accordingly in the Matoran alphabet. This is certain to please fans of the long-running theme. A book that contains another trading card is stored beside the globe in the opposite corner, suggesting that Runde might be a collector!
Mystake's tea shop is accessible via a ladder which runs up the front of the building. This location has appeared a couple of times in the animated series but its exterior looks quite different here which is a shame. Nevertheless, the white air conditioning unit is excellent and I like the holographic advertising board that displays the word 'Dreaming' alongside a female minifigure wearing a blue dress.
Another holographic sign reveals that only a single day has passed since Garmadon's last attack took place. This side of the tea shop looks awkward to me, resembling a balcony which is missing one of its railings. In fact, the light bluish grey platform is intended to adjoin the walkway in 70620 NINJAGO City. The two sets do look very good together, as you will see later in the review, but I think an extra barrier would have been a welcome addition.
The roof covering Mystake's tea shop closely resembles that of the central building in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu. I love the crenelated tiles around the edge of the roof and the antennas on top look superb too, featuring a decorative sign with the Exploriens emblem on it. You may notice that one section of the roof is missing, again allowing this set to connect with the accompanying model released last year.
While the exterior of the shop bears little resemblance to that in NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu, its interior design is instantly recognisable. The stack of drawers looks fantastic and I love the colourful jars placed on top, employing the same building technique found inside Lloyd and Misako's apartment in 70620 NINJAGO City. A set of scales rests on the counter and there are two copies of The Ninjagon newspaper in a rack on the other side of the room. These 2x2 tiles are printed with a unique design.
The neighbouring building is shorter than those at either end of the docks but it still looks wonderful, featuring a white render with some patches of exposed brickwork. I like the reddish brown frame and the pearl gold window is rather striking, complemented by golden frog figurines at each corner of the roof. A miniature satellite dish and a hanging basket complete this aspect of the model.
An enormous round window dominates the other side. This is created using a wagon wheel which looks spectacular but is not quite as secure as I was anticipating. A click hinge connects the wheel to the base of the frame so it tends to tilt forwards very slightly, leaving a gap between the window and the reddish brown curved tiles around its edge. The trans-neon orange lanterns look marvellous though, hanging from two pearl gold hilts which are shaped like the head of a dragon.
The designer has managed to squeeze an entire kitchen and two bunk beds into this space while still leaving room to stand a couple of minifigures. I like the black and white television which shows the title screen for Good Day NINJAGO and the sand green kitchen fittings are lovely too. There is even a tiny overflow for the sink, represented by a light bluish grey 1x2 brick with a Technic pin hole at its centre.
The top bunk can be removed for easier access to the bed underneath, revealing a signed photograph of Johnny Thunder which is applied to the underside. This is a charming detail and leads me to wonder whether Runde lives here as his office is located directly opposite the house and is filled with maps. He also owns a small boat, suggesting that Runde might be an explorer or a geographer who idolises the heroic Johnny Thunder!
Dark red flags form three bands of weatherboarding beneath the round window. This technique is fairly simple but the result looks outstanding and I love the textured stone walkway on this side of the model. Light bluish grey ingots represent loose paving stones and the height of the path at either end matches 70620 NINJAGO City exactly so they look seamless when placed side by side.
A large palm frond covers a hidden cavity underneath the stone staircase. I suspect this might be used for smuggling contraband ashore as the walkway area directly in front of the cave has been smoothed down to the water's edge. A fisherman has set up their equipment here and comes with a flame yellowish orange crab and a medium blue fish.
Green plants growing along the quayside provide a welcome splash of colour which helps to break up the grey silhouette of the walkway. A stonemason's shop is situated at this end of the docks, featuring two signs above the entrance that advertise 'J.Stone'. This is a pleasing reference to the infamous Jack Stone theme and the two signs include hammer and chisel icons, the latter of which is represented by a black lipstick element.
The interior is rather cramped but contains several of the mason's past works, including four miniature statues, a life-size sculpture and another marker for the jetty. I love the Vitruvian minifigure sticker on the wall and the black windows are similarly impressive, consisting of 1x1 clips. Moreover, this angle gives a good view of the alleyway which runs alongside the shop, revealing another yellow sign that relates to the ADU from Alien Conquest. A small spaceship icon appears above the letters, matching the craft in 7066 Earth Defence HQ.
Grand Sensei Dareth's Mojo Dojo appears quite prominently in NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu so I am glad to see it here. The dark red sign hanging above the door looks exactly like that in the animated series and I like the trans-neon orange lanterns. Another small sign on the front of the dojo features some highly stylised NINJAGO script that reads 'Play Well', making reference to the Danish phrase 'leg godt'.
The interior is split over two levels so there is plenty of room for training. A collection of weapons are mounted on the walls and the scroll at the end of the room looks excellent, showing a few of Dareth's unorthodox animal combat stances. The lanterns in the corners of the Mojo Dojo are presumably intended to match those found throughout the rest of the set which is a nice idea, although the trans-clear 1x1 bricks supporting them seem out of place.
The opposite wall is decorated with two golden trophies, a trading card showing the four elements of the original ninja and a pearl silver glove. Karlof, the Elemental Master of Metal, wore a similar pair of gloves during the Tournament of Elements but it might be intended to represent another trophy instead. Dareth keeps two photos beneath the trophy shelf. He is wearing Garmadon's helmet in one of the photos and the other shows Dareth meeting a senior master who looks decidedly unhappy.
A series of advertisements line the staircase beside Dareth's Mojo Dojo. These publicise the 'Kimsee' Tour, Good Day NINJAGO, Freon Refrigerant and Draglev. Freon provides the coolant which powers Zane, the Ice Ninja, while Draglev is a company that runs trains throughout NINJAGO City. There is a large billboard above the steps and five boards are included, four of which can be kept beneath the black awning when not in use.
The billboards advertise a variety of different subjects, including the rooftop sushi restaurant in 70620 NINJAGO City and the NINJAGO Tonight television series. The caption asks 'Who are the ninjas? We talk to the expert' while the breaking news board beneath reads 'Garmadon attacks city...again'. However, my favourite billboards are those featuring real sets. One promotes 'Thunder Adventure Tours' beside shots of Johnny Thunder and 5935 Island Hopper while the other displays the Ultra Agents' car from 70162 Infearno Interception.
An arcade occupies the uppermost level of 70657 NINJAGO City Docks. This building looks reasonably modern and is extremely colourful but it still feels consistent with the rest of the city in my opinion. The orange advertisement on the railing makes reference to 8111 River Dragon and features Ha-Ya-To's emblem from the Exo-Force theme while the lime green board reads 'Mochi' which is a type of Japanese rice cake.
Vending machines have appeared in a couple of previous LEGO sets but this example is definitely the most advanced as it can really dispense drinks! The lime green 'Cool Drinks' branding was first used in 8191 Lavatraz from Power Miners and the mechanism works perfectly. Inserting a 1x2 banknote tile will cause one of the three cans to drop down the chute at the base of the machine. You can then reload it from the top.
Two arcade cabinets fill most of the space inside but there is still just enough room for a small counter, a gumball machine and a couple of posters on the wall. These make reference to the Starfarer comic book series, copies of which can be purchased at a shop in 70620 NINJAGO City, as well as the golden 'Mask of Ultimate Power' from BIONICLE.
Each gaming cabinet stands on a 2x2 jumper plate so they can be removed with ease, revealing the full extent of the stickered detail. The orange video game is Junkbot, an arcade version of the online platform game produced by LEGO in 2001, while the dark red cabinet houses LEGO NINJAGO: Shadow of Ronin and displays the Green Ninja in action. Both machines are simply constructed but they look superb.
The arcade roof is decorated with another golden frog sculpture to complement those on the smaller building and one can also find a television antenna up here. However, by far the most striking feature of this whole building is definitely the enormous pig-shaped balloon which floats above the arcade at the end of a dark bluish grey bar.
This balloon includes two large eyes, a prominent snout and ears which are represented by pink 1x1 slopes. Its spherical shape is remarkably complete, making use of thirteen sliders arranged around a central core, so I hope to see the same technique in many future sets. A curly tail might have been a nice addition to the model but is certainly not a necessity.
Technic pin holes on either side of 70620 NINJAGO City led many people to believe that the set was intended to connect with a second model. 70657 NINJAGO City Docks fulfills that role, including the same Technic pin holes at the base and beneath the walkway on the second floor. It is interesting to note that pins are only shown at the base in the instructions, although there is a hole for a third and I would recommend using them all.
The sets fit together perfectly, forming a vast city environment which measures over 60cm wide! It looks spectacular on display and the integration is tremendous as every walkway from 70657 NINJAGO City Docks lines up with another in the 2017 model. However, the two sets face in different directions when linked which is odd. While the new set looks good from either side, 70620 NINJAGO City is definitely more appealing when viewed from the front.
I would therefore suggest that the combined city looks more impressive from the angle shown below, although the most intricately detailed area of the docks is not visible. The differing heights of the sets may bother some people and that is understandable as the change is quite dramatic. However, it also seems appropriate for a city which has expanded organically, closely matching the design of NINJAGO City in The LEGO NINJAGO Movie.
Technic pins slot into either end of each model so they can also be combined with Misako's tea shop adjoining the lift in last year's set, as demonstrated below. This configuration does not feel as cohesive as the other to me, although the designers have evidently taken both arrangements into consideration because the projecting stone walkways fit together exactly.
Both layouts look fantastic when displayed with 70620 NINJAGO City facing outwards and I think the designers of the two sets have done an excellent job. Several previous models have been created with integration in mind but the sheer ambition of these examples should be applauded and I am delighted with the execution as well. Hopefully we will see even more sets that can be combined in the future.
70657 NINJAGO City Docks contains 3553 pieces but is still a great deal smaller than its predecessor. Equalling the exceptional standard of 70620 NINJAGO City must therefore have presented an almost insurmountable challenge. Personally, I am delighted with this set! Not only does it include incredible detail but the model offers considerable play value, containing plenty of hidden passageways and an array of different rooms to explore.
In fact, the arrangement of the buildings in the new model feels more realistic than those in 70620 NINJAGO City, reminding me a little of 70751 Temple of Airjitzu from 2015. This set costs £199.99 in the UK or $229.99 in the US. Both prices seem reasonable and I would therefore highly recommend 70657 NINJAGO City Docks to any LEGO fan, even those who have little interest in the NINJAGO theme as a whole.
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.
This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.