Review: 70655 Dragon Pit

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NINJAGO sets focused upon locations are often impressive and 70655 Dragon Pit is among the largest such models that LEGO has released so far, containing 1660 pieces in total and costing £119.99 or $129.99. This might therefore prove to be a superb set, following the example of its predecessors.

Furthermore, the set comes with a marvellous selection of different minifigures, two of whom are only available here, as well as the mighty Earth Dragon. Its rocky hide distinguishes this dragon from others in the NINJAGO range but certain aspects of its design feel consistent with 70652 Stormbringer and 70653 Firstbourne too, as one would anticipate within the Realm of Oni and Dragons.

This review contains spoilers for season nine of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu.

Minifigures

Each of the original ninja are included, wearing their tattered attire from the latest season of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu. Jay sports an attractive blue robe with numerous black accents, the most notable of which is the shoulder armour element which features sheaths for two swords on its back. Removing the character's head wrap reveals a smile on one side and a determined expression on the other.

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Cole has evidently suffered a great deal in the desolate Realm of Oni and Dragons, wearing a tattered version of his black robe from the earlier Sons of Garmadon wave. I appreciate this consistency between different seasons. The dark bluish grey armour weave printed on both sides of the torso and the legs looks wonderful and the orange symbol on his head wrap is unique as the figure from 70653 Firstbourne features a golden emblem.

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The majority of Zane minifigures look extremely tidy but this example is rather unkempt, matching his allies. Two light bluish grey straps cross his chest and I like the black bands around the head wrap as well as the metallic silver head underneath. Unfortunately, the centre of Zane's hips is not printed and the straps around his thighs therefore seem more like an unfinished belt than two separate straps.

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Kai is my favourite of these four minifigures. The black chain mail armour across his right side looks splendid and I love the large reddish brown strap that runs across both sides of the torso. In addition, one of his sleeves is missing which corresponds with a tattered design around Kai's left shoulder! The pearl silver scabbard looks slightly out of place in my opinion but this is only a minor issue.

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The ninja are armed with their traditional weapons, a couple of which feature the new pearl silver blade elements that were introduced this summer. These are packaged in a small bag and look great as they can be integrated with existing weapons. Kai's silver katana, for instance, fits neatly in the scabbard on his back alongside a traditional black katana.

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The heroic Dragon Master only appears in this set and looks resplendent in his golden armour, as one would anticipate. This helmet is quite rare in pearl gold and the attached horns look superb, making clever use of a double-bladed weapon. However, my favourite element is the chest armour. I like the scaly texture on the front and the dragon-shaped pauldron over the left shoulder is lovely, although it does hinder articulation very slightly.

70655 Dragon Pit

Removing the helmet reveals that the Dragon Master is actually Wu, whose age was reduced following a climactic battle against the Time Twins. This double-sided head looks great and I love the pearl gold clothing underneath the heavy armour as it reminds me of the Golden Knight from 7079 Drawbridge Defence. The legs are also found in 70644 Golden Dragon Master but the torso design is unique.

70655 Dragon Pit

This minifigure is equipped with a selection of powerful weapons, including the Dragonbone Blade and an attractive shield which is decorated with a dragon emblem. The sashimono on Wu's back features a matching symbol and his sword includes a similar dragon motif on the pommel. This piece has already been used to decorative effect in 70657 NINJAGO City Docks and I hope to encounter it more often in the future.

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Iron Baron commands the Dragon Hunters in the Realm of Oni and Dragons, wearing an enormous hat and heavy armour which looks rather intimidating. The spiky pauldron is particularly striking and I love the sheath for a dagger on the front, although this element is more frequently used the other way around, as you will see on Heavy Metal below. The villain's raging expression looks marvellous and the moustache distinguishes Iron Baron from his minions, all of whom have pale white skin.

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The arid Realm of Oni and Dragons provides few natural resources and the Dragon Hunters are reliant upon Arkade to distribute rations and equipment, using the slot machine in his chest. He is only available in this set and wears a large welder's mask which is decorated with two orange streaks. I like these orange highlights very much and the olive green rags look splendid as well.

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Iron Baron's left hand has been replaced with an orange robotic claw, allowing him to wield his staff with surprising skill. He also carries a pearl silver dagger that fits into a sheath on his chest. Arkade comes with a pearl silver wrench and a chainsaw, either of which can be attached to the clip on the minifigure's back.

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Chew Toy is named for the dragons' tendency to attack him so he wears a large breastplate, although it has seemingly provided little protection given the damage suffered by the breastplate and its wearer! Even so, this character features a cheerful expression and I like the broken horn on his helmet, further demonstrating the dangers involved in keeping dragons.

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The same torso and legs are shared by both Chew Toy and Heavy Metal, although this is not an issue as Chew Toy's chest armour is concealed by the breastplate. A pearl silver grille covers Heavy Metal's face and the design underneath looks great, featuring an olive green bandana and a single red eye. A second head would have been welcome as the character's identity is important in the television series.

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Heavy Metal is armed with a Vengestone Chain Rifle and a tanto blade slots into a sheath on her back, as demonstrated above. The rifle cannot actually fire its trans-orange chain projectile may be attached to a dragon. Chew Toy is also equipped for handling dragons so carries a chicken leg in one hand and a broad shield in the other.

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The Completed Model

Dragons have been associated with the ninja since the very first wave of NINJAGO and many different versions of these mystical creatures have been released since then. The Earth Dragon, known as Slab in the animated series, is smaller than 70652 Stormbringer and 70653 Firstbourne but still towers over minifigures and occupies a significant proportion of the 1660 pieces in this set.

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The head is constructed using a series of brackets, curved slopes and rocky elements which create an impressive shape. This design is somewhat reminiscent of 70602 Jay's Elemental Dragon but features a pair of dark tan swords, representing horns that appear on this animal in the television series. Yellow eyes are printed on either side of the head and the lower jaw is mounted on two droid arms, allowing it to move up and down.

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A small ball joint connects the head to the body and the legs are similarly articulated which is great for display. The claws on the forelegs are lovely and I like the sand green highlights throughout the model. In addition, its rocky texture looks fantastic, especially around the tail which includes a club, much like that on an Ankylosaurus. The dragon's body could be beefier but its lithe design is consistent with the other dragons from this wave.

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70652 Stormbringer features narrow wings and the Earth Dragon is similar in that regard, consisting of two black pieces which can be folded together or spread in readiness for flight. The rocky texture on its back looks superb and there are some exposed studs, allowing you to place a minifigure on top. There are no reins though, presumably because the Dragon Master does not require such equipment.

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Slab's hind legs are rather small in relation to those at the front and lack articulated claws. This makes it slightly more difficult to pose the model but helps to convey its strength as the dragon appears rather squat. It reminds me of the creature from 2509 Earth Dragon Defence which stood in a similar manner, featuring longer forelegs than hind legs.

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The enormous Dragon Pit measures 51cm across at its widest point, dwarfing minifigures and even the Earth Dragon. Its tan, dark tan and black colour scheme looks splendid and I love the decorative bones and teeth that appear on almost every available surface. Presumably these are the remains of dragons which have historically fought in the pit. This set does not include the entire circular Dragon Pit but this design looks perfect to me.

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Two imposing gates allow dragons to enter the pit and these look magnificent. I love the white spikes along the top of each gate and the black components, which resemble wrought iron and cover most of the structure, are delightful. Stickers form wooden beams on the front of the gates. They look good but planks of wood are frequently printed so it is unfortunate that these 1x4 tiles are not.

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The sandy structure surrounding the gate is reasonably detailed, making clever use of scattered 1x2 masonry bricks as well as some exposed studs. Reddish brown ladders allow minifigures to clamber from the central podium to the shorter platforms on either side. One of the towers has been removed in the image below to provide a clearer view of the ladder.

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Gear wheels of three different sizes are placed on either side of the entranceway. Turning the knob on the largest wheel will cause the gates to open in unison using an elaborate gear rack mechanism. The design could have been simplified by this mechanism works nicely and gives a sense of foreboding as the gates open quite slowly. Moreover, the larger gears are linked to an engine above the gates, as though the minifigures open them by activating this engine!

The area inside is remarkably spacious, providing enough room for the Earth Dragon to stand in here. A chicken leg, a fish and a broom are stored on clips behind the entrance and it looks alright from this angle in my opinion, despite most of the detail being focused upon the front. However, the blue bricks above the gears appear totally out of place as the model is otherwise dominated by earthy tones.

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Iron Baron and his minions can view battles inside the arena from a platform above the entrance. This structure includes an impressive throne for Iron Baron alongside two pearl dark grey railings, a couple of weapons and some flaming exhausts. The roof above the throne looks reasonably similar to that in 70751 Temple of Airjitzu and two fabric flags are suspended on either side.

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The throne is actually a skull belonging to the Ultra Dragon which was captured by the Dragon Hunters after the first season of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu. It looks quite spectacular and there is space to seat Iron Baron inside the dragon's jaws. Unfortunately, the open area behind the throne is completely empty which feels like a missed opportunity to include some additional detail.

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A pair of towers flank the central platform and these are attached using Technic pins. I like the dragon reliefs on the front of the taller tower and some spikes are fitted on its side. Purchasing additional sets would allow you to construct a complete arena as there are Technic pins on both sides of each module, although that would be very expensive and I think the resultant model may look awkward with so many gates.

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Sturdy weapons are a necessity when capturing dragons and these are manufactured in a forge at the base of the tower. Numerous weapons and tools for found in here, along with a simple stone anvil and a furnace. The clips for keeping weapons on the wall look rather rudimentary and the orange clips are not ideal but I like the spikes beside the furnace.

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There is room to place a couple more minifigures on the next level, where a telescope is mounted on the railing. The angular roof looks splendid and a rotating turret is mounted on top. This launches two flick-fire missiles which are connected by a trans-orange chain, forming a bolas for capturing dragons. A seat for a gunner might have been useful here, although that is certainly not a necessity.

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The second tower is considerably shorter than the first and features a prison cell. I believe this was designed for a single minifigure but you could easily fit two characters inside and there is even more space for prisoners underneath. The pearl dark grey bars look great and decorative bones continue to dominate the model.

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Furthermore, this prison structure conceals my favourite function on this set. Turning a dial on the back will cause the cell floor to open and the gate underneath to rotate upwards, releasing any captives into the Dragon Pit. This is an ingenious function and it continues to work when there are figures inside the lower cell, although there are no studs in here so minifigures dropping from above will slide out into the arena.

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Viewing the model from behind is somewhat disappointing as there is very little detail here, although it is completely enclosed. Placing minifigures inside is still fairly simple though as you can fold the metal grates on either side downwards, creating just enough space to reach into the prison cell.

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Overall

70655 Dragon Pit is an excellent set on the whole, although certain aspects of its design are surprising. The model is extremely large but includes relatively little interior space and few play functions. There is lots of room to place minifigures on the external platforms though and the functions which are included work well. In addition, the entire model is highly detailed, even in some areas that are not immediately visible from the front.

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The stocky Earth Dragon is also very impressive. Its rocky hide looks absolutely magnificent and I can envisage this being a highlight of the entire set for some NINJAGO fans. This set costs £119.99 in the UK or $129.99 in the US which seems reasonable to me and I would recommend it, although 70654 Dieselnaut is slightly less expensive and offers equal play value in my opinion.

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.

 

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15 comments on this article

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By in United States,

The Dragon Hunters' grungy aesthetic (with lots of mechanical details and dragon bone ornamentation) combined with some excellent landscaping and stonework makes for a very impressive set indeed. I love the dragon (which like the other dragons this year has a brutal, animalistic look including a very unique-looking brick-built head) as well as the mechanism for the gates (which is indeed more complicated than it needs to be but benefits aesthetically from it, with all the large exposed gears).

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By in Sweden,

I don’t like these 2-dimensional facade sets that lack interiors. Up front they look really promising but then they fall short. Elsa’s castle 41068 is the worst in this regard but also Ninjago Movie 70617 was disappointing.

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By in United States,

Nice review!

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By in United States,

@Dude45: I think in this case the facade structure makes sense, as the Dragon Pit is more of an outdoor arena/colosseum than a castle or fortress, and as such it makes sense that it wouldn't need too much more structurally besides audience viewing platforms, an armory, and cage doors to release the combatants (ninja and dragon alike) into the arena.

The battle damaged ninja costumes offer a great sense of continuity, not to mention contribute to this wave's general post-apocalyptic vibes. The Dragon Hunters are also remarkably varied despite having so many parts in common. And while Slab is light on functions compared to Stormbringer and Firstbourne, he shares their outstanding caliber of highly textured brick-built design. His biggest drawback is probably that his wings are a bit plain, which isn't helped by them being a departure from the color scheme of most of his other body parts.

As for the perimeter structure, I quite like the gate function and the dragon skull motif, as well as the detailed armory and roofs. The relief sculpture stickers outside the armory are also quite neat! In some respects, some of the structural and aesthetic elements of this set feels like what we might have seen if an Ouroboros Slither Pit set had been released for Season 1, albeit with some more dieselpunk cues like the engines powering the gate.

Personally I am leaning towards getting this set and skipping the Dieselnaut, since both the Dragon Master and Arkade minifigures are exclusive to this one, and I wouldn't want to miss out on the excellent Earth Dragon design featured here. Dieselnaut has the standard Teen Wu minifigure, but I could probably get him on BrickLink more easily than all the stuff I'd miss by skipping the Dragon Pit.

If there's one regret I have about both sets, it's that they're both so specific to the Season 9 setting/conflict that by this time next year they probably won't hold my interest enough to justify devoting so much display space to them in the long term, unlike many of the theme's less context-specific locations and vehicles like Ninjago City, Ninjago City Docks, Destiny's Bounty, Ultra Stealth Raider, Temple of Airjitzu, etc.

Great review!

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By in Australia,

One of the things I always loved about Ninjago were the villains. Every year, we'd get a tribe of interesting and cool antagonists. Between Garmadon, the snakes, the cyborgs, the snakes, the ghost ninja, air pirates, snakes ... this year we had both the biker gang (which were cool, sure), and these guys, steam-punk dragon hunters (which just look great). I bought the Stormbringer dragon, and loved the two villain figures so much that I tracked down a few more of the foil packs and polybags just to get more of them.

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By in United States,

@Zordboy
I definitely agree. We've had new versions of the ninja every year, so they aren't terribly exciting. A good villain though. That's what I love to see, and this season of Ninjago definitely delivered.

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By in United States,

@Dude45 I have 70617 and while I do agree about lacking interior the inside is full of so many well integrated play features that it is hard not to love. Additionally, Ninjago is a history young-oriented theme.

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By in Germany,

Re: @Aanchir
"If there's one regret I have about both sets, it's that they're both so specific to the Season 9 setting/conflict that by this time next year they probably won't hold my interest enough to justify devoting so much display space to them "

Such a comment screams Sheldon Cooper nerdiness to me.
I didn't even know that the accompanying TV series had 9 seasons already, let alone what contents they have. Never watched any of it nor would I ever dream of doing so. And even if, why let it spoil my enjoyment of the sets?

To me this is simply a totally smeggin cool set, which can be displayed and/or played with for years to come.

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By in Australia,

I agree with AustinPowers, I've always bought sets on their own merits and Ninjago consistently turn out desirable sets, largely driven by their antagonists. This set easily stands on it's own, but could easily form part of any post apocalyptic theme/ collapsed civilisation. In fact, my classic castle collection has emerged from it's Dark Ages at the same time I did.

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By in France,

Ninjago is, with Elves, my favorite non licensed theme. It has always been a provider of good designs and sets, along with bright characters and their Lego renditions. It's why among all my SW sets I have Destiny's Bounty and Lloyd's green MechDragon which are overall two of the best sets I ever had. And this range and new Ninjago season goes on improving the global quality with a darker color scheme and tendency. Those vilain are amazing! Helmets, attires, prints, weapons are awesome, and the golden armor and weapons are beautiful. I wish I had such things to play with as a kid indeed. I had already been charmed by Dieselnaught and smaller sets too, and this lair is great. Good review and pics Cap'n, as usual : thank you.

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By in United States,

Does anyone know if season 8 will be released on dvd? I love ninjago, but can only watch them on dvd. I have been waiting to watch it for a long time, but can not find any info on it. Also, great set and review!

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By in United States,

@AustinPowers: Lol, yeah, I guess it does sound a bit nerdy. But I have enough Ninjago sets that I have to be selective of what I display at any given time, and so even ignoring sets’ story context, it’s easier for stuff that feels like “typical Ninjago” to fit in with a frequently changing display than stuff with a design language more specific to a particular villain faction that might only be relevant for one wave.

It’s not that I don’t love these Dragon Hunter sets and want to buy them, but rather that I can easily foresee them getting packed up in storage rather quickly when I wind up needing space to display newer sets, as happened with other villain sets I got in the past like the various ghost and sky pirate sets. So for me, I feel like I get more lasting value out of sets with less faction-specific design language.

None of this would be an issue if my storage space weren’t so limited, but being at college I only have one room for all my stuff, and don’t have the fortune of having either a whole house to spread out in or a dedicated “LEGO room” that doesn’t need to function as a sleep or study space.

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By in United States,

If you turned the 45-degree pieces with the technic pins around, so the outer sections bent backward instead of forward, you'd have more of a stronghold or fortress, rather than an arena... much like many of the Classic Castle sets were transformable, even, one might say... modular? ;)

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By in Canada,

I'm not even much of a Ninjago fan, but I definitely need to pick this one up!

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