Review: 70666 The Golden Dragon

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View image at flickr

Dragons have been a characteristic feature of the NINJAGO theme since its inception. 70666 The Golden Dragon is accordingly appropriate for a modernised version, particularly since its predecessor, 70503 The Golden Dragon, does offer some potential for improvement.

However, this design only contains 171 pieces which is considerably smaller than the previous 252-piece model. That may introduce certain issues so is disappointing, although its price has dropped to £17.99 or $19.99 and that seems reasonable. Hopefully this model will be a worthy successor to the Golden Dragon from 2013.

Minifigures

Season two of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu concluded with the emergence of Golden Ninja Lloyd and this minifigure has undergone several changes since 2013. The head wrap is new but resembles an earlier element, featuring an attractive dark green band. Personally, I prefer the modern two-piece head wrap which appears more shapely to me, although recreating the original design is appreciated.

70666 The Golden Dragon

Lloyd's clothing has also been updated and now includes a pair of metallic gold dragons beside some dark green straps. The original minifigure wore an impressive robe and shoulder armour which looked more appealing. The head, on the other hand, is excellent and features crackling green energy around the eyes along with two angry expressions. Lloyd wields a pearl gold katana which is fine, although the Sword of Fire would have been ideal.

70666 The Golden Dragon

However, I am delighted with this version of the Overlord. It shares comparatively few design features with the earlier minifigure but looks fantastic, capturing the character's mystical nature. I love the trans-purple head which is decorated with glowing eyes and bared teeth while the helmet features imposing horns, further exaggerating the Overlord's already enormous size!

70666 The Golden Dragon

The torso consists of two pieces and includes four arms, corresponding with the possessed version of Lord Garmadon from 70505 Temple of Light. Golden armour is printed on the Overlord's chest and the wraithlike component which replaces his legs looks great, although the transition between trans-purple and black where these pieces is rather abrupt. The villain wields a bladed naginata.

70666 The Golden Dragon

A single Stone Army Scout completes the minifigure selection, carrying a pearl dark grey crossbow and some additional bolts on its back. Similar figures have appeared in several previous sets but this example is unique and looks superb. The minifigure from 2013 wore a traditional conical hat while the updated version features a red coolie which is moulded with some lovely textured detail.

70666 The Golden Dragon

Moreover, the red armour on the torso is now more prominent, almost entirely covering the chain mail underneath. The yellow symbol at its centre remains intact though and the head is perfectly decorated with green facial markings. Another scout is found in 70669 Cole's Earth Driller but that figure includes yellow designs on its face and longer legs so you can easily assemble an army of different minifigures.

70666 The Golden Dragon

The Completed Model

Many different dragons have been produced for the NINJAGO theme and this rendition of the Golden Dragon is among the smaller designs, measuring 24cm in length with the tail extended. I think it looks good though and the balance between pearl gold and dark green pieces is very attractive. This colour scheme matches the Lloyd minifigure and improves upon the original Golden Dragon in my view.

View image at flickr

NINJAGO dragons often included moulded heads when the theme began but they have subsequently been replaced with brick-built designs. However, two unique elements form the Golden Dragon's head and dark green highlights decorate either side, following the example of the 2013 model. In addition, a stud shooter is hidden inside the mouth and this is activated when the jaws are closed.

View image at flickr

There is room to seat Lloyd on a white saddle which really stands out against the dragon's body. I like the stickered flag behind this seat and the surrounding pearl gold mudguards create a brilliant organic shape. Miniature ball joints connect each limb to the body and the resultant articulation is tremendous, especially around the neck, so you can create numerous dynamic poses.

View image at flickr

70503 The Golden Dragon was certainly an enjoyable set but offered some room for improvement in my opinion. Its static feet were particularly unfortunate so I appreciate the individually articulated toes which provide robust support to the new dragon. The hip and ankle joints offer an impressive range of motion as well.

View image at flickr

Furthermore, the wings are mounted on two ball joints so can move in any direction. They look great when spread for flight but I prefer to display the model as though it is walking across the ground, with its wings facing forwards and claws extended. The central blade can move back and forth but seems most impressive when situated at an angle, as demonstrated in the image below.

View image at flickr

The tail is simply constructed using a series of ball joints and includes two pearl gold katana at the tip. Larger blades appeared on the earlier dragon from 2013 but these minifigure accessories are superb and match the innermost blades on each wing which is a charming detail.

View image at flickr

Overall

Creating a smaller version of a retired set is probably among the most difficult challenges that a LEGO designer can encounter, particularly when the original model was very popular. However, I am pleased with 70666 The Golden Dragon. This dragon offers superior articulation and looks threatening, despite being considerably smaller than its predecessor. The updated head, for instance, is highly detailed.

View image at flickr

This version of the Overlord is excellent as well, making fantastic use of a ghoulish element in place of standard legs. However, I prefer the previous Lloyd minifigure and certain details from the older dragon have been lost which is disappointing, although I think that can be excused to some degree as the price has been lowered in relation to the model from 2013.

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.

19 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Like the new Dragon better, but the original minifigures were just impossible to beat...

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By in United Kingdom,

Whats with the current price of 70503? Sure I had 10 or so of them at one point

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By in United States,

It’s Interesting how LEGO changed the hat of the Stone army soldiers from the standerd sensi wu cap.

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By in United States,

I find this whole legends subtheme wierd.

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By in United States,

Awesome set, great review

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By in United States,

I’m not really that bothered by the Golden Dragon’s smaller size. Even though the previous set was bigger, it was fairly basic and blocky compared to previous dragons, with a huge head and spindly wings that seemed out of proportion with its body. Making the whole dragon smaller amends these issues, particularly as its size was never a major part of what made it impressive to begin with.

The head shape and graphics have been tastefully recreated while removing some of the unnecessary rocky motifs that were a holdover from the previous use of this mold, the Earth Dragon from 2011. The jaw articulation and more compact and accurate shooter functions are also nice improvements. In fact, articulation has really been improved in many respects with this set thanks to parts like the Mixel joints that weren’t available when the previous set was released.

That said, it’s a little surprising that they opted for a two-piece molded head in this set only, while using entirely brick-built heads in the Ultra Dragon set. I would have ordinarily expected LEGO to go Brick-built with all three dragons or use these pieces and a third head mold on the Ultra Dragon.

The new Golden Ninja Lloyd minifigure is certainly interesting. The original design was sort of like a blend of the other four ninja’s NRG designs from the 2012 sets (in terms of being a monochrome design where the figure’s body has been converted to elemental energy) and elemental gis from the 2013 sets (symmetrical robes with decorative knee wraps, buckled on the sides, and Y-shaped trim on the front closure).

This new design, by contrast, keeps Lloyd’s gold-colored face (an interesting choice, since the Golden Ninja notably DIDN’T have this trait in the show) but with updated facial features that no longer alter his eyebrow shape. It also adds gold energy burst patterns around his eyes, further solidifying the connection to the original four ninja’s NRG/True Potential designs.

The gi keeps its knee wraps and buckles, but does away with the front closure entirely (resulting in a design that many fans on social media have compared to a sweater or jumper) and adds coiling dragon motifs similar to the other ninja gis from the Legacy sets — which, if anything, call back to the ninja’s DX (Dragon Extreme) costumes from 2011.

On another note, it’s kind of curious to me that not only does this Lloyd figure have his dragon emblem on his back (where the other Legacy ninja costumes use their old pseudo-calligraphic icons borrowed from the Fusaka font), but also that its design has changed considerably from the portrayals from previous years (whereas the other ninja’s animal emblems that appear in the Legacy sets have been left unchanged). To be honest, I preferred the older dragon emblem’s less angular horns and whiskers.

Regarding the sword, the Dragon Sword of Fire element was probably omitted here since the Legacy sets are bringing it back in its original use — as a mystical, one-of-a-kind elemental weapon belonging to Kai. The previous Golden Dragon set mostly seemed to use that sword as a generic dragon-patterned sword. That said, I wouldn’t have minded if this set had given Lloyd an energy blade like in the attack mode of the new Lloyd vs. Garmadon spinner set, since that is more impressive, coded to Lloyd’s colors and element, retains the dragon motif but not the association with Kai or the fire element, and calls back to the designs of the Elemental Blades that all the ninja EXCEPT Lloyd got in Season 2 and the 2013 sets.

(Continued in next comment because this one ran long)

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By in France,

great set. great value

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By in United States,

(Continued from previous comment)

As far as I can tell, the Overlord’s new design seems to blend the 2013 Lord Garmadon minifigure (the closest we got to an Overlord figure in the season 2 sets) and the 2014 Overlord minifigure depicting his revived “Golden Master” form from Season 3/Rebooted. The dead giveaways are the four-armed torso and Helmet of Shadows, from Garmadon’s 2013 design, and the skeletal golden armor and smoky trail from the Overlord’s 2014 design.

In my opinion, this new Overlord minifigure surpasses both those that inspired it. The transparent head, nebulous lower torso print and co-injected ghostly trail element communicate his mistlike form much better than the black head, printed skirt and stickered curved slope from the 2014 design. The trail, head, and hands also help offset the rather overwhelmingly dark designs of both previous figures. And the glowing spark of energy down the center of the face and torso both provides additional value contrast and echoes Overlord’s original design as a purplish will-‘o-the-wisp in Season 2 of the show.

The Stone Army Scout is a much less extensive redesign, which I find nice, since much like the villain redesigns in the summer 2016 Day of the Departed sets, it will blend in well with previous figures from this villain faction. By mixing and matching old and new Stone Army minifigures, it’s even possible to create a much less repetitive infantry with more varied hats, torso patterns, and face patterns.

Thanks for this great review!

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By in United States,

What an excellent opportunity to creatively combine the best of both versions inspired by the detailed comparisons in the article and comments! I would immediately upgrade the tail and feet along the lines of the newer dragon models.

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By in United States,

Not a bad reimagining. I still find it disappointing that the Overlord's Dragon form has yet to appear as/in a set.

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By in United States,

I'm hoping to get this at some point to modify into Gladr, my freind's D&D character's dragon.

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By in United States,

I like this one a lot more. The minifigures are better, the head is so much better, the details are all nice and more detailed. The only think I like more in the old set is the three fingers. The two fingers here look stupid and a third would have only have included 4 more pieces.

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By in Malaysia,

Ooh the minifig head is new in Trans-Purple!

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By in Australia,

I was kinda hoping you'd get a photo of both golden dragons side-by-side for comparison.

Normally it irks me when Lego offers the same thing twice, but I do like the Ninjago dragons, so I'll probably get this. It's small and cheap enough.

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By in Australia,

Great review and I have bought the set and it looks awesome. only $20 Aus so to me it's a bargain considering I finally have a gold ninja and the overlord with the purple head piece is great. It looks good next to my Firstborne, Stormbringer and green Mech dragons, I like dragons. I'm thinking of getting a couple more of these sets and try making a larger version of the dragon that resembles the original set which I can't afford cause it's ridicously expensive now.

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By in United States,

Great review. I bought this little set for my son. I’ve been enjoying this subtheme because my kids weren’t into Ninjago during the first season. Most of them look great, although a few I’ll pass on (Jay’s Fighter doesn’t do much for me). Side note, does it seem like the packaging is compact for the Legacy sets? Not a bad thing , we don’t need roomy boxes.

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By in United States,

Awesome! I want it!

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By in United States,

i hate the new ninja cowl with a passion

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By in United States,

"although the Sword of Fire would have been ideal." First off, that sword is never used in the show by lloyd. Second, they have to actually RESPECT the canon when designing the sets. I find that the pearl gold katana is perfectly fine as is and there aren't really any other weapons they could've used instead

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