Review: Exploring 70620 Ninjago City

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It feels like everybody was caught by surprise when LEGO announced the Ninjago City set. This set was bigger, more detailed and generally just more than anybody was expecting for a Ninjago Movie set - 4867 pieces and 16 minifigures.

LEGO have attempted to collate the entire Ninjago City into a single set. Did they succeed? I will be finding out by looking not just at the build itself but also exploring some of the real world influences and the world-building within the set itself.

This is a huge set so this exploration is broken down in to various sections. I have tried not to be too long-winded with so much get through. For each section I will examine; the minifigures; the style, influences, signage and imagery of the set; and the build itself, such as innovative parts usage.

Level 1 – The Old World

Style

The old world is blatantly and unapologetically inspired by iconic waterfront cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and various Japanese cities. As you navigate around this layer of the set you find all of the things you expect from a great waterfront city. There’s wide walkways right on the waters edge and a bridge that fishing boats pass under.

There is a market stall selling freshly caught fish and crabs, styled in a way that you can picture the real world version in your mind.

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The upper section of the old world features a small apartment with two rooms both heavily influenced by Japanese culture. There is a small bedroom with a Shikibuton (Japanese futon mattress) on the floor while the other room is set out like a tea room. Both rooms feature Sh?ji style doors (the traditional Japanese doors made with wood and paper).

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The Japanese influences continue with a Kimono clad minifigure design on a large sticker. Unfortunately the bottom part of this sticker gets covered but the part that is visible is beautifully designed. The sticker features the word CHIC, although only CH is visible.

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The design of the large bridge is a bit more ambiguous in it’s influence. It is still features some nice design touches. The bottom of the bridge features two slightly different signs, both of which say DITY. I triple checked and they both definitely say DITY.

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Just like in the real world Ninjago City’s old world is not free from modern influences. This level features the bottom part of the elevator with it’s mechanisms as well as a public phone. There is also what appears to be sewerage pouring in to the water. There are also solar panels on one of the roofs.

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This level features a few other signs written the Ninjago script. There is a small advert for the sushi restaurant which simply says “SUSHI” with an arrow. A bright yellow sign which says VISIT BRICKSBURG, a nice reference to the original LEGO Movie. A sign with MMAP written and the rear support beam features a fluro orange sign that says HI TECH.

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Substance

The build itself for The Old World features some really interesting techniques. I was surprised that there is a fair amount of detail actually under the clear tiles used for water. The use of different coloured plates (including wedge plates) creates a subtle depth effect that is hard to capture in photos. The colour changes from dark green to black the further you get from the buildings.

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The water itself looks great. There are so many clear tiles in this set, it’s crazy. It’s also requires a bit of concentration to make sure you put all of them in the right spot. This is made easier by various elements that act as reference points, such as 1×1 Round Plates with the flower edge in certain spots.

I was shocked when during the build I opened one of the bags to find a huge pile of crowbars. When it came to using them to make a roof I remember thinking “that’s cool”. The end result looks awesome.

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The new fence piece that LEGO have created is used well throughout this level and perfectly fits in with the overall design.

Characters

This level features 5 minifigures and a brick-built robot.

Kai – This version of Kai features a great smiling face and casual clothes. Included is a croissant element.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures KAI

Jamanakai Villager – The Jamanakai Village was not mentioned in the film but it may be familiar to fans of the show. This minifigure features some great accessories such as the basket, frog and staff.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures JAMANAKAI VILLAGER

Sally – A short legged minifigure with a nice freckled face print. The torso has some nice subtle mud stains on it.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures SALLY

Ivy Walker – Absolutely awesome torso print with an intricate bird pattern. The head features dual face prints.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures IVY

Konrad – A fairly simple minifigure but the addition of a fish element is nice, as is the neck bracket to allow for his hat to be attached.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures KONRAD

Sweep – Not really a minifigure, but the maintenance robot Sweep features some interesting parts usage.

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Level 2 – The Street

Style

While the foundation level of Ninjago City is designed to represent the city’s history, the street level is all about being a modern metropolis.

The street level is actually two levels, each with some great features.

The star of the lower section would have to be the crab restaurant. While the set focuses on grilling the crab I think there is some inspiration from the Chilli Crab you’d find in Singapore.

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The style isn’t a fancy restaurant but more of a small place popular with locals. The exterior of the restaurant is decorated with some great elements such as lanterns and the awesome looking crab sign.

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Beside the crab restaurant is the ATM. From the front this looks fairly unassuming but there is actually a fair bit to this build. The ATM itself can be removed to stock it up with 1×2 tiles printed with the $100 note design. The Ninjago script sign says BANK on the front.

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Next to the ATM is the comic book store. The store is quite small but packed with some great elements. It really feels like a small comic book store crammed with the latest books and collectibles. I like that the designers didn’t just include comics, there is also the action figures and other memorabilia that comic stores are known for.

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The signage on the window features the word SALE in Ninjago script and some details of the savings. Interestingly the numbers are not in Ninjago script. The comic book store features several references to other LEGO properties such as Chima and The LEGO Movie with Unikitty and the BELIEVE cat poster both present.

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Over on the other corner of this level is a display for up-coming movies. There is a place for one sign, with others hidden away behind it.

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The signs feature some great references. Firstly there is Shadow of Ronan, a reference to the Ninjago video game for DS, Android and iOS. Also included is Return of the Brick Separator, clearly a sequel to The Brick Separator which is advertised in the Palace Cinema set. The third film advertised is Galidor. If you are at all familiar with the Galidor theme you’ll know a film adaptation is unlikely. The 4th sign is not for a movie but rather the very generic CARS, perfect for people who are tired of walking.

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Higher up on the street level we have the large fashion store. I love that there is a such a varied selection of hats on offer, some more ridiculous than others. I don’t imagine that the purple top hat is a best seller.

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The inclusion of a skate ramp is also an interesting design choice.

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The large curved window on the front makes the shop nice and open. There are also two large window displays featuring mannequin minifigures; one rocking the scarf and Wu hat look, the other wearing a gold ninja mask.

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The upper part of the street level also features the tree, growing out of an abandoned building. The tree has a really organic look to it, in terms of the overall shape. The choice of pink and white for the foliage is quite striking and instantly makes you think of a cherry blossom tree in bloom. The room that the tree is growing out of features a roof that perfectly emulates traditional Chinese tiled roofs.

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Around the outside of this level is numerous signs:
- COMICS in Ninjago Script
- Dragon Power
- JB Robotics in Ninjago Script
- All City Recycling
- X logo
- Borg Industries, a major part of the show story
- RR logo
- Trilobyte sign

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Substance

The street level of Ninjago City was a joy to build. Each section had a different style which kept the build interesting and varied.

Unlike the Old World level this section features two different play features, and both with interesting mechanisms. The crab grill operates by flipping a panel within the rounded grill, it’s a novel approach to alternating between the raw and cooked crab.

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The other play feature is the ATM. Buried around the back of the set is a lever with an attached rubber band. As you push the lever in it pushes out a note, bounces back and the next note falls down ready to be dispensed. This works quite well, as long as you don’t go too fast. If you press it too fast the notes can get stuck.

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I have included a video of the play features further down in the article.

The instructions for the assembly of the tree are a little hard to make out, so I found that I had to go out on my own a little and arrange parts in a way that I thought looked nice.

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The comics store features a brick built sign that uses some really interesting part combinations to produce each letter. It’s probably not my favourite brick-built lettering but the end result is certainly legible.

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It’s only a minor detail but I found the columns on either side of the crab restaurant to be really cleverly done. They are made of a clear 1x2x5 clear brick with seven 1×1 round tiles inside. Loose parts inside another part is not something you often see in official LEGO sets.

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Characters

Severin Black – It’s hard to not love this minifigure’s outfit. The printing on the torso is fantastic.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures SEVERIN BLACK

Mother Doomsday – Another character that may be familiar to show watchers. I love that this minifigure happens to be wearing a Galidor shirt. A reference to the worst theme LEGO ever produced.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures MOTHER DOOMSDAY

Tommy – A fan of the green ninja, as demonstrated by his green ninja sweater. The printing features the word NEMANJA.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures TOMMY

Guy – Awesome fish print on his torso.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures GUY

Juno – A dual printed face with optional sunglasses. The umbrella accessory is simple but effectively made.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures JUNO

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Level 3 – The High Rise

Style

The top level of Ninjago City is not as detailed as the street level but it is still features a great array of references to the real world and the LEGO Ninjago Movie.

The majority of this level is taken up by a sushi restaurant, including the iconic conveyor belt. Conveyor belt sushi originated in Japan in 1958 and has become a iconic Japanese export around the world. It’s a reference that should be recognisable to almost anybody that has eaten sushi.

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The restaurant is also adorned with orange tables and chairs. The bright colours work well with the open rooftop design. Decorative signs around the outside show an octopus, a crab and a fish each with the word SUSHI in English. There is also a sticker with a menu for the restaurant.

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Above the dining area is a large tower and a smaller radio tower. The large tower is comprised of two parts, the lower section featuring a small bathroom for the restaurant.

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The upper section features a large opening. This is called a dragon hole and is based on Hong Kong architecture and feng shui principles. The belief in Hong Kong is that dragons travel from the mountains to the sea, and that blocking their path is bad, so buildings are designed with passages through them. With dragons being such a big part of the Ninjago world it makes sense that this design philosophy would be present in Ninjago City too.

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The top level of the city also features the apartment that is home to Misako and Llyod. The apartment that is shown in the film is obviously bigger than this but still comes across as compact in the film. The set version is incredibly compact, being just a single room. I kind of feel bad for a teenager who has to sleep in a bunk bed above his mum.

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The apartment also features the same traditional Chinese style roof featured elsewhere in the set, and it looks great.

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Also present on this level are some wonderful decorative elements. There is the large brick built pufferfish that looks like a parade balloon hovering above the city. This sort of large balloon is something that is present in the film and I think the designers have done a great job of scaling that down in to something manageable.

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There is also a large squid sign with a mix of blues and large green eyes. It’s a really cute adornment.

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Finally there is a large sign which reads RICE + SHINE.

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Substance

The top layer of Ninjago City is the smallest in terms of actual build but there is still a lot of parts that come together in interesting ways.

The outer roof of the sushi restaurant features sections that are comprised of car doors. They create a sloping roof that looks tiled. From a distance you can’t tell what part has actually been used.

The new fence piece is utilised well on the outer perimeter of the restaurant. The way the parts combine creates a great looking fence without even trying.

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I found the construction of the conveyer belt to be quite interesting. The gap for the track is created with a mix of arches and other elements using SNOT techniques. The track itself is created with 11 ‘links’ comprised of technic elements. The overall mechanism works smoothly.

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As you would expect the construction of a rounded tower with a hole in the middle of it requires a mix of different techniques. The hole part of the tower is a large block that clips in sideways to the rest of the tower.

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The pufferfish and squid decorations both not only look great but feature interesting parts usage. I found the squid in particular really interesting with offset cheese slopes aligning to form a pattern.

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Characters

Lloyd Garmadon – Featured here in a casual outfit fairly similar to his CMF version. The face is dual printed but there isn’t much variance.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures LLOYD

Green Ninja Suit – Not really a minifigure in it’s own right but if you want to have Lloyd as a ninja rather than casual clothes then this will enable you to do so.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures NINJA SUIT

Misako – Misako also features a dual printed head element, with a wink option or a more regular smiling appearance.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures MISAKO

Jay – The third of ninja crew included in the set. Jay is wearing his ninja outfit and has a pretty full on looking weapon with him. If you do want to have a less intense version of the character there is a second face print that is more jovial but note that there is no alternate hair piece.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures JAY

Officer Noonan – A bustling city like Ninjago City needs a police force. Represented here by the female officer Noonan. The torso printing is great.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures OFFICER NOONAN

Shark Army Gunner – The threat of Garmadon is represented in the set by a single Shark Army member. This minifigure features a suitably menacing face print. The sparkly fish weapon is a bit odd. The torso and leg printing is fairly common to all of the shark army members.

70620 Ninjago City Minifigures SHARK ARMY GUNNER

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Play Features Video

Overall Opinion

When I first saw pictures of this set I was absolutely blown away, because it is undoubtedly visually striking. What also caught my eye is that there is a lot to this set, it has distinct layers each with different styles and influences. It was that variety that intrigued me and I want to see how well that all came across.

The old world layer does a great job of capturing the essence of an old city on the waters edge. The usage of foliage and a mix brown and grey elements to represent wood and stone infuse this layer with character.

The street level features great play features, both cleverly created. The variety of different buildings helps makes this feel like an actual street that has been scaled down rather than just one big building.

The high rise layer features some awesome decorative elements. The working sushi conveyer belt is brilliantly replicated at such a small scale.

I love every layer of this set and the fact that each layer has a distinct feel and influences just adds to the overall experience.

The only negative with this set is just how many stickers there are. With over 50 stickers essentially all of the decorative elements are stickered pieces. There is a full array of horrible sticker scenarios – stickers on curved bricks, clear stickers, small stickers, large stickers. My set features a heap of stickers that I’m not happy with their placement.

Your ability to overlook the stickers thing is really going to effect how you view this set. I am somebody that generally doesn’t apply stickers for sets I build for myself, but I don’t think that is really an option with this set.

I was able to overlook the stickers, because I really love the overall set.

Ninjago City in the movie is a huge city but I feel like the designers have manage to take that city and compress it in to single set. From afar it looks busy, but everything has a purpose and a reason. It’s packed with references to the world of Ninjago, the rest of the LEGO universe and real world cities. I highly recommend this.

Full Image Gallery

70620 Ninjago City is currently available from LEGO Online, The Dreamworld LEGO Store and Melbourne LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for RRP of $499.99

This set was provided by The LEGO Group for review purposes. The supply of review products does not guarantee positive coverage. Opinions are my own.

5 Responses to Review: Exploring 70620 Ninjago City

  1. Steve says:

    Such an ugly set. Just looks too ‘messy’ or ‘busy’? Great (but expensive) parts pack though.

    • Mark says:

      I guess one persons “ugly” is another persons “visually stunning”. I’m of the later opinion. Yes, its busy but when everything makes sense the design aesthetic is beautiful. I’m in awe of just how much love and resources was put into the Ninjago movie sets in general. The movie is average but the sets are collectively probably one of the best themes Lego has ever released. I have Destiny’s Bounty (such an awesome build and display model) and covet the rest of the sets.

  2. Quixotequest says:

    Nice review. I’m not wild about the comms tower nor the mismatched support columns on level one. But with some mods—it’s going to make a nice (and appropriately too-much-signaged) Japantown addition for my modulars city.

  3. Chris says:

    Where can you purchase this set in Australia other than the Lego website? Will Myer or Target carry this?

    • Michael says:

      I have heard that the retail release won’t be until late 2018. Currently it’s only available from LEGO online, Dreamworld or LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne

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