Review: 70657 Ninjago City Docks

The LEGO Ninjago Movie may not have been a phenomenal success but I am incredibly glad that it got made – because it has lead to some truly outstanding LEGO sets.

In my opinion one of the best sets of last year was Ninjago City. It was a set packed with details and a sense of epicness (thanks mostly to it’s towering height). When LEGO announced that there was a companion set – Ninjago City Docks – on the way I knew that I had to review it.

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The Build

The build is broken down in to 19 sections, with each having one or two corresponding numbered bags. No single section is overly taxing with the build spread out fairly evenly over the 19.

The build starts off in a similar way to Ninjago City, with a series of plates laid out on the two baseplates. If you haven’t built Ninjago City this may seem a little odd but the use of different colours is a very clever way of adding a sense of depth underneath the water.

It’s not until section 3 and 4 that you really get all of the “water” (i.e clear tiles) in place. There are a lot of tiles to place but it’s broke up enough that it doesn’t become a chore.

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The set is called Ninjago City Docks, so it is to be expected that there will be a dock of some description, and that is constructed in section 6 of the build. The dock features the same sub-assembly done 6 times so it is one of the more repetitive parts of the build.

The build then moves on to the buildings of the lower, or Old World, level of the city. The fruit market features some wonderful parts use such as shovels to make a tiled roof. The sculptor’s workshop again features some interesting parts usage.

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Once the lower level is complete the build moves on to the smaller individual buildings that get stacked together

The Explorer’s Room – A fairly uneventful build. It’s essentially just a small box.

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The House – This is a much more interesting section to build. A large wagon wheel is used as a window and it breaks up the build. The fact that one of the walls is also sloped is something a bit different. This section is finished off with a nicely with a roof made with black flag elements and some SNOT work.

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The Dojo – The build for the dojo integrates a split level design, which helps differentiate it from just being a boring box. The outer walls are also made entirely of bricks on their sides. The build for this was something different to the previous ones which was welcome.

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The Tea Room – While the outer structure isn’t as interesting as the dojo the build of the internal detailing is great. Using the 1×2 hinge brick to create an open draw is clever parts usage. The newspaper stand is another great example of using a part in a different way.

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The Arcade – The base of this room features an open cavity to store spare billboard signs, and it is another point of difference. The build also incorporates a vending machine that actually works with very basic elements.

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The Pig – This was a really odd build, in a good way. Lots of small elements and things being precisely clipped in place.

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The End Result

This set took me a long time to build due to some personal time constraints, but when I finally finished it I couldn’t help but sit back and admire it. There is just so much to take in visually.

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The ground level features some interesting play features. Firstly there is the fruit stands which can be tipped to spill the contents out. It’s fun to imagine the Ninjago characters spilling out bananas in an attempt to foil Garmadon. The second play feature is the working crane for unloading the boat.

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The rotating feature of rotisserie works well, but the fact that it is small and enclosed makes it far too dark. It’s crying out for a light brick here. It would have given a great cooking effect. It’s a little frustrating because there is plenty of room for a light brick behind the fruit stands. It’s actually a bit of wasted space.

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The sculptors workshop makes great use of elements in light grey to represent stone. I particularly liked the chicken sculpture. I probably would have gone for a regular minifigure rather than the skeleton but others might disagree.

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The explorer room features some wonderful internal detailing using a combination of printed tiles and stickers. It’s not as well furnished as some of the other parts of the set but I don’t think it needed anything else.

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The house is nicely set out with the kitchen and bunk beds well designed, it just feel a little cluttered in here. It was a pain trying to photograph all the details because it’s so compact. I get what they were going for with the sloped roof but I think it would have been more open without it. The large circular window looks great and it does help with the openness of the room to some extent.

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The dojo is probably my favourite of the rooms. The split level design provides for a point of difference and the external walls being constructed in a SNOT method provides a subtle difference to how the brick pattern bricks are normally used. The liberal use of gold throughout also adds a bit of elegance.

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The tea room is another fantastic part of the build. The wall full of little draws is wonderfully done. My only complaint with this part would be the use of handcuffs as scales – I don’t think it really works.

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I really like the exterior of the arcade, the bright blue colour scheme really stands out and the large stickered billboards add a great focal point. The interior however, just doesn’t work for me. It’s way too small. There are two arcade machines but once they are placed inside you can barely tell they are there. The vending machine is awesome and works really well but it does eat in to the already limited footprint of the room. The gumball machine is probably unnecessary.

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Better Together?

You can’t really get past the fact that this set is an obvious companion to the Ninjago City set. It’s designed from the beginning to connect directly to it. These are actually more intrinsically linked than the Modular Building series. A Bank and a Restraunt are just two building that look nice together where as Ninjago City Docks is very literally a continuation of Ninjago City.

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The link between these two sets poses an interesting dilema for anybody that doesn’t already have Ninjago City. Is it worth getting on it’s own? I’m honestly not sure. I loved the build and think the end result looks great but the whole time but it almost feels incomplete without the city beside it. It’s certainly getting expensive if you are going to buy both, considering that you’ll have to grab Ninjago City from LEGO directly with no discount.

The biggest issue with the combination is the way they have been designed to fit together. The more interesting side of the Docks combines with the less interesting side of Ninjago City. So you essentially have three options;
Display it with the boring side of the docks and the good side of the city.

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Display it with the more interesting side of the docks but the boring back of the city.

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Or, if you want to get crazy have them sitting beside each other but not “connected”. This option means that nothing really lines up.

The way they combine probably isn’t as much of an issue if you have this down low where you can view it from all angles but if you are putting it up on a shelf you’ve got to make a decision and I don’t think there’s a perfect option.

The Characters

The set features an impressive line-up of minifigures – 13 in total. Here’s a quick look at each.

Runje
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Not the most intricate printing but the pole with fish makes this a standout for me. I love accessories that help give a minifigure a bit of character.

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Runde
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Runde is clearly the sailor in the set as he comes with a paddle and is pictured sitting in the boat. Simple torso and leg decoration.

Dareth
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Darteh is a character that should be well known to fans of the Ninjago cartoon as he has played a fairly important role over the years. Nice printing with gold details that match the gold in his dojo.

Runme
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The sculptor Runme features a double sided head print, the first a simple smile while the second features an exhausted look complete with sweat.

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Chan Kong-Sang
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Fairly simple printing and sleeveless top. This minifigure also comes with two face prints: smiling and a panicked look.

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Lil’ Nelson
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A student at Dareth’s dojo Nelson features a white ninja outfit with gold detailing. Nelson also features the relatively new arm cast element.

Lloyd
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The green ninja himself. The torso is identical to other Lloyd minifigures except that this one doesn’t have any arm printing. A normal hair piece is included if you want to go with that option. Lloyd also features a double sided face print but you can barely tell behind the ninja mask.

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Mystake
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A lovely older female minifigure. The teapot element is nice even though it doesn’t have any printing. The 1×1 round plate with shaft works quite well as a cup.

Cole
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This version of Cole is purely civilian with no alternate ninja outfit. I really like the torso print with the equalizer design. Cole is another minifigure with dual face print – smiling and frowning, both with great eyebrows.
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Chad
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A character who made a brief appearance in the Ninjago Movie. A Ninjago High student Chad features a great letterman jacket torso print. Chad’s double sided face prints are a smirk and a face best described as terrified.
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Betsy and Baby
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The baby element will always be cute to me. The Betsy minifigure is fairly basic in terms of elements. One face print is a nice happy mum look while the other makes it seem that things aren’t going particularly well for Betsy.
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Private Puffer
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The Ninjago Movie sets had some outstanding designs for the villains and Private Puffer is no exception. The pufferfish helmet element is outstanding.

Garmadon
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With his double height torso Garmadon minifigures always look intimidating and the inclusion of 4 swords helps with that. The figure itself is not unique in terms of the various elements.

Buying Guide – August 2018

While Ninjago City was a Toys R Us exclusive, Ninjago City Docks is more widely available.

The cheapest price that I have found is $262.49 from an online retailer called All 4 Kids. I don’t have any experience buying from this store myself so can’t speak for how good they are. They appear to based out of Victoria and everything seems to be above board.

Amazon also has this set listed for $315.11 (sold by Amazon AU). It’s a little bit more expensive but if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber it might be worth it for the quick delivery. You can find the Amazon listing here (affiliate link).

The set is also showing up in the Target app for $315 but it’s not currently on the Target website and I don’t believe it has been spotted in-store at all.

Finally, if you are happy to pay the RRP of $349.99 you can buy the set from LEGO Online here.
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Final Thoughts

While there are touches of the fantastical throughout the set, it feels more grounded than it’s predecessor. This set really focuses heavily on the “Old World” part of the City. It’s not a complaint, but if you are looking at this set because you loved the crazy spectacle of Ninjago City you are going to get less of that. In a way this almost feels deliberate, like an attempt to balance out the craziness just a little.

The set, like it’s predecessor, features a smattering of signs printed in Ninjago Script. The instructions include a translation guide and it’s fun to go through them and see what they say.

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The only negative I can think of with this set on it’s own is that the rooms are a bit small. For a piece that I will be displaying and not playing with, it’s a very small complaint. The other issue is how it connects to Ninjago City – it’s not bad and they still look great together. I just wish they’d align differently.

Full Image Gallery

This set was provided to me by the LEGO Community Engagement team at my request. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by any other party

4 Responses to Review: 70657 Ninjago City Docks

  1. firemoth says:

    got mine from all4kidsonline.com.au. no problems at all. took about a week from when i ordered to when it got delivered.

  2. Mike says:

    I have Ninjago City, which for me is the most spectacular set Lego have ever produced, and am currently building the Docks. It is a lovely set in its own right but sadly it just can’t help but suffer in comparison to the City. I am a big fan of the traditional old world architecture but I do miss the energy that the city has. It’s a shame because instead of living the build i’m constantly comparing the experience and finding it lacking. And I agree with you Michael – I think it definitely needs to be viewed as a companion piece rather than a stand-alone.

  3. GJBricks says:

    LOVE this set! Nice run down. It is a great looking set and loads in it. Is overshadowed by the awesome Ninjago City but the more I see it, the more I Love it! Definitely adding it to the GJBricks City!

    Some of the treatments and mods I’ve seen people doing with this and the City combined have been exceptional! My current favourite is MrBookieboo (on youtube) who’s put it in-front of it in a way that allow a canal between them. I will totally be taking this same approach. Means you can enhance that “river market” feel the designers seem to be going for.

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