Thursday, September 29th, 2022 at 3:39am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Ninjago has often been compared to the likes of Power Rangers, and although they've had a few of their vehicle hook up together before, they've never done it in the fashion of Megazord or Voltron. Well, at least not before 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech came around. Although this was part of Ninjago's not-matching-the-show's-canon Core wave, this came out a few months after the other sets so we didn't get a chance to review it last winter. But BZPower Reporter Xccj finally put it together to take a quick look at this combo mech and see if it's worth the hype. Read on or check out Instagram to find out.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is fairly big with the front showing off the full mech in action, with the dojo set in the background. The back features a more static pose of the mech and individual shots of the various vehicles. And there's Kai with the flags that were supposed to be collectibles or something.
The set retails for $89.99 USD. Although it was released in March, it still should be available.
What kinds of interesting pieces are included with the set? What are the minifigures like?
There are 1104 pieces making up this set, which is a fairly impressive amount. (Although 54 are tread links, so that pads out the number a bit.) There weren't exactly any pieces that stood out to me, although I guess the long dark blue wedges are rare and the trans black windscreens are apparently unique to the set. Not to mention that the big click hinge joints are somewhat new and uncommon. Since you have the four primary ninjas, you get a lot of red, black, white, dark blue, and gold, plus some orange and gunmetal gray with the Serpentine.
You get a healthy dose of figs for this. As mentioned before, it's one of the rare sets that comes with a full set of Ninjas, or at least the main four. Kai, Cole, Zane, and Jay appear in their flashy outfits from the Core wave. The two Serpentine are also repeats. WuBot is technically updated from the variations we got last year, as he now comes with two stud shooters.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
The Serpentine get a small armored walker vehicle, because if there's something snakes are associated with, it's legs. It's a basic design but the Serpentine fit inside alright. Although I don't think it'll be much of a challenge for any of the individual vehicles, much less the full mech.
Kai's mech (the small one) is the most impressive build here, and takes 3 bags of parts to build, so it's the most substantial of the mini models. (Basically, everything attaches to it to make it the larger mech.) The torso has a hefty design to it, with nice angling of the blades on the front. The legs are also pretty well built, with a cool clip design built into the knee to give it a bend. The arms however. . . the upper sections are very bare bones. They offer decent motion but could've been beefed up a bit more. (Alas, if only CCBS were still around.)
Zane's tank is the next largest model, comprised of 2 bags worth of parts. It's built into two sections that come together with treads on the side. It's a bit blockish, but it's a solid build, which helps because they'll be the legs to the main mech. Some details I like are the panels covering the outside of the treads, which was a creative design, and the dragon handles next to the cockpit. One seat is designed for Zane, while the other gives room for the WuBot.
Cole's car is only built with 1 bag, and it's starting to show in the simplistic design. The drills on the front call back to some of his earlier vehicles, although there's no fun gear mechanism built in. Instead, like the tank, it's built into two sections that connect in the middle, but it's far less substantial since it makes up the arms. The back wheels are essentially connected via click-hinges and it looks flimsy. Not to mention that the whole thing just appears exceptionally flat. There's a driver's seat set aside for Cole, and the other side instead features a rounded brick with a cool sticker on it.
Finally we get Jay's jet, which is the weakest of the vehicles. It feels very much like a secondary design tacked on to a set to up the parts count, although it does get used to make the mech's head. The simple wings are attached to ball joints so it can flap, I guess. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't look very impressive on its own.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The main feature is that all the mini vehicles combine and form a big mech, and there's a bit of action that needs to take place to make it happen. The mini mech has to split its knees apart and curl the legs up onto its back. The tank splits in half and connects to the knee clips on the mini mech to extend the legs. This is actually the cleverest connection point in the model, and it's very secure. The front of the tank sections also fold up to create the feet.
Next, the car splits in half and rotates so that the exposed hinge joints connect to the mech's shoulders. You'll end up adjusting the angles to get the arms into better positions. The jet has the most deconstruction, as you pop both of the wings off at the ball joint and connect them to clips on the shoulders, making them long armor bits. The main jet clips onto the back of the mini mech, but then the front folds over the top and lets the little head pop up. And that finalizes the transformation.
This is indeed a case where the whole is better than the sections. It's not the perfect mech; the main arms are still a bit gappy, and nothing is really done with the mini mech's arms, so they just form a second smaller pair in the middle. The treads on the sides of the legs also stand out a bit much. The legs do have limited posability; spread them out too far and the mech will do the splits. But in general it manages to hold itself together, and it does have an overall intimidating look to it. (And I do like the concept of gold drill hands instead of just more sword blades!)
Is the mech perfect? No, and I wouldn't even consider it one of Ninjago's best. The individual vehicles themselves are also very lackluster, as it's difficult to design something to both look good on its own and act as a structural limb element. Beyond that, this was part of the Core line, so the build in general was already pretty Juniorized. (The mini mech was probably the most advanced build in the wave.) So holding this to the standard that I usually have for big Ninjago sets, and it does seem underwhelming. And yet the gimmick of smaller vehicles joining together into a giant mech is a powerful one; while the execution isn't perfect, it does manage to work. And for a younger builder (which, let's be honest, is who the Core theme was targeting) the combo mech feature will be more than enough to make this worthwhile.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- It's really a combo mech. They made it work!
- The big mech holds together well too
- Decent color blocking
- Red mini mech has a good individual build
- A nice selection of figs and parts
What's not to like?
- Big mech has some clunky parts in the arms and legs.
- The tank, car, jet, and snake vehicle models are subpar designs
- You have to pop off the jet's balljoint wings for the transformation
- Mini mech's upper arms are bare bone
- Fairly expensive set already
It's a bit hard to recommend this set. If you are looking for a solid design for display, then perhaps pass on this, as there are a lot of visual disappointments both with the main mech and the individual vehicles. It has a good value for the number of parts it comes with, and the fig selection isn't bad, so if those appeal to you then it could be worthwhile. The main feature of combining the mini vehicles into a mech is the selling point; this is something that a lot of LEGO models even in other themes don't tend to offer. (I mean, we did get Voltron but those lions were not minifig scale.) There are certainly ways this could be improved, although doing so would probably up the price to unreasonable amounts. Still, compared to the other sets in the Core wave, this one is still probably one of the better of them, and four-vehicles-in-one would give great play value to a younger builder.
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