Sunday, June 17th, 2012 at 4:42am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Times are bad in the land of Ninjago; the Serpentine Tribes have united and are now out in search of the Fang Blades. Even Lasha has been given his own Bite Cycle to ride around on. Can Cole defeat this Serpentine on his snake-like motorcycle? Also, is 9447: Lasha's Bite Cycle a decent set to get or not? Perhaps this review will hold some answers!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Hey, look, it's the box! I could describe all the details of it… but I also included pictures, so need I really bother? For the smallest summer set, it still comes in a fairly large box… but it is $24.99 USD, so it's not too big or anything. But it contains 250 pieces… that's hitting the 10 cents per piece mark almost exactly! Anyway, upon opening the box, you get four bags of parts, a sticker sheet, and a folded instruction booklet. Yay!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
It's a fairly straightforward build, with a few interesting design features. Of course, the coolest part is building the snake head, where the various hinges bend just right to get the correct angle. However, it is a little less impressive since the same design has been used on a bunch of the other Serpentine vehicles. But even with all the angles and such, the set is still pretty simple to build, so the designers managed to use cool techniques while still making it easy to construct for youngsters. Can't really complain about that.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
I mentioned before that this set has 250 pieces plus a few extras, so that's a good value. Pictured above are some of the cooler elements, although some (like the horizontal finger hinges or the lime wheels) are merely new to me and not super rare. Others, like the various 1x1 round tiles, purple flames, and lime arches, are fairly new but have been in some of the other Serpentine vehicles. The two coolest elements here are the new brick-detailed-bricks (you get 6 of these) and the new 1x2 bracket elements (which premiered with the Marvel sets but show up here too… you get 3 here.) Also, some ball-joints are included, which are always fun for Bionicle MOCers.
As with all Ninjago sets, you get a ton of weapons. Having trouble keeping track of them? The middle of the instruction booklet has a checklist for all of them; including a reference to the set they're in. For this set, the exclusive weapon is the Venomari Fang Blade. While it's not a terrible design, it doesn't stand out as well as the Snake Staffs did for the winter wave or the four golden weapons from last year. Still, gotta collect them all, right? (Just be glad there aren't 72 versions of them.)
The minifigs in this set are pretty decent. On the Ninja's side, you have Cole in his decked-out ZX suit. This includes a new helmet mold and a fancy shoulder armor / backpack piece, which can store up to two katanas. This Cole ZX isn't any different than the one that appeared in the Thread Assault set, but technically this is a cheaper set to get him in.
Also included is Lasha of the Venomari Tribe. Lasha's only ever appeared in a spinner set, so he's fairly exclusive. He has decent torso printing (front and back) depicting his scaly body with a strap printed on. (It's so he can hold his sacks of poison.) His head has four scary eyes printed onto it… and one of them has already been poked out. Three more to go! He also has the same headpiece that was seen on Rattla, only this time in lime with some special printing on it. Overall, he's a little boring compared to some of the other Serpentine designs, in my opinion. But he's still decent, and looks snake-like.
Next up is the star of the set: the Bite Cycle. I'll start off by saying this: for all the cool design features in the other Serpentine vehicles released last winter, none of them looked very snake-like. A Helicopter-Snake? A 4-Wheeler Snake? A Snake Mecha with legs and arms? A Snake Wrecking Ball? All interesting ideas, but they were stretching the snake motif. The Bite Cycle, on the other hand? Nailed it. This thing looks legitimately like it could be a snake. It doesn't have any weird appendages, but rather a smooth flow from the standard-and-well-designed snake head to the lengthy tail. The two wheels are hidden underneath it, so they don't stand out but still function well. Okay, so the purple flames don't really help, but the Bite Cycle looks more like a snake than most of the other Serpentine Vehicles.
And as a motorcycle, it still looks nice. It utilizes the various angles to make the whole thing sloped while not breaking the flow at all. And there's also plenty of room for Lasha to ride, as well as some weapon storage clips on the side. One bit that is troublesome is the stickers. Again, they're applied to the long curved slopes, and there are a lot of them, so I personally had a little trouble making sure they all got on straight. But once they're on, they add a lot of nice detail, so you kind of want to have them.
Also, I should mention the landscape piece, which is supposed to feature some sort of outdoor blacksmith shop. It's a very basic construction that make an anvil, a forge, and a small tower with clips for weapon storage. Basically, it's just extra bricks to add into the set, but considering it includes lots of brick bricks and the new 1x2 brackets, I can't complain about it too much.
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?
Obviously the best part of this set is the role-play potential. It's Cole ZX vs Lasha on his Bite Cycle. Cole seems to be at a disadvantage without a vehicle, but he's a Ninja, so he can handle himself. (Also, Ninjago motorcycle sets traditionally include one of the characters who are only really there to be run over. This time, Cole serves that purpose.) Better yet, if you're collecting all the Ninjago sets, you could use this to play out scenes from the television show. (Sadly, there isn't a snake-train set yet, so you can't quite recreate that scene. But there are others!)
The Bite Cycle does have some small features, other than just being a cool motorbike that looks like a snake! The main one is the tail, which can flick back and forth using the hinge bricks. I found this a little annoying, and the connection feels a little weak, but it's always something. I did have some issues with the tail falling off, so keep that in mind. (Additionally, the purple flames had a tendency of falling off too, so beware!) You also get two flick-fire missiles on the side of the bike, but the angles for flicking them really aren't that great. (However, if you pushed them further out, you'd disrupt the flow of the bike, so my personal preference would be to just remove them entirely.) And if those don't work, Lasha can always just throw swords, spiders, or dynamite at Cole. That'll stop him.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good amount of pieces
- Decent minifigs
- Bike design flows
- And it LOOKS LIKE A SNAKE!
What's not to like?
- Fang Blade collectible? Really?
- Flick fire missiles: not the best here
- Tail and purple flames fall off easily
If you're into Ninjago (or just snakes) then this set should be a good buy. To be honest, I originally picked it up for the minifigs, but the snake-like design of the bike is really awesome, and the seemingly-useless landscape piece actually includes some useful parts. For the cheapest set of Summer 2012, it's still a bit pricy, so a sale is always recommended. But this is easily a vehicle that can define the Serpentine tribes, and any Ninjago fan will need it in their collection.
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