Sunday, March 6th, 2022 at 4:05am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
And you thought we were done with 2021 Ninjago reviews?? I had one more gold Ninja to collect, and so that means one more set to push to the front page. This time, it's 71739 Ultra Sonic Raider, a remake of an early Ninjago vehicle. Read on for details or check out Instagram for more photos and clips.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Ninjago Legacy returns with another vehicle from the first season (second year) of Ninjago. The Ultra Sonic Raider puts the four original Ninjas against the Serpentine. And Golden Zane is included! The set goes for $79.99 and has 725 pieces. (That is, if you can find it. This was a summer 2021 release and has been out of stock from LEGO since November, so availability may be lacking. But hey, I have it in hand so let's do a review!)
The Ultra Sonic Raider has been done three times now; originally in 2012, again in 2016, and then this one from 2021. The premise has remained the same; the main vehicle can break up into smaller components, it has treads on the sides and a big wheel in the back, and usually snakes are involved. This is a nice recreation using some more modern techniques. . . but it's just a bit bland, given that the Ultra Sonic Raider was not necessarily the most iconic Ninjago vehicle ever. (Originally it was literally made by the tornado of creation and junkyard parts.) So I'm already going into this review a little meh about the set, but let's see how it holds up.
What kinds of interesting pieces are included with the set? What are the minifigures like?
Despite a good number of parts, none of them jump out to me as must haves, although some of it is a bias because the parts it does have just don't interest me. The most noteworthy would probably be the tread pieces and the large wheel elements. There are a few other rare pieces, like the windscreens and red Technic round connector, but most of it is pretty standard. There aren't even any good colors; most of it is a mix of black and white with a few red, dark red, and gold highlights. It's not the worst, but I still feel a bit let down by this.
The minifigures are a bit better. Not many sets include all four of the original Ninjas, so getting them all at once is a nice surprise. They're also all in their legacy uniforms that have real neat dragon designs featured in their robes. The biggest drawback would be that they are all reused designs from the previous year. (Which isn't bad if you don't have them, but I collected 'em all last year.)
I also find the two Serpentine figs a bit boring just because we've had so many snakes before and they don't bring much new to the table. The torsos and legs have new printing, but it's still just an update from the previous figs. Technically, Mezmo (the one with the custom head) is exclusive to this set; he appeared in the LEGO Employee Christmas set too, but as far as mass produced sets are concerned, this is it for him.
Gold Zane is the chase figure and my primary reason for grabbing this set. The legacy sets of 2021 all had golden Ninjas in them and I had to get all six (seven if you count Wu.) Zane is also exclusive to this set (again ignoring the Employee Christmas set) and comes with a face wrap with a crystal design on the top, from the Forbidden Spinjitzu 2019 line. It's a cool fig, but hard to justify getting the whole set just for him.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
There's no secondary build here; the full set creates the Ultra Sonic Raider. (Although technically it's made of four separate components, more on those below.) It's a fairly large model, and easily fits all four Ninjas. The four vehicles fit in quite snugly so there's not a lot of looseness in the design. The one exception is the central vehicle's cockpit, where Zane's riding. It does really lock in place, and is only loosely held in position by the plane cockpit above it, so it can flop forward a little too easily. The wheels and treads work decently. The treads do need the rubber stoppers to roll on most surface, but plenty are included. (Even if I technically didn't include them in the photos, whoops!)
The first vehicle is the central vehicle driven by Zane. It includes the cockpit swapping action that the 2016 model had, in that it can flip from the center of the vehicle to the front for when it combines. The problem is that the connections are all on loose rods and there's nothing to hold it in the final positions. (Which is something the 2016 model did have.) As mentioned above, this means the cockpit flops around a LOT. And even worse is the fact that it can't balance on its own; the two big wheels aren't wide enough to support it so it has to lean to one side. It serves quite well as the full base to the Ultra Sonic Raider, but on its own it is a little lackluster.
Oh but then the side cars are worse. The 2012 model didn't have the side treads split off into their own vehicles, but the 2016 model went the extra mile to make the side treads into mini motorcycles. Well, the results for 2021 are just plain laughable. The Ninjas Kai and Cole are placed in the center of the sidecars, but the bulk of the body is very blocky, and then the actual treads are held way out at the side. As individual vehicles, these are quite ugly, there's just no getting around it. These are definitely meant to be merged into the larger model. Now, there are some nice bits. The actual tread component is nicely shaped with the gold wheels and white disks, the gold claws as crash bars over the Ninjas is a nice touch, and the gold blasters give the Ninjas something to do while riding around in the combined vehicle. Still, it's hard to take these seriously as stand-alone vehicles. Ninjago has done so much better in the past.
Finally, we have the jet flown by Jay, which is a feature that's been included in all three variations, although with different designs each time. This one looked a bit spindlier compared to others, so I had low expectations for it. However, it ended up being the cleverest part of the build. The main build uses a lot of clever SNOT techniques, but my favorite is the ingenious way the tail fins were angled down around the cockpit to give it a nice solid feel. It also had the wing mechanism built in, which uses a rod system with Mixel joints. When the back component is up, the wings fold to the side, but when you push it down, they splay outwards. The gold blade pieces make the wings feel adequately large, and the function is very astute. Unfortunately, it's also weak; the bar to rod connections are fairly lose, so the whole mechanism started falling apart after a couple of uses. Not good for heavy play. At least the whole jet is fairly swooshable, always a plus for a flying vehicle.
If you want to see more details on the functions and combining of the vehicles, check out the videos on Instagram.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good figs, especially Gold Zane
- Reminiscent of the original vehicle
- Combined model good
- Clever builds on jet
- Interesting action feature in the wings
What's not to like?
- So-so selection of pieces
- Three of the sub-models look bland on their own
- Central cockpit doesn't lock in place, flops around
- Wing action feature fragile
- Expensive (and hard to find too)
The overall build is okay, and the pieces and figs are good. But, if I'm being honest, it's not great, and there are many other Ninjago sets that I would recommend over this one. It's main redeeming value is the chase fig and the treads / wheel elements. This set will be hard to find, but honestly you could safely skip it. (Although that would mean you'd have to give up on Golden Zane, sorry.)
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to BZPower for more set review, both impromptu (me) and well thought out (the other reporters).
« Return to News