LEGO NINJAGO 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech review

71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech represents some serious ambition from the LEGO NINJAGO team – but is this 4-in-1 build more than the sum of its parts?

With no specific source material tying them down for the January 2022 LEGO NINJAGO Core wave, the LEGO NINJAGO designers have been left with only their own unfettered imagination for designing sets. They’ve taken that freedom and gone full Voltron with 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech, a towering set that mostly lives up to its premise, though still succumbs to some typical LEGO mech issues.

Unlike this wave’s 6+ sets at the lower end of the price scale, this 9+ set has nothing too simple about it. It isn’t elegant, but it isn’t meant to be, providing a worthy building challenge and a central play feature that no other set can boast to this degree (besides 21311 Voltron, of course).

— Set details —

Theme: LEGO NINJAGO Set name: 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech Release: January 1, 2022

Price: £74.99 / $89.99 / €84.99 Pieces: 1,104 Minifigures: 6

LEGO: Available now

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— Build —

You’ve seen the name of the set, so naturally multiple smaller things must be built before any ‘combo’-ing can take place. This build would be ideal for sharing among friends or family members, though the set only includes one thick booklet. Of course, there’s always the LEGO instructions app to supplement the physical booklet, and it’s a wonder the LEGO Group doesn’t tout that possibility more clearly with a cute graphic to match the ones about sorting the parts, with one minifigure looking at the booklet while another looks at their device.

For better or worse, the instructions order the builds of the individual vehicles in what turns out to be strongest to weakest, with one detour for the bad guy vehicle. Kai’s mech ranks highest among the ninjas’ rides without contest. The stocky design using those stepped plates and numerous angular parts makes it look tough and serious, while the gold and decorative elements on its front add a touch of elegance.

Only the arms stand out as being a little weird, with bulging forearms and anaemic upper arms made out of just a couple of parts. Otherwise, Kai’s mech could easily be a $30 set with a couple of villains alongside it.

We’ll skip discussing the villain vehicle until the end, and next move to Zane’s icey tread machine. This tank also has adequate heft and a design realised fully enough to work as its own set. Given its lack of firepower, it comes across as a sort of treaded battering ram.

Even the fact that it splits in two harkens back to other sets that have done the same, like 76118 Mr. Freeze Batcycle Battle or the Alien Conquest set 7067 Jet-Copter Encounter, though as its own set it would need a redesign so that each half could still roll separately. Only the bars and clips on the back belie the notion that this could be a standalone set, though these wouldn’t be out of line as weapons storage, so overall it’s a fun and successful design.

Sadly, the other two ninja vehicles don’t fare quite so well. Cole’s driller, which the LEGO Group inexplicably labels a ‘car’ in its official description, obviously only exists to connect to something else. The front section looks alright, but the whole back, connected as it is with the large hinge parts and with its extraneous Technic connectors, feels flimsy. It’s also a shame that the drills aren’t powered by the wheels nor even have a remote actuator. While this vehicle does feel very Cole, it doesn’t feel very good.

Jay’s ‘jet’ really scrapes the bottom of the barrel as a standalone build, though. Nothing about this design works very well: the Technic parts are too noticeable on the front section and clash with the other parts, the wings are purely strange, and worst of all is the cockpit, which makes it feel like Jay is sitting on top of this flyer rather than in it. There’s also no firepower. Sure you can swoosh it, but otherwise, this one’s a dud.

One more thing: none of the ninja can be placed in their vehicles while wearing swords in their back sheaths. It’s okay, but slightly annoying.

Before we get to combining the ninja vehicles, we’ll look at the woefully outmatched enemies. Cobra Mechanic and Boa Destructor don’t stand much of a chance, but their little frog-like vehicle looks cute and has the novel solution of wedge parts for feet. There’s no truly satisfying way to pose those feet, however, but the vehicle plays well and adds value to the set while not using up too many parts.

Combining the ninja vehicles into the Combo Mech feels slightly daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it can be done in just a minute or two. The process works smoothly, as very little has to be taken apart or rearranged from each component vehicle.

The most ingenious part of the design is how the Kai Mech’s lower legs fold back, and the disconnected bars and clips then match up perfectly to the bars and clips on the back of the two halves of Zane’s tank. Somehow it doesn’t feel like it should work, yet it creates a perfectly solid connection without needing any true disassembly.

Once all built up, the mech looks great and plays well for the most part. Of course it’s obvious that different sections have different colour schemes, but the pearl gold ties it all together so it comes across looking a bit busy, but not messy.

The top half works very well, with a great range of motion in all four arms. When all combined it makes sense for the Kai mech arms to be so scrawny, and that aspect of them barely registers beneath the bulky drill arms from Cole’s driller.

Like so many LEGO mechs, the only real weaknesses can be found in the legs. Of course, there are no knees, but expecting them in a mech made out of other things would be a stretch. More problematic are the feet and ankles. The ankles have both front to back and side to side rotation, but the side to side aspect might be a bit too free.

It can be difficult keeping the mech from toppling over when going for a more dynamic pose, and thus the legs end up more limited than we’d like. Still, it’s satisfying putting the mech together and fun to play around with it, and we managed some slightly dynamic poses after a lot of trial and error.

Also to note, we built the whole mech without stickers first, and it looks perfectly good without them if you prefer to leave them off or save them for custom builds.

— Characters —

We’ve already covered these minifigures in our previous reviews of some of the January 2022 NINJAGO wave, but suffice to say they mix classic NINJAGO design elements like robes and strong colour identities with a new approach of muted or utilitarian trousers. The clash can be a bit jarring, but we like that the LEGO Group has tried something new, and the ninja designs change each wave anyway.

Getting the original four ninja befits this set, with its concept of four ninja teaming up and all. As a nod to NINJAGO’s past, their inclusion makes good sense. Sadly they don’t come with alternate hairpieces in this set, like they do in almost every other one this wave.

The Wu Bot, while an iteration of the one included in 2021’s 71756 Hydro Bounty, feels like a further evolution of Tee Vee from the Alpha Team set 6775 Alpha Team Bomb Squad, who was then redone in Hidden Side’s 70436 Phantom Fire Truck 3000 from 2020. It makes for a funky additional character, and good for play with the excellent new shooters.

The snake villains fill the role of generic snake baddies. Their colour scheme of gunmetal and orange with accents of teal and olive green sets them apart from other previous snakes, and they have quite a good level of intricate detail across their torsos and legs. We’d have absolutely no problem with a massive army of them!

— Price —

The price of £74.99 / $89.99 / €84.99 for 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech and its 1,104 pieces sounds like a good proposition, and it is if mechs are your thing. The set includes many small parts, but also many larger ones, so from a parts perspective the price feels generous. For the size and heft of the mech, as well as the multi-faceted playability, the price also feels appropriate.

— Pictures —

— Summary —

The NINJAGO team set themselves a mighty task of making a set that can be seamlessly transformed between four individuals and one sturdy mech. Thankfully, they managed it. The combined mech has some weaknesses in the legs and feet, which can make it challenging to get it into certain poses, but it still plays well and looks good.

We only have praise for half of the individual ninja vehicles, and it’s a shame the other two aren’t strong on their own as well. Nevertheless, they serve their purpose when it comes to making the combined mech, so they don’t hinder the set too much.

Getting the original four ninja ties in well with the concept of this team-up set. Their designs this wave pleasantly mix the classic NINJAGO design language with new concepts. The baddies with their little walker vehicle and Wu Bot also add play value, without taking anything away.

All-in-all, while there are some criticisms to be had with the set here and there, in broad strokes it delivers the goods.

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This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.

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— FAQs —

How long does it take to build LEGO NINJAGO 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech?

It takes about two and a half hours to build 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech, provided you don’t stop to play around with the different vehicles too much.

How many pieces are in LEGO NINJAGO 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech?

There are 1,104 pieces in 71765 Nina Ultra Combo Mech, from tiny ones up to more substantial ones like the drills and wheels on Cole’s car.

How big is LEGO NINJAGO 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech?

When all the vehicles are combined into the mech, 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech is fairly sizeable, standing over 31cm (12in) tall.

How much does LEGO NINJAGO 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech cost?

71765 Ninja Ultra Combo mech is priced at £74.99 in the UK, $89.99 in the US and €84.99 in the EU. That’s a fair price for the amount of parts and size and complexity of the model, though you’d have to like mechs to appreciate it.

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