Price: £259.99 / $299.99 / €299.99 Pieces: 4,867 Available: Now
When LEGO set designers had the opportunity to produce a sizeable D2C set based on The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, the sprawling city that is home to the film’s populace was the obvious candidate. The challenge was then to condense the seemingly never ending on-screen location into something that could feasibly be a single set while representing the various facets of NINJAGO City.
70620 NINJAGO City is an unequivocal masterpiece. I don’t know how a set this big tied to an internal IP was given the green light by executives, but I am so glad that it did. Some may remember my tepid review of Assembly Square, in which I opined that the LEGO Group had given us more of the same instead of something truly amazing to commemorate the line’s 10 year anniversary. 70620 was the set that I was looking for, something so much bigger, so much more detailed, and all around so much more amazing than anything that has come before. Save your coppers, mortgage you house, throw in an arm and a leg if you have to – do whatever it takes to get this set.
The LEGO NINJAGO Movie’s largest model is designed to serve as a microcosm of the sprawling metropolis seen onscreen. Accordingly, it is arranged in the same three layers known as the Old World, Street, and Skyline as they rise ever higher from the 32×32 baseplate. Each layer has a distinctive aesthetic imbued by different architectural features. Like a standard modular, each floor of the buildings can be removed allowing for access inside. 70620 includes five distinct sections, pulling all of them apart will surround the builder in structures.
Before getting into the detailed review of 70620 NINJAGO City, let me quickly address a few of the questions I came into this set wondering, that from reaction to the set’s announcement I know are likely shared by many other Brick Fanatics out there;
- Yes, this set does have the standard modular building pin and hole connections – it can be joined to a standard modular. The river base makes for a very ugly connection with adjoining structures due to a higher walkway and the presence of so much water.
- All of the buildings are completely enclosed and accessible by figures. A complicated and fantastic set of walkways join everything together, although the journey certainly violates some safety standards.
- While much of the detail is achieved through unique building techniques, the set also relies heavily on stickers. Barely any of the designs visible in the main image are printed.
- The different buildings are, in no particular order – marketplace, utility structure, apartment, crab restaurant, novelty shop, comic book store, Lloyd’s apartment, sushi restaurant, tea room and public restroom.
The attention to detail from the designers of NINJAGO City rises to such a level of devotion that it borders on religious. Many more words than I can reasonably ask you to read would be required to cover them all, so I shall limit myself to mentioning some of the most awe inspiring – but do check out the pictures, to spot the rest.
Despite its towering height, the most amazing detail occurred a mere two plates up from the baseplate. Much of the first two bags is devoted to laying out what appears to be a completely random assortment of coloured wedge plates in a variety of hues on the foundation baseplate. While dutifully clicking them into place I tried, and failed, to figure out what they were. Then I laid the next layer – a complete covering of 1×3 transparent blue tiles, and the magic of what I had created made my jaw drop. Beneath the uniform transparent blue layer, those different coloured plates gave the appearance of depth to the stream. A deep river channel appears to be bordered by a shallow bank. Where the sewer pipe comes out there is an ugly transparent green. Such a convincing illusion wrought in only two layers of bricks is an achievement I cannot understate. And that’s before getting to the height of a standard brick.
A simple but utterly effective technique is employed at the corners of the crab shop. Here, a tall transparent brick is filled with loose 1×1 round transparent plates. I have never encountered an instructional step which required me to loosely drop bricks into other bricks, but the result is eye catching. Simple but perfect details such as this abound throughout the set, from the sign above the comic shop to the blooming cherry tree.
When pictures of this set first appeared I tried in vain to figure out how the roof of the tan building above the comic book shop was constructed. It turns out axle holders layered one plate higher on each previous layer was the answer. Building this section is one of those ‘why did I not think of that before?’ moments as I remembered all of the roofs I have tried to make look like this before.
A final bit of detail had me literally laughing out loud as the build progressed. The LEGO Group trolling itself and leaving little Easter eggs in sets began a while ago, but really picked up steam with The LEGO Movie. It reaches a whole new level here. A variety of shout outs to the NINJAGO theme and TV series are the most obvious, but there are many more a little deeper. Eagle eyed fans will spot an M-Tron logo in the comic book store as well as a Japanese version of the Brick Separator film poster which first showed up adorning 10232 Palace Cinema.
The most hilarious one dredges up a theme both the LEGO Group and fans alike would prefer to forget – Galidor. The least fondly remembered LEGO theme has a bit of revenge in 70620. The owner of the comic book store wears a shirt emblazoned with the name and a poster depicts minifigure versions of the main protagonists. I can almost hear the stereotypical comic book owner talking endlessly about how that theme was really the LEGO Group’s best, and most people ‘just can’t appreciate that level of art and storytelling’. A lovely touch.
Every level of 70620 NINJAGO City is accessed via a working elevator at the edge of the set. From there an array of ladders and gantries with conspicuously absent handrails connect alleys and walkways together. Everything would be accessible if it were possible to shrink down to a minifigure’s height. A smattering of play features such as a crab roaster, working ATM machine and rotating sushi bar add some functionality, but thankfully not an overwhelming amount. Play features can sometimes distract or create ugly corners of a set – they do not at all here, instead the functionality is well hidden, so none of the display value is lost for having them.
Aside from NINJAGO City itself, a small boat and 14 minifigures make up the balance of this almost 5,000 piece set. One of the aspects that I really enjoyed about the now third largest NINJAGO set, 70751 Temple of Airjitzu, was the inclusion of ‘regular’ folks aside from just the ninjas. In that vein I was delighted with 70620 as, aside from Jay, Lloyd’s alternative outfit and a single shark warrior, every figure here is a citizen.
I cannot think of a single aspect of 70620 NINJAGO City to improve upon, it is perfection. I have never given a perfect five star score, but that is happening here. Price, value, size, piece count, detail, playability, display, parts usage, build technique – this set deserves a perfect score for every category.
The inclusion of connection points hints that the LEGO Group may release more of these sets, perhaps to make an entire city block. Even if they don’t and this remains a single NINJAGO City block, it will stand the test of time. At the beginning of this review I urged you to do whatever it takes to acquire this set. In case I didn’t emphasise this before – whatever it takes – work a second job, sell your dog, just get this set.