Mechs, Mechs, Mechs! LEGO Ninjago 2024 or Exo-Force 2006?
LEGO Ninjago 2024 is here, and it’s time to take a look. There’s a new play feature, new bad guys, new hero prints and some big mechs to take a look at. Tickling a lot of nostalgia with mech builds as a prominent theme, it’s time to see how these things stack up to critical eye. Let’s read on!
Available from LEGO.com and LEGO Stores from 1st January 2024.
Dragon Strike Play Sets
The very first entry level sets that we get for Ninjago 2024 is the Rising Dragon Strike play sets.
These three Rising Dragon Strike sets are quite similar, so most of my review will be in this first one. All of the other sets of this same like are very similar, except for the minifigures and colours.
The play feature of these sets are reliant on new specialised moulds, golden dragon bases. The idea is that the bases interact with the large sword shaped element at the back, and are launched forward when slammed. The sword element on the back acts like a normal LEGO element with flexibility. The rest of the model launches forward. It’s not a new concept, but a new execution of it.
LEGO Ninjago – Kai’s Rising Dragon Strike (71801)
The head of the dragons in these sets are specialised new moulds. The spheres they hold in their mouths are the same as the ‘Dragon Core’ spheres of 2023, the ones that came in the cheapest sets of that wave.
The wing moulds for these dragons are also new for 2024, slightly larger than the ‘Crystallised’ wings.
The Minifigures in this set are Kai, with a new mould for his ninja mask, and a Wolf Mask Guard. Yes, despite not having the mask, he’s a guard.
Kai’s Ninja outfit is more reminisce of Nya’s Samurai X outfits, and seems to be a fusion of Samurai and Ninja.
The Wolf Mask Guard gives us our first Dark Blue LEGO Star Wars hood, which reveals a very tech-like wolf mask hood and facemask. Their outfit has a number of different runic symbols and teeth on it, but ultimately is a dark blue robe/kimono outfit. As a fan of hoods, I like this guy.
LEGO Ninjago – Nya’s Rising Dragon Strike (71802)
Nya’s Rising Dragon Strike is physically the same as Kai’s Rising Dragon Strike. It’s worth noting that this is probably my favourite colour of all the dragons, and the wings will work well with Ice Sculpture MOCs.
The minifigures of the set are a Wolf Mask Claw Warrior and Nya herself. This figure introduces us to the special wolf-head mould. It’s dual moulded with light blue underneath to light up the eyes and teeth. It would have been better if eyes were different colours as this could have been more multi-purpose.
Other than the mask, weapon and additional shoulder element, this guy is exactly the same as the previous one. Same head, same torso, same legs. We’ve had repeat villain prints before, but this combination of prints is in every single set we look at today.
Nya’s figure has some amazing torso and leg printing. I really do love how much she looks like a Tech-Ninja, and I know I’ll be using her body elements again. I’m not a big fan of how these prints work with the gold however, and will probably sub these out.
LEGO Ninjago – Arin’s Rising Dragon Strike (71803)
Arin’s Rising Dragon Strike is physically the same as Kai’s Rising Dragon Strike.
This is my least favourite set of the three Dragon Strike sets. Unfortunately, the colour palette here doesn’t hold up well with close conflicting colours, and the figures are underwhelming.
The Wolf Mask Claw Warrior is great even though they are in every single set of the wave.
And Arin gets a major downgrade. Yes, we get to see him as part of the team, and he has the new moulded mask. But everything else is the same. His torso and legs are the same as his previous and better version, and he doesn’t even have the alternate power-fuelled face print the other Dragon Strike sets have. Bummer.
LEGO Ninjago – Arin’s Battle Mech (71804)
Arin’s Battle Mech is a set that is clearly for the younger builders, and there’s no fault in that. For a set with little parts, getting a mech, spinning golden blade shield, hidden trove and printed shield is great. The shield represents the ‘Gong of Shattering’, with the small hammer build behind the purple opalescent rock I believe to be the Magic Mallet. Story wise, I don’t know what these things are yet.
I know a lot of older fans wouldn’t opt for this set, but there are some things I need to address. For $10 AUD more than Arin’s Rising Dragon Strike, we get the exact same characters but way more fun. There is more stories to tell, more parts to build with and a new recoloured element (Dark Blue Rock Piece) to play with.
Yes, it’s basic, but a child would get more out of this than the gimmick and oversized mould of Arin’s Rising Dragon Strike. If this set had interchanged the figures or made a way to make the baddie unique rather than a copy/paste, there might be more to this.
LEGO Ninjago – Jay’s Mech Battle Pack (71805)
Okay, here me out. This might be the best value Ninjago set of 2024 for the first wave.
Four figures, both variations of the baddies, One exclusive to for the wave, in one set? Count me in.
This set has a chibi-robot mech charm and playability for a price tag of…$15 AUD? That’s the same as the Rising Dragon Strikes? Double the figures, over double the parts, and a cute mech to boot. I love this. The mech is something reminiscent of Exo-Force and doesn’t feel overly impeding. It’s not trying to be big and bulky, and I like that a lot.
LEGO Ninjago – Cole’s Elemental Earth Mech (71806)
Coles Elemental Earth Mech is the big bulk mech of the wave. With huge impeding arms and thick legs, it’s hard not to see the weight that this thing carries. This set also introduces us to the new shoulder/armour element on his knees and shoulders. I like how these elements are moulded and see great MOC potential from them in the future.
All the mechs in this wave are designed to be interchangeable with other mechs. That means if you prefer the body style of this mech, but the weapons of Sora’s – swap them!
As for the set on its own, it isn’t without it’s faults. The set has the huge goading arms and legs, but not ability to bend them. Being the shortest and stockiest of the builds, this does means that there is a bit of a restriction on mobility, as the arms and legs clip occasionally.
I do wish there was something for our Wolf Mask Claw Warrior however, as the poor sod is definitely going to end up in the city morgue.
The only unique figure in this set is Cole, who comes with a Black/Orange combo hood, as well as a samurai/ninja torso like the others. I feel like orange in the middle of the torso is a little distracting, but he’s otherwise okay.
LEGO Ninjago – Sora’s Elemental Tech Mech (71807)
Sora’s Elemental Tech Mech is honestly one of my favourite sets. Sora’s varied colour palette and the sleekness of the build comes together for a really powerful aesthetic. This really does remind me of Exo Force Wave 1, and her weapons really set her aside from the other ninja. There is no restriction to movement in the build, and it holds itself up remarkably well.
This is also the first of the tech builds that have a secondary build to it, which is a small tree build for the Wolf Mask Claw Warrior to leap from. It’s nice to get some scene setting, and although the glider they have is basic, it shows that they are willing to take on the Mechs with little to nothing.
These figures of the set are nothing new, with Sora being the same as her previous renditions, albeit with a non-exclusive dark blue mask and hair. It’s a set I do recommend however wholeheartedly.
LEGO Ninjago – Kai’s Elemental Fire Mech (71808)
Kai’s Elemental Fire Mech is actually a mech battle showdown! Yes, the enemy have somewhat tried to even the odds with a small nimble wolf themed mech against a mech emanating fire!
Kai’s Mech is a bulky but slimline mech, with the most balanced feel between Sora’s and Cole’s mechs. There isn’t a lot going on for a colour palette, with most of the build being comprised of a solid red, with blips of translucent orange coming off the frame.
The new shoulder elements work well as they shift, allowing the arms to be raised high or low without compromising the overall aesthetic.
The Wolf Mech of the set is very bare bones, but by a stylistic choice. I’m a big fan of the contrast of blue and red in the set and how easily you can tell that the Wolf Mech is nimble and ferocious.
The figures of this set gives us out first view of Zane in his newest outfit, and Jordana’s first ever appearance. Jordana was a side villain in the Dragons Rising show, working under the Empress and catching dragons to drain them of energy. He figure has some new prints that are unique to her and one other, as well as a sand blue neck fur. It’s a win all round with her.
LEGO Ninjago – Egalt the Master Dragon (71809)
Big dragon with white moustache. Big broad rimmed hat. Red sash, Brown wings reminiscent of a sandy cloak (Ninjago 70677 anyone?).
I’ll be damned if this isn’t a dragon version of Sensei Wu. Heck, he’s even the opposite Garmadon, the champion of the Oni. And who are the opposites of the Oni? Dragons.
Yes, Sensei Wu is a dragon, and you can’t convince me otherwise. But about the set…
Another year, another dragon. It certainly is a core feature of LEGO Ninjago. Egalt is a standard sized dragon with the same sort of playability features as a few others, with swooshing tail, large broad wings. These dragon sets are usually menacing and scary, or with friendly dispositions, but Egalt feels… sad? His eyes are neutral for kids play-telling of stories, and having Egalt be scary all the time certainly doesn’t work for this, but it looks odd.
Another odd thing is the sash around his body and the huge recession in his back. Normally the figures can sit up near the shoulders, but this time it is on the oddly shaped back. I’m not sure if it is the parts or the overall design, but it looks like someone took a bite out of him. For one named Egalt the Master Dragon, he doesn’t really seem like it.
Other brick built things in this set is a small tree build to the side, with the Gong of Shattering and a Magic Mallet. As to what that is? No idea.
The figures in this set reintroduce us to Nya with a new mask, Lloyd in full armour, Sora in previous gear as well as Cinder and Lord Ras. Lord Ras was an enemy in the Imperium sets, but this time is in an outfit exclusive to him in purple. He is joined by Cinder, the elemental master of Smoke and leader of the Wolf Masks. It’s a cool figure story wise, and leaves questions to what happened to the previous Elemental Master, The head seems to be covered in smoke except for his eyes. Maybe he is someone else or simply hiding his identity? Who knows?
LEGO Ninjago 2024 definitely has a rougher start than most years. There are some great sets amongst this first wave, but there is something to be desired.
Most of the enemies of the wave are really copy/paste, which does bring down a bit of the collectability. I do wish there was more variation in them, whether that is more accessories, banners, flags, faces, anything really. Knowing that a lot of the characters are relatively new as well, repeat prints of Arin and Sora are expected, but modification to figures like Arin feel like a step backward when Sora is exactly the same.
The gimmick of the Dragon Strikers is a new way to introduce children to the power slam function that hasn’t been around for years, but outside of that, there isn’t much. I look forward to trying to use the specialised moulded elements.
Sets like Sora’s Mech, Kai’s Mech and Jay’s Mech are all wins in my book. Other sets, like Egalt the Master Dragon feel a bit of a let down. It’s a mixed bag.
This isn’t a wave where I would recommend collecting everything, but there are some standouts that absolutely get my tick of approval.
Thank you for reading
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