LEGO Ninjago 71748 Catamaran Sea Battle [Review]

LEGO invites you to take a tropical vacation with a number of sets based on the latest season of Ninjago. Sounds nice, but knowing Ninjago themes, by “vacation” they probably mean “a trip into very dangerous waters”. Today we’re taking a look at 71748 Catamaran Sea Battle which will be available March 1st from the LEGO Shop Online. At US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99 for 780 pieces, this is the largest and most expensive offering in this wave of sets. It comes with six minifigures and two pretty swanky boats. Let’s brave the rapids and take a close look at what this set has in store for us.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

The Island-themed packaging has a slightly more subdued approach than the previous season’s more cinematic package art. I think this is an improvement, as letting buyers easily see what is included in a set seems to be pretty key.  Both catamarans are shown to good advantage, and the long list of characters along the bottom right should tempt people to take a closer look. This set has a suggested age range of 9+, a year “tougher” than the 7+ and 8+ ranges for the other sets in the Island theme.

The back of the box has the set contents against a less elaborate background. It also has some insets calling out play features. We’ll talk about those in a bit.

Inside the box are six numbered parts bags, a cardboard-backed packet with the cloth elements, and a final bag containing the building instructions and sticker sheet.

As sometimes happens with kits with very distinct sub-models, this one has two instruction books. The first is an 84-page booklet to make the ninja’s boat, the second is a 120 page perfect bound manual for the Keeper’s catamaran.

The parts

This set contains a good range of parts, several of which are worth spotlighting early. The most obvious unique parts are the cloth sails provided for the boats. LEGO has made sure they arrive in good shape by bundling them in a cardboard-backed package along with the cloth cape for the Chief Mammatus minifigure. Although the printing is one-sided, the designs are great.  The tattered sides of the Keeper’s sail are also well done, with die-cut holes along the bottom edge adding texture.

There are also several interesting teal parts, including a Bionicle wing and a 6×6 wedge cutout that are both new in that color.  There’s a dark tan 8×6 curved windscreen (also a new color for that part) and a couple of interesting (to me, anyway) rigging bits and support struts in reddish-brown.

My favorite new part is the Storm Amulet, a four stud wide, dual-molded disc in transparent purple and gold. It has standard-sized bar sections around the rim, allowing it to be grasped by minifigures or standard LEGO clips. It appears in all four of the main Island Ninjago sets, so completists will end up a few duplicates.

The build

The first catamaran to be built is one piloted by the heroic ninjas. It is done up in Kai’s fiery color scheme,  predominantly in red and bright light orange. The center hull is made from a solid beam of brick and plate with some Technic connection points exposed on the sides.

The two outriggers are connected with pivoting Technic beams. An interesting bit of build is the modified 1×4 plate with rod elements that anchor the assembly. The downward-facing rode sticks through an open-stud 1×1 round plate to add more stability. This small but cool detail is almost completely hidden in the final model.

The control surfaces and clip-flags on the main hull are decorated with stickers. The rear spoiler is mounted on frictionless Technic pins and has a decent range of motion.

That range of motion is key, as adjusting the position of the spoiler will move the outriggers in and out with respect to the main hull. It’s not a super complicated bit of gearing, but it’s fun to see it in operation. The same motion could be adapted for a lot of different creations, like flapping bird wings or extending weapons on a spaceship.

The cloth sail is mounted on a Technic beam mast, which in turn mounts to a click-hinge connection point on the front of the main hull. This is somewhat unfortunate, as that means the sail can’t turn from side to side, but rather can just lean forward or smack the pilot on the head.  The two outriggers are mirrored builds with a propeller engine built into the rear of each. More sticker-based details help keep the look interesting, breaking up the large runs of solid red.

Those propellers on the outriggers make the sail kind of redundant. While it looks great with it, leaving the sail off entirely means you can also have a more aerodynamic motorboat. I’m treating this as a “super easy alternate build.”

The Keeper’s Catamaran is a bit larger than the Ninja one.  The core of this boat is built around a rail-based slider.

The sides of the main hull are extended out thanks to some hefty Technic beam construction. These arms will be where the outriggers will attach.  This catamaran also makes use of a dozen transparent purple energy-effect lightning bolts as part of the engines and weaponry. Getting a bunch of those feels like a nice little bonus from the designer.

The central slider gets festooned with some bigfig sword elements in white, with added claw and tooth elements giving it a wickedly serrated edge. We’ll see the related play feature in action shortly.

The front end of the boat gets a heavy coating of stickers to create a bestial face. It reminds me a bit of the 71746 Jungle Dragon, as do the gold and teal accents across the hull.

There’s also a small play feature integrated into the sides of the main hull.  Two missile launchers with transparent purple missiles add a bit of attack value to the ship. The white pentagonal tiles that decorate them get the last of the stickers.  Like the ninja’s boat, the sail for this catamaran is based on a Technic rod superstructure. The connection to the boat is on a ball joint, however, giving it a much better range of motion.

Each of the outriggers is also a stand-alone vehicle. Thanks to Technic pin connections on both sides, you can swap their moorings around if you want to.  The first outrigger features some storage barrels and a pair of stud shooters.

The other outrigger is a floating prison. A gripping hand of five claw-tipped robot arms can hold a minifigure captive in the fore of the craft.

The finished models

The completed ninja catamaran looks really nice. I like the subtle touches like using red Technic ball pins to stabilize the sail, as well as the gold dragon-head accents on the outriggers. It looks high-tech and very fast.

The main play feature here is the moving outriggers. The difference between “collapsed” and “extended” isn’t huge, but it’s enough to make for a fun profile change.  A small complaint is that the sail looks a little weak from the backside. Having the mast assembled from the same color of Technic elements might have helped here.

When seen head-on, you can get a better feel for how far out the outriggers can extend. The ship also looks pretty good from the rear.

The pilot’s seat is not extravagant, but works very well with the Kai figure…provided you take off his backpack-mounted sword. There are also a couple of exposed studs right behind him that would probably have looked more finished with a 1×2 tile obscuring them.

The Keeper’s Catamaran is a pretty sweet model, too. I like the huge, slightly tattered sail with its dragon logo. The overall colors are bold and crisp, with enough teal and transparent purple to earn bonus points from me.

The ship looks great from just about every angle, too. Again the main weak spot is the underside of the sail, but there’s not much that could be done there. Double-sided printing might have helped, but probably not enough to justify the expense.

The play feature built into the main hull is pretty nice. The slider in the center can be pushed forward to attack with those sword/teeth things. It can lock in place thanks to integrated clips, and it doesn’t seem prone to jamming.

The removable outriggers are another great play feature. The cargo-pod comes with some transparent-purple gems hidden in the barrels. It’s a nice little touch that isn’t called out in the packaging. The only gripe is that there really aren’t any control surfaces for the pilot to work. Maybe they steer with their weapons or something. Or through sheer personality.

The prison-pod works okay in “capture mode”, although it does better if you again strip the Ninja of their backpack-based weapons. The lack of control surfaces also feels like a small oversight here.  I like that you can “dock” the outriggers on either side of the main hull. That open-plan connection point could be a fun place for people to build their own outrigger variations. Sort of like an Island Voltron.

The captain’s seat on the main hull also lacks any sort of controls. So maybe that’s by design, as these bad guys feel like they could probably cast a spell to change the direction of the wind or something. Still not a great answer for the outriggers, but the main boat is definitely ready to catch a breeze.

Overall, the two catamarans can make for a pretty cool battle/chase scene.  And have I mentioned that I really like those energy-effect thrusters on the Keeper’s ships? ‘Cause I do.

The minifigures

This set comes with six minifigures; three ninjas and three baddies. Strangely, none of them are exclusive to this set. Island Zane and the Thunder Keeper are both in 71746 Jungle Dragon, Island Kai, Jay and Chief Mammatus are in 71747 The Keeper’s Village, and the Rumble Keeper is in 71745 Lloyd’s Jungle Chopper Bike.  The only difference is the set’s weapon assortment for the characters may vary a little.  They are all new for the Island theme, though. So if you’re not picking up all the sets, the duplication may not be an issue.

Island Zane has a new leg and dual sided torso prints, but we’ve seen the rest of his pieces in previous waves.  He comes with the Storm Amulet, bow and quiver, and a white mask.

Island Jay has new hair, as well as new leg and torso prints. He comes with shoulder armor, a golden knife-on-a-chain, a silver sword, and a blue mask.

Island Kai also has new torso and leg prints, but his hair isn’t exclusive to the Island theme. It also appeared in 2021’s 71730: Epic Battle Set – Kai vs. Skulkin. Kai is equipped with two golden swords, a silver sword, shoulder armor, and a red mask.

The Thunder Keeper features a new cool printed mask, new leg print, and new dual-sided torso and head prints. In this set, the Keeper wields a pretty hefty scythe.

The Rumble Keeper uses many of the same core parts as the Thunder Keeper but has a different dual-sided head print, and a snappy hat. He comes with a white spear (a somewhat rare color for that accessory) as well as a printed shield with graphics that match the catamaran’s sail.

The final figure in this set is Chief Mammatus. As befits a leader, the Chief has a lot of great accessories, including a cloth cape. This figure has unique printing on the dual-sided head and torso, as well as a unique leg print not shared with other Islanders.

The accessories are also very regal. The lightning-tipped staff is great but pales in comparison to the awesome dual-molded teal and gold headpiece. It has removable white horns, allowing for customization if you have other colors of that part on hand.

The headpiece also looks great from the rear. Chief  Mammatus is probably my favorite figure from the Island theme, so it’s nice that you can pick one up in multiple sets.


Conclusion and recommendation

This is the most expensive set in the Island theme, and unfortunately, that price point introduces a few issues. Running $69.99 US for 780 pieces, the price-per-part is just under 9 cents, which a little on the high side for an unlicensed set. Another ding on the value is that none of the included minifigures are exclusive to this set. While there’s a good range of parts, the rare and unique elements aren’t ones that are likely to see a lot of use in custom creations.  That said, this is still a pretty engaging set. The catamarans are both well built and full of fun details. The action features are varied and feel like they should inspire a lot of play. While the figures aren’t unique, they all look good and come with a good variety of accessories. (And, if you’re on a budget or would rather not pick up all the sets in this theme, the exclusivity of the figures might not be an issue for you at all.) This would be an ideal set if you can get it on sale (or defray the cost with a gift-with-purchase or something), but it’s fun enough that paying full price wouldn’t be terrible either.  It’s a solid Ninjago set, and a fun look into the Island theme.

71748 Catamaran Sea Battle will be available March 1st from the LEGO Shop Online for US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99. It will also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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