LEGO Ninjago 71754 Water Dragon – Wherein Nya gets the blues [Review]

Ninjago is known for two main things (outside of Ninjas, anyway) – giant mechs and sweet, sweet dragons. The Seabound theme introduces another majestic beast into the mix with LEGO Ninjago 71754 Water Dragon. This 737 piece set is available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99. In addition to the dragon there’s also a mini-sub, five minifigures, and a display pedestal. Sounds like a good mix, but is it really? We picked up a copy to find out – come along as we take our own deep dive!

Unboxing the parts, instructions and sticker sheet

The set comes in a tab-sealed box with Seabound graphics common to the other sets in this theme. The set’s contents are pretty easy to pick out, with the Water Dragon getting central placement and the mini-sub, pedestal, and minifigures spread around the edges. The age range for this set is set at 9+, reasonable for the building complexity.

The back of the box has more isolated views of the contents, with subdued background graphics. Two inset shots along the bottom edge show the dragon’s flapping wings play feature, and calls out the full length of the dragon at 61 cm / 21 inches.

Inside the box are six numbered part bags, and a bag containing the perfect-bound instruction manual and sticker sheet. My copy of the set had the instructions bent double in the box, with the sticker sheet suffering the same fate. I’m not a fan of excess packaging, but it’s always irksome when things arrive in less than great shape. A carboard insert would have been nice – or maybe just a change in the packing order to keep the instructions flush against the side of the box.

The sticker sheet is fairly minimal, with seven images to upscale the dragon, and two for Zane’s mini-sub. The sub’s stickers have a little bit of Ninjargon text to decode. There’s a big “Z” monogram in the circle for Zane, and a smaller line reading “Ice”.

The parts

This set contains a few interesting elements, including a great dual-molded cockpit and Wave Amulet. There are also a good selection of parts in dark and medium azure, as well as some in dark blue and transparent light blue.

The dragon’s head uses the same mold as the 71746 Jungle Dragon,  in a new color with new printing. The lower jaw is an entirely new element.

Also exclusive to this set are two cloth wings.

Zane’s Mini-Sub

The build starts out with a Zane’s mini-submarine. The design here is identical to the one in the 71756 Hydro Bounty. The colors are matched to Zane’s white and blue, and it gets unique stickers.

The sub also has a twist in the font-facing weapons. Zane’s sub gets golden ski poles – a nice meta touch in the part selection.

Overall the designers did a good job in keeping the mini-subs distinctive, but still obviously part of the same fleet. If you’re collecting the full set of Seabound sets, the common build means you’ll be able to mix and match which subs get to dock in the Hydro Bounty.

Wave Amulet Pedestal

The other small build in this set is a display stand for the Wave Amulet. It’s not overly complex, but packs a good amount of detail into a small space. I like the transparent light blue plant fronds that suggest ocean currents, and the white cupcakes that look like sea shells. 

From the back the pedestal looks okay – with a few decorative elements keeping things from looking unfinished.

Water Dragon

The packaging doesn’t give any indication of this, but the dragon is actually Nya. (She first assumes her dragon form in the episode “The Turn of the Tide”.) This set joins the small list of  71742 Overlord Dragon and 71713 Empire Dragon in having both the minifigure and dragon versions of a character.

The build itself starts off with some very minimal Technic gearing that will drive the dragon’s flapping wing action. Knight’s Kingdom era click joints are used for the neck and shoulders.

The central body uses a decent amount of SNOT building to create a well rounded shape.

The tail sections are attached with a Technic pin assembly. This allows for a very smooth motion, but doesn’t provide enough friction to hold any specific pose. This is a pretty common design choice for Ninjago dragons, so I guess the wiggly tail is just an undocumented play feature.

The front and rear legs have very similar builds, with a solid ball joint at the knees. The rear legs have minifigure flippers on the heels serving as a small fin. The curving tiles create a nice sense of flowing currents, while also reminding me of dragon scales.

Attaching the legs to the body, you get a nicely solid base. The build is sturdy and easy to pose.

The tail sections have a good mix of blue shades, with more of the transparent light blue plant stems capping off the assembly.

The dragon’s head has the same robotic-arm attachment seen in the Overlord and Jungle dragons. I really like the new lower jaw design, and the sticker used in the center curved slope works well. The small gold horns add a tiny bit of regal color to the mix.

The wing assembly makes use of three Technic “fingers” for each wing. The cloth wing attaches onto the small ball-pins at the end of each spine.

Once both the wings are in place, Nya’s dragon from is ready to go. There is a button in the center of the dragon’s back that will push the wings up, allowing for a flapping action. As play features go, it’s pretty lackluster, but it’s better than nothing.

The finished model

The completed Water Dragon is a great addition to the Ninjago dragon collective. The mix of blue tones is skillfully incorporated throughout the build, and the necessary dark grey elements needed for the articulation fade easily into the background. The legs and head joints are all very sturdy, resulting in a model that has a good range of motion and articulation.  It reminds me a lot of the look of the classic D&D Faerie Dragon, and that’s no bad thing.

My only complaints are that the wings could be a little bigger, and that the tail doesn’t have enough friction in the joints to hold a pose. Depending on how you choose to display the set, you might not notice those shortfalls at all.

The articulation on the dragon’s jaw works well, and has plenty of strength to handle some imaginative play.

The Wave Amulet pedestal makes for a nice micro-diorama that adds a small bit of context to any action scene you want to set up.

As mentioned earlier, the mini-sub is a fun build that gives the Zane minifigure something to do. I’m not fond of the gap between the cockpit window and the ship’s hull, but for a swooshable vehicle at this scale, it’s a forgivable trade-off.

Finally, here’s a shot of three of the recent Ninjago dragons. All three have pretty similar shaping, sizing and construction, but each one does feel like a distinctive character. Of these three, the teal of the Jungle Dragon still gives it a slight edge in my heart. But the Water Dragon is a very close second.

The minifigures

This set comes with five minifigures. None of them are unique to this set, but all are exclusive to the Seabound theme. It’s a good mix, with this set being the cheapest way to add Scuba Zane, NRG Nya, and and Price Kalmaar to your collection.

Scuba Zane features a new air tank/scabbard accessory, as well as a new dual-molded mask. He has dual sided printing on his torso, and printed legs.

Kalmaar is full of parts unique to the theme, including a tentacle lower body, dual-sided torso, and creepy looking, dual-molded head.

The Maaray guard figure appears in all five of the Seabound sets. The guard features flippers in a new teal color, and a golden epaulet accessory. The head mold first appeared in the 2019 Pyro Whipper and Char figures, but is has new coloration here. This set comes with two guards, each with a different weapon.

For me, the real draw for this set is NRG Nya. In her ‘”energy” water form, she is quite an imposing figure. She towers over the other  minifigures and feels like a super-dangerous person to cross. If you want multiple copies, you can also acquire this figure in 71755 Temple of the Endless Sea.

The base NRG Nya minifigure has a transparent blue hairpiece and left arm. She has a new dual-sized torso print, new leg print, and a new single-expression face. A neck harness attaches four watery tendrils to her back.

Her other accessories include two handheld water/energy bursts and a a dual-molded wave base.

The figure stand has made a few appearances in other colors, like the green used for Mysterio. (From 76174 Spider-Man’s Monster Truck vs. Mysterio.)

Conclusion and recommendation

I’m a big fan of aquatic-themed adventures, and the Seabound theme sets deliver that experience in spades. The Water Dragon is as very solid set on its own merits, too. The dragon is colorful, sturdy, well articulated, and a fun build. The five minifigures are all interesting, and the NRG Nya is an amazing looking character. The mini-sub is a fun build that helps tie the different sets in this theme together, and the Wave Amulet pedestal is a nice, if small, bit of scenery. At $70 US for 737 pieces, the price-per-part ratio comes in at  9.5 cents. That’s a little on the high side, but feels reasonable for what you get in terms of minifigures and rare/new/interesting parts. There may not be a lot of time left to pick this set up at retail, though. So if you want to add this quality dragon to your collection, you might want to act soon.

LEGO Ninjago 71754 Water Dragon is available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £59.99. It is also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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