LEGO Ninjago 71773: Kai’s Golden Dragon Raider – Wacky Racers have nothing on this one [Review]

We return to our in-depth look at the Summer 2022 Ninjago Crystalized theme with Ninjago 71773 Kai’s Golden Dragon Raider. This 624 piece set is available now in the UK, and August 1st worldwide, for US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 | UK £74.99.  Featuring seven minifigures and a highly unusual vehicle, this set takes the Ninjago in some exciting directions. Hop in as we take this set for an early test drive!

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.

Unboxing the parts, instructions and sticker sheet

This set comes in a larger tab-sealed box, with colors and iconography that are standard across the Crystalized theme. Lloyd and his Golden Ultra Dragon are in the upper right, while the set’s contents take center stage against a neon backdrop. Like we saw on the box for 71768 Jay’s Golden Dragon Motorcycle, the signs are small Ninjargon Easter eggs. The big vertical one probably reads “Teamwork” (although we can only see “eamwork”),  the building next to the tall sign is labeled “GO”, and the small sign to the right reads “Team Up”.

The back of the package shows the Golden Dragon Raider (GDR, henceforth) with some of it’s bendy articulation in play. There’s also an inset showing off the rotating blade play feature.

Inside the box are seven numbered part bags, an eighth bag with wheel elements, a perfect bound instruction book, and a sticker sheet.

The 136-page instruction manual has a pretty restrained bit of cover art compared to the box. I’ve heard that this style of manual is meant to echo the designs on the sustainable paper bag interior packaging that’s meant to arrive sometime this year. I’ve yet to see any of those new paper bags in person, though.

The sticker sheet is fairly minimal. It’s printed on a clear plastic backer, with the Ninjargon for “R” a repeated motif on a few of them.

The parts

This set comes with a decent amount of rare and interesting parts. The first to catch my eye were these wheels. They’ve appeared in 5 other sets since their introduction in 2020, including Ninjago sets like 71752: Ninja Sub Speeder.

Currently exclusive to this set is this 6×10 transparent orange canopy. The new gold/orange dual-molded blades also make an appearance in 71769: Cole’s Dragon Cruiser, a set we’ll be reviewing in the near future.

The build

The build starts out with this small gold and red drone. The first sticker goes on right away, always a bit of a mixed feeling as I can never quite get them aligned as well as I would like. Once you complete this sub-build you can set it aside. You won’t be needing it for a long while.

The GDR starts out with a central chassis. You know the designers were up to something new when you notice that two of the expected wheel mounts are actually big-fig style click hinges. Control panels are added early on, getting their details from more stickers.

The next section of build is a small bit of Technic gearing. It fits into the rear of the main body, with the black exhaust-cone working as the knob. This will eventually turn the big blades mounted on the side of the GDR.

A layer of red windscreens, modified plates, and Technic connection points are next to the party. The rear axle assembly is connected to the main body on large flex joints.

The rear wheels get a bit of bling with a golden hubcap and 1×1 cone lug nut.

Above the rear wheels, a posable assembly gets adorned with large blades and the traditional golden snappy straw hat.

The cockpit area gets a computerized heads-up display thanks to a sticker. And, in a Ninjago tradition that stretches at least as far back as the 71720 Fire Stone Mech, that set-exclusive canopy piece gets some stickers, too.

The design of the canopy has an interesting shape. A backwards-facing tail fin gets some stickers, and more golden blades do their best to obstruct the peripheral vision of the drivers. Form over function, baby.

The front wheels are mounted on long armatures, with a bit of stickered armor plating. The presence of exhaust pipes would suggest the wheels each have a dedicated motor under that armor. It’s a nice, imaginative touch.

Attaching the front wheels, you get a feel for the final shape of the GDR. It’s almost crab-like or insectoid in appearance.

The final bits of build are the large blades that attach to the sides. Each pod integrates a pair spring-loaded missile launchers, as well as another snappy hat. I really like the dual molded blades; the gold and transparent orange mesh well to create a fiery effect.

The finished model

The completed Golden Dragon Racer is a spiky mess, and I just love it. It’s very different from all the other Ninjago vehicles I’ve had a chance to build. The red and gold primary colors play well against the black and dark grey mechanical areas, and there’s always something new catching my eye. It’s not exactly a stealthy ninja vehicle, but I don’t think the team would really go for that look even if they had the option.

We’ll start out with the GDR in “stretch limo” mode – with the various articulation points aligned to give us the longest body length.

The side-mounted blades pivot easily using the knob at the rear. It looks neat, but I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to use these blades to cut anything. Maybe they’re like a big energy cannon instead, and the blades are more of a tuning-fork extension.

With that basic play feature covered, we can move on to the wacky stuff. As mentioned earlier, the front wheels are each mounted on a big-fig click hinge, allowing them to rotate outwards from the cabin area.

This is probably the best “mode” to open the car’s cockpit area. It’s hinged at the front, exposing room for two minifigure pilots.

It’s worth noting that the front driver can’t really see out of the windscreen. I guess they rely on that heads-up computer display.

The drone from waaaay back at the start of the build attaches to the GDR just behind the cockpit area thanks to a bar and clip connection.

This little drone is well disguised when “parked”, making for a neat bonus weapon to surprise the bad guys with.

The rear wheels are also mounted on hinges, so you can raise the rear end of the GDR up quite a bit.  This gives it a more tank-like appearance, as well as increases the ground clearance.

The GDR looks pretty sweet from just about every angle, too. There aren’t any obvious places where it looks like corners were cut; every aspect feels reasonably flushed out.

The minifigures

This set comes with seven minifigures, three of which are exclusive to this set. First up are two Vengestone warriors, identical in appearance to other Cyrstalized sets like 71774 Lloyd’s Golden Ultra Dragon. Being a big fan of transparent LEGO elements, I can’t help but enjoy the dual molded heads, and the clear arm and leg. These baddies also feature dual-sided printing on their torsos, and leg printing.

Very similar to the Vengestone Warrirors is this Vengstone Brute. The Brutes are nearly identical to the Warriors, but they have two transparent dark pink arms and a different torso print. This is another “common” villain, appearing in several of the Crystalized sets.

Now we move on to an exclusive character – Mister F. Mister F is a Nindroid, and an upgrade from the Mister E character who was a foe in the Sons of Garmadon storyline. He comes with transparent dark pink shoulder armor, a helm with a transparent red visor, and unique printing on his face, torso and legs.

Fire Ninja Kai has the same look as he does in the 71774 set. He has a new-for-the-theme dual molded cowl, dual sided torso, and leg printing.

The second exclusive figure is Skylor Chen – the elemental master of Amber. She was first seen in minifigure form in 2015’s 70746 Condrai Copter Attack, and has had a few subsequent appearances.  This version sports new dual-sided face and torso printing.

The third and final exclusive figure is my favorite – Golden Dragon Zane. This upgraded take on the Ice Ninja features a wealth of transparent and dual-molded parts in light blue and gold. The dragon wings are mounted on a removable backpack.

This is the second Golden Dragon variant we’ve covered, the first being Jay in 71768 Jay’s Golden Dragon Motorcycle. As you can see in the comparison shot here, the different Golden Dragons are mostly color-swaps of each other, with printing and colors specific to the element of the core ninja. This isn’t a problem, as that’s how just about every other Ninja outfit variation works in the Ninjago world. If it’s good enough for the Power Rangers, it’s good enough for me.

Conclusion and recommendation

When you consider all the different vehicles that the Ninjago theme has produced over the years, you have to be impressed that the designers are still finding new and creative things to do. This could have been “just another red and gold car”, but instead we get a vehicle that changes it’s stance and shape in a way that I hadn’t seen before. The seven minifigures are also well designed, and three of them are exclusive to this set. There is a good range of new and interesting pieces, and the build experience is fun and engaging, with just enough complexity to keep you on your toes. At $90 US for 585 pieces, though, it’s a bit on the pricier side at over 15 cents per part.  It could stand to be a bit cheaper, but it doesn’t seem outrageous…and will certainly feel like a bargain after those upcoming price increases hit. If you’re looking for an unusual vehicle to add to your ninja’s garage, or if you’re just wanting to add the awesome Golden Dragon Zane to your collection, I suggest you take this set out for a spin.

Ninjago 71773 Kai’s Golden Dragon Raider is available now in the UK, and August 1st worldwide from the LEGO Shop Online for  US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 | UK £74.99.. It is 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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2 comments on “LEGO Ninjago 71773: Kai’s Golden Dragon Raider – Wacky Racers have nothing on this one [Review]

  1. Jimmy

    Interesting that they have you put stickers on the sides of the trans-orange canopy, as I believe that is a compound curved face, isn’t it?

  2. Magnus72

    At first I thought it was just inspired by the Tumbler but after seeing the outwards pushed front wheels it includes ideas from “Battle Mode” Batmobile in Arkham Knight game also :)

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