LEGO Ninjago 71814 Tournament Temple City – Do you have what it takes to compete? [Review]

Summer is just around the corner, and that means it’s time for another wave of Ninjago sets from the current Dragons Rising season. Recent waves have really been stepping up both the aesthetic and the sturdiness of sets and this wave is no exception… in fact, I can say with full confidence that these sets are some of the sturdiest mechs, dragons, and dojos I have ever seen from Ninjago, and that is saying a lot considering the theme has been around for over a decade. The first and largest set of the wave is LEGO Ninjago 71814 Tournament Temple City, which is a multi-floored temple on top of a dragon cave, complete with a blacksmith forge, a dragon, and 13 minifigures. The set includes 3,489 pieces and will be available on June 1st for US $249.99 | CAN $329.99 | UK £219.99

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 stickers

The set comes in a large square box with the Dragons Rising branding elements. The front of the box shows the completed model as seen from the front, against an illustrated mountain with waterfalls rising out of the mist. There is a lineup of the 13 included minifigures along the bottom.

The back of the box shows the completed city seen from the back, showing the temple’s interior and the dragon cave along the base of the model. Four inset images show some of the set’s play features and details like the secret entrance next to the Blacksmith forge, the waterwheel spinning to activate the hammer, two small platforms for characters to fight, and a neat hidden trap that drops a set of stalactites from the cave entrance.

The box is taped on all four sides, and when the top is removed, there is a small lip all around the box similar to much older sets that used to have a lifting top that showed the parts through a plastic cover. The set has all paper parts bags that lay flat, so this new box design is made to allow easier loading of parts bags into the box.

Inside the box, there are 32 paper parts bags and 2 loose rubber “strings.” These are for characters to slide down using rock climbing minifigure accessories. Half of the bags are stored in a smaller white box. The parts bags are included in a random order, as opposed to some sets that separate the bags into groups.

The set also includes a separate envelope for the 2 instruction booklets and the sticker sheet.


The build

The build starts with two small pieces, the first of which being a small airship designed to carry one minifigure. The balloon is made with two rounded domes attached using a round brick upside down to face studs in both directions.

A small barrel bottom is attached, along with two lanterns.

The second mini-build is the small dragon, which uses nougat-colored elements with yellow-orange accents. The new reddish-orange color introduced in this year’s Space subtheme LEGO sets (like LEGO Technic 42181 VTOL Heavy Cargo Spaceship LT81) is used for flower elements along the dragon’s back.

Two simple back legs using rounded plates for the upper leg and knee are added, as well as a tail using more of the reddish-orange flowers and leaf elements for accents.

Two forearms with wings made from sword elements and a simple head complete the dragon. The head is made from a single molded part that is open underneath, with the bottom jaw suggested by a molded line, which looks a bit odd when seen from below. In my opinion, a simple bottom jaw could easily have been included.

With these two small builds out of the way it is time to start on the main model, which is cleverly broken down into sections that will attach later to become a very sturdy structure. This final form is so stable that it can be picked up with one hand and moved easily without anything falling off, but more on that later. To start it off, each of the two bottom areas is built on a triangular base with a pair of Technic connectors set along the angled side, which will attach to the two small side sections added later via axles. Some basic landscaping is included, along with a few outward-facing studs to attach more rockwork in later steps.

The first section is the right side, from the front, which will attach to the blacksmith forge later in the build process. This base section includes a small firepit with some kind of meat on a spit. Large angled door frames provide structural support along the edge. A simple frame with arched supports will hold up the top layer of the foundation.

Along the top layer, another Technic assembly is added to improve the model’s structural integrity. One other feature to note here is a track built into the section on the right side. This is an integral part of the structural support, that will allow a long Technic lift arm to slide into place before getting locked down with axles.

The section is topped with a large angled plate in nougat and a bit of brick-built flowing water, leading to the water wheel downstream. Some additional rockwork is added along the outside of the base before we start building the center section.

The central section has a standard Technic frame sandwiched between plates with a long lift arm extending out from each side. As mentioned before, this will slide into the track built into each side assembly.

Once attached to the first section, the entire top is held in place with only 3 short axles. It can be picked up easily with no wobble at all!

The left section starts as basically a mirror build of the right section, with a scattering of bones instead of the fire pit. The base cave sections are tall enough for even adult fingers to access for setting up a variety of scenes. The top edge includes two axle bricks to secure the base to the center section, just like on the previous side.

Another Technic assembly, set at an angle, will be used to anchor the top of the base to the small side section that will come later. The top is covered with plates and slopes to add some landscaping around the top of the walkway where the steeply angled bridge connects later.

The left section ends with a small red arch and a bamboo stalk. The arch is held up by small ball and socket joints, which allow the arch to be angled for a weathered look.

Once the left side base is done it is time to bring it all together. The lift arm at the top of the center section slides into place, and three more short axles secure the build.

Turning the base around we add rockwork along the entire back of the model, The two sides are exact opposites in design, for an easier if somewhat repetitive build experience. Slopes are added to the front section of the base caves, adding a neat feature where pressing down on the small shrine sculpture releases a section of stalactites. They fall from the ceiling as a sort of trap on the unsuspecting ninjas below.

Next up is the small right-side base of the blacksmith forge, which includes a sliding secret door made out of rock elements and a small statue set in the wall. The forward edge uses a combination of angled and curved slopes, and there is a set of brown wooden planks that extend outward to support the shop.

The base attaches to the main structure with a combination of Technic pins and axles. I have never seen this particular technique used before, and while I definitely appreciate the sturdiness of the connection, it did require a good bit of fussing to get the axles and pins to connect.

The blacksmith forge is a simple white and dark brown building with a large furnace outside and a mechanism attached to the waterwheel that lifts and drops a hammer (a function that also appeared in LEGO Castle 10193 Medieval Market Village from 2009). There is also a spinning lathe-like tool on the opposite wall. The building sits on top of the short wooden slats, right next to the sliding rock panel.

The water wheel is made from round railing pieces attached to clips and locked together with ingot tiles. A skinny chimney is added above the forge, and the second floor has a bed for the blacksmith. Adding the water scoops to the wheel, we then attach it to the assembly.

A crossbeam made from candles finishes the wheel, and there are two small platforms attached to the side of the building that wobble up and down to allow two minifigures to fight, like the scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

The blacksmith forge roof includes a track for water to flow from the top of the temple base to the water wheel. The roof is detailed with curved tiles. White panels covered in tiles are attached to the underside of the roof at each end.

The next section will be the base for the steeply angled bridge on the left side of the temple. It starts with a standard stack of plates and bricks, including Technic beams and axle bricks to attach to the main base section. Rockwork, simple landscaping, and door frames are added to provide structural support.

More rocks and some Technic pin bricks are added, this is where the angled bridge connects.

There is a long sliding bit that, when the model is complete, will detach a section of the rock wall to reveal a hidden sword.

The top is landscaped, and some brown tiles are added to support the small fishing hut. A split path is added along with more landscaping.

Finally for this section, there is a large boulder that can be knocked loose to tumble down the path to the bridge as a defense mechanism. The section is attached to the main temple base.

A small base for the dock and the cargo winch is next. This is where the other end of the bridge will attach. The winch is made with two wagon wheels and a bar handle that turns to wrap the chain, lifting and lowering cargo.

The bridge makes clever use of 2×2 plates with a perpendicular plate to attach curved elements upside-down at the bottom.

The construction of the bridge is pretty basic, but it makes excellent use of curved slopes of various sizes to create a gap between the top and bottom railings, with flower elements providing support.

Attaching the bridge to the lower base first, the angle is achieved by using two anchor points for each side, pushing axles through to hold the upper connection points loosely once the bridge is raised to the correct angle.

A small arch is added which holds two of the rock climbing accessories. A simple dark blue roof with red accents tops the gateway.

The arch goes at the base of the bridge, and there is a small gold dragon guardian. The winch and the dock are also interchangeable in position.

Once the bridge section is attached, there are a few minor details added to fill in a few gaps in the temple’s upper level.

The last structure before the temple proper is a small fishing hut with a balcony for… fishing. The roof is made from garage door elements, with a roof detail to match the small gate arch at the bottom of the bridge.

One of the black rubber cables is attached to allow Ninja to slide down using the accessories from the arch.

Now it is time to start on the temple, which is built on an angled base with 2 side wings. The white walls are broken up by gold window sections built with sideways-facing studs and framed with tan.

There are internal struts made from nougat elements to hold up the next level. A small shrine to the elements is added on the inside of the first level, and on the outside there are four tan pillars that will support the large blue angled roof sections.

The first level of the temple is attached to the base using a turntable element.

The second level has two simple beds on the floor, and three structures to flank the angled roof. Two walls with the same gold window designs from the first level are added.

A swinging punching bag and practice dummy are added to the dojo floor. Back to the outside of the temple, two large angled roof sections with hinged side wings are added. These are similar to but much larger than the roof designs for 70751 Temple of Airjitsu.

The next level is a study, with a telephone on one wall and a small desk on the other. The windows on this floor are narrower versions of the gold windows from the previous two floors.

The third level is attached to the second level with a slight offset. Also, the three angled structures flanking the roof assemblies get progressively smaller (along with the roofs themselves) to create a nice gradually tapered look.

The top level holds a small torch and has no windows, but rather simple arched walls, with a dark blue angled roof made from slopes. The roof is topped with a gold dragon head.

With the final level attached to the temple, it is time to finish the roof sections. The second level roof is much shorter than the first and uses a car fender element to allow more light in through the temple windows.

Finally, there are several trees and branches added with fall-colored foliage and twisted roots.


The Minifigs

The set includes a whopping 13 minifigures, a mix of heroes, villains, and everyday folk. Starting with the heroes, we have Cole, Lloyd, Nya, and Zane. Each comes equipped with a sword holder with a short and a long sword. I believe this is to represent the Katana (longer and slightly curved) and the Ninjato (shorter and straighter) swords of the traditional Ninja. I really like the look of these two swords in the holder compared to many previous sets with two Katana.

Each of the four ninjas also has their signature weapons. Cole has his hammer, Lloyd has a fancy sword with a tassel, Nya has a trident, and Zane has his shuriken.

All four feature front and back-printed torsos and front-printed legs. They have the usual Dragons Rising outfits instead of their rock-climbing uniforms from the last wave. The torso front printing includes each ninja’s element branding.

The back printing shows the element symbol in greater detail in a sort of crest.

Cole, Lloyd, and Nya have alternate facial expressions.

Next is Arin, Wyldfyre, and the Temple guard. Arin sports his rubber climbing whip, Wyldfyre has a short sword and fire effects to shoot, and the guard has a large spear. They all have front and back-printed torsos, while only Arin and Wyldfyre have front-printed legs. None of them have alternate facial expressions.

Moving on to the villains, we have Jordana, Mr. Pale, and Lord Ras. While Mr. Pale has fought Ninjago villains in the past, he appears in the line-up amongst the other villains. Jordana caries a dual-molded sword, Mr. Pale a gun, and Lord Ras wields a mace. Each of their torsos has front and back printing, while only Ras and Jordan have printed legs. (NOTE: Upon further research, Mr. Pale does appear to be an ally of the Ninja. I first thought that Arin was attacking Mr. Pale in his airship.)

Finally, we have three citizens: a man named Roby carrying a letter, an old man named Bleckt with fishing gear, and an unnamed lady blacksmith. They all have torsos with front and back printing but their legs are plain.

Roby, the blacksmith, and Jordana also have alternate facial expressions.


The finished model

The finished model is quite impressive, both in size and in construction, with plenty of play features and places to arrange the characters. The angled nature of the base may present challenges for display since it is larger than a standard Ninjago City modular set, but would still fit on the average display shelf. While the main structure is sturdy, the smaller sections at the edges like the planks under the blacksmith forge and the dock and winch do stick out a bit.

There are plenty of great details on all sides of the scene, compared to some sets that present more of a facade best viewed from the front. I enjoyed posing the small dragon peeking out of the middle cave in the back.


Conclusions and recommendations

In case I was too subtle earlier, I really like this set, and I honestly think it is one of the best temple/dojo sets from the Ninjago theme since LEGO Ninjago 70751 Temple of Airjitsu, with the perfect combination of building, landscaping, and playability. The fact that you can pick it up with one hand and move it around without anything falling off is a reflection of the attention paid by the LEGO designers. This compared to the LEGO Ninjago 71813 Wolf Mask Shadow Dojo from the previous wave, which had two side sections held on with only 4 studs. It fell off every time I moved it. Additionally, the set had many surprising building techniques and some serious structural support techniques that I intend to use in my custom creations.

LEGO Ninjago 71814 Tournament Temple City includes 3,489 pieces and will be available on June 1st for US $249.99 | CAN $329.99 | UK £219.99. It may also be available from third-party sellers such as Amazon and eBay.

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.


1 comment on “LEGO Ninjago 71814 Tournament Temple City – Do you have what it takes to compete? [Review]

  1. Shalimar

    It looks nice, but nothing compares to airjitzu in terms of temple builds. That’s one of the best Lego sets ever

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