The summer 2020 wave of LEGO Ninjago sets are just around the corner. We’re kicking off our series of hands-on reviews with LEGO 71718 Ninjago: Wu’s Battle Dragon, 321 pieces of ninja-goodness. One of the smaller sets in this wave, it is expected to retail for $19.99 in the US when it launches June 1st. Ninjago completists are going to want to pick this one up for the exclusive Hero Wu minifigure, but what if you’re not deep into Ninjago lore? Is this set worth your time if you’re just looking for a fun build or useful parts? Read on and see!
Whenever LEGO releases another wave of the Collectible Minifigures theme, I always look forward to what builders will come up with to contextualize them. Usually we’ll get some some cool vignettes, but occasionally we’ll get some great companion builds as well. The Super Warrior from Series 20 certainly inspired Stu Pace. Taking cues from the figure’s design and style, the Hyperzord Ultra-Rex is completely ready to fight off some giant, rubbery monsters!
Beyond just looking cool, the dragon has some fun part usage, too. Check out the microphones that make up the missiles, and the tassle for chin whiskers. There’s even a roller skate as part of that huge arm gun.
Whatever this knock-off Power Rangers show is called, I’m ready to binge watch it.
The recent trend in the LEGO-sphere community has all been about magical floating compression structures, better known as a tensegrity – a portmanteau of “tensional integrity”. The fad started with a very rudimentary build on a Reddit and soon spawned many more creative iterations. We pick a few of the more outstanding ones that we’ve seen that has impressed us. A couple of them come with build videos and instruction guides for you to build your very own.
One of the hottest LEGO fads right now is tensegrity sculptures. These builds use tricky physics to create models with sections suspended in mid-air with no obvious means of support. I’ve seen a lot of different approaches, but captainsmog has come up with one of the best. Invocation features a giant flying dragon, suspended in the air by taut lengths of LEGO chain. There’s no Photoshop trickery here. It’s just science. But I’m willing to admit there’s just a bit of magic, too.
Even if there wasn’t mind-bending suspension going on, this would be a great build to look at. The dragon’s belly is constructed of minifigure arms, creating an eerie organic feel to that armor. And the invocation platform is pretty swanky, too. I like the use of minifigure beards to create different versions of drippy candle wax, and the use of glow-in-the-dark tile for lines of mystic power is inspired. There are even tiny little touches, like the candle flames all blowing outward from the downdraft from the dragon’s wings. I love that attention to detail.
Ahead of Brickvention this year, LEGO Certified Professional Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught, challenged his team of builders to build whatever they wanted. Team member Mark jumped at the opportunity and built this magnificent scene dominated by a giant dragon. And while the dragon is the first thing you’ll notice, this creation really presents the story of a knight, Sir Warick. Or at least the final chapter in his story. I promise you he’s there, just look at the end of the beautiful spout of fiery dragon breath.
When it comes to making superb creatures out of buildable figure parts, no builder is better than Jayfa. From dragons to dinosaurs, monsters to men, Jayfa can build them all and make them look amazing. This latest creation is no exception. Called the Oracle Dragon, it has glow-in-the-dark antlers, spines, and eyes, along with the coolest mustache since Lando Calrissian. It was inspired by a stop-motion puppet, and does a great job of capturing the look. With the posability of the joints, one could feasibly use the LEGO model for stop-motion movies, as well. That’d be cool.
The wing elements from Legends of Chima look great as the tufts on the tail, and I love the translucent pieces on the underbelly of the beast. In fact, the whole color scheme is fantastic, including the splash of red on the back of the head. The antlers make interesting use of minifigure hands and flex tube for their unique shape (but don’t tell the purists, because I think the flex tube has been cut!). The best part of it all, though, is that face. I’m going to have to study the face to copy it for a dragon of my own down the line, because it is incredible, so simple yet so expressive. Curious what the eyes and antlers look like glowing? Here it is:
I love dragons. One glance through my own Flickr stream would show you that. I grew up reading books about dragons, watching movies about dragons, collecting pictures and sculptures of dragons, playing with dragon toys, and even writing stories about dragons. Some dragons are evil, others are good. This dragon by Jessica Farrell looks more like the evil variety, e.g. Smaug from The Hobbit, Fafnir from the legends of Sigurd, or the wyrm from Beowulf. Why do I think so? Well, judging from the picture, it is the type that gathers gold, guards it jealously, and gets attacked by resplendent knights. Plus, it is spiky and red and black, and everyone knows that spiky red and black characters are evil (hello, Darth Maul).
What I love about Jessica’s dragon is the size and setting. This is a large beast, probably fat from eating all those brave knights and the kings who once possessed that gold. The articulation in the tail and neck makes for a very natural pose, despite the hard and mostly rectangular nature of LEGO. The giant columns are also lovely, with the curved slopes making for good round shapes. That glittering golden bed, though, draws the eye like nothing else can. It looks like just about every gold piece, whether that is pearl gold, flat dark gold, metallic gold, or chrome gold, went into this dragon’s hoard (I’m not seeing any pearl light gold or speckle black-gold, but maybe I just missed them). This dragon has stolen crowns, as one might expect, but also satellite parts, the One Ring, and even Aquaman’s buckle! Plus everything else that’s gold. Jessica says that the model consists of precisely 7,416 LEGO elements, and it seems like half of them are gold. The dragon would know for sure how many, since they know down to the smallest coin what their hoard contains.
Builder Patrick Biggs strikes again with another super-technical creation: “The Brothers.” This two-headed, dual-tailed dragon is enough to strike even the bravest of knights full of fear. The way Patrick designed the dragon is equally awe-inspiring.
I find the way the builder united both Bionicle-esque pieces with normal studded parts on the legs and tail of the dragon to be truly innovative. Additionally, the crazy amount of joints across the entire dragon allow for an large amount of potential poses, allowing for stories to take flight. I could easily see one of the heads breathing fire across a village while the other roars, announcing doom across the land.
So I have been building again. This one was quite a stress-free build, inspired by my other recent dragon, Dragon Unit LL-32167. I was struck by a moment of inspiration about a month ago and realized that I have a yellow 24-toothed gear that would work perfectly in the dragon’s neck. The thought process continued with the idea that if I build a dragon using no light gray and (almost) no blue, I could keep the previous one assembled for a longer time. This means that everyone visiting my tiny local LEGO shows/conventions may have a chance at seeing the two mecha dragons side-by-side. I name this awesome construction worker mecha dragon Workhorse.
I love LEGO dragons, and the air dragon Bandea from this immersive (almost) fully LEGO scene by one of our contributors, Benjamin Stenlund, is one of my favourites from the past few months. The body is chunky and curvy like a “real” dragon is. What gives it the edge are not the Ninjago sword edges, but the awesome background it is presented on. The horizon is put on just the right point with the corresponding camera angle. What I love most are the realistic rocks, made of wedge slopes and polygonal panels fitted together to represent the cracks and angles of a real rock face.
The builder has quite a few elemental-themed dragons in his portfolio: Moto the Fire Dragon, Maji the Water Dragon, Hewa the Air dragon and Daera and Kijani, the Earth Dragons – the last one being my personal favourite so far.
Stranger Things season 3 will undoubtedly have given Limahl’s royalties a boost with its use of the theme song from The Neverending Story. But if you’re a fan of the original movie, then Jason Allemann‘s latest creation will have you smiling and humming the song to yourself without a single reference to Hawkins, Indiana. He’s put together an excellent LEGO version of Falkor the Luck Dragon.
Jason is the undisputed master of LEGO kinetic sculpture, imbuing his creations with wonderful motion, and this model is a perfect example. Check out the video featuring the Luck Dragon in flight, and Jason talking through the design process.
I always wanted to make a mecha dragon, even as far back as 2012 when I fell in love with LEGO dragons. I always knew it would be gray and greebly, but it almost seemed like cheating. Light gray is the LEGO colour with most the available detail pieces, so it would make finding solutions to building problems easier than I would like them to be. Ironically, this is the most complicated dragon build I have made yet (of which there are 24 now, including some more open interpretations of what a “dragon” is). I working on building this one on and off for 2 months from late December to mid-February.