I was never into the idea of the Ninjago sets. Ninjas are cool and all, but to me they just don’t work as Lego sets. I think it’s to do with the fact that they don’t really have anything going for them except palaces and other stationary objects which, like that famous scene in Big (featuring the lovely Tom Hanks), are things a kid is going to be able to swoosh around or play with properly. The Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu line moved in the complete opposite direction, with sickening candy-coloured sets and the cliche evil skeleton baddies, so again didn’t appeal to my tastes. But where the Lego Ninjago Movie was concerned, the trailer had my attention… And the subsequent line of sets (sitting snuggly in between the two previous Lego Ninja extremes) really peaked my interest.
The Flying Jelly Sub comes with the eponymous sub, a Hammerhead pilot complete with mug of tea and bladed fish, Jelly himself complete with harpoon fish, Kai complete with his kusarigama (yes, I did have to look up ‘blade on end of chain’), and a fisherman named Takuma rowing his gorgeous little boat with his oar.
- For a £24.99 set, I’m honestly very surprised that they included such a well thought out little fishing boat. I expected a few brown pieces messily slapped together to form some semblance of a floating contraption. But Lego have put, dare I say it, more thought into the companion vehicle than the titular one! And I love it! I expect this much more often from Lego in the future!
- The minifigures surprised me. Though the Hammerhead’s eyes are far too comical for my taste, I guess that’s a silly bone to pick when you look at the Ninjago line on the whole. Jelly’s headpiece is wonderfully designed aesthetically (we’ll see my other problem below). Kai and the rest of the ninjas aren’t really my favourites as characters because, like Power Rangers, they’re whiny, cliche-filling teenagers. But Jay is blue, my favourite colour, and though I was originally skeptical of such a chunky blade piece for such a small figure, his kusarigama is the funnest thing about this set. You can whirl it around effortlessly and it hardly ever actually collides with the minifigure, meaning you can truly get your ninja on in your role-playing sessions.
- Lots of lovely individual pieces included, something I’m taking greater note of as I get older, like the trans-orange chains, the two light royal blue fish, and the many brown and dark brown pieces for the boat.
- Speaking of great pieces, the inside of the Sub cockpit is just charming. You get a little mug and cupholder for Hammerhead, and the printed control panel is lovely. I’m not particularly fussy when it comes to stickers, and only really find it a problem when there are as many included as there are in sets like the Ferrari, but it’s great to get printed ones of smaller items.
- The colour scheme for the sub is very appealing, all those sand blue pieces are great.
- Because there’s two flick-fire missiles, it means that enough tension is created to properly fire them, something I think is probably less to do with Lego and more to do with the fact I have big enough thumbs, but still a positive.
To be Improved:
- Jelly’s headpiece rattles around far too much for my liking, although that does mean he’s good for spinning during fights.
- Takuma doesn’t receive a second, more neutral head-print, meaning he’s either constantly being harassed by the Jelly Sub or he just really hates his job.
- I don’t see why Jay’s headpiece even receives a double printing if we’re not given his hair as well as his ninja mask.
- The Jelly Sub in its entirety is far too complicated to swoosh around and has too many independent moving parts, meaning that it easily gets tangled or jammed or bits fall off it. The tanks are easy to accidentally knock off the back, the legs aren’t fixed in place so always spin unevenly meaning that they often stop the whole thing from being able to move, and because there’s no stand included for the Sub the chains are always sort of just plonked on the ground. And don’t even get me started on those headlights. Whenever I pick up this set it hardly ever has both of them attached. The matching character has similar flimsiness with his wobbly helmet, which is distracting as well. This is simple to write so makes it look like the criticisms are sparse, but when you consider the fact that these are major constructional flaws with the biggest item in the set you start to see how big an issue it is.
- I don’t really see why the harpoons on the Sub aren’t flick-fire. If they’re just aesthetic, they’re too stubby to actually do anything.
This is a hard set for me to put a rating on, because aesthetically it’s so pleasing to me, and I love so many of the little touches and intricacies that Lego actually bothered to put in, and play-value-wise you get two villains, an innocent to protect, a hero with a wonderfully ergonomic weapon, and two vehicles. But… It just falls down in a few too many places where the same level of thought paradoxically hasn’t been put in! I feel like if the ungainliness of the sub were fixed, this review would lean much more in favour of the set, but when you look at the overwhelming number of positives on my Republic Fighter Tank, you’ll see that the 6 is fair for this one. Bring on the next wave, perhaps it’ll finally redeem Ninja-oriented Lego themes for me.