Within my limited options I’m trying to live as environmentally and socially conscious as I can and part of that is not ordering every bit of toilet paper online and having underpaid people deliver my stuff. On the other hand of course I have to be cost aware out of necessity, so I can’t entirely avoid making a good catch on Amazon every now and then. Naturally, last week was Prime Day and the offer they had on the Stormbringer Dragon (70652) was ultimately too good to pass up.
As you know from this article, I’m a bit wary of dragon models due to the many hinge and joint parts left over after disassembling the models and using the rest of the pieces for other builds. That’s why I had this set somewhere on my virtual wishlist, but not very high at the top. When the price dropped to 24 Euro on that magical day the math started to add up, though – it was the threshold where I would effectively only pay for the “good” parts and would not regret ditching the rest and burying it deep in one of my storage boxes later. Or in other words: In my mind this was the point where the joints and hinges were included “free”. With that said, the original 40 Euro price just doesn’t feel right and had this special offer not come my way, I’d simply let it be.
The set itself was released last year already and reflects the dragon hunter/ diesel gang theme that was current back then. Somehow this never fully took off and unlike other themes that had a longer lifespan it was already superseded by Forbidden Spinjitsu and Legacy this year. You can still buy the sets, yes, but I’d wager by the end of the year most of them will be pulled. Anyway, the one thing I particularly liked about this were the pale-faced gang members. The set includes two of them plus the usual color-themed figure associated with each dragon, i.e. Jay, the blue ninja and his companion Zane.
As a gimmick and sort of a cheap marketing ploy to get people to buy more sets there was also this golden armor thing with separate pieces in each box. This one contains the shoulder harness and a dragon hilt for the bone sword. The harness is nicely presented on an anvil-like pedestal with a piece of rock underneath, making for a lovely little side build and an interesting little eye catcher for presenting the stuff on your shelf or showcase.
To my surprise the dragon turned out larger than I had estimated based on photos and videos. It’s by no means as long as the green dragon from the movie, but still a sizable beast. I blame the misleading perception mostly on two factors: One, the dragon is overall very thin/ slender or even scrawny and two, the head is relatively tiny. If it wasn’t for the various spikes and protrusions, it could almost pass as a normal lizard. Photographing it from certain angles furthers this impression even more.
The skinny nature of the creature can of course be attributed to its somewhat barebones design. Only a minimum number of pieces have been used to cover up the various joint and hinge elements and most of them are flat pieces that don’t add volume like curved slopes and wedges would. Even the central trunk/ spine element is more or less just two studs wide all the way with some decorative bits attached to the sides to give the idea of scales. I like that they shaped it like a cat’s back, though, giving it a nice aggressive stance.
The head and neck part are a bit of a weird thing. The front looks very bird-like and with some printed 1 x 4 bricks used to represent the eyes is quite interesting, but then you stare at this gaping stair-stepped area at the back of the head. Even if you give credit to the fact that they may just have wanted to keep the neck thin by not adding further slopes for a gradual transition it just looks weird. It’s like someone carved out a perfectly rectangular piece with a chainsaw.
The decorative bits don’t really do much to disguise this. Arguably the head has been constructed upside down even, as of course the spine transitions into the upper skull, not the lower jaw, the need to integrate the arrow shooters notwithstanding. Dunno, it’s one of those things where I understand the limitations and it’s actually also cool on some level that for once the arrows really do come out of the mouth, but at the same time I can’t shake the feeling of possibly a better solution having been feasible.
The reason I ultimately decided to take the plunge are of course the many Dark Blue and Blue pieces one can never have enough of. The duck beak wedges are perhaps not the most useful, but the many curved slopes and even the shield-shaped tiles definitely are. I also think I might have an idea for the wings/ flaps one day. interestingly, I also didn’t realize I don’t have any of those small horns in Bright Light Orange yet and only ones in regular Yellow. Funny how one stumbles upon new discoveries even in the most mundane sets sometimes.
With the design aspects talked about sufficiently, we need to have a word about the play value. As I wrote in that other article, I don’t think these long and slinky dragons are particularly safe for children under a specific age ore more specific a certain size where they would have sufficiently long enough arms and larger hands to actually hold the moving parts in check without gouging their eyes. Conversely some force is required to overcome the resistance and friction of the joints to be able to pose the model. The latter is very limited due to the rigid construction of the legs without knee joints, so basically the only way to get a stable position is to always move the legs in pairs and have the dragon stand flat.
I wouldn’t say this is a particularly outstanding model, but overall it’s okay. For the price I got it it’s perfectly acceptable, though likely that in itself is a statement. Amazon aren’t known for having the lowest LEGO prices here in Germany (thankfully there’s some good alternatives) and them firing this out as Prime bait likely means they were sitting on a large stockpile that didn’t sell that well. With that in mind you likely only will truly enjoy it if you are a Ninjago nerd, generally have a thing for dragons or like me are always on the lookout for good parts sources that don’t break the bank…