Everybody loves free shipping and pre-Easter I figured it would not be the most terrible idea to get an extra Easter Bunny carrot house on top, so of course when I ordered the White Dragon Horse Jet (80020) it wasn’t the only item in my basket at the LEGO online store. Red Son’s Inferno Jet (80019) found its way into my home as well and we’re here to have a look at it.
Contents and Pricing
Let me cut right to the chase: Out of the two jets this certainly is the less attractive option. As usual I got it “for reasons”, but if you are looking for a good bang for your buck this is not necessarily the way to go. Between the ultimately relatively small actual jet, the limited selection of minifigures and barely any extras this isn’t the best way you could spend 30 Euro. Point in case: This set has officially 299 pieces, making for an almost exact 10 Cent per piece price, which these days is nothing to write home about, especially when many of those items are just smaller standard pieces. Even some of the larger pieces feel more like they had to reuse leftovers of stock from production runs for other sets.
With that being said, the value here really feels more like 25-ish Euro at best and if this were sold through regular retailers it could then drop even lower. This would certainly help to bring it to a level where at least it feels more in line with typical Ninjago offerings.
As already mentioned, the choices for the minifigures are anything but exciting as they’re all ones you’ve seen in previous sets in the series already. There’s another grunt, Red Son and of course Monkie Kid. The figures are not at all done bad in any sense of the word with their complex and elaborate prints based on unique designs, they just lack that extra magical touch and within the series already feel repetitive. It feels like a non effort to just grab some existing figures and slightly modify them without advancing the story or tailoring them more specifically to the set. In particular this set would have benefited from having at least one mechanic for instance, the reasons for which I’m going to explain a bit more later.
The small rock piece is just that – a section of the many mountainous areas Monkie Kid comes across in his journey. This probably would look just fine next to the The Legendary Flower Fruit Mountain (80024), but otherwise I don’t quite know how it fits into a set with a jet unless you interpret it as being the tip of a mountain high up in the clouds with the jet zooming by. It just feels a bit random and arbitrary and the pieces allocation could have been used for something that would fit the topic better …like some maintenance equipment. See a common thread here?
To get it out of the way, allow me to resolve my ominous hints at that “mechanic-ing up” right away: The one thing that attracted me to this set is its boar-ish appearance in the sense that in particular the front section is reminiscent of old cylindrical piston engine designs from the World War II era, the Korean War and even the Vietnam War. Think Thunderbolts, Corsairs and Skyraiders. That’s why I regret that the set doesn’t build more on this with open cowlings and oil-covered mechanics.
The other reason that also furthers my point and becomes apparent at certain angles is that the plane isn’t level/ parallel with the ground. As such it would have made 1000% sense to have it perched in some sort of launch rig or maintenance platform. This, again, would have been a perfect excuse to include a mechanic and, coming back to my earlier point, use the pieces dedicated to the small rock for workshop details and the scaffolding/ trusses of the actual platform. This to me would have made a lot more sense and I’m sure it would actually result in some better play fun as well.
A lot of these considerations of course would be totally unnecessary if the vehicle had not been designed in such an obvious way as an arrow shooter pistol. This is even more tragic since the shooter functionality with only two arrows is kind of useless and not much fun in an age where you can buy your kid a rapid fire Nerf gun with 60 shots. I don’t quite get why LEGO keep adding these features where they can’t compete with toys that do it better and safer, even more so when it has the ill effect of affecting and limiting the rest of the design.
I feel this is pretty much what has happened to the placement of the wings and engine cones. Everything had to be spaced far enough apart to allow the little rascals to wrap their hand around the handle at the bottom and pull the trigger. This makes for flimsy attachments and is not particularly plausible in terms of engineering and the underlying physics as well. Guess how strong those wing spars would have to be to transfer the thrust to the fuselage. makes no sense!
From the side the pistol shape is even more recognizable, though in fairness it looks rather elegant at least. This is yet one more case where with a little bit of effort (well, quite a bit, actually) you could build on the basic design and transform it into a proper plane by adding proper wings, getting rid of the handle and trigger and re-arranging the engine exhausts. If I were to do it, I’d bring them in closer to the vertical tail fin and, to make it look cool, I would love to have more of the thick metallic tubes connecting up to them. You could even insert some transparent colored 2 x 2 round bricks to hint at some sort of “plasma flow”. Does that sound like an idea? I’m almost tempted to really try this one day.
The front section is the stronger area of the model as already mentioned. Mind you, it’s nothing in the way of introducing some super cool new technique you wouldn’t be able to come up with yourself, it’s just done rather well. Inevitably some of that has to be attributed to the use of the new 3 x 3 rounded bricks with curved surface, here in Dark Pearl Grey for the first time. This makes for a strong, smooth “lip” of the cowling that previously would have been difficult to render with its color also reminding me of the metallic rings in this area used on some real planes, either for decorative purposes or to minimize damage to the actual cowling.
The forward prongs for the flamethrower feel a bit weird, but perhaps it’s just my scientific-oriented mind getting in the way and thinking “This could never work!”. Still, it’s an odd choice to bulk up the model in this region so much, when it barely even doesn’t have any wings. On that note: I had to redo some of the photos a number of the times because the small tail wings are attached using regular hinges, not ratcheted ones, so they change angles at the slightest touch. Yet another design issue that speaks against this model.
As mentioned earlier, there is an arrow shooter mechanism well hidden inside the model, but with only two arrows available it really doesn’t do much. This is even more so the case as reloading isn’t that easy. Either you fiddle around and try to insert the arrows directly via the hole in the front cone if you have small enough fingers or you open up the cowling, which is attached with clip hinges. This is in its own way clever, but has the distinct disadvantage that it will quickly wear out if you need to use it too often or the clips even break.
The underside is extremely barren due to the open shooter mechanism. They didn’t even have a few inverted curved slopes to spare to continue and emulate the curvature on the 4 x 4 plate, much less anything to create a smoother transition.
As mentioned here and there, there are a few new parts in Pearl Dark Grey in this set such as the rounded elements. The ingot/ gold bar in this color, already mentioned in the white jet review last week, also makes an appearance here. The dual molded flame piece with the Trans Orange transitioning into the “smoke” Trans Black is not exclusive to this set, but overall somewhat rare and having four of them is not a bad thing. The round brick with the spikes takes the cake, as I indeed thought this would have been widely available in some older Ninjago or Nexo Knights sets that I never had, given that the mold has been around for a few years, but no, it’s actually the first time we get this one in Pearl Gold. some people are probably drooling over that already.
Sadly this is one of those LEGO sets where an interesting concept presumably has been trimmed and bent into something entirely different, less attractive. That whole gimmick with the pistol shooter functionality feels mandated by some higher up because of course the had to have some “play feature” other than swooshing the model around, but integrating it came at the cost of the overall appearance, which could definitely have been more refined and complete.
It has its strong points and if you build on them, you could end up with a rendition of something akin to a classic propeller plane, but it would at least require a minimum of work to fix the most glaring issues, let alone a full redesign of critical areas. I would only recommend it if indeed like me you have an inclination for Ninjago aerial vehicles and have exhausted most of the options there and/ or are looking something nice that blends in with an existing line-up of these aircraft.
Most others will very likely end up unhappy and dissatisfied. There are better “shooters” even in the LEGO world just as there are better planes at lower cost. That and of course you are a Monkie Kid completist who has to have every set. That, in my opinion, pretty much covers it and I can’t really see where this fits outside that. It’s simply not compelling enough otherwise.