Another Deep Dive – LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130)

As you well know from many of my posts I really have a soft spot for underwater creatures. The Deep Sea Creatures (31088) were one of my favorite sets back then – very affordable and well designed – and even compelled me to create my own octopus MOC. This year’s Dolphin and Turtle (31128) weren’t bad, either and in-between I’ve reviewed a number of submarines, a fish tank, you name it. Therefore it was an inevitable certainty that I would get the Sunken Treasure Mission (31130) one day as soon as I heard about it, which is the subject of this article.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Box

Contents and Pricing

LEGO‘s logic when it comes to their in-store exclusives completely eludes me and on a rational level just doesn’t make any sense beyond reeling in casual shoppers passing by in a mall. However, even that is not really the case, given that these small sets aren’t even displayed in the shop window. Anybody who has a LEGO store near them knows this. Worse yet, often these packages are simply not available and sold out because they’re not stocked sufficiently. You know, it’s this odd situation where you can buy a 400 Euro Star Wars spaceship, but not simple stuff like this. It frustrated me massively back then with the Crocodile (31121) an it’s no different here. Yes, it’s one of those friggin’ exclusives they keep to themselves, at least here in Germany and only on the third trip to the store was I able to score a purchase because you couldn’t even order it online at the time.

With that in mind there is of course zero room for price discussions, as you don’t get any discounts. The question therefore become whether 30 Euro for 522 pieces is a good price and the answer is a definite “Maybe!?”. Personally I’m inclined to give this a pass for once because I love the subject matter so much, but more objectively it is perhaps still a bit overpriced. While the size and volume are there, my main peeve are the man, many 1 x 1, 1 x 2 and 2 x 2 elements this is mostly built from. The larger parts just don’t compensate the amount of small, finicky items. Therefore seeing this at 25 Euro would have been better and 20 Euro after discounts would then make this a fantastic offering.

That also might have encouraged me to buy two packages instead of just one despite some of the parts not being that interesting for my potential future custom builds. Also one of those weird things about LEGO‘s policies. It’s as if they don’t want you to buy more even if the combined revenue could offset any discounts. As it stands, I only got a single package, after all, as I didn’t see myself investing 60 or 90 Euro only to end up with a ton of wedges and bubble canopies that I rarely ever will use.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Octopus, Overview

The Minifigures

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), MinifiguresThe minifigures aren’t anything special with a standard skeleton and an operator for the submarine(s)/ diver. Initially I was under the impression the torso print would be new, but no, it has been used in a Stuntz set already. So LEGO just combined what they already had, anyway. However, there’s a small treat here in that the helmet is the first time that the revised Classic Space helmet is available in Dark Bluish Grey. I’m sure nostalgic fans have set their sights on it and you could fetch a good price for it as long as it is this rare.

The Octopus

The main model or rather set of models are based around the octopus.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Octopus, SafeThe first of those three is the safe. It comes in a very classic Dark Green, a color traditionally associated with banking, communicating reliability and integrity. In fact so much that it has become sort of an insider joke in movies, including one of my childhood favorites the Danish Olsen Banden series. Anyway, it’s a very efficient small model that benefits from the 2 x 4 dual jumper plate introduced a while ago for a more compact appearance without an extra reinforcing plate on the top. The door is a new 2022 color for the 4 x 4 dish as oddly enough it has never before been done in Dark Green.

The submarine is a surprisingly realistic take on those deep sea exploration vehicles with this type typically being slaved to a long cable since it has limited buoyancy and storage capacity for fuel and ballast. It’s really a nice model in its own right and I genuinely did not expect it to be this good. The only thing I’m missing is perhaps some ropes and a net plus perhaps an emergency buoy in Coral.

The drive section makes use of the new steering wheel element to portray the protective cage around the propellers and again for the time being the Yellow variant is exclusive to this set.

The interior provides room in the aft section as well as the cockpit so you could even sneak in a second minifigure from your collection, e.g. a diver that egresses from the back hatch when needed to do his thing.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Octopus, Submarine, Cockpit open

The most obvious shortcoming of the octopus itself is exposed right away: Once again the arms are way, way too short. Even if you account for small species like the Blue-ringed Octopus, which I’m sure this isn’t even meant to represent, the ratio between head size and arm length just doesn’t match actual proportions. That being the case my first request to LEGO would have been to include at least two more segments per arm. That, however would have exacerbated another problem. The tentacles aren’t connected with ball joints except where they are attached to the main body and instead use simple clips, so posing them is severely limited. That means you can basically only sensibly pose it in the “umbrella” stance depicted here with its “cloak” (the skin between the arms’ roots) spread out evenly and only little variation.

The suction cups represented by the Bright Pink 1 x 1 studs to me feel superfluous. They’re a pain to plug on to the plates and hinges and since they aren’t the proper scale, anyway, just having some full coverage plates in their place might even have looked better.

The mantle, tubes and eyes are simply large wedges, slopes and round elements attached to a central SNOT block. It’s certainly sufficient, just not very detailed. I always prefer more granular builds using smaller elements that approximate the variations in surface curvature better. Overall it just looks a bit too symmetrical for my taste.

The Lobster

The second model is a red lobster with some more extra builds.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Lobster, Overview

The underwater ruins with the gate are a way or putting the many slopes to use that previously were used upside-down on the submarine plus there’s some pieces from the safe/ money vault as well as you can clearly see. Simple, yet effective.

The little submarine is another interesting spin on the subject. More to the point, I believe it’s actually an underwater scooter, meaning it’s mostly just a means of motorized transportation, not a fully isolated environment. You’d sit inside it with your diving gear and still get wet since it isn’t pressurized. I vaguely recall something like that popping up in one of the older James Bond movies. All the necessary details are there and one is willing to buy that this could actually work. Small side note: As you see the model is raised from the ground, which isn’t my doing to enhance the photos or anything of the sort. Indeed you are supposed to add two brackets as skids according to the manual. For “correct” play one would simply remove them.

The crayfish is structurally much more simple than the octopus, but the build feels just as repetitive. Now some of that is inevitable, but if they could change anything in this set, it would be to add a bit more variety. Had they e.g. thrown in a few of the small 1 x 2 wedge slopes for making the octopus’ mantle look more refined, they could be re-used here for some of the feet, the clippers and even the mouth. Likewise, the sides of the body could have benefited from actually having SNOT studs onto which those curved slopes and wedges could be plugged for better vertical rounding. This would also have helped to disguise the grey ball joints.


Another change I would have loved would be the inclusion of Red fishing rods for the antennae instead of just regular bars. Those would then of course also need to be placed in matching Red clip holders, not Light Bluish Grey ones. This shouldn’t have been much of a stretch as those little buggers exist ever since they were introduced as a recolor for the Chinese New Year sets. Clearly, throwing in two of those little buggers wouldn’t have made the budget explode.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Lobster, Aft Left ViewThe fishing rods and additional slopes might have been a different story, but as you may have observed I’m not a friend of “half-assing” things. I’m more of the mindset that if you do such things and it doesn’t take too much effort you go the full mile and don’t stop halfway. All things considered, this is perhaps why this lobster doesn’t feel all this great. This point is also reinforced by the considerable amount of leftover pieces that aren’t even used. Those range from some larger parts originally required for the submarine and octopus to the numerous small plates, many of which were buried inside the models.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Lobster, Leftovers

The Manta Ray

The final model in the package is a Manta Ray with a side of a small section of reef.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Manta, Overview

I’ll admit I think the reef is a pain in the butt. It feels like the designers were actually forced at gunpoint to come up with something so there wouldn’t be to many unused or extraneous pieces. While I was building it it seemed like I was doing it for hours. It’s all piecemeal stuff – a 1 x 2 brick here, then a 1 x 2 plate on top of it and then another at an 90 degree angle to connect it with a neighboring element and so on. It was extremely tedious and just dragged on. There’s per se nothing wrong with this and if you don’t have that much LEGO you’d likely even build it this way yourself, but gosh, do I wish they’d just thrown in some 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 bricks to build up volume much quicker. only a few 2 x 4 bricks needed. It looks the part when finished, but the assembly wasn’t very enjoyable in my view.

The Manta itself is okay, though the proportions suggest that this is more a baby than an adult. The wingspan is not proportionately large enough and it appears too thick and compact, thus also making the mouth look too large and kind of cute. The wingtips feel a bit odd. I get what they were going for, but all things considered a Manta genuinely is just a large rhombus shape with sharp corners. Throwing in some Dark Red 2 x 4 wedge plates would have looked a bit more realistic.

In a similar vein there could have been more wedge plates to create the tapered transition zone for the tail. It’s not just plugged on as it appears. On that same not, of course it should have more segments and be slightly longer.

An interesting observation about this model is the use of some direction inversion techniques. This can be clearly seen with the mouth and its upside-down mudguard piece and continues to manifest itself on the underside with actual surface detail, including some hinted-at gills. The disadvantage here is that during the build process it is rather flimsy and really only begins to stabilize once all the layers of plates have been stacked. To me this is yet another situation where it clearly shows that LEGO’s refusal to introduce actual direction inversion plates gets in the way of building models more efficiently as already pointed out once.

For the leftover pieces there’s a lot of overlap with the ones on the lobster, but also a few notable substitutions. Once you veer away from the main model the parts usage really isn’t that economical.

LEGO Creator, Sunken Treasure Mission (31130), Manta, Leftovers

Concluding Thoughts

Yet again this is one of those sets that gets in the way of itself. That is, LEGO are making it hard to give this a perfect score with the circumstances surrounding it. People with more money to spend than I will easily get over the price, but the overall difficulty in actually finding this set to be able to buy it is a bit of a show stopper. It just seems unnecessarily complicated to the point that people not as engrossed in LEGO will simply miss out on it. They’ll either never notice it in the first place or just give up the chase.

The sad state of affairs aside, this is another pretty good Creator 3in1 set for this year. Seems like the LEGO designers are on a roll and made some good decisions what to pick and throw out among the crowds. If there’s the slightest chance for you to pick it up, I’d definitely recommend it. You should keep in mind, however, that this is a “builder’s set” and the models are not collectibles.

If you don’t plan on spicing up the default models or re-using the parts for your own builds it would be a costly investment compared to more refined actual collector models. Inevitably buying a second or third model would skew this even further with so many parts left over. That basically is also the only real shortcoming – the way the parts that are there are used is not always very efficient and at the same time I feel that there are a few bits missing that would have enhanced the experience.

Walking under the Sea – Underwater Robot (31090)

As I’ve written a number of times I’m not the biggest fan of mech/ robot style sets due to the large joints and hinges always somehow floating about uselessly (mostly). Naturally I still can’t escape buying one of these models every now and then and the Underwater Robot (31090) from the Creator 3in1 series is one of those rare exceptions.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Box

The reason I got this set in the first place is of course that I’m sort of on a roll with the subject ever since the Deep Sea Creatures (31088). It’s not that I wanted to be complete or build a diorama, I was just in the mood. This set boasting a few parts that I didn’t have yet in my repository plus the large transparent bubble canopy made the decision easier, too. With the underwater-themed new Friends sets coming out now there sure is going to be a use for substituting the tinted counterparts with the clear version e.g. on the Dolphins Rescue Mission (41378) once I get it.

Price considerations with this set should be closer to your heart even than for other sets, given the nature of its content. Literally half the volume and weight is made up of the hinge/ joint parts, not leaving much room for other parts that perhaps might be more useful later. The suggested retail price of about 20 Euro therefore doesn’t seem like a good value proposition. Getting the set at 15 Euro or below would be more acceptable. Lucky for us street prices are already reflecting this, so it’s mostly good.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Overview

Aside from the main build of the mech itself there are some very minor extra items by ways of a see weed with some gold lumps and a little stingray. The latter follows the color scheme from the Deep Sea Creatures and would therefore match. The limitation would be that actually only the shark and perhaps the whale then would fit in terms of scale. For the squid and angler fish it would be more like a tiny baby.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Stingray

One of the reasons I’m so reluctant to buy these robotic sets is the fact that LEGO usually don’t bother to include the joints and hinges in custom colors equal to the rest of the set. If at least that was a thing, there would be more incentive to bolster one’s parts arsenal with differently colored variations. In this set this becomes even more apparent as the robot is actually pretty tiny and on top of it not much of an effort is made to shim over the exposed grey areas with more yellow bricks.

I’m not opposed to the Dark Bluish Grey and Yellow scheme per se, but I think it would have looked better if there was more of the yellow. My reasoning here is that there would be a pressure-resistant, watertight shell all the way around leaving no internal parts exposed. It would be even more so if this was a manned mech and not a remotely operated/ autonomous unit as depicted. This lapse of consistent functional logic applies to the alternate models as well, with their open cockpits and exposed parts perhaps not making the most sense 300 ft under the sea.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Front

The mechanics of this model are as simple as it gets, with the structure more or less consisting of immediate, direct connections of the joint elements plugged into one another and held together by a minimum of plates and tiles. the only area that involves some actual building is the main trunk. It’s not super-advanced, but at least uses a bit of perpendicular/ sideway construction. Once more the “air hose” system perhaps doesn’t do much logically, but adds a nice visual touch. They could likely have expanded on this by including some more tubes/ hoses (the soft pneumatic ones) to simulate electrical wires and pressure lines for the actuators.

The model is fully poseable, but naturally there is a big caveat here: With the joints connected so directly there is not full freedom of movement for each of them  and in addition there is not enough leverage due to each segment being short. this makes it somewhat difficult to actually get the limbs where you want them. As an adult you can get there, but smaller kids will struggle. This limits the play value unnecessarily. the secondary models are more forgiving in this regard, as they do not require so many joints to be adjusted.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Pose

As a quick snack I enjoyed this set in an odd way, but ultimately its value for “serious” users is somewhat limited. There’s not enough “real” parts to keep you busy with the assembly for long and as display items the different models don’t hold up to scrutiny. More or less this is really a play set, though even in that case there are limitations. At the end of the day i tend to think that you would need two or three of those sets to really turn this into something by refining and expanding upon the ideas in the set – making the models larger or detailing them up.

It might also have helped had the set included parts to build a sled to drag behind the mech on the sea floor or a crate/ cage to hoist up samples and machinery to the (imaginary) research ship. there’s some ideas how this could be spun, but you definitely would need to invest a bit of extra time and money to get the best experience…

Mega Shark – garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON from The LEGO Ninjago Movie (70656)

Coming full circle on this subject, it’s time to have a look at the garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656) from The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Box

I have a soft spot for many aquatic creatures and certain shark species in particular. I love their elegance, some of them even look cute to me (try to stare a shovelhead in the eye and tell me it isn’t a cute lovely critter) and quite generally I think sharks are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet due to their historically bad reputation based on many false facts and myths. In any case, to me it was almost a no-brainer that I would get this set one day.

Making it happen was another matter entirely, however. This is an “exclusive” set that you can only get from LEGO directly or whatever remnants of Toys’R’Us are left (here in Germany they operated independently, so thankfully they’re still around). This eliminated any discussion about price or the need to wait forever to get a discount. You would have to pay full price eventually and the best you could hope for were a few percent off during a TRU sale. This opportunity presented itself when I got a refund from my health insurance after years of legal battle and I jumped the chance.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Overview 

As can be seen in the overview image, the shark is quite large. After all, it’s supposed to be Garmadon‘s walking attack submarine. Comparing it directly with snippets from the trailer or the movie itself reveals however that it’s nowhere near as big as it’s used in there. It’s more like one-third of the actual size by my estimate. As a matter of reducing the cost it almost inevitably had to be shrunk down, though. Building it at the original size would likely have ended up as a 3000 pieces set with a near impossible price. Therefore the downscaling is okay, even if I would argue that it still could have been bigger, even if only by a tiny amount. It simply looks nowhere near as impressive and aggressive as the movie version to the point of feeling completely harmless.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Figures

For an exclusive set the selection of figures isn’t much to write home about, as basically you already have them all if you bought a few other sets from The LEGO Ninjago Movie or for that matter even the regular Ninjago line. Having the umpteenth version of the Green Ninja or Lord Garmadon certainly isn’t particularly attractive. I know, on the surface of it they seem logical and inevitable, but you know what? I could have perfectly lived with this being a diorama from the secret volcano dock compound and instead would have loved to see more variations of the Fish Gang.

Therefore to me the only truly original figures are the girl with the exterior braces and the hot dog guy (along with his little cart/ stand). The latter is a bit of a tired trope as well, though, since by now I have seen so many variations on the theme in any series from City to Friends that you could make some really bad jokes about LEGO being a hot dog stand company. Perhaps they should have opted for a fresher, less clichéed subject?

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Top

As is evident in the photos, the reduced scale both has benefits as well as disadvantages. One of the positive effects is that a bunch of pre-existing large standard wedge pieces could be used to shape the contours efficiently, which also nicely serves as a reminiscence to the smooth skin of a shark (which of course actually is rough and coarse and only looks silky smooth).

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Aft

The downside is that in particular the tail fins look overly thick. These also represent a bit of a weak spot, as they come off rather easily. The large back fin on the other hand still feels too thin, as on the movie model it is used as the submarine’s command tower. So in a way the overall proportions look okay, but the details are factually a bit wrong, at least as far as I can tell, still not having seen the movie in full.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Right

Naturally, many of the details suffer from the scaling just as well and they have been simplified considerably. Most notably the lift props are way too small to have anyone believe that this thing could make even a tiny assisted jump. Similarly this would crawl like a snail with those small drive propellers. At least the gills are kinda there and the idea with using the car spoiler wings is actually pretty nice. Still, they do not adequately cover up the somewhat barren interior, so when viewed from specific angles the whole illusion falls apart.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Compartments

Good news: There are two compartments to put your figures in. Bad news: They kinda suck because they come off all too easily. Both of them are effectively only held by two studs each, so this isn’t much of a surprise. It will be okay if you put up the model as a static display item, but for actually playing not so much. And that’s where things get really ugly.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Bottom

Yupp, my friends, you basically can’t really play with this set. All the virtues it may have in terms of its aesthetics on the upper side are betrayed by the awful mechanics on the underside. First there’s that thing with the exterior (!) liftarm and gears that drive the opening of the mouth. How could they? Not only does it look ugly, but it’s also utterly superfluous.

Kids wouldn’t care for this stuff and simply move the lower jaw with their hands as would anyone who poses it in his showcase. And what if you actually care? then the mechanism still belongs hidden inside the body, as clearly in the move it’s built as an inverse hinge/ lever mechanism. The way it’s implemented here is even more frustrating, as not using this approach would have allowed to use more bricks for shaping the underside.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Front closed

Restructuring the underside likely also would have allowed for a better solution with the legs. Don’t get me wrong – the model is heavy and you have to applaud the designers for making it so that the model actually stands straight on just two chicken feet. Balancing these things can be delicate, after all. However, as far as I’m concerned there was no reason to over-engineer this. Yes, using two of these large ratcheted Technic joints on either side in connected form is way, way too much.

I as a grown-up man can barely move them without grabbing the model so hard that something comes off or at least moves out of place, so imagine how unhappy children will be if they cannot move it at all. Just using one of those joints on each leg and stabilizing it with a different construction like e.g. using a linear actuator or a trapeze construction with liftarms would have made this much better. Incidentally they also could have left out the large arrow shooters.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON (70656), Front open

Overall I have very mixed feelings about this model. I kinda like it a lot despite it not being in the least representative of the movie version. It still looks the part and if you don’t know anything about the film, it still works as a nice, large shark model with a few shortcomings. What I don’t like are the “playable” features. Those once more feel like they were thrown on like an afterthought and are to a good extent unworkable and useless.

It was more than obvious from the outset that this model likely should be first and foremost a nice-looking display model, not a play set for kids. So in that regard LEGO got it wrong and judging from how few people actually seem to have bought this set (based on the low number of actual reviews you can find on the Internet compared to other sets) messing with this stuff hasn’t done much for them.

If there was any hope of that I’d advise you to get it as cheap as possible, but alas, that isn’t meant to be. So your options are limited to either swallow the bitter pill of buying it directly from LEGO or you just completely ignore this set. I can only hope that my short little review makes that tough decision a bit easier.

No-Fly Wing-y-Thingy – The Manta Ray Bomber from The LEGO Ninjago Movie (70609)

Sand Blue is a nice color and I love myself vehicles that are shaped after underwater creatures. It’s one of those awesome things about my favorite Sci-Fi series Babylon 5 and if you know your way around it, you know that the Centauri cruise ships very much look like Manta Rays. Therefore it was nearly unavoidable that I also would have to get the Manta Ray Bomber (70609) after the Piranha Chase (70629) an Flying Jelly Sub (70610).

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Manta Ray Bomber (70609), Box

First let’s get a fundamental flaw/ shortcoming of this set out of the way. The ascribed capabilities as “flying” are a total misnomer. As someone who is into military aviation and all kinds of scientific nerdery I could go on in endless detail about the why and how, but suffice it to say that it would never take flight in the real world. Not in this universe and not under this set of physical rules.

At best this would be some ground effect vehicle hovering slightly above the water or a hydrofoil ship, but actually my preferred and by far simplest interpretation is to see the oversized engine nacelles as floating bodies and the whole thing conventionally floating on the water surface with the small-ish wings allowing an occasional jump when speed is sufficient.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Manta Ray Bomber (70609), Overview

Of the three sets in this series I have reviewed this is the least spectacular and in a way also least original. For the most part it’s a relatively simple build using a lot of large parts and the minifigures don’t really stand out, either, nor is there any specific complementary side-build of some scenery item or other small vehicle.

Interestingly enough it’s also the one model in the group that appears to be most readily available in retail stores, which thankfully is reflected in the pricing. Only recently I saw it again for around 17 Euros during a clearance sale, but you can get it for 20 Euros in most stores. Funny enough that’s one of the few cases where being patient and going on the hunt in physical stores is cheaper than ordering it online.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Manta Ray Bomber (70609), Front

The design captures the overall shape of a Manta in an okay-ish fashion, but is overall not particularly accurate. Basically everything would have needed to be proportionally a lot larger, with the way too short tail sticking out particularly much. A larger, longer wedge/ hinge element would have been nice. Normally I would consider this a non-issue, but the use of the rubber dinghy dictates a certain scale and for that the rest of the ship looks too small.

This yellow monstrosity generally bothers me somehow. It comes off way too easily as a whole and due to its lack of studs on the floor the elements attached to it come off extremely easily as well. The rear machine gun barely sticks, even less so when you add a minifigure that operates it. The bee-striped bombs don’t make too much sense, either, though at least they adhere reasonably well by ways of their hinge clips.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Manta Ray Bomber (70609), Aft

Unfortunately the float isn’t the only part that comes off. The same is true for the sideways turned mudgards and oar elements that represent the outer mouth parts and front fins (the ones that look like floppy mandibles on the real creature). The model simply doesn’t have the most stable superstructure in this area and handling is delicate.

On the other hand, the main trunk is extremely robust and the propeller parts are also attached using pins, so breaking them off accidentally is nearly impossible. It makes you wish they had used a similar approach for the little boat on the top.

LEGO The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Manta Ray Bomber (70609), Bottom

Overall this is a somewhat unsatisfying set. Its concept and premise are squandered by design issues one can’t ignore, even more so since they also affect the playability or for that matter simply holding it in your hand. Also technically very little about the construction makes sense. Bombs rolling down on top of the wings? Tell that to an Air Force safety officer and see his reaction!

I feel that for the most part all the issues could have been resolved by simply making it larger – considerably. It would have allowed different construction techniques and a more cohesive design. It also would have brought out the elegance of a Manta much better. In its current state it remains a bit of an oddity and fails to deliver on both fronts. It’s neither elaborate and pretty enough for a display model and playing with it is not free of issues as well. The only consolation is if you get it dirt cheap and can fill a rainy afternoon with building it.