It’s back to the world of secrets, mystery, silence, and subterfuge as the Lego 250 reviews goes back to the ssssssssssshhhhhhhNinjas of Ninjago, with a review of that most traditional of Ninja combats, a really…. big… snake…. versus… I want to say willy-willy? It’s the deliriously wonderful bugfuckery of 70674 Fire Fang.
Ninjago is absolutely nuts. While we in the authoring game spend countless sleepless hours arguing over cultural appropriation and obsessing over representation, Lego’s approach to Japanese culture is to take as many children’s encyclopedias, 1980s manga cartoons, and things they overheard while passing a conversation helmed by a guy who got drunk at the Hello Kitty Museum once; throw them all into a blender; and inject the resulting mush straight into their eyeballs.
When it works, it freaking well works.
I don’t watch the Ninjago TV series, and I didn’t see the film, so while I know that there’s some sort of external narrative going on, I can only judge each individual set on their own merits. As a completed set, 70674 Fire Fang is a stonker. It consists of a giant, fire/lava/take your pick cobra, ridden by a snake on a palanquin, while being dragged along by two chain-wielding snake people, who are opposed by a single red Ninja who seems to have the ability to create his own personal, neck-high sandstorm. No kidding.
Snake-riding snakes pulled along by snakes. Why not?
And what a beauty of a snake it is. Apart from multiple points of articulation — this snake moves like a snake (well, an animatronic snake pushed by children, but you get what I mean) — it boasts a colour scheme loaded with gold and transparent orange that simply glows in any form of light. Specialty parts, such as the enormous red and black sail that makes up the hood, get my fingers itching for when it comes time to incorporate them into an original build. And it’s loaded with clever techniques: that rattle at the end of the tail, for example, actually rattles. It looks brilliant when it’s complete. What more could a boy want?
Sumptuous details, and that hood. A beautiful combination.
Well, a couple of things, actually. Firstly, the traditional younger-sibling second component is literally just a minifig with one extra– albeit intriguing– part. I’m usually a fan of throwing as many pieces as possible at the main build, but in this case it’s clearly a play set: that whirly willy-willy piece sits on a smooth base, and is obviously designed to be spun at the snake in some sort of attack. As a play set it’s completely unbalanced. If you hog that giant snake to yourself and give me a minifig with a collar-of-shame to play with, it’s going to be snake-meets-boot time the moment your back is turned.
A giant, fire-breathing, angry snake with its own mini-army of heavily armed snake warriors, versus…… this guy?
Secondly, the main build itself is somewhat repetitive. That’s hard to avoid when building a creature that is, essentially, a tube with a face. However, when it comes to judging the greatness of a set (at least in this part of town, stranger), one of key criteria is how much I enjoy the act of clicking everything together. And in this case, as much as I adore the end product — and I do — the act of building itself was enjoyable without being joyous. There’s an absolute tonne of greebling, which gives the set its unique look, and that’s enjoyable, to a point. Sadly, though, too much of the overall building process was given over to repetition for me to truly love it.
It’s a good job you’re pretty…
70674 Fire Fang is a stunning set. It typifies everything that is good about the Ninjago line: it’s colourful, and imaginative, and has an inherent lunacy that climbs out of the box and runs away giggling like the Joker. The end result looks brilliant. But I’d only rebuild it to display, not to enjoy the act of building itself. In the end, it’s a very, very good set, while falling just short of the overall excellence that marks a set out as great.
A stunning end product, with a mundane building process.
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