14 January 2021

10 years of new LEGO® NINJAGO® pieces

Ben Davies (@ProfBrickkeeper) celebrates the 10th anniversary of LEGO® NINJAGO® today as well as spotting new moulds in 4 sets just announced for March 2021. Buying Ninjago sets? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission.

2021 marks a major milestone for LEGO® NINJAGO®, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Although the theme was originally intended to only last for three years – from 2011 to 2013 -–popular demand from fans led to Ninjago becoming an “evergreen” theme alongside the likes of City, Space, Castle, Friends and Star Wars.


With such a long lifespan, it’s not surprising that Ninjago has been a breeding ground of exciting elements for LEGO builders, and will surely continue to be into the future. In honour of Ninjago’s 10th anniversary, I’ve decided to highlight a selection of the most notable (and versatile) elements introduced by the theme, and take a first look at some of the upcoming elements coming in new Ninjago sets in March 2021.

History of new LEGO Ninjago parts

2011

Ninjago was originally launched in 2011 as a “big-bang” theme which meant that the theme received extra budget for both marketing and set development, including new elements.


With a focus on the conflict between ninjas and Skulkin, it’s unsurprising that the 2011 range of parts would be characterized by a number of new skeleton and bone elements, including (but not limited to):

  • Animal Body Part, Dog Bone [Long] (92691)
  • Arm Skeleton [Bent / 2 Clips] (93609)
  • Arm Skeleton Bent with Clips at 90° [Vertical Grip] (93061)

In the early years of Ninjago, emphasis would also be placed on the Spinjitzu spinner gimmick and the accompanying weapon building system. This would lead to the creation of several now-common elements, including:

  • Bar 1L with Top Stud and Two Side Studs (92690)
  • Weapon Throwing Star / Shuriken with Textured Grips (93058)
  • Chain 5 links (92338)

2011 would also mark the introduction of the Minifig Conical Asian Style Hat (93059) for Sensei Wu which has since appeared in nine colours across over 80 sets, used for everything from umbrellas to architectural details.

2012

2012 would see the world of Ninjago expand further, featuring the introduction of the Serpentine and the Green Ninja.


This same year, additional complexity would be added to the Spinjitzu game with the addition of spinner rings such as Ring 4 x 4 with 2 x 2 Hole and 4 Arrow Ends (Ninjago Spinner Crown) (98341). 

The selection of accessories available to LEGO builders would also be expanded, with the introduction of several new blade and weapon elements, most notably:

  • Weapon Sword, Big Blade (98137)
  • Weapon Sai (98139)
  • Weapon Scythe / Crescent Blade Serrated with Bar (98141)

2013

With Ninjago originally slated to end in 2013, a reduced number of new element moulds were seen that year, limited mainly to minifigure accessories.


First, it’s worth highlighting Weapon Sword with Jagged Edges (11439/21548), which was introduced for the Elemental Blades, but has since appeared in various themes including Collectable Minifigures, Mixels and DC Super Heroes, where it has been used as a general-purpose effect element.

Another curious element to debut in 2013 is Headwear Accessory Ninja Helmet Horn Elaborate (11437), which originally adorned the helmets of the Stone Army warriors but has appeared since in over 30 sets across nine themes, where it has served as everything from antlers to bonsai leaves.

2014

In a departure from the original plans for the theme, 2014 would see the theme receive another wave under the banner of NINJAGO: Rebooted. This wave would see the ninja again face off against the Overlord, now commanding an army of evil ninja robots known as Nindroids.

Only a handful of new elements would be introduced for Ninjago in 2014, most highly specialised (such as the Techno-Blades). The most notable element from the Rebooted wave may therefore be the Minifig Neckwear Bandana (15619) which would become a mainstay of the Ninjago theme, appearing in 11 colours across almost 70 sets.

2015

Breaking from the format of previous years, 2015 would see Ninjago receiving two disparate waves. The first wave, known as “Tournament of Elements”, would see the ninja travel to the island of the evil noodle-baron Master Chen, where they were forced to compete against other Elemental Masters. The second wave, “Possession,” would see the ninja learn Airjitzu and face off against Morro and his ghost army.


Despite the expanded scope of Ninjago in 2015, I would only call one element truly notable; Weapon Holder Ring (20612). To the excitement of builders everywhere including our own Tim Goddard, this element would pack seven connection points of three types into a compact space, all in an unusual triangular configuration.

2016

In 2016, Ninjago would headed to the skies with the “Skybound” wave focused on the djinn Nadakhan and his band of sky pirates, before revisiting previous enemies in the “Day of the Departed” subtheme, a precursor to NINJAGO LEGACY.


In these waves, two notable new elements would be introduced. The first of these would be Tassel with 1 x 1 Round Stud (25375) which first appeared in Black in two sets before appearing in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold the following year.

The “Skybound” wave would also see the introduction of Weapon Sword Hilt with Skull and Bar (Djinn) (23985) which, despite appearing fairly specialised at first glance, offered a variety of connection points marking it as a useful element adapter.

2017

With the “Hands of Time” story arc and the release of The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, 2017 would see a return to form for the theme and a major investment in its future. As is to be expected, numerous new elements would also be introduced.


For the “Hands of Time” wave a new decorative element called Animal, Snake Head with Open Mouth, Fangs and Curved Neck with Bar (28588) would be introduced, which would go on to also appear in future Ninjago sets and other themes such as Harry Potter and Disney.

Several new accessory and detail elements would also be introduced to coincide with The LEGO Ninjago Movie, including:

  • Minifig Hat Conical Asian with Raised Center (26007), which proved popular at New Elementary workshops
  • Ornament with Bar (28870)
  • Weapon Sword / Saber with Curved Blade and Hilt (25111)

2018

Following The LEGO Ninjago Movie in 2017, a new, year-long story arc would begin in 2018, encompassing the “Sons of Garmadon” and “Hunted” waves of sets. 


For these waves, a renewed focus was placed on the construction of weapons. A Ninjago-specific weapon multipack was introduced in the form of Weapon Pack Hooks, Knives and Swords, 10 in Bag (Multipack) (37314). Additionally, Weapon Sword Hilt with Dragon Head (36017) would be introduced for use as both a weapon component and a decorative architectural element.

2019

2019 would see the theme split in two with the mainline Ninjago theme and the Ninjago Legacy themes running concurrently. Legacy would focus on revisiting subjects from earlier seasons of the NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu TV Series, while the main theme centered on “Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu,” and the ninja versus the Pyro Vipers and Blizzard Warriors.


That year, several exciting new elements would debut. Two of these, Cone Reverse with 4 Handles (Ninjago Spinjitzu) with Marble (40923) and Cone Reverse (Ninjago Spinjitzu) with Marble (50663), would mark the joint first appearance of the eponymous Spinjitzu tornadoes that appeared in the TV show.

Also distinguishing 2019 was the introduction of a new wheel cover element, Rim 30 mm with Pin Hole (41179) and a new large shuriken element, Weapon 6 Blade Ninja Star (41125).

2020

In 2020, Ninjago would again be divided into two distinct waves, with the “Prime Empire” arc seeing the ninja transported inside of a videogame controlled by the vengeful Unagami A.I., and the “Master of the Mountain” story following the ninja as they journey into the Dungeons of Shintaro and encounter the Skull Sorcerer.


Like in previous years, these waves would bring with them a slew of new elements. Of particular note to builders were a set of surprisingly versatile collectable arcade cabinets, consisting of Pod Arcade Machine (65067) and Plate Special 6 x 8 x 1 with Bar, Door (65068).

2020 would also see the addition of two new gimmicks in the form of an adventure game playable with “Master of the Mountain” sets, and Spinjitzu Burst launchers. The former would introduce a strange new die-inspired spinner element, Ninjago Die Spinner - 6-Sided (66962). For the Spinjitzu Burst sets, several new elements would be introduced, most notably the odd Energy Burst with Hinge (66960) which Aron Gerencsér explored recently.

New Ninjago parts coming in March 2021

We now come to the current year of 2021, as Ninjago celebrates its 10th anniversary. To mark this milestone, LEGO has already released eight Ninjago Legacy sets with another two coming in June, and has today announced the addition of four new mainline Ninjago sets in March with another five in June. As if that wasn’t enough there is a set for ages 4+ coming in March with two more in June plus a highly-anticipated expansion to the Ninjago City series on 1 February.

The March 2021 wave of Ninjago sets based on the TV show is comprised of the following four sets:
71748 Catamaran Sea Battle ©2021 The LEGO Group

71747 The Keepers' Village ©2021 The LEGO Group

71746 Jungle Dragon ©2021 The LEGO Group

71745 Lloyd's Jungle Chopper Bike ©2021 The LEGO Group

Let’s take a look at some of the new elements we’ve spotted in these four mainline sets. They feature many of the element designs discussed above, plus a few new additions.


The most obvious of these is the bladed dragon disc element, which appears in each of the four new sets.


Several new hats and hairpieces can also be seen. Among these are an elaborate new headdress, an Islanders-inspired tiki mask, and an alternate hairpiece for Jay featuring a headband. 


In 71746 Jungle Dragon a new mould can be spotted, used as the upper portion of the dragon’s head.

Last but certainly not least, LEGO has also now officially unveiled 71741 Ninjago City Gardens, a long-rumored successor to the popular large sets associated with The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

71741 Ninjago City Gardens ©2021 The LEGO Group

While no new moulds can be distinguished from images of the set, there are a plethora of recolours to look forward to, as well as some fantastic techniques. We’ll be examining this set in more detail in future but it is available now. Buying Ninjago sets? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission.




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12 comments:

  1. A couple omissions I noticed from your article...

    In 2012, in addition to the big blade you listed, an even bigger one (98135) was introduced as well. That version used a cross-axle and has seen a lot of use both in the Ninjago theme (as large mech swords or helicopter blades) as well as themes like Hero Factory.

    In 2014, while it wasn't limited to the Ninjago theme, the theme made heavy use of the brand-new 45° fixed angle plate (15706), which has since become a mainstay of the Lego system.

    While the parts didn't all see heavy reuse, it'd be remiss when discussing 2015's new parts to not mention the "Airjitzu" spinners. Those were some of the earliest sets I reviewed for New Elementary! The 2 x 4 launcher brick (18585) and top base (18590) were later used in the 2018 spinners. So was the transparent cone/canopy (18591), which also saw one creative reuse in the Technic theme. And the ripcord (16965) has seen reuse not just in the 2018 Ninjago spinners but also in last year's Lego City helicopters! Those sets also marked the introduction to an updated Shuriken mold (19807), which was more rubbery, lacked textured handles, and came two to a sprue that notably had stud connectivity, making even the sprue a potential building element!

    In The Lego Ninjago Movie theme, a whole slew of new parts were introduced, including Lloyd's new curved sword (25111), which has continued to see use as his "signature weapon", a small "cereal bowl" (34172), which appeared with two different prints in the collectible minifigures and has since appeared both printed and unprinted in other sets like the Chinese New Year sets. Also, while this list has largely omitted minifigure parts, the movie introduced redesigns of each ninja including brand-new hairstyles. Previously, every ninja except Kai (whose hair was introduced as a rubbery element in 2014) had used common preexisting hairstyles up to that point. The Ninjago Movie gave all of them new hairdos (more than one, in Cole's case), most of which have since seen reuse on figs in other themes.

    In addition to the spinner pieces themselves from 2019, the sets also introduced some interesting functional spinner elements. The turntable holder with cross axle (40144) and 2 x 2 x 1 turntable (40145) combined with a classic tire piece to create a new, more controlled way of simulating Spinjitzu by rolling a fig or spinner at an angle across the floor. And the "Spinjitzu Slam" 2 x 10 x 2 launcher (50408) and screw-type base (50407) combined with other parts to create a "slammer" type method of launching spinners.

    And in 2020, the summer sets introduced a new 4x3x1 bowed armor plate (66955), which has already started to see reuse in themes like City and an upcoming Monkie Kid set.

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    1. One of the most interesting new elements to come out of Ninjago was a _third_ basic katana. The original katana was produced for the Castle: Ninja theme, and had an octagonal tsuba. Then for reasons I absolutely do not understand, they made a second katana with a square tsuba for, of all themes, Prince of Persia (and Bricklink thinks it's a shamshir, which I also do not understand). And then in 2012, they made a third that almost slipped under the radar. It looks similar to the Prince of Persia katana, but the wrappings on the hilt were changed so it has a solid cap that makes it easier to fit into a minifig hand without chewing up the wrappings.

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  2. The amount of weapons & especially blades (from a toy company against "war", lol) saddens me, when I (as a MOCer) see how few useful bar connecting elements we have, and that when we do have them (like 92690), there are often seemingly decorative protrusions that reduce possibilities in MOCs.

    I've been recently adventuring in the realm of Lego clones, and it looks like the useful connectors exist & are on the dark side.

    Meanwhile I'll keep getting used handguns (from a toy company against "war", lol) with their sight cut off from Bricklink, because that's what some kid had to do in order to get a bent bar connector.

    I'm not against Ninjago & I get it, when I was a kid my minifigs (Castle peasants) generally were ninja's (but then again it was the 80's, ninjas were everywhere). But how many blades do we need?


    About the new section of Ninjago City btw, I don't recognize the 2 parts attached to the sides of the sand blue pillar at the base, they look like caterpillar links, but new or very old?

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    1. I'm not going to address the anti-war angle of your post because it's silly to conflate fantasy ninja-inspired weaponry with modern warfare.

      Regarding versatility, I think blades are one of those sorts of things that really necessitates specialized pieces—to scale well with minifigures, they're simply too thin to have many useful attachment points, or to be constructed from multiple smaller parts. Occasionally, larger weapons like those used on vehicles or action figure sets can have added connection points, but at minifigure scale it's simply not practical in most cases.

      That said... the 2018 multipack in particular has become a mainstay in part because of its versatility, allowing many different weapon varieties to be built using a standardized array of smaller components, in combination with other parts like lightsaber hilts and other bar connectors.

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  3. Hello folks the "contact us" page is not working for me. What is the best way to get in touch?

    https://www.newelementary.com/p/contact-us.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yeh google broke that when they 'fixed' Blogger recently *rolls eyes* but the contact form that appears on the desktop site in the righthand column should work? otherwise DM on twitter or insta?

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  4. @anothergol "About the new section of Ninjago City btw, I don't recognize the 2 parts attached to the sides of the sand blue pillar at the base, they look like caterpillar links, but new or very old?"

    Do you mean the black eyeglasses pieces that were introduced from brickheadz?
    Bar 2.25 x 5.25 Double Squares (BrickHeadz Glasses Square) BL item# 35366

    My own question is what is going on with the pillar at the very rear right of the above image, at the ground level. It looks like the underside of a brick, with maybe some sliding function? Perhaps the slide function is part of it's original use in some other set and here it is merely a pillar filled-in with system bricks? Hard to tell but I really can't figure out what's going on.

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  5. I think one of my favorite Ninjago parts (even if I haven't found a reason to use it in a MOC yet) is the game controller sword hilt from the "Prime Empire" arc.

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  6. @jimmythefly, perhaps we're not talking of the same pillar, I'm talking about the sand blue one, which is a 18940 (technic crane part or something). It has 2 gargoyle/decorations in LBG on each side. They must be chainlinks but I've never seen those (and they have never existed in LBG that's for sure).

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    1. They're the escalator links from the new LEGO Friends shopping mall!

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    2. Ah, got it we're talking about roughly the same thing. I'm a bit color blind which doesn't help.

      Thanks @Skye Barnick for the explanation!

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    3. Ah, nice!
      So there IS a new mould in that set afterall.

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