10 December 2021

LEGO® NINJAGO EVO review: 71760, 71761, 71762 & 71763

Áron Gerencsér (@_pohaturon) takes a look at the range of 2022 LEGO® NINJAGO sets aimed at builders aged 6+: 71760 Jay’s Thunder Dragon EVO, 71761 Zane’s Power Up Mech EVO, 71762 Kai’s Fire Dragon EVO and 71763 Lloyd’s Race Car EVO. Buying these? Consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: UK LEGO Shop (for Europe, 'Change Region') | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop. Products in this article were provided by LEGO; the author's opinions are their own.

Constraction’s back, baby!


The first wave of LEGO® NINJAGO sets in 2022 is doing things a bit differently compared to previous waves, and thanks to set designer Niek van Slagmaat’s documentation on the process, we have some insight into what motivated this new approach.

We’ve decided to combine our reviews of the four "EVO" sets we’ve received, and give the new Constraction-inspired system a closer look. 

The Parts

Of course, we’re still New Elementary so the pieces themselves take precedence - and there is plenty to talk about here. The introduction of a new building system always brings with it a bevy of moulds, and while SCCBS (System Character and Creature Building System) is only partially new and much closer related to regular LEGO System than previous deviations into Constraction, we still have a lot of new meat. There are also some spectacular new moulds not inherently related to SCCBS involved that we’re sure will have builders excited.

New Moulds

There are a total of 10 new moulds across these four sets, some of which we get in new colours right off the bat (with additional colours in other sets in this wave). Some of these have been specifically developed as part of the SCCBS, while others are more general.


First up we have the “EVO Limb” (79846) in Dark Azure (6365678) and Orange (6372446), a pseudo-joint piece that is locked at a 45° angle with two 2x2 ‘blocks’ arranged around the footprint-equivalent of a round 2x2. 


The round bit seems like it could have been a hinged joint, but is solid for structural reasons. The 2x2 blocks are stepped, with the first pair of studs being on a one-plate tall section before the piece thickens to its predominant two-plate height. 


Designed with this limb piece in mind is the “EVO Shell” (7989) or armour piece, appearing here in Pearl Gold (6371694) and White (6365687). With geometry designed to match that of Plate W. Bows 2X3½ (47456) - a piece with roots in the buildable knight sets of Knights Kingdom II that further enforces the Constraction DNA. The 2x4 connective surface on its bottom is framed by 1x4 overhangs with corners cut and a pair of hollow studs. This piece had me quite excited when I saw it and I immediately felt like it could be used to interface SCCBS with CCBS. More on this later…


Another interesting new mould is the “EVO Mech Chest” (79896), appearing here in White (6365685) but also available in Red. 5 modules tall, 4 modules across and 2 modules deep, this part is the love child of Design Brick 4X1, W/ Bow (66955) - read more on those here - and Design, Brick 4X3X3, W/ 3.2 Shaft, No. 1 (27167). These are the lamellar armour panel from Ninjago and the small mecha torso piece. Niek’s concepts show off a lot of mecha at this scale, piloted by ninja, armored up with the lamellar panel which would seem like a perfect aesthetic fit, but so far we haven’t seen this in action - though we can always add them ourselves!

Rounding off the new EVO pieces is the “EVO Wing” (79898) appearing in Trans-Yellow and Pearl Gold (6374080) as well as Trans-Orange and Red (6365689), a piece that feels the most akin to what you’d expect from Constraction - highly specialised, utilising LEGO Technic connections and being pretty large. It’s roughly 9x6, but with these unusually shaped pieces that can depend on how you orient and measure them. It has one Technic axle and an axle hole, at 45° compared to each other at either “end” of the wing. In line with the Technic axle is a bit just thick enough for a clip to grab onto, but it is in no way stable or intended.

If you followed our reviews of 2021’s first wave of Monkie Kid sets you’ll remember that we reserved showing off new pieces used in MOCs for a final, separate article. We’re taking the same approach here and these EVO moulds will be represented front and centre!


Both Jay and Kai’s EVO dragons feature heads comprising of two halves, one of which is a recolour and one of which is a new mould - Jay’s upper half (6342663|82276) is very angular, pointed and features a nice dual-moulded design with Transparent Yellow and Dark Azure, while the lower jaw of Kai’s is a more brutish, large Orange piece (6365686|80017) that immediately evoked the Beast heads from LEGO Hero Factory’s Invasion from Below wave! 


These sets feature some new shooter elements, and an intriguing new 1x3 plate with a pair of clips - but these appear in the other Ninjago sets from this wave which, not being part of the EVO system, feature fewer new moulds, thus we’ll leave more detailed analysis for those reviews! 

Recolours

New colours are just as exciting as new moulds for those of us with MOC-making in mind since each new piece in a new colour offers a new possible solution or source of inspiration. Overall these sets aren’t super heavy in this regard, with 71760 sporting the most pieces in new colours at four, three of which are Bright Light Yellow/ Cool Yellow. Personally, the unprinted Bright Light Yellow dragon head has me most interested from this crop. 


  • Dark Azure Plate 1X2 W. 2 Shafts Ø 3.2 (6288196|18649) x1
  • Dark Azure Brick 4X3 W. Bow/Angle (6366134|64225) x4
  • Bright Yellow Brick 4X4 Round W. Ø4.9 W. Kl. (6366133|87081) x2
  • Bright Yellow Ninja Sword (6374068|21459) x2
  • Bright Yellow Creature Head (6370979|76923) x1
  • Red Creature Head, No. 68 (6368506|71545) x1
  • Green Flat Tile Corner 1X2X2 (6374049|14719) x2

All recolours only appear in their respective set.


There are also a few neat printed elements among these sets, including 2x3 Red tiles printed with designs that appear throughout the wave.

The Minifigs

Each set includes a new variant of that set’s respective Ninja, with Nya also appearing in other sets in this wave that I am yet to review. 


None of these new variants use new moulds, but they do sport new prints and colours on the hoods. All of the ninja also come with a hair element, and all but Zane sport double sided heads and a shoulder pad with scabbard.


We also get a bunch of generic snake baddies with a gunmetal, orange and teal colour scheme. They come in different variants with two heads and two torso prints between them, mixed and matched with various weapons, backpacks and legs. 

The Builds

Being a range of 6+ sets, a degree of simplicity and ease of construction is to be expected. True enough, there isn’t anything really noteworthy in terms of the builds or techniques used beyond the limited modularity that facilitates the EVO gimmick: each set has multiple ‘levels’ to build, starting with a base model, which you then upgrade once or twice with armour, accessories or additional structural elements. 

The two different 'levels' of 71760 Jay's Thunder Dragon EVO, and 71761 Zane's Power Up Mech EVO.

To be honest, aside from the mech, which has a clear “armour-up” upgrade going on, the other three feel more like the instructions are just telling you to stop three quarters through a traditional building experience and say “here’s the first form” and then when you finish, it’s the second or third. The dragons both get torso extensions, and Lloyd’s Race Car just gets stuff piled on top of it - the windshield isn’t even added until the second level. 

The three levels of 71763 Lloyd's Race Car EVO, and 71762 Kai's Fire Dragon EVO.

Ironically the largest of the four - the Race Car - also feels like the most lacking in terms of build both traditionally and as a demonstration of the EVO gimmick or the SCCBS system. Being a vehicle it doesn’t quite show off the ways in which the “C” or the “B” come into the picture, and it is also the least effective use of powering up the build as you go. On the flipside, Zane’s Mech is the clear standout here - not only does it feel the most fun to play with, taking the recommended age range into consideration, but it is the most effective flagship of both new concepts - you have a great array of new moulds which specifically work well together to demonstrate both a System-Constraction blend and a modular power-up building experience. 

The dragons are also successful in what they set out to do, but ultimately the final models feel wonkier than the Mech. I honestly hope the latter becomes a template used a few more times as SCCBS evolves – indeed, a red one appears in 71767 Ninja Dojo Temple!

The SCCBS

As New Elementary’s resident average LEGO BIONICLE enjoyer, I feel it my duty to give this EVO system – or as Niek calls it, 'NINJAGO Core' – a closer look. When the last wave of LEGO Star Wars buildable figures were axed after the cancellation of Bionicle G2 (robbing us of a Super Battle Droid and a Clone with a Technic walker!), it seemed like the uninterrupted era that began in 1999 with Slizer/Throwbots came to an unceremonious end. However, with things like LEGO Exo-Force (which is apparently to blame for the lack of joints in System mechs ever since) and the spread of mech-style sets big and small appearing in System sets, things were evolving to remove the divide that was seemingly maintained between bricks and ball joints. As many sets and far more MOCs had proved time and again, integrating Constraction and System was entirely possible. The Marvel ‘mech armour’ sets already gave off strong “Systemstraction” vibes.


This sort of layered approach - an underlying limb or frame with some shell or armour placed atop which can than be completed with some sort of decorative addon or embellishment - has been around in some form at least since the Bionicle Toa Nuva, which introduced special armour elements designed to directly layer onto the regular Mata build and pieces. The mentality here has been present throughout Constraction (such as having a liftarm, adding a Technic pin, and then putting an armour on top for thighs of Canister sets) and if something isn’t broken, why fix it? SCCBS is definitely a translation of these design elements, and an effective one. Adult fans might not get a lot out of these 6+ sets on their own, but I definitely see a lot of potential here. 


It’s pretty clear how Core is a studs-and-bricks translation of CCBS; this much is evident from Niek’s design sketches. At the same time, the locked joints and this early sense of testing waters with simpler builds immediately gave me the exact same feeling when building and fiddling Zane’s Power Up Mech EVO as I did when playing with the Toa Mata back in 2001 (he’s even got similar armaments to 8536 Kopaka). Looking at the pieces, I can see how there’s a lot of potential here for similar leaps if we consider these current EVO sets the “Toa Mata” of this new wave. SCCBS is a fantastic new direction for more figure-oriented designs to crop up in LEGO sets - but it is also a continuation. One that makes me happy that what began in 1999 didn’t end in 2018 after all.     

71760 Jay’s Thunder Dragon EVO, 71761 Zane’s Power Up Mech EVO, 71762 Kai’s Fire Dragon EVO and 71763 Lloyd’s Race Car EVO are available from 1 January 2022 priced between US$9.99 and $29.99 / £8.99 and £24.99 / AU$15.99 and $44.99. If you're buying, please consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: UK LEGO Shop (for Europe, 'Change Region') | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop

Editor: Chris Baginski

READ MORE: The 2022 Modular reviewed: 10297 Boutique Hotel

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16 comments:

  1. Good review! This new system definitely shows promise. I like the new "shell" (which serves as a combination detail element and bracket). And the new limb looks simple enough to be usable for much more than just figures—I could see it becoming an alternative to the 45 degree "fixed angle plate" for scenes with less square layouts.

    Of the smaller 6+ "EVO" sets, I'm more fond of Kai's dragon and Zane's mech. Jay's Thunder Dragon has a more unique body type that unfortunately comes out looking blocky and barebones compared to Kai's.

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  2. I like the new shields/covers parts, hope we'll be seeing them in grey's.
    Such a disappointment that new hinge, I had no idea it was a fake one. Why?

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    1. Focus testing and sales data for Lego have apparently shown that especially in sets for younger kids, having too much articulation is detrimental to the play experience (since converting between good-looking poses can take long enough to interrupt and frustrate kids' play experience). That (combined with the fact that having fewer points of articulation means fewer potential points of failure structurally) is a big part of why many modern Lego mechs use fixed knee joints (either with a fixed-angle part like this or with multiple joint pieces that lock into place like with many larger mechs).

      To be honest I kind of get it... while I used to love trying to implement increasingly elaborate articulation as a MOCist, these days I find that a set or model that can pull off a handful of good poses can be way less frustrating than one that takes a bunch of fine tuning to get into a display-worthy pose. Being able to just put something down and have it stand up properly without having to finagle it into a pose that supports its own weight can be an underrated design strength.

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    2. Yeah but Lego's mechs have never really been posable anyway, they always lack the necessary joints & freedom, because they feel like none of the existing ones can support the weight of an average figure.

      But to be fair I've myself moved to fixed knees as well, after I noticed that I always gave my MOCs the "He-Man" pose. Still, you don't need something that looks like a joint for this, plus it's kind of false advertising, a kid looks at the box & believes it is a joint.
      I get it that it probably tries to look like a robot joint, but to me it looks too much like a Lego joint.

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    3. I don't think it's any more "false advertising" than the fixed limbs on the older Bionicle figures. If anything these look less like actual joints than many of those did—much thicker and more solid looking.

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    4. Yeah and the box art for those sets would actually show the fake joints bending lmao

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  3. Really hoping this isn't the final nail in the coffin of CCBS's future. So many non-recolored molds. :(

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  4. Thanks Newelementary for another great review of sets and parts. Always a pleasure to read. :)

    However, I cant really share or understand the author's enthusiasm regarding these sets and parts.
    I have no idea and I actually don't care what CCBS and SCCBS is supposed to be, neither do I know any Ninjago shows, so I just look at the sets as they are.
    And these sets with all the juniorised and specialised parts just look horrible to me and a huge step back from previous waves. Even if my 5 and 6 year old boys are actually the target audience, I think they would laugh at these sets.

    Even the only set that might be targetted at older kids or adults (the Dojo Temple) has a juniorised mech in it! A reason for me that I will not buy this set and I really cant understand the direction LEGO is generally going.
    Other themes also seem to "suffer" more and more from bulky, juniorised and specialised parts (see i.e newelementary article on the new juniors vehicle bases).
    I almost have the feeling that LEGO is trying more more to explicitly seperate their target audiences into (very young) kids one the one hand and AFOLs with a lot of money on the other...

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    1. there should be an "old elementary" article about all the giant "juniorized" pieces that have been used throughout the decades just so there's something to point to when people complain about how sinful and fallen lego has become

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    2. Thanks, but it's not needed to point me to past parts, I pretty much know all of them.
      If you think I'm exaggerating, compare these sets (and many others of the new 2022 wave) with some sets of the early 2000s, for example with the catalogue from 2004, the worst financial year for LEGO.
      I can't spot more chunkier pieces (baseplates aside) than in the current catalogue.
      Even Jack Stone (a 4+ theme, which was considered one of the reasons for LEGOs decline at that time), doesn't use more specialised and big pieces than the junior sets of the coming year. And the 4+ cars from 2004 (i.e in spiderman theme) are actually built and don't use big chunky chassis pieces as many junior cars nowadays.
      Anyway, that's just my opinion, glad you like the new sets and moulds!

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    3. Are you joking? The 4+ Spider-Man 2 sets from 2004 ABSOLUTELY used bulky prefab chassis for its vehicles, just like the Jack Stone sets they were based on.

      And that's to say nothing of other bulky "juniorized" parts in even AFOL-beloved themes like Rock Raiders. Compared to those, parts like used in these mechs or dragons are much smaller, more basic, and more broadly versatile.

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    4. rock raiders is usually what springs to mind in terms of people memory-holing "juniorized" pieces, but the fact that 2004 is given as the example of "non-juniorization" when that was the year Knights' Kingdom II was launched is something special

      I'm fairly ambivalent towards most of these pieces, though some of them providing a combination of structure and aesthetics is interesting, but not being a standard SYSTEM builder at heart I don't find them as creatively provocative as the ones in e.g. KKII or Galidor

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  5. @Bfa

    Big Sal wrote some similar articles back in 2014-2015.

    http://bigsalsbrickblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/it-was-all-basic-bricks-in-my-day-part.html
    http://bigsalsbrickblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/it-was-all-basic-bricks-in-my-day-part_20.html
    http://bigsalsbrickblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/it-was-all-basic-bricks-in-my-day-part.html

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  6. Great and thorough review! Always a pleasure seeing the analysis on this site!

    Honestly though -- my first thought upon seeing this so-called "SCCBS" is that it doesn't represent that great of a leap forward from previous and recent Ninjago mechs and creatures over the years. After all LEGO's constraction experiments, this neither looks nor operates very differently (with the possible exception of the curious fake joint -- the 45° angle could have many uses, especially if the part gets recolored enough, although I wouldn't picture myself using it as a joint in this way). The oddly shaped (aren't they rather flat?), disappointingly printed heads are not much different conceptually from Chima/"Invasion from Below" Hero Factory heads -- or again, all the previous Ninjago dragon heads. I don't know, there's nothing egregiously "juniorised" here, contrary to certain opinions... but there's also just not that much that's exotic enough to be exciting to me. I agree with Bfa and hope that this doesn't signal an end to CCBS or any new development with the classic balljoint style.

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    1. I don't think it's meant to be totally revolutionary, just a new set design innovation that makes a certain scale of figure for low-priced, low age range sets more practical. The new limb pieces in particular allow for mech or creature limbs that can be posed more quickly and have a more solid look to them than the Marvel mech-style builds that have occupied lower price points for several years now. Personally, I think it's a warranted change, since while those earlier mechs technically had more articulation they tended to look fairly bony and insubstantial and could be awkward to move from pose to pose without the joints rotating or bending at odd angles. I got my first one of that style mech this year in the Monkie Kid Bone Demon set, and while it looked great (a massive step up from the earlier Nexo-Knights "battle suits"), getting it into an attractive pose even when connected to the included "cloud board" was far more finicky than I prefer.

      And these aren't really meant to be as much of a standalone system as CCBS was—by design these parts are meant to play nice with other System parts with little adaptation (CCBS was also meant to be adaptable to other System and Technic parts by design, but in many cases required intermediate connectors to do so), I expect that after this initial wave (which has to go a little heavy on these new parts to get the most out of them and introduce the new format) we'll see more creative and varied approaches taken with these sorts of sets, not unlike how the CCBS moved from somewhat samey-looking 2.0 heroes in its first wave of CCBS sets to more varied and diversified builds over time.

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    2. I think that's understandable, I suppose LEGO wouldn't necessarily want something revolutionary in the context of the Ninjago line or for the purpose they designed these mechs. Though that's part of what I'm lamenting as well! I'm perhaps asking for too much by hoping for more of a different system, but I mainly feel that this thing being called "SCCBS" isn't so much different from the previous mechs you cite (even if it's an improvement) that it warrants a name of its own.

      Still, I hear you -- I'll be interested to see where this goes, along the lines of the wait-and-see approach people are adopting. I'm maybe not exactly the right target audience as I continued to have a bit of skepticism toward CCBS itself, but hope for more diverse builds with so-called "SCCBS" in coming years seems reasonable.

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