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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.|
|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!
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
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