24 January 2023

LEGO® NINJAGO® review: 71782 Cole's Earth Dragon EVO & 71800 Nya's Water Dragon EVO

Posted by Kev Levell

Last month, we reviewed the largest dragon from January’s LEGO® NINJAGO® releases, 71786 Zane’s Ice Dragon Creature, and we’re still getting chills from its seriously cool design. We are back again as a father and son team to go head-to-head with the other two dragons in the new range: 71782 Cole's Earth Dragon EVO and 71800 Nya's Water Dragon EVO.

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.

LEGO® NINJAGO® 71782 Cole's Earth Dragon EVO
US$34.99 / £29.99 / 34.99€ / AU$59.99
285 parts
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LEGO® NINJAGO® 71800 Nya's Water Dragon EVO
US$19.99 / £17.99 / 19.99€ / AU$32.99
173 parts
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71782 Cole's Earth Dragon EVO

New moulds

Strictly speaking, there is one exclusive new print and one new recolour amongst all these elements as each mould also appears in 71786 Zane's Ice Dragon Creature. However, I feel they're still deserving of title 'new' moulds as the sets are concurrent releases.
  • Dragon head with eyes print in Black (6421047 | 2169)
  • Horn in Pearl Gold (6417338 | 2142)
  • Horn in Black (6422988 | 2142)
  • Overbite neck wear in Yellowish Green (6417339 | 2143)

The detail and fine lines of the print on the recoloured head is impressive, I was pleased by the solidity and richness of colour in the print especially on a black element.

The black horn is giving me H.R. Giger vibes, while the gold variant we've already showcased is just screaming out one thing to me... 

...Big Golden Croissant! 

  • Weapon pack in White (6417344 | 2186) is new for the 2023 “Core” assortment and a pack is included in each 71781, 71782, 71783, 71785, 71786, 71787 and 71800 - phew!

Exclusive recolours and prints

  • Tile 2 x 3 with Orange Ninjago Strength Banner print in Red (6421044 | 26603)
  • Creature Body Part, Dragon / Thestral Wing with Bar Connection in Orange (6422645 | 38547) 

Rare elements

These elements have all been seen before but warrant a mention as they are not particularly common;  perhaps appearing in two or three sets or particularly expensive sets.

  • Brick Special 2 x 5 with Slope, Studs on Side in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6371694 | 79897) 
  • Brick Round 2 x 2 D. Tube with 45° Elbow and Axle Holes (Crossholes) at each end in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6357264 | 65473) 
  • Animal Body Part, Barb / Claw / Tooth / Talon / Horn, Large in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6349519 | 11089) 
  • Slope 18° 4 x 1 in Reddish Brown (6310852 | 60477)
  • Brick Curved 1 x 1 x 2/3 Double Curved Top, No Studs in Reddish Brown (6371437 | 49307)
  • Slope Inverted 45° 6 x 2 Double with 2 x 4 Cutout in Bright Orange/ Orange (6252778 | 22889) 
  • Plate Round 2 x 2 with Rounded Bottom [Boat Stud] in Bright Orange/Orange (6220710 | 2654) 
  • Hat Conical Asian with Raised Center in Bright Red/ Red (6251020 | 26007)
  • Brick Special 1 x 2 with 2 Pins, Square Pin Holes in Bright Red/ Red (6313831 | 53540)


Cole is the same as the variant already available in last year’s sets.

However ‘Bone Scorpio’ features new prints for 2023.
  • Head new print in Black (6421033 | 3626cpr)
  • Torso new print in Black (6424308 | 973c00pr)
  • Legs new print in Black (6421035 | 970c00pr) 

The build

I was once again sidelined to photographic duties and the building of the set was done by my Ninjago Dragon-obsessed son. We have applied the very modest number of stickers to the build.

As part of the continuing EVO subtheme, this dragon is intended to "evolve" or upgrade as it is built. The mole-esque creature we have built at the end of bag 2 is indeed quite a primitive but endearing looking beast.

Parts in bag 3 add an elongated abdomen and a tail and it does feel like our creature has developed. We also build a scorpion inspired transport mech for our villain.

Some impressive horns (made of those lovely new big croissant halves), wings and a banner are added as upgrades with the final bag. Cole’s Earth Dragon is visually striking, the black and orange is eye-catching and nicely contrasting.

The posture and features of the head look very much to me like some kind of angry bull!

We both like the overall design of the dragon and although my son is happy, the aesthete in me would like the rear limbs to be a little less blocky. The rear legs are also a little difficult to pose and I have to wonder whether a different the ball joint might have helped here as it does with some of the other joints. From experience though, I wonder whether the mixel joints just didn't stand up to testing.

As much as I like the unusual proportions of this slightly amusing-looking creature, I feel that I would like just a little bit more shaping. Perhaps that's just asking too much from the part count and the price point.

71800 Nya’s Water Dragon EVO

New mould

Once again the new bone weapons as shown above are included, but that is all that is new here.
  • Weapon pack in White (6417344 | 2186) is available in many of January's sets.

Exclusive elements

  • Tile 2 x 3 with Sand Blue Ninjago Generosity Banner print in Red (6421051 | 26603)
  • Creature Body Part, Dragon Head Upper Jaw with Bright Light Blue Markings, White Eyes Print in Dark Blue (6421030 | 72362) 

Rare & recoloured elements

There are three recolours:
  • Creature Body Part, Dragon Head Lower Jaw with 6 Studs on Top, Spike, Teeth [PLAIN] in Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue ( | 76923) 
  • Limb Plate Angled 2 x 2 with Step and Hole in Center Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue (6430551 | 79846) 
  • Plate Round Half 3 x 6 with 1 x 2 Cutout in Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue (6430549 | 18646)
Again, these rarer elements have all been seen before but warrant a mention as they are not particularly common:
  • Plate Special 1 x 2 Rounded with 2 Open Studs in Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue (6372122 | 35480)
  • Plate Special 2 x 2 x 0.667 with Two Studs On Side and Two Raised in Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue (6372342 | 99206)
  • Slope 45° 2 x 2 in Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue (6136396 | 3039)
  • Brick Special 2 x 5 with Slope, Studs on Side in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6371694 | 79897) 
  • Dish 4 x 4 with 4 Studs in Dark Blue (6380116 | 65138) is actually an exclusive recolour.
  • Hat Conical Asian with Raised Center in Bright Red/ Red (6251020 | 26007)


Nya and Lloyd are again from 2022’s Core range whilst ‘Bone Guard’ features a combination of the new Bone Warrior baddie prints.
  • Head new print in Black (6421033 | 3626cpr)
  • Torso new print in Black (6424325 | 973c00pr)
  • Legs new print in Black (6421035 | 970c00pr) 

The build

The first bag builds the body and head.

The second bag contains parts for the legs and tail. The creature is now ready to evolve! For younger builders, the point within the building instructions at which models can begin to be played with is important, and this set comes together very quickly.

The final bag has all the upgrades, the golden adornments, wings/blades and banner.

Again, my son was more than happy with the final model and my critical eye was better satisfied with the body of the creature this time, as I felt the more regal upright pose offered something different from previous dragons. As this is a water dragon, the colour scheme is pleasingly reminiscent of marine creatures that have adopted countershading to hide their form both from above and below.

Using the pre-existing EVO limbs gives the front some instant dynamic posing but I find myself wanting similarly dynamic-looking legs at the back as a result. I'd also quite like a longer, more sinuous body. However, considering the price point and intended age mark, there is very little wrong with Nya's new ride the way it is. It's a fairly basic set, but then this is entry-level LEGO Ninjago, and it does that job extremely confidently.

This set was one of three 2023 LEGO Ninjago sets by new designer Chi Wing Lee, aka Cityson; a former New E stablemate contributor. They are his first sets to hit the market. I can honestly say there was no positive bias here, because I'd written the majority of this review before I discovered this information. So, I have to say: it's a lovely set Lee, we are looking forward to seeing more!

Overall Conclusion

At £29.99 and £17.99 (US$34.99 and $19.99 / 34.99€ and 19.99€ / AU$59.99 and 32.99) respectively, both of these “entry level” dragons have something to offer. From a parts perspective, the Earth Dragon is a cheaper source for the 'golden croissant' parts and the Water Dragon has a healthy number of rare and recoloured parts for the price point. 

Both have the evolution or augmentation build process which both my son and I felt added some extra value. As the EVO title suggests, having the additional evolutionary states does provide an interesting play element. This is something that I hope to see explored again, in a bigger creature or vehicle, as it was with last year’s 71765 Ninja Ultra Combo Mech. Also, let’s not forget the joy of the 2-in-1 aspect to Ice Dragon we reviewed before the Christmas break. LEGO Ninjago designers beware - we will come to expect some sort of extra bonus build to the basic box front model in all of our sets!

READ MORE: LEGO® Friends review: 41735 Tiny Mobile Home

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  1. Good review!

    The dragon head pieces Lego's been using since 2021 have been very nice and these new ones don't seem to disappoint in that respect. The one used here for the Earth Dragon's upper jaw has a much different form factor than previous ones.

    The new horn piece is cool as well—I like the way it transitions between a 2x2 and 1x1 circle in a very small space. I could see these making awesome claws on a larger creature like last year's Mighty Bowser from the Super Mario theme.

    The new weapon pack is neat—I can't see a ton of creative alternative uses but it's a nice way to distinguish these new villains and the weapon styles have a distinctive Ninjago flavor.

    The Thestral wings are one of those parts that I wish came in more colors, especially dual-molded ones. As an Elves fan they look like they'd be perfect for Elves-style dragons (since they aesthetically match the earlier wing styles from Elves and Vikings), but so far the only dual-molded colors they've come in have been dreary ones from Harry Potter—nothing as vibrant and colorful as the ones from Elves.

    As far as the completed sets are concerned, both of these dragons have unique and interesting-looking postures. I feel like the shaping of the Water Dragon is slightly more effective, but they both at least bring something new to the table. I'm not sure whether I'll get either of these (I might stick to the two largest "CORE" sets from this wave), but I do think these sorts of smaller dragon sets are probably a great introduction to the Ninjago theme for kids.

  2. Hmm, evolving monsters. Seems to be rather heavy inspiration from Pokemon and J-culture, there...

  3. The Earth Dragon is neat but don't care for the overly long torso of the EVO mode. Could have omitted it and kept the squat stature and perhaps lowered the cost of the overall set.

  4. Compared to the Earth dragon, the water dragons appears to have hips. (not a straight line down the sides, but goes narrow and then wider again)