Hands-on with LEGO 71741 Ninjago City Gardens – the largest Ninjago set ever [Review]

When LEGO introduced the Ninjago theme back in 2011, no one could have guessed that it would come to be one of the company’s most popular themes. Ninjago is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and is now getting its biggest set yet. 71741 Ninjago City Gardens. At 5,685 pieces, it’s the fifth-largest LEGO set ever, and the third entry into the cyberpunk modular buildings collection known as Ninjago City. Ninjago City Gardens is a collection of high-rise buildings that encompass all aspects of city life. It includes apartments, restaurants, an arcade, and a dojo. There are also 19 minifigures. UKPS274.99.| CAN $399.99 | UK £274.99. Let’s see how this one stacks up to the previous Ninjago City sets.

The LEGO Group provided a set of the set for review to The Brothers Brick. TBB will not praise or cover products that are sent to them for review.

The box and its contents

The LEGO Ninjago Movie released September 22, 2017. It received poor reception and quickly faded away from the minds all Ninjago lovers. The LEGO fan community largely remembers it as the most memorable LEGO creation. 70620 Ninjago City, which was released shortly before the film and along with the rest of that Ninjago wave bore the movie’s branding. Nine months later LEGO released the LEGO brick. 70657 Ninjago City Docks. Fans were curious about the future of Ninjago City modular building. After a gap for two and a quarter years, the third set has finally arrived. LEGO has removed the Ninjago Movie logo from LEGO’s box, and it now bears the Ninjago Legacy emblem. The Legacy marque was reserved only for sets that re-imagine old Ninjago sets. It can be used by Ninjago City Gardens sets. trend too, since it’s not based on any previous set. (Another 2021 Ninjago Set71742 Overlord DraconianAlso, it has no predecessor. Oddly, it’s also not part of LEGO’s new 18+ branding, which we’ve already seen cross between themes with even Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series sets getting the treatment in addition to Creator Expert sets. Instead, the Gardens bears a more accurate 14+ age recommendation (after all, the 18+ rating is purely for marketing rather than a true description of the set’s difficulty).

 

With 5,685 pieces in Ninjago City Gardens, only 4 other LEGO sets have ever had more pieces: the brand new 10276 Colosseum, the Star Wars UCS 75192 Millennium Falcon, the Harry Potter 71043 Hogwarts Castle, and the Creator Expert 10256 (or 10189) Taj Mahal. The box is large in height and depth. Like most large sets, some of the bags inside are in an inner plain white box, and to its credit, LEGO has sorted them so that everything you need to get started is in this white box–something we’ve long noted that LEGO should do. The inner box contains bags 1-11, the baseplates, instructions manuals, and sticker sheets. The main box contains all the other bags. You’ll likely have to dump out everything to get started, but you won’t have to sort through all the bags; just grab the white box and go.

There are total 43 bags inside, distributed across 26 numbered steps. There is also one bag with large elements. It’s quite a sight to see it all spread out. It’s a challenging proposition.

 

The instruction manual can also be divided into three separate booklets. Like Ninjago City Docks, there’s no behind-the-scenes content at the start of the instruction manual. Even though this set isn’t part of the new 18+ branding that LEGO is rolling out across themes, it would benefit from that treatment. There is at least a two-page spread at the start that gives names to the city’s various buildings and provides a translation guide for Ninjago’s script. You’ll also find a free Ninjago elements “poster”It’s sandwiched between the manuals. It’s a fun freebie, but is printed on extremely thin high gloss paper, and feels more like a cover sheet than a poster.

 

Ninjago City Gardens, a vibrant cyberpunk capital, is filled to the brim with all kinds signage. Sadly, though, almost none of them are printed, which means you get not one but three hefty sticker sheets containing the 66 stickers you’ll apply throughout the build.

As for parts, there’s only one altogether new element to be found, and it’s an odd one. This unusual-looking piece is used as a decorative accent on Ninjago City Gardens’ support pillar on its first level. But its true purpose is as an escalator chain link for minifigures and minidolls, and it’s slated to appear in March in the Friends set 41450 Heartlake City Shopping Mall, which features a full escalator. Ninjago City Gardens only houses two of them. I made a miniature version using the tread link, which connects to the escalator connections.

Recolors are the only element that is new, other than that. There are many. I won’t list them all, but here are a few that caught my eye. The Technic Gear Rack housing is available in sandblue. There’s just one in the set, and it’s used for the first-floor column that those escalator links attach to, and it’s used as a structural element only, not as part of a mechanism. There are also a significant number of the new 3×1 inverted arches that first hit the scene just a few weeks ago with 10278 Police Station, where they showed up in tan and light grey. They arrive here in black, and you’ll get 28 of them.

Then there’s the 1×3 brick with curved sides, which was used for the printed face of Dr. Fox from the Unikitty theme in 2018, but hasn’t been available outside of that. Here you’ll get just one that’s dark grey and unprinted, though it is covered with a sticker to become a TV. One update that’s sure to excite fans is the classic 6×5 leaf, which gets not one but two useful new colors added to the lineup: lime green and yellowish green, and you’ll get 10 in each. Finally, there’s the Ninjago weapons multipack, which showed up in bright green. It’s also included in the Ninjago 71735 Tournament of Elements Set, which was also recently released.

The last bit that’s notable is the 1×2 trans light blue tile, which notable only because of its quantity. With the 1×2 tile making up the water that fills the canals, the three Ninjago City sets claim the top three slots for sets with the largest quantity of this piece. Ninjago City Gardens is slightly ahead of the Ninjago City Docks, which has a staggering 328 pieces. Most of them can be found in a few pre-sorted bags. Now, let’s get to building.

 

The build

Unlike Ninjago City Docks, the two baseplates that make up Ninjago City Gardens’ foundation are kept distinct and modular, allowing them to be rearranged. The build starts with the main structure on the 32×32 dark grey baseplate, and only moves to the smaller island shrine on the 16×32 baseplate once the main build is complete. Under the tiles, a pattern of green and black tiles is applied to the water. In the back corner can be seen one of the small islands. Hidden details include the piping that runs from the foundation to the curb. Some of the piping can be seen in the final model but is hidden behind the structure. You can only see the bit behind the culture through a small opening in sidewalk. But it adds a nice touch of realism to know that the drainpipe is actually connected to something, even if you can’t see it.

Right off the bat you’ll get your first taste of tedium placing down the trans light blue 1×2 tiles. You have to be exceedingly careful to place them correctly, because if you lose the pattern you’ll quickly get into trouble and end up with the last piece not fitting. The island has many beautiful details, including a small tree that can hold needles and a small tree with claws. Behind the small stonework lanterns are the Technic pin connectors.

Once the foundation is removed and the base of a large tree that dominates the corner, the rest can be built modularly. Each room can be stacked onto the model by using a mini-build. The first building to be placed is Ronin’s Pawn Shop, with some hidden treasures beneath the floor. The Ninjago City Gardens first floors are separate buildings, which sit at opposite ends to the foundation’s L-shaped base. They will join higher.

The Pawn Shop is filled bookshelves, weapons paintings and other goodies.

Despite being small, these buildings are complex to build and often use innovative techniques. In a 5,600-piece set that is certain to take you days to build, there are far too many clever bits to point out all of them, so I’ll just touch on some of the highlights, starting with the unnamed restaurant that occupies the other half of the bottom floor across from the Pawn Shop. It has a complicated design to use the book’s curved back cover as a serving counter.

Despite its small footprint, the restaurant still manages a stove, sink, as well as a few other details.

 

Ninjago City Gardens takes interest building to a whole new level. The modules are not shaped like the previous sets. While the first few floors are built perpendicularly on their inner walls, the remaining floors are angled so that they face one another. Because of this, the rooms on the lower levels are irregularly shaped.

 

On the second floor, you will find the Tea Room with Tea Time Balcony as well as the Ninjago fan Flat. The Tea Room has a round window. The Technic motorcycle brake disc is used to make the panes. This gives a traditional module a steampunk/techno look. The Ninjago Fan’s flat is appropriately packed full of Ninjago collectibles, from a tiny Destiny’s Bounty on the shelf to a bedspread covered in ninjas.

 

After the first two floors are stacked, it’s time for the lower sidewalk to connect the buildings. Even the big L-shaped slab of grey plates has a surprising amount of detail, with lots of signage and even a hanging microscale model for the Ninjago Fan’s flat.

 

As we’ve come to expect from Ninjago City modulars, the roofs are a treat, and a chance for the designers to show off clever innovations. Among the most interesting one is found on the Ice Planet Ice Cream Shop on the third floor, and it’s made of stacked cleavers, with the cleaver blades making the flat roof tiles. And while it’s relatively simple, the rounded front window on the shop is a wonderful touch.

The shop’s interior is no less impressive, but it is packed with incredible detail in a small footprint. The roof at the back of the ice cream shop is made from video game controllers.

Next door, Chen’s Noodle Shop has a small cook station, menu board, and just enough room for a table.

Along with Chen’s Noodle Shop, the Ice Cream Shop makes up the third-floor structure. The tree will reach the third floor and connect with the walkway. It is easy to see how the buildings are arranged.

 

The upper level of the tree is connected later on in the process, but let’s look at it now. The tree’s lower half is made with Technic support columns and standard bricks and arches, while the outer limbs are connected with clips. I found that the lower-level limbs were too heavy for the clips, and they didn’t like to stay where I’d position them, falling back to a drooping stance at the slightest bump. It works perfectly. The tree’s upper section uses brown tails of animals to create a tentacle shape. Once the walkway module has been attached, you can attach the treetop.

 

The fourth floor is where it all comes together–literally. The fourth floor is made up of a single structure, which spans both buildings. It houses the Ninjago Museum of History, with the Student Flat in the left corner. The center section of the building is built on a clever diagonal, with the outward-facing wall of the museum built as a self-contained unit that’s slotted into the rest of the building. The wall is a marvel of LEGO geometry, but it’s just as entertaining as the relics within. Minifigure angular stands make great spotlights for the displays. The center display case, which holds the dragon’s hilt, is the best detail. This case has a treasure-box bottom. But instead of a standard treasure chest lid, a windowpane is slotted into the hinge–a connection I’ve never encountered before.

Once the wall has been completed, it can be placed in the museum.

The museum has a neat design with a lobby with a rotating rack for postcards, a cash register, and turnstyle, while the displays have a variety of splendid micro builds from through Ninjago’s history.

The museum’s Student Flat is filled with as much detail as its museum. To create a brickwork effect, the outside is covered in a mixture of green tiles. While the interior has many household items, it’s made of a mixture of green tiles. The window planter is my favorite part. It creates a small planter box by using an upside-down skirt.

The interior is ideal for artist students. It has a small workspace, a desk, and a paintbrush.

Finally, there’s just the top floor and tower to assemble. You can see the rooftop teahouse and zen garden to your left. Although it’s one of the simplest buildings, it does feature another clever roof made of black treasure chest lids. Beneath the roof there’s an orange space helmet, which I believe is standing in for a bell, though I’m not positive.

However, The Tea House is not without its secrets. There’s a safe set in the base of the building, holding a single cheese slope. I’m not clear what the treasure is, but it’s a great detail regardless.

There’s also a flying bike that attaches to the Tea House by way of a transparent rod.

 

In the middle, the museum’s open atrium features a domed glass roof with a brilliant dragon skeleton hanging from the rafters. The module’s side is adorned with a flowering tree.

 

Then on the right side, there’s the ninjas’ hangout. The ladder at the back retracts upwards in order to block unauthorized entry. The outer wall has a slot for movie posters. There are many options for movie posters, similar to the ones from Ninjago City. The extra is kept in an underground cubby.

This hideout has a lot of fun. There is an arcade machine, video console, recliner/recliner, telescope, and even a telescope out on the balcony. Some of my favorite furniture is in there. The arcade machine functions as well. The Technic pin can also be flipped “joystick” causes the printed 1×2 tile ninja warrior inside to jump up, “attacking”The dragon.

Outside the lair, a large koi hangs. It is a beautiful structure by itself.

Finally, there’s only the tower left. The tower has a very minimal interior–there’s room inside only for storing the extra movie posters, and a seat with a few computers as the ultimate ninja control room. The complex build features large wedge slopes which create a diamond pattern outside. The upper level of the tower is rotated 45 degrees, allowing the slopes to interlock and creating a very distinctive look that’s one of the defining traits of the set.

 

Finally, there’s just one thing left for the main build, and that’s add-on balconies. Ninjago City is modular, so walkways must connect when placed next to each other. This problem was solved by the original Ninjago City set which included a removable fencing piece at each of the walkway ends. Ninjago City Gardens goes a step further and includes a few purpose-built endcaps that make the city look complete when it’s on its own, while being easily removed when placed next to another building.

These were put in place and the main structure for Ninjago City Gardens was completed.

And that means it’s time to start on the second baseplate! The Temple Island starts with the laying the black and white plates that will go under the water tiles. You can also see here that there’s a large cavity in the middle of the island beneath the temple. Although there’s no particular use for this given in the set, it’s a perfect hiding spot for treasure. The temple can be removed for easy access.

 

The Temple Island comes together quickly, though even more than on the main building, you’ll need to watch carefully how you place the 1×2 water tiles, because there are a lot of them. The segment keeps up Ninjago City’s modular system by including the Technic connecting pins on tiny stone footings. Obviously, there’s no overhead walkways to connect on this section, but it the lowest level walkways do line up properly.

And now, 5,685 pieces later, we’ve got Ninjago City Gardens in its entirety.

The completed model

There’s not a lot I can say about the model as a whole that I haven’t already touched on, but one thing is worth going back to look at, and that’s the roofs. As I mentioned in my review, Ninjago City buildings are known for their clever roof designs. The gardens are a dial up, with almost every roof being different from the last. I came across 11 different black tiled roof designs. Another is found at the temple next door.

 

The entire set can be easily broken into 18 pieces. (I have not included the temple on island in the photograph below. The entire set can be used to make a playset. It allows you to access all parts of the build. I don’t know how many kidsThe range-topping $300 Ninjago set will be available, but those who purchase it (and a few adults for that matter) will be captivated by how easy it is to tell stories through the multi-level set.

Ninjago city gardens is a modular series. Many fans will own the older sets. How will the gardens fit in the existing lineup? First, I tried. “official”Place them in the order they were released, starting from the left. It looks splendid and makes an impressive city considering that we’re only looking at three LEGO sets here. Of course, combined they’ve got over 14,000 pieces, so it’s no wonder they’re impressive.

 

The buildings are beautifully ramshackled and have an impeccable alignment of the sidewalks. They also have layers and history. Despite loving Ninjago City Docks, I’m less keen on the way the skyline dips down so low in the middle. It takes away the Kowloon vibe that cyberpunk has, which both models embrace. I prefer the way the original model is joined to Ninjago City Gardens to create a dense block. The docks could be attached one the backsides.

Minifigures

Ninjago City Gardens offers many residents. LEGO claims there are 19 minifigures if you add Scoop, the robot maid. By any fan’s estimation, though, there are 21 minifigures, not counting Scoop, thanks to several minifigures built into the scenery. Let’s take a look.

The Sensai Wu’s golden Sensai Wu is first. LEGO has been including special golden minifigures in a number of Ninjago sets this year to celebrate the theme’s 20th anniversary, such as 71736 Boulder Blaster. Like the others, Sensai Wu doesn’t fit into the set itself, but is more of a collectible bonus like getting a baseball card in your cereal. He comes with a Ninjago 10-year anniversary tiles and a display case.

 

For the regular minifigures, let’s start with the ninja crew. All six of the main heroes are included in this set, though they’re not all from the same time period. For example, Lloyd is the younger of the main heroes from Season 1, while Cole (and Nya) are wearing street clothes from earlier seasons. All six have heads with alternate expressions, both on one side and the other.

 

 

There are many regular townsfolk who make up the cast. Many of these people have appeared on past sets or on TV. Christina, the Ninjago Fan, is one of the newcomers. She’s wearing a green Lloyd hoodie. About now I should admit that I am not a Ninjago expert, and don’t regularly watch the TV show or keep up with the plotlines of the sets, so I’m not going to attempt to go into detail on them. Likely, if you care about the backstory on these characters, you’ll know them better than I do. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the characters as being interesting townsfolk whether or not you know their names. The box includes names for the entire cast. Let’s kick it off with  Kaito, Eileen, Tito, Christina, and Misako, Lloyd’s mother. Only Kaito or Christina have heads that are double-sided, but with alternate expressions.

Next, we have a crew of professionals. First, there’s Cece the jewel thief, whose flying hoverbike is perched near the top of the city. Then there’s an unusual character that some of you may recognize from his own line of City sets and movies, before he was introduced to the Ninjago universe recently. He is the exact same character as he was in his previous Ninjago set. Then there’s Hai from the Ice Planet Ice Cream Shop, along with Mei. Hai, like all of them has alternate expressions.

 

Last but not least, there’s a ragtag crew that includes Ronin (whose pawnshop is located on the first floor at Ninjago City Gardens), as well as the Mechanical with a large buzzsaw. Then there’s Scoop the janitorial robot who cares for Ninjago City, and Sensei Wu’s dog. Scoop is a great brick-built design that utilizes a baby carrier stuffed with trans red 1×1 plates for the face.

 

These are the official minifigures included in the box. I have already mentioned that there are more. A stone statue of Zane stands on the Temple Island, a caricatured Asian minifigure who’s the figurehead for Chen’s Noodle Shop, and Jay’s blue suit, which just has a blank head inside.

Conclusion and recommendation

It can be difficult for some LEGO sets to be summarized. We will offer recommendations as to whether you should wait or buy the set. But Ninjago City Gardens is one of those delightful sets that makes my job easy in that department, because no matter what angle you approach it from, it’s an excellent set. If you’re a Ninjago fan, it’s chock full of great references and history and gives us the biggest slice of Ninjago City yet. If you’re not particularly a Ninjago fan, but love sets with a complex and engaging build full of novel part usages and clever details, then Ninjago City Gardens is the best minifigure-scale example in LEGO’s current lineup.

And if you don’t care about either of those things and just want more LEGO for your own build, then Ninjago City Gardens still has you covered. The price-per-piece for the set’s 5,685 elements comes out to just $0.05 per piece, making this set a staggeringly cheap bargain that’s surpassed only by the likes of oddball sets such as 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests. And unlike a mosaic set whose element variety leaves something to be desired, Ninjago City Gardens has an enormous array of pieces–the inventory in the manual spans 10 pages! If you can afford to drop $300 on a LEGO set, you’ll find few ways to get more bang for your buck.

But ultimately, Ninjago City Gardens isn’t great because it’s a good parts pack. It’s great because it’s clear that the design directive for LEGO Designer Markus Rollbühler was to make an excellent set the way a fan would–with care given to the details and nothing spared if it meant a better result. This is what we should be looking for in the next ten Year of Ninjago.

71741 Ninjago City Gardens UK PS274.99.| CAN $399.99 | UK £274.99. It is a LEGO exclusive product, but it may also be available at third-party retailers on Amazon or eBay.

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Hands-on experience with LEGO 71741 Ninjago City Gardens. This is the largest Ninjago set. [Review]

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