Remember Spinjas? No? Great! Then this is new to you.
When I first saw the Ninjago lineup, I was taken by the notion that Ninjas were returning to the line in force. Then I saw the carded figures like Cole and was more than a little disappointed by the price. $10 for a single figure? Even when $5 can get you a similar (if not identical) figure with a batch of training gear? I thought that was nutty, and decided to skip the carded segment. And then LEGO handed them out to the press in New York for Toy Fair, so I figured I may as well give it a fair look.
By combining two popular things 21st century boys love-- Ninjas, and Beyblade-- into a single package, LEGO has essentially captured the essence of what a lot of kids may well be looking for these days. The "stand" or "top" has no motorized launching component, you just spin it and the fun (and fighting) ensues..
Cole is essentially a normal LEGO figure. It's quite similar to the LEGO Minifigures Ninja, except that the body has more detail and the head is a little lighter on decoration. Of note, Cole's legs have some extra paint on them, plus he has accessories like that hammer-like weapon, a pole, and of course a sword. The top allows a figure to click into place, but with the right push he could be knocked off his perch. Incorporating a game element into action figures is nothing new-- but having the game succeed is unusual. Hasbro tried a game component in its super-cool Xevoz action figure line, and there's a minigame currently running in Star Wars. As far as I can tell it isn't influencing purchases, but the LEGO Ninjago line goes one step further and includes a series of cards for its own trading card game-- certainly a very clever idea for repeat business and multiple avenues of play.
This is not $10 worth of toy-- much like Beyblade, POGs, and other toy lines, it seems LEGO is counting on a fad to develop to make the item worth the $9.99 retail asking price. Were it not for LEGO's extensive existing product line, this might look better-- but there's so much other, better stuff on the construction aisle for cheaper, that this seems like a bad buy unless you're particularly interest in the spinning action. You can get Cole figures in other, more ornate (or cheaper) sets as well. Kids might dig it, but as an old fart I would drive the youngsters toward other sets, even other Ninjago sets. This is exactly the kind of toy that I think would probably have infuriated my dad when I was a kid... so with that in mind, I guess at least it's good for something.
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