The newest addition to the LEGO Ninjago line is the Ninjago City Docks (70657). If you didn't already know, one of our favourite sets was last year's release, Ninjago City (70620). We did a write up on it and raved about its great design, variety and lighting capabilities.
The City Dock, however, from a first impression is nowhere near as captivating. But that was always going to be the case, seeing as Ninjago City was probably one of LEGO's most stunning releases to date. Therefore, the Ninjago City was always going to be a tough act to follow. But as we later learnt, this set does bring its own charm.
But before we go into that, let's get stuck into our Ninjago City Docks review.
The Ninjago City Dock weighs in at 3,553 pieces and includes 13 minifigures. Although not as large as its predecessor, there is still plenty of features and building techniques to keep the construction side of things interesting.
Upon emptying the contents of the box, you're presented with polybags that go all the way up to 19 in numbering. Additionally, you'll find a 378-page instruction booklet with 562 steps. This is the type of set that you set aside a nice relaxing weekend for.
One thing that disappointed us was the sheer number of stickers involved once again with this Ninjago release. No one really likes stickers, but by the same token, we do understand making individual print runs for detailed bricks can be costly for LEGO. All in all, there are 53 stickers to apply across two sheets.
As the name suggests, the Ninjago City Docks is themed around a harbour village. There are 3 main buildings along the water's edge and much like the Ninjago City, the mixture of colour and almost random like build gives the City Docks an authentic village-like feel to it.
The City Docks is built across two base plates. One 32x32 and an additional 16x32 base plate, making this set 50% wider than the City set.
The early stages of the built are quite repetitive. This consists of laying down a lot of transparent tiles to represent water. In fact, there are two whole bags dedicated to the water tiles. On top of water tiles, you'll soon get familiar with a tonne of grey bricks that form the foundation of the buildings.
However, once the foundation stage is complete, things start getting interesting. Firstly, for those familiar with the modular building series, you'll be glad to hear that the City Dock is modular compatible!
In fact, the City Docks is built to be an extension of the Ninjago City set and when the two are combined, it makes for an absolutely stunning combination. As we mentioned, upon first impressions, the City Dock alone pales in comparison to Ninjago City. But because of its complementary nature, the City Docks becomes an almost must have set if you already own Ninjago City!
But before we showcase the sets in their combined form, let's talk a bit more about the City Dock features.
On the bottom of the central building is a fruit stand that has a nifty little lever that can spill the contents out. This is a fun little feature for creating chaotic chase scenes with your minifigures. This section reminded us of the Green Grocer modular building.
Another part of the City Docks is a vendor selling rotisserie chicken. This is pretty cool, as it comes with a wheel turning mechanism to spin the poultry around like the real thing!
And what's a city dock without a vending machine for those hard at work each day? As you slot in money, soda cans actually pop out. We thought this was a really nice touch of realism.
Overall, the City Docks is packed full of features. Despite not looking as visually impressive as its predecessor, this set somehow wins your heart when you see the two sets combined. And this is definitely the case of if you have one, you need the other type of situation.
As amazing Ninjago City is, by adding the City Docks, you're taking an already breath-taking set to new heights! We highly recommend owners of Ninjago City to take a look at the City Docks and add it to their collection today.
Also, with our lights, the pair become a real spectacle. So let's talk a bit about our lighting process for the docks!
Ninjago City Docks Lighting Journal
If Ninjago City wasn't a released set, and you asked us whether we would create a light kit for the City Docks, we would have probably said no.
But Ninjago City has been one our most popular light kits to date, and for good reason. By itself, the City set is spectacular, but we feel exceptionally proud in producing a light kit that really accentuates its beauty.
The feedback we've gotten from our fans has been tremendous and that's why we knew we had to create a light kit of the City Docks as well. And as we've learnt, we're glad we did!
One of the main challenges was applying lights so that the set was appealing from both the front and back of the set. Due to the design, we had to factor in that some people would prefer to orientate their set in either fashion. At the same token, we're not in the business of doing half-hearted jobs! We want to make sure you LEGO sets are truly attractive, no matter which way you want to look at them!
Much like the City set, the lanterns are a subtle but essential feature of the City Docks. Since they worked so well last time, we knew we had to add our tiny bit lights into the lanterns to bring street lighting for the Ninjago citizens.
For most of the rooms, we used our strips lights, which can be easily mounted to ceilings. But for the dojo, we decided to use our bit lights for the lamps to give it a more warmer feel.
The chicken rotisserie was the most fun feature to light up. We wanted to give the impression that this was something that was being actively cooked. So to give it the charcoal effect, we wanted to add a bit light along with our flicker effects board to mimic fire. Initially, we suspended the bit light from the ceiling, but it wasn't bright enough. Therefore, we repositioned it to the front and stuck them behind the chicken sign on the ground. This was a much better result.
One final piece to mention is the water lighting. We kept the blue strip light theme to make sure it was consistent with the City set and overall, it adds a nice ambient glow.
For what could have been a passed over a set, has turned out to be a stunning addition to the Ninjago line. We were glad that we got to work on the City Docks, especially since Ninjago City is one of our all-time favourite sets (both from a build and lighting experience).
Check out the final product video, and stick around until the end to see the docks and city both lit up together and we're sure you'll agree it makes for a stunning combo.