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    Set Review: 70723 Thunder Raider
    ReviewSunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 6:21am by Jason, BZPower Reporter

    Thunder Raider Teaser Image

    Today, we have another 2014 Ninjago Rebooted set review. BZPower Reporter Xccj takes a look at how Cole and Jay will be challenging the Nindroid army in 70723 Thunder Raider, both in a video review and a traditional review. Watch or read on to see if this is a set to spin out over!

    Presentation
    From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

    Image of Box Front Image of Box Back

    The front of the box shows Jay and Cole, in the Thunder Raider and mech respectively, facing down a lone Nindroid with a laser turret and the Techno-Blade, with a futuristic cityscape in the background. Zane is the poster child for this wave, and his robotic face appears in the corner. On the side, you also have some details, like the age range (good until age 814, I presume). Since this is the European box, it doesn't have the piece count, but according to the catalog its 334.

    The back shows two primary scenes; one has the mech jumping off the back of the Thunder Raider, and the little arrows show how to move the ball joints. (Like we Bionicle folks didn't already know?) The other scene shows the full Thunder Raider with the mech on the back, as well as a fight between the ninjas and Nindroid. In the top corner, Zane attempts to shut down a laptop before the Nindroid escapes, and in the bottom corner, the Techno-Blade of electricity is highlighted to show you which collectible weapon comes in this set.

    Building
    Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?

    It's a fun build but not overly complex. The mech uses a bunch of ball joints, which I'm sure all us Bionicle fans are used to by now, and the Thunder Raider has a few technic bits to it. The hardest part of the build is probably assembling the treads, which is a little more tedious than your standard build. For more on the build, watch the video.

    Set Design
    Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.

    Image of Pieces

    At about 334 parts, there's a good selection in this set. I would speak to the good price per part ratio here, but it's inflated by the inclusion of 50 of the tread tracks. There are a lot of interesting parts, as pictured above. Among the new molds and recolors are the black panels and the black spoiler pieces, used on the mech's shoulders and feet respectively. Additionally, there's the trans yellow Techno-Blade, which is a really cool design in and of itself. But the most exciting piece is the angled black plates. They're new with this release of Ninjago, and so far this is the cheapest set to get them in. There's so much cool potential in them, and I'm excited to see how people will utilize them!

    Image of Figs Front Image of Figs Back
    Image of All Ninjas Image of Figs With No Headgear

    The minifigures, as usual, are excellent. First up is Cole, who also appears in the cheapest Ninjago set this year. While he sports a new torso, complete with his original earth symbol on the back, his head is still the same used on every Cole figure. But that's okay, because he has the new scarf piece and his long black hair. I like that they're giving the Ninjas their hair from the show, because it gives them more character than just the reused ninja helmets. It helps that Cole's hairpiece is relatively rare too.

    Our second ninja is Jay, who is so far exclusive to this set. His design is also cool, with the blue scarf, lightning symbol, and orange hair piece, which is far more common than Cole's. Funnily, both ninjas have no printing on their legs, which is a first. But to make up for this, you get a copy of each scarf piece.

    The Nindroid isn't exclusive, and it, or figs very similar to it, appear in most of the Ninjago sets in this wave. It is, nonetheless, a really awesome figure. Traditional black and purple robes are mixed in with robotic printings on the legs, torso, and head. The helmet resembles last year's ninja headgear, but with the cyborg implants includes. Repeat or not, it's a really great fig, and you can always use more in your Nindroid army!

    Image of Nindroid Turret

    First off, we have the little turret. It's small. The laser binoculars have the benefit of also being hand held weapons for the Nindroid, and the classic Space arm pieces can grip onto the Techno-Blade. The purple 2x2 round plate and 2x2 round saw blade tile are also nice additions, but this little armament won't help the Nindroid against what the ninjas have to offer.

    Image of Mech Front Image of Mech Back Image of Two Mechs

    Then we have Cole's Mech, for lack of a better name. It has a nice design, with a mesh between system and ball joints, with some technic and SNOT (studs not on top) designs worked in. I especially like the blasters on the hands, which look really good. The color has an earthy mix of black, brown, and gold, with a small stripe of sand green. I like the inclusion of the sand green, but they really needed to use more of it if they wanted it to fit in with the scheme. The foot design especially uses the 1x2 curve pieces and black spoilers to get a really smooth flow (although a few more curved pieces could've been used to fill it in.) There are also stickers on the feet and shoulders, including some Japanese symbols (I assume), the Ninjago earth elemental symbol, and "05." I don't get what the number stands for, so if you do, let us know in the talkback topic!

    The mech has some decent mobility and enough articulation to get by. It's a little taller than last year's Fire Mech, but it also feels less armored. However, the Fire Mech attached the pilot figure by the back of their feet, whereas Cole's mech uses a bracket so that Cole attached to it using the bottom of his feet. This makes it so he doesn't have to lean forward like Kai in his mech, and I think it's a decent improvement.

    Image of Thunder Raider Drive Image of Thunder Raider Fight Image of Thunder Raider Back

    Next we have the Thunder Raider. This blue rig is driven by Jay, and has a blue and black color scheme with gold highlights. The cockpit looks a bit unsubstantial, and there are a few sizeable gaps that make me question if it's doing a good job of securing Jay in the vehicle. The cockpit's design is a little too basic, and I wish they could've done something more interesting with it. When the vehicle's in "drive mode" the plate coverings on the back really fill it in and give it a certain smoothness. But what's awesome is that you can slide the cockpit back and the plates flip outward to reveal blasters! At first, I thought the blasters were going to be flick-fire missiles, and the design can certainly accommodate them. However, if there had been flick fire missiles, they would've been aimed right at the threads, which would be even more undesirable, so I applaud that they didn't include such a gimmick here. Instead, the vehicle's transformation gives me plenty of action features to play with.

    Image of Thunder Raider Combined Front Image of Thunder Raider Combined Back Image of Thunder Raider Combined Connection

    Now you have a mech and a car, and you think you're finished. WRONG! You can fit the mech on the back of the Thunder Raider by lining up some pins with holes and readjusting the arms and legs. And when it's done, you have a substantial looking Thunder Raider. It really fills in the back, and the feet almost look like exhaust ports. The gold arm blades compliment the flow, and can be used as another attack method. It feels like a lot of effort went into this design, and it's not just two vehicles mashed together to form something else. They look good both together and apart.

    Playability
    The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?

    Image of Full Set Image of Jay Outside Thunder Raider Image of Figs Outside Vehicles

    Okay, I touched on some of the better action features already. The Thunder Raider's transformation has the cockpit change positions, and when you flip it up, the decorative blue plates on the back smoothly slip out to reveal blasters. There's also a clip that loosely holds the cockpit up in "fight mode" and a similar wedge between plates that holds in down in "drive mode." The connections keep it from sliding around too much, but are also weak enough that it's easy to pull off the transformation yourself.

    You also have the mobility of the balljoints on the mech, which gives plenty of articulation points, although not quite as many as a standard Hero Factory humanoid. But enough.

    Role playing is certainly a benefit here. But in this case, the Nindroid is completely out of his league. Cole and Jay have to complete to see which one of them will crush this robot first. For this set, they seem to all be fighting over the Techno Blade, which is attached to a golden chainsaw handle, which easily breaks off. But even with the turret, I don't see Jay or Cole having any difficulty defeating this Nindroid. If you really wanted to give them a challenge, you need to send them against the MechDragon set. (If you can afford that, anyway.)

    Final Thoughts
    Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

    Pros
    What's to like?

    • The minifigures
    • Angled black plates
    • Transformation function on the Thunder Raider
    • Good combination between the Thunder Raider and Mech

    Cons
    What's not to like?

    • Nindroid is outmatched
    • Thunder Raider cockpit is too basic a design
    • The Techno-Blade breaks apart easily
    • If you're going to use sand green, you need to use more of it!

    Honestly, I find this to be a really fun set with some decent vehicles for both ninjas. The vehicles have good designs and fun functions. And what the Nindroid loses in ability-to-take-on-the-two-ninja-vehicles, he makes up for being a cool robot baddie. At $29.99, it's not terribly pricey, but has enough to make some decent models.

    Thanks for reading / watching the review, and a big thanks to LEGO for providing us with the set to review! Stay tuned to BZPower for more LEGO set reviews, including Ninjago and more!

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