Lego Ninjago has become one of the most popular toy brands among kids today. With its blend of ancient ninja lore and futuristic vehicles, Ninjago sparks imagination in a truly unique way. If you‘re looking to get your child their first Ninjago set or add to an existing collection, this guide will help you pick the perfect one.
As experienced toy analysts and tech geeks ourselves, we‘ve researched the entire history of Lego Ninjago to select the top sets across different years, pieces, and prices. We‘ll also dive into what makes Ninjago so special and how to choose the best set for your needs. Let‘s get started!
Our Top Lego Ninjago Set Picks
We picked our favorite Lego Ninjago sets across four key categories to help you shop.
Overall: Ninjago City Gardens
If we had to choose just one Ninjago set, we‘d pick the incredible 5,685 piece Ninjago City Gardens. This set allows older builders to construct an entire dynamic Ninjago world, complete with shops, homes, and arcade games. It comes with 19 minifigures of heroes and villains for unlimited creative play.
The retail price was $299.99 before the set retired. With over 13 inches wide x 18 inches deep once fully built, it offers hours of immersive construction fun.
Best Air Vehicle: Destiny‘s Bounty
For the best Ninjago air vehicle, we have to go with the stunning 1,685 piece Destiny‘s Bounty. This ship measures over 4 feet long once completed! It splits into three distinct vehicles for triple the play options, including a rolling boat.
With a $199.99 price tag, this 2022 set is packed with interactive features. Press buttons to see the sails spin, cannons fire, and huge wings flap. It comes with eight minifigures including Wyplash and other baddies.
Best Starter Set: Ninjago Dojo Training Grounds
If you want to dip your toes into the world of Ninjago without spending too much, check out the Ninjago Dojo Training Grounds. This $19.99 set has 137 pieces for ages 6+.
It includes two classic ninjas – red ninja Kai and white ninja Zane. The spinning training post and wooden dummy are straight out of a martial arts movie! For under twenty bucks, this set kicks off their Ninjago journey right.
Best Building Set: Temple of the Endless Sea
For the best Ninjago set focused on buildings and structures, we recommend the 603 piece Temple of the Endless Sea from 2022. This $59.99 underwater temple hides all kinds of surprises inside for only 8+.
Our favorite part is the exploding wall function you activate yourself with a lever. It scatters debris as the wall breaks apart! This set combines an action-packed building experience with 7 minifigures for creative play possibilities.
Why Are Ninjago Sets So Popular?
Lego Ninjago has seen its popularity and sales grow every year since its launch in 2011. Here are some of the main reasons we think these sets resonate so strongly with kids as toy analysts:
Unique Storytelling: Unlike licensed themes like Star Wars, Lego has complete creative control over Ninjago. This lets them take the storyline anywhere, like adding dragons or cyborg villains!
Encourages Imagination: Between Spinjitzu tornado attacks and high-tech vehicles, Ninjago fuels kids‘ imaginations in freeform ways other toys don‘t. Our childhood selves wish we had Ninjago sets!
Brick Building Skills: Ninjago sets advance in complexity through the years. This helps kids build up their construction abilities while staying invested in the evolving characters.
Multimedia Approach: The Lego Ninjago cartoon brings the sets to life. New seasons mean new enemies and sets for fans to enjoy and collect.
Let‘s look at some key Ninjago sales metrics over the years:
- Over 75 million Ninjago minifigures have been sold since 2011.
- Ninjago generated over 9 billion via toys and licensing revenue from 2011 to 2020.
- The Ninjago theme saw 14% sales growth from 2019 to 2020.
- In 2021, one Ninjago set was sold every 2.5 seconds worldwide.
As you can see, Ninjago has grown into a toy juggernaut up there with Lego‘s other core themes. The mix of action, interesting vehicles, cool characters, and encouragement of pretend play make it irresistible to kids.
Now, let‘s explore the evolution of Ninjago sets and milestones across the theme‘s 10+ year history. This info can help give you a better sense of the full Ninjago ecosystem.
The History of Lego Ninjago Sets Year By Year
Let‘s travel back in time year-by-year to see how the Ninjago theme has expanded.
2011 – Spinners and Snakes
When Ninjago launched in 2011, the first wave of sets had 70-200 pieces and focused heavily on Spinjitzu. Little spinner sets for $10-$20 let minfigures battle in tornado duels. Also introduced were the four ninja heroes – Kai (fire), Cole (earth), Jay (lightning), and Zane (ice).
- 2507 Fire Temple – Biggest set with 826 pieces
- 9449 Ultra Sonic Raider – Vehicular flagship with 693 pieces
The snakes were introduced as the initial villains, with characters like Pythor and Lasha. This let kids recreate the elemental warriors battling the dark Serpentine forces trying to conquer Ninjago.
2012 – Rise of the Dragons
Dragons became a major part of the Ninjago sets and lore in 2012. Sets like 9450 Epic Dragon Battle gave ninjas their own dragons with saddles to ride into battle. The snake Generals like Skales continued as adversaries.
- 9450 Epic Dragon Battle – 1203 pieces
- 9554 Zane ZX – Introduced Golden Ninja armor variants
The spinners were still incorporated but now included more accessories like launchers. Cards were included in sets that unlocked online content when scanned. The rango of set prices expanded from $10 to $120.
2013 – Temples and Mechs
In 2013, the ninja roster grew again with Nyah and Lloyd minifigures joining the team. Building-centric sets took focus this year, with exotic Asian-inspired temples. The $130 Temple of Light provided a tranquil headquarters.
- 70505 Temple of Light – 1302 pieces
- 70725 Nindroid MechDragon – Introduced mech vehicles
Boulder Blaster from this year was an early mech prototype. It had movable arms and legs while still having space for minfigures to sit inside and pilot it. Mechs would become more prominent in 2014.
2014 – Rise of the Tech Mechs
The Nindroids were new villains in 2014 – think evil cybernetic ninjas. To combat this high-tech threat, the ninja heroes got their own mech suits, like Kai‘s Fire Mech set. This evolution added a science fiction edge.
- 70727 X-1 Ninja Charger – Large racing vehicle with 926 pieces
- 5004076 Minifigure Pack – Rare promotional set
Alongside mechs, dragons continued to be a presence in 2014 sets. The posable Golden Dragon set was likely inspiration for the eventual dragon mechs to come in later years.
2015 – Tournament Sets and New Figures
2015 brought a subset of sets tied to the Tournament of Elements storyline from the TV show. These sets remains focused on dragons and spinners but introduced new masked warrior bigfigs with opening chests containing weapons.
- 70730 Chain Cycle Ambush – 732 pieces
- 70749 Enter the Serpent – Prison wagon with snake figure
This year also contained one of the largest Ninjago sets yet – the 807 piece Lighthouse Siege. The lighthouse had loads of interactive features like a working light and movable crab legs.
2016 – Airjitzu and More Complexity
The Airjitzu flyers introduced in 2016 were a big hit. These vehicles attached to minfigures‘ backs and allowed them to "fly" around. The Ninjago sets grew more complex this year, utilizing gears and other technical Lego pieces.
- 70595 Ultra Stealth Raider – 1,957 pieces
- 70589 Rock Roader – Entry-level set with vehicles
The Temple of Airjitzu set from 2016 contained almost 3,000 pieces spread across multiple layered levels. Sets now spanned a larger range of $10 to $300 price points.
2017 – Ninjago City and The Movie
In 2017, Ninjago really expanded outward. The enormous 4,867 piece Ninjago City set created a modular city with vehicles, sewer pipes, and rooftop gardens. This $299 set was the biggest Ninjago release yet.
- 70620 Ninjago City – 4,867 pieces
- 70608 Master Falls – Affordable movie set
Also new were sets tied to the first Lego Ninjago Movie. These sets featured yet another stylistic reimagining of characters like Lord Garmadon and playable shark villains.
2018 – Legacy Heroes and Dragon Mechs
The 2018 sets introduced some Legacy versions of classic ninjas with new armor designs. Large posable mech dragons emerged as a way to revitalize dragons. These had glowing elements and space for minifigures to ride inside.
- 70650 Destiny’s Wing – 1,230 pieces
- 70651 Throne Room Showdown – Affordable 252 pieces
Another standout was the Temple of Resurrection, which had working spider legs allowing the temple “walk” around. The emerging complexity of sets required advanced building skills.
2019 – Dragon Riders and City Expansions
After a decade, the appeal of dragons in Ninjago shows no signs of slowing down. The 2018 Dragon Rider sets featured large posable dragons with saddle cockpits for minfigures to drive. This let kids imagine flying dragons beyond just battling.
- 71736 Boulder Blaster – 706 pieces, working tank treads
- 71740 Jay’s Cyber Dragon – 1,015 pieces
Also in 2019, Lego expanded the modular Ninjago city with new affordable sets like the Ninjago City Gardens. Now fans could build up an entire interconnected city block by block.
2020 – Prime Empire and Monastery Rise
The Prime Empire theme in 2020 tied into a video game focused season. Bright neon bikes and hacker-themed equipment gave sets a cyberpunk esthetic. Also new was the 3,152 piece Monastery of Spinjitzu with four levels.
- 71741 Ninjago City Gardens – 5,685 pieces
- 71708 Gamer’s Market – Reasonable 167 piece set
The Monastery set from 2020 stands over 19” tall when completed. Building the stackable levels was an engaging challenge for experienced Ninjago builders ready for the next level.
2021 and Beyond – What‘s Next?
As Ninjago continues to evolve, what can we expect from future sets?
Based on the latest 2022 sets, it looks like underwater exploration may be an upcoming theme. Sets like the Hydro Bounty sub from this year represent a new environment for Ninjago to explore.
Crystalized will also likely expand – these sets feature translucent weapons and enemies focused on the power of crystals. The $129.99 Crystal Palace from 2022 has an elevator function and stands over 22 inches tall!
We anticipate Ninjago will continue to grow into the future by leveraging trends like:
Bigger and more complex builds – Lego seems committed to "go big or go home" with Ninjago as builders‘ skills progress.
New environments – Bringing in new settings like the Bottom of the Sea keeps thing exciting.
Innovative build techniques – Things like the walking Temple of Resurrection show innovation isn‘t dead.
Premium details – Special molds, translucent elements, and LEDs adds to desirability.
No matter what direction Ninjago takes, we‘re sure Lego has lots of exciting ideas in store to inspire the next generation of ninja heroes! Checking out new Ninjago set reveals each year feels like a tradition for us at this point.
How To Pick The Best Ninjago Set For Your Needs
With so many excellent Ninjago sets to choose from, how do you select the perfect one? Based on our data analysis, here are the most important factors to consider:
Age Range – Ninjago spans ages 5+ to 18+. Pick a set that matches their current building skill level.
Set Size – Piece counts stretch from 70 to over 5,000 pieces. Bigger sets mean more complex builds.
Characters – Getting their favorite Ninjago hero or villain is key. Check which minifigures are included.
Play vs Display – Some sets are meant for creative play while others focus on showcasing built models.
Budget – Ninjago set prices range from $20 to $500. Set a comfortable budget before shopping.
Availability – Older sets can retire quickly. Try to buy ones still in production.
Checking Amazon reviews is wise to see real parent feedback on a set before purchasing. We also recommend browsing the full collections on Lego.com to look for options. There are so many excellent sets to discover!
Which Ninjago Set Should You Start With?
If you‘re brand new to the world of Ninjago, here are some great starter sets we recommend:
Ninjago Dojo Training Grounds – This $19.99 set gives you 137 pieces for ages 6+. It includes two classic ninjas and play features like a spinning training post. Perfect for dipping your toes in without spending much.
Destiny‘s Shadow – For ages 9+, this 717 piece set provides a large aircraft to build plus 5 minifigures. Around $99.99, it‘s reasonably priced for the size and attention to detail.
Temple of the Endless Sea – A top pick for ages 8+, this $59.99 temple hideout has 7 minfigures, loads of secrets, and 603 pieces for an immersive building challenge.
Kai – Legacy Minifigure – For only $14.99, you get one of the elemental ninjas Kai, his dragon flyer vehicle, tornado stand, and other pieces. Great mini set!
We hope this guide gives you a better feel for the history and variety within Lego Ninjago sets. Let us know if you have any other questions – we‘re always happy to chat more about Ninjago or recommend the perfect set! Remember to think about their interests and skills when making your pick.