Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie 70606 Spinjitzu Training

To celebrate the impending release of The LEGO Ninjago Movie this Friday, I’ve decided that my latest review will be on one of the film’s tie-in sets, 70606 Spinjitzu Training.

At just $9.99 USD, Spinjitzu Training is the most affordable tie-in set, and I found it to be a great entry point for new fans. It’s actually the very first Ninjago set I’ve ever purchased, and after building and photographing it, I can promise you it definitely won’t be the last. I’m eager to get my hands on some of the larger sets once I see the movie.

Welcome to the Dojo

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The dojo wall is small, but has plenty of great details

Spinjitzu Training comes with two minifigures and four buildable components: A dojo wall, a Garmadon combat dummy (which has a cleverly placed pin at the bottom that allows it to realistically wobble), a dual katana rack, and a spinning wooden training station that, regrettably and confusingly, doesn’t actually spin.

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This is the kind of set that will really shine when it’s creatively utilized. As a small dojo, it looks great, but each of its buildable components can be used on their own, or combined with other pieces to create new scenarios. As a brand new fan of the Ninjago line, I found this the perfect opportunity to finally put my LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures to good use. Up until now they’ve mostly sat on my shelf without being photographed. I simply wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

My favorite piece in this set is, by far, the wobbling Garmadon dummy. I just got such a kick out of its simple but ingenious design, and immediately paired it with my Lloyd figure – to great results.

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Take that, Dad!

I’m also a huge fan of the dojo wall, which looked fantastic in the background of my test shots. It’s a relatively small corner piece, but an avid collector could easily buy two or even four of these sets and create a great little dojo out of them. Again, I paired it with one of the Collectible Minifigures, this time Master Wu. He felt right at home!

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The Minifigures

If you haven’t picked up any of the LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures yet, don’t worry! This set comes with two of its own. I’m not sure if these particular variations have appeared in other Ninjago sets, but they’re different than their CMF counterparts, which I appreciated.

Kai is missing his messy hair piece from his CMF version, but comes with great faces that make up for it.

I liked the Kai figure best. His red outfit has some snazzy small details, like a dark red diamond pattern on his pants. I love his dual katana holder and attached shoulder pad, which look great from behind. He’s got two faces, and his mask comes in two pieces.

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The Zane figure looks pretty intimidating, with his glaring blue eyes and black bow and arrow. I foresee photographers having a lot of fun with his black quiver piece. I found his clothing to be a bit of a step down from Kai’s, especially the pants, but I really like the look of his white mask (which also comes in two pieces).

The Verdict

Like last week’s LEGO Star Wars set, I found Spinjitzu Training to be a fun entry-level kit for new fans, or those curious about a property they may be unfamiliar with. The dojo itself offers enough versatility to have some great mileage for photography. You may find yourself limited by the two included minifigures, but all of the pieces are easily paired with anyone from the LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures series. At just $9.99 USD, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth, and more, with this purchase.

Be careful though, because I suspect this will be a set that gets you hooked on the Ninjago line as a whole, and will have you anxious to pick up bigger and more detailed kits in the future!

-James

Have you picked up The LEGO Ninjago Movie 70606 Spinjitzu Training? Have you taken any great pictures with it? Let us know in the comments below.

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When in Doubt, Accessorize!

When Shelly discussed her love of shooting in threes, I decided to take a look at my own catalog of images to see if there were similar patterns in my own work. Luckily, one quickly emerged: accessorizing.

Rather than bring together several elements to make a photo work, I sometimes like to add just a single accessory. These small but mighty pieces can carry the story all by themselves.

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Whether I’m in the occasional photo funk, or simply lacking concrete ideas, I take comfort in knowing I have this trick up my sleeve! I take out some minifigures, open up my containers of LEGO accessories, and mix and match! How would this figure look holding that accessory? Or if that minifigure was playing with this… Sometimes I get a chuckle out of a particular mashup, and will snap a pic. I won’t change anything else about the minifigure. Just the accessory.

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Take this shot, for example. The tale of Little Red Riding Hood changes dramatically with just one added accessory. Is she on the hunt for the Big Bad Wolf? Or did they already cross paths, and now she knows better than to enter the forest unprepared?

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Analog vs. Digital

Ultron is a fun minifigure, but I never found the right scenario for him until I paired him with this phone accessory I took from LEGO CMF Series 17. Now it’s a commentary on analog vs. digital, or just a fun shot of an angry Avengers villain being stumped by old technology.

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“He’s more machine now than man.”

A simple wind-up key takes this Vader portrait to the next level, and acts as a funny call back to Obi-Wan’s ominous words about him being “more machine than man.”

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While I tend to pick accessories that feel out of place with my minifigure of choice, I sometimes find that keeping it simple can yield great results too. Case in point, Groot gazing peacefully at some flowers.

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Fearless Warrior?

A simple teddy bear (a go-to favorite for many LEGO photographers) can add a lot to a scene, and make a fearless Viking warrior a lot more relatable.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. By playing a little game of mix-and-match, you can come up with some pretty great scenarios. Luckily, LEGO releases new accessories all the time, so there are endless possible pairings.

Needless to say, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one accessory! Adding multiple accessories, or adding more minifigures into the mix, can truly bring a scene to life!

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“Oh my god, it’s Bigfoot!”

What’s your favorite accessory/minifigure pairings? Do you stick to one accessory in particular, or find it impossible to pick just one?

James

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Look again and you will see more than the puddles

Making a 52 project on the theme of reflections has made me realize that I really love water piles, raindrops and how water ripples around toys. Puddles are made for toys.

I have a softspot for puddles

I have always known that I have a softspot for water puddles. But doing this 52-week challenge have made me lie down on the ground for hours just to get a image. This is, or was at some point, something of a novelty for me. I do this to get to the light, the movement in the water, or the right background, the reflection and the right focus or even no focus.

Another insight that I gained from this project is that I just don’t settle for the first puddle that comes my way (I use to do that). Now I inspect them before I start. Is the light right? But it doesn’t end there because I also look at the environment – because it’s also very important. For some reason, parking lots work very well. Maybe because the puddles remain there? Maybe because I can work there without interruptions? I’m not sure. Continue reading Look again and you will see more than the puddles

5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

The Lead Up

Ok, so I was super nervoucited. (Thanks to a seven year old at my son’s school for teaching me that awesome word!). I’ve been collecting LEGO minifigures and taking pictures of them for almost two years now, and I was vaguely aware of Toy Safaris from mentions in my Instagram and Google+ feeds as well as a few blogs I follow. I had little idea of what to expect, so my mind was spinning with “who’s gonna be there?,” “what will it be like?,” “which toys will I bring?,” “will I be the only dullard using an iPhone 7 and relatively ignorant about photography?,” and “will this event hit my list of the top ten most awkward things I’ve ever done?” (Please don’t ask about that list… trust me.) Continue reading 5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

10 Reasons Why Toys are Fascinating

I’ve been studying various sources to get snippets about why toys are so fascinating to toy photographers and the general public alike. So far I’ve absorbed On Longing by Susan Stewart, The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bechelard, the documentary Marwencol, and various videos, articles and artist statements by and about miniaturists and toy photographers. Continue reading 10 Reasons Why Toys are Fascinating

What Inspires Me by Father’s Figures

Why do I shoot what I shoot? When I saw this question I wanted to get into it because in my case, this is a very loaded question. I want my body of work to be multifaceted from epic to pensive to hilarious and sometimes even sad. One thing that keeps me into toy photography is my innate need for creative outlets.

Creativity requires inspiration, so what inspires me? What do I love?

Continue reading What Inspires Me by Father’s Figures

How do you choose the toys you photograph?

This past weekend I meet up with some local toy photographers for an afternoon of companionship, conversation and photography. As I was looking around at my friends hard at work, I was struck by the variety of toys they had brought along as subjects. There were dinosaurs, Star Wars action figures, Bratz dolls, LEGO mini figures, custom figures, anime figures, and plenty more I couldn’t identify. Which brings me to my question – how do you choose the toys you photograph?

Continue reading How do you choose the toys you photograph?

Not a Chance!

You might recall an earlier post where I wrote about going on vacation and the challenges I had with that. Well, I’m happy to report I am writing this while on previously mentioned vacation. It’s been glorious! I am not trying to kick sand in the faces of my North Atlantic Seaboard brethren, but this beats the heck outta where you’re at right now. Continue reading Not a Chance!

How the…? What the…?

Somewhere along the line I lost year.

It goes like this. My wife asked what I would like for my birthday (1/6 scale Sideshow Collectibles C-3PO with light up eyes, full articulation and bonus com-link!) when my age came up.

“48! Guess you’re an old man now!” she said jokingly.

“48? I’ll be 47.” I replied. Adding a year to my age . . . HILARIOUS!

“No Honey. You’ll be 48. We’re 47 now.Continue reading How the…? What the…?

the once and future Loner

I’m an introvert.

I prefer to spend large amounts of time by myself. Being around groups of people (read that as more than one person) causes me physical and mental discomfort. I get headaches, my skin crawls and there’s a battle going on, internally, about staying or leaving. That said, I usually shoot my pictures alone. Continue reading the once and future Loner