DREAMZzz, The LEGO Group’s newest theme, delivers a sparkly new bunch of LEGO characters and sets for toy photographers to explore. Today’s review takes a closer look at the colorful, quirky, and somewhat terrifying (in an adorable LEGO way, of course) LEGO DREAMZzz Nightmare Shark Ship (71469).

What is DREAMZzz About Anyway?

Ok, it’s not a trick question :).  In the summer of 2023, LEGO launched its newest theme, starting with an animated series available on multiple online platforms. DREAMZzz explores what extraordinary things can happen when you take control of your dreams and release your creativity. The story stars a group of “ordinary” middle-schoolers, including Mateo, a shy artist, and his feisty sister, Izzie. The first season also introduces us to their pals Cooper, Logan, and Zoey, their science teacher-turned-mentor Mr. Oz, and a few more friends and neighbors.

The Nightmare Shark Ship set includes Izzie, Nova, and Mateo.

Of course, any respectable hero story needs antagonists, and the DREAMZzz theme delivers. Leading the cast of evildoers is the Nightmare King, who exists to control the Dream World and prove that he can corrupt even the most innocent of dreams. He is aided by the sinister Night Hunter and an army of wacky baddies known as Grimspawn.

The Nightmare King and two Grimspawn – Susan and Snivel, are included in the set.

That’s the basics. Now let’s dive into the LEGO Nightmare Shark Ship set.

The Nightmare Shark Ship

The LEGO Nightmare Shark Ship (71469) was the largest (and most expensive at $139.99) set in the first wave of DREAMZzz set releases. At 1389 pieces and nearly 24 inches long, IT’S BIG. IT’S WEIRDLY COOL, looking like an old pirate ship on top of a shark carcass. It’s a fairly easy build, with surprisingly few stickers and a dreamy artist-illustrated instruction book. In the animated series, the ship made its first appearance in episode 2 (“Dream Chasers”) where Mr. Sharkyjaw, Izzie’s favorite plushie toy, ends up in the hands of the Night Hunter. The Night Hunter then magically merges Mr. Sharkyjaw with his already-frightening boat and voila, nightmare shark ship. In the set, The LEGO Group replaced the Night Hunter with the Nightmare King, and Mr. Sharkyjaw with Izzie’s beloved Bunchu bunny toy. Even though it’s not as accurate, I am pretty excited to have the incredible Nightmare King minifigure.  If you really want the Night Hunter, you can pick up either the Fantastical Tree House or the Crocodile Car sets.  I will confess that I am still hoping for a cute little Mr. Sharkyjaw toy … maybe in the next wave?

The Nightmare King

Like all the current DREAMZzz sets, you get instructions for two ways to build the main model. In this set, you can choose between the flying shark ship model with gorgeous magenta dragon wing sails, or the land-based tank model with all-terrain enemy-crushing wheels. Luckily, most of the build is the same (through the end of bag #12) and it doesn’t take long to assemble the final parts (bags #13 and #14) and create your chosen vehicle. While I think both models are fantastic, I was slightly more enamored with the flying ship (at least today :)).

The tank model
The flying ship model

Get Closer!

I was particularly impressed by the level of thought and detail put into the ship. There’s a lot to love. But maybe because of the size, it was quite a challenge to create photos of the entire ship that would capture how impressive it really is. It was way more rewarding to get closer, try out different shooting angles and use smaller scenes to show off its goodness. 

One thing to note is that the set includes a thin, flimsy string to attach to the grappling hook. Not ferocious at all. I immediately replaced it with a 16M chain, which, while you can’t easily wind it up on the spool hidden at the back of the shark’s mouth, made for much better photos.

So many teeth. But see what I mean about the string?
A large brick-built lantern lights the way.
Rugged looking engines on the flying ship model. The translucent parts in the set look great with some added lighting.
Eyeballs! So many eyeballs in this set.
Tons of detail in the rear section of the ship. Check out the clever use of handcuffs as part of the chain railing. And the giant eyeball!
The King’s throne at the back end of the ship is actually a wickedly cool skull, perfect for a nightmare ship.
The cabin section is easily detachable for an extra play (or photo) element.

More Shark Ship Fun

When you build the tank model, the dragon wings and giant eyeball get repurposed as a flying bat baddie.

Flying bat with its scary large eyeball

The Grimspawn (and supporting creatures in other DREAMZzz sets) use a new, small body type that is perfect for customization with other LEGO heads, hats, and headgear.  They can hold accessories in their armpits (ok, weird, but much appreciated) for added interest.  I foresee these little guys showing up in all kinds of future toy photography adventures.


Grimspawn Susan has so much going on with her fancy horned headgear and pink wings that, while very interesting, make her unable to stand up on her own.  Thankfully, she looks good flying. Not sure why her weapon is a fork though?

Susan and Izzie

The Nightmare King minifigure is a home run with his tattered cape, detailed torso, spiky eyeball headgear, and elaborate sword.

Many evil adventures await the Nightmare King.

The three minifig kids (Mateo, Izzie, and Nova) are nicely detailed. Izzie has colorful translucent hair that matches her energetic personality.  All three kids have dual-face heads as well, which is a bonus for toy photographers.

Izzie to the rescue!

Finally, I was stoked to see the mini Z-Blob in the set. He’s super cute and the smaller size, compared to the Grimspawn-type body used for him in other sets, is much closer to his character’s appearance in the animated series. 

Mini Z-Blob – sooo adorable!


The LEGO Nightmare Shark Ship (71469) is fun, photo worthy, and definitely a win for me. From the fabulous, detailed ship to the imaginative characters, there is plenty of room for creativity, adventure, and of course, lots of toy photo setups. I love that the DREAMZzz series incorporates the idea of helping kids realize they are heroes. And if either the show or the toys help turn bad dreams or experiences into something more positive, even better.

Mateo in action

I admit that I bought several other DREAMZzz sets when they first arrived on the scene but have not yet made time to build and photograph them.  If they are even half the fun as the LEGO Nightmare Shark Ship (71469) is, I’ll be very, very happy.

A huge thank you to The LEGO Group and Toy Photographers for providing this set for review.