May 19, 2022

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LEGO Ninjago 71756 Hydro Bounty – Turns out everything *is* better under the sea [Review] – The Brothers Brick

There’s been a lot of focus lately on the massive 10294 Titanic, but did you know LEGO has also released a lot of things that also deal with nautical themes? Why, there’s even a whole season of LEGO Ninjago shows and sets devoted to that sort of thing! The flagship of the Seabound sub-theme is LEGO Ninjago 71756 Hydro Bounty – a 1159 piece set available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £119.99. It has a whopping ten minifigures, a giant submarine packed with surprises, and even a fun twist on a Stingray muscle car. Sound too good to be true? Read on and judge for yourself!


Unboxing the parts, instructions and sticker sheet

This set comes packaged in a standard tab-sealed box with Ninjago Seabound thematic designs. the main image shows off the Hydro Bounty, the smaller support vehicles, and all the minifigures that make up this set. There wasn’t any room to bulk out the background with much more. The age range is set at 9+, which feels accurate to me based on building complexity.


The back of the box shows off the various play features for this set. The ninja’s mini-subs can be seen parking inside the Hydro Bounty’s hull, and the front of the Bounty has transformed into a mini-mech. The minifigures are shown to good advantage against a high-contrast reddish background, too. Inset shots along the bottom call out the “nose mech” transformation, the extending vanes around the engines, and the spring-loaded missile shooters on the leading edge of the Bounty.


Inside the box are eight numbered part bags, a ninth bag containing some larger parts, and a bag with the instruction booklet, vinyl sail, and sticker sheet.

The sticker sheet is pretty large, but that’s mostly due to the size of the images. There’s a decent amount of Ninjargon here. Sticker 1 has a “Danger” warning at the base of each copy. Stickers 2 and 4 are for Cole’s and Lloyd’s mini-subs and have “C”/”Earth” and “L”/”Energy” labels. Finally, sticker 6 reads “Hydro Bounty”.  Leaving Ninjargon behind, stickers 7 and 8 have a plain-text number, 8927, which may be a sly reference to Bionicle set 8927 Toa Terrain Crawler that had a similar underwater theme.

(If you’re looking for more insights into the background on the Hydro Bounty, the set’s designer, Niek van Slagmaat, shared a ton of details in this Twitter thread)


The parts

This set contains a good number of rare parts and colors, including a few that are unique to either this set or the Seabound theme. We’ll start off by highlighting two exclusives – the rear sail printed on a vinyl sheet, and two “Wu Bot face” printed 2×2 tiles. (The compass 1×1 round tile has appeared before, but is still a nice little inclusion.)

The set has a total of 8 unprinted dark tan minifigure shields, a new color unique to this set. Also new for the theme are 7 warm-gold pincer claws. (These claws also appear in 71750 Lloyd’s Hydro Mech and 71752 Ninja Sub Speeder.)

More parts that are unique to Seabound, but that appear in all 5  of the sets, are these great dual-molded cockpit and wave amulet pieces.

The hatch cover for the mini-subs uses the same concept used in the Creator Expert 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery. The main difference is that a single hatch is used, oh, and that the part has been recolored into a glorious transparent light blue. This variation is currently exclusive to the Hydro Bounty, too!


Small Accessories

The build starts off with these three small accessories. the two crates are mostly self-explanatory, but there’s nothing on the box or in the instructions that explains how they’re meant to interact with the rest of the set. Also unusual is that LEGO didn’t include anything inside the boxes, so maybe they’re meant to serve some other purpose than storage.

Equally baffling is this other assembly. It kind of looks like an extra jet for one of the mini-subs, but it doesn’t appear on the box art at all, and the instructions are again no help.

This is one mystery I did solve, however. A close look at the staged images of kids playing with the set at LEGO shows this little build being used as stand for the minifigure’s hairpieces. Truly the oddest Ninjago accessory I’ve ever seen.


Mini subs

Next up are the mini-subs. These all share a common base structure, with individualization coming from color choices, stickers, and the weapons attached to the nose of each vehicle.

The Hydro-Bounty comes with both Lloyd’s and Cole’s sub. Lloyd, however, didn’t use his sub in the show, instead relying on a Hydro Mech.

In general the subs are fun little mini-builds. There’s a lack of controls for the pilots, and the hatch isn’t air-tight, but the rear propeller spins and they are very swooshable. Cole’s black and orange color scheme plays well with the new windscreen, while the overall look calls back to the Ninjago Legacy 71736 Boulder Blaster vehicle. The weapons here are made from golden unicorn horns.

Lloyd’s sub has sand-green accents and golden harpoon weapons.


Sea Chariot

In Seabound, the Ninjas face off against the might of the Merlopian empire. Their leader, Kalmaar, gets a sweet chariot to ride around in. It makes use of a rare teal curved windscreen element, a few stickered slopes, and some nice gold accents.

The chariot is pulled by a new Stingray creature with theme-exclusive decoration and colors – its only other appearance is in 71755 Temple of the Endless Sea. The base mold is also fairly new, and can be found in several CITY sets including the 30370 Ocean Diver polybag.

So yeah, the King of the Seas tools around in a Stingray muscle car. It’s a terrible pun, but one I feel needed to be made.


The build

The Hydro Bounty’s construction starts off with the rear of the craft. The first bits that go together include a sliding tray that will eventually handle the engine’s play feature.

The tray is combined with a bit of LEGO string, and the control room is built on top of that assembly.

The rear engines include the unprinted minifigure shields as decorative elements, and touch of transparent light blue in the 2×2 round bricks. A rear-facing window is added early on, and the side portholes have a great bit of decoration thanks to a golden chakram minifigure weapon.

The engines each have two large vanes that are attached on hinged plate. The gold claw-blades are mounted on a clip, so they can be rotated to give a few different looks as well.

Next up is the long central hull. It has a good amount of SNOT connections to allow nicer shaping on the sides of the ship. The very front of the craft has a cool looking cannon.

The main control area has a movable steering wheel, and a printed 1×1 compass tile. The windows are mounted on 1×2 hinge bricks, allowing for a nice join with the angled hull.

The cargo bay/launch area is enclosed by a large window – as noted earlier, this is basically the same solution used in Creator Expert 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery. It looks amazing in transparent light blue, and has enough built-in friction to close securely for play.

The two mini-subs nestle into the docking bay nose-to-nose. There’s a few unused clips on the inner walls, suggesting you can use the empty docking bay for other play ideas if you like.

The front edge of the Hydro Bounty has the cool steampunk looking gun, as well as integrated spring-loaded missile shooters on either side. The red clips seen here are where the mini-mech will attach.

The last bit of the main craft is the roof over the control room. It has a sail – an odd choice for a submarine. When asked “Why a sail?” on twitter, designer Niek van Slagmaat replied: “Because it looks rad!”  We certainly don’t have an argument with that. The rest of this section is pretty rad as well, with another use of that great dual-molded canopy and dragon-headed railings.

At this stage the Hydro Bounty is ready to go, but there are still more features to be built out.


Battle Pod

My favorite play feature in this set is that the front pod of the Hydro Bounty transforms into a battle suit. The design here is really inspired, with a menacing face constructed from roof tiles with an assist from a stickered curved slope. Folded up, the nose looks suitably hydro-dynamic, with the cockpit for the mech serving as a great forward lookout point. Although not as streamlined as the Ninja’s mini-subs, this works well as a third stand-alone Ninja mini-vehicle in boat mode.

In robot mode, we get to enjoy some unusual shaping. This doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter version of a LEGO Ninjago mech, but rather a unique twist on the theme.  The giant arms with their integrated golden blades feel both useful and battle-ready. The feet are a little iffy, but considering this is an underwater mech, feet shouldn’t be the primary focus anyway.

The build also looks great from the back, with more gold dragon-headed railing tying the design back to the larger ship.

The red clips on either side of the main canon securely attach things. It’s a good design that remains sturdy while attached, but is also easy to pop on and off.

 


The finished model

The completed Hydro Bounty is indeed a hydro bounty. The main sub contains three smaller vehicles, creating a small Ninja-armada. As this set comes with eight heroic minifigures, there’s plenty of characters to staff all of the vehicles, too.

The Bounty looks good from just about every angle. It’s a big vehicle (6″/15 cm tall, 23″/59 cm long and 12″/30 cm wide) but still small enough to be easy to carry around and play with.

The detailing on the bounty is very elegant, with repeated motifs of dragon-headed gold railings. The side of the ship also has mounted lanterns and a dragon logo.

The Ninja’s mini subs fit snugly into the docking bay. Since the mini-subs all share the same design, you can also dock the subs that appear in the other Seabound sets in the Bounty. (So long as you only use two at a time, anyway.)

The rear fins  have an “opening vanes” play feature. Pulling on the small rail in the rear of the Bounty activates things. Sadly, they don’t retract when you push the sled back in – you have to do that step yourself. But as a “turn on the boosters!” moment, it works very well.

The control room seats four – a pilot, two standing workstations, and a rear-guard position.

One of my few complaints about his set is that the rear window has some gaps around the edges – not exactly the smartest idea for a submarine. But it’s a small detail most won’t notice, and a fair trade-off for providing more of a view through the glass.

I’m not a big fan of spring-loaded missiles, as they always end up lost for me. But I get that they’re a popular play feature, and they look well integrated here. It’s interesting that they went with a single missile on each side, but suggested the presence of a second with a trans-orange globe detail that mounts below the active shooter.

The detachable front pod also has a problem with big gaps between the cockpit and hull, but that’s more acceptable to me in a transforming mini-sub. There’s no feeling that corners were cut, but rather that we got the best design that would fit into this compact shape.

I’m also very fond of the fact that the transformation into a mech means that this set has a mix of both water and “land” based options for play.

The Stingray Chariot also brings a very different design feel to the mix, adding just a touch of Star Wars Pod-racer vibes.


The minifigures

The Hydro Bounty comes with a very generous ten minifigures. This includes the full range of Ninjas (well, sort of) as well as two bad guys. Interestingly, the LEGO website currently has this as a description of the figures:

This underwater playset features an impressive 10 minifigures: Scuba Kai, Scuba Nya, Scuba Zane, Scuba Jay, Scuba Cole and Scuba Lloyd, all with flippers, diving gear and weapons to fight the villainous quartet of Prince Kalmaar, a Maaray Guard and 2 Wu Bots.

Which, as it turns out, doesn’t match up with the show. From what I can see the Wu Bots are good guys. (I mean, they’re even piloting the Bounty on the box art!) Anyway, neither of the actual foes are exclusive to this set, but you do get the high-end Kalmaar figure instead of just a second rank-and-file Maaray guard. Plus that snazzy stingray!

Kalmaar is full of parts unique to the theme, including a tentacle lower body, dual-sided torso, and creepy looking, dual-molded head. 

The Maaray guard figure appears in all five of the Seabound sets. The guard features flippers in a new teal color, and a golden epaulet accessory. The head mold first appeared in the 2019 Pyro Whipper and Char figures, but is has new coloration here.

Although Sensei Wu didn’t accompany the Ninjas on this adventure, he’s still there in spirit. The set includes two Wu Bots that resemble Tee Vee from the LEGO Alpha Team and  Hidden Side themes,. Set designer Niek van Slagmaat calls them “Tea Vee” as a reference to Wu’s love for tea. Aren’t they adorable? And they’re exclusive to the Hydro Bounty, too.

On the ninja front, just about everyone is here. From left to right are the scuba versions of Nya, Jay, Lloyd, Zane, Kai, and Cole. Each has a gun with a different golden accessory, flippers, and an integrated air tank/back scabbard.  Scuba Nya is the only figure exclusive to this set, although other forms of the character do appear in the other offerings.

The dual molded masks and air tanks are new designs exclusive to the Seabound theme.

The design of the figures is pretty unified, with Ninjargon logos and color choices helping everyone look unique. Cole’s outfit is has a bit more of a unique design, but still fits in.

Unmasked and accessory-free, the team can show off their dual-sided torso prints and highly detailed legs. Jay, Lloyd, and Kai all get a hair piece to wear while inside the Bounty.

The back printing is well done, with Cole once again feeling like he was part of a different design batch.

It seems a shame that Nya didn’t get a hairpiece as well, considering her exclusive status. In fact, having hair for only half the team seems like one of the very few place where LEGO cut a corner for this set.


Conclusion and recommendation

I was a late convert to Ninjago sets, but every wave of them continues to wow me. The Hydro Bounty is no exception – it’s a great vehicle with solid play features, great design, and a fun build. The wealth of minifigures complements the array of vehicles, too. For $130 US for 1159 pieces, the price-per-part ratio is a high at just over 11 cents, but when you figure in ten minifigures, new prints, and new element colors it’s a very reasonable price point to me. Really, there are very few downsides to this set – it’s a super-solid effort from LEGO. As such, it’s sure to be in high demand over the holiday season, so if you’re tempted by it, pick it up while you can. Heck, if you can find it on sale, pick up two and share one with a friend. They’ll be glad you did.


LEGO Ninjago 71756 Hydro Bounty is available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £119.99. It is also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.


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