I am starting a new series on this blog highlighting the Lego themes that have been discontinued. The first theme is: Ninja!
Now, I don't mean Ninjago, but the predecessor to Ninjago. Running from 1989-2000, the ninja theme consisted of medieval Japanese buildings, vehicles, and charaters. Although it is technically a sub theme of Lego Castle, it is so unique that I feel that it is really its own theme. The very basic story line, quite common for themes of the time, was the struggle between the gray ninjas and the samurai versus the black ninjas and the bandits. The two factions were always fighting over treasure. In the second wave in 2000, a new faction consisting of the red and white ninjas joined the party. This theme had some very neat pieces: cannons, wings, and ornamental fish exclusive to this theme and Bellville. You can see all the sets here. Although it had a rather short run, I think that it is one of the coolest Lego themes ever made, much better then Ninjago.
When Ninjago was first hinted at for being Lego's new theme back in late 2010 I got really excited! I thought that this new ninja theme would be like the old one, realistic and somewhat historical. I was somewhat horrified when I first saw the sets. Skeletons on motorcycles versus ninjas that use some weird spinner things? After my initial shock I was satisfied with a couple retro style sets like the Fire Temple and the Blacksmith's shop. I guess that Ninjago was supposed to be more of a play theme than a historical theme. It did pretty well for Lego though . . .
In conclusion, I think that the old Ninja theme outshines the new one, and that it would be worth while for history fans to look into. One has to respect Lego's old view of creativity, letting people come up with their own stories rather than making up ones for the customers. This way you could make the story your own and do whatever you wanted with it. I think that is one of the reasons why old Lego themes never really go away.
Ninja on left is from the Ninja line next to Kai from the current Ninjago theme.
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I'm David, owner of Green Shirt Productions.