When Did Ninjago Start To Decline (Or Did It Decline At All?)

Even though I am a Ninjago fan, and I’ve been around since the beginning, liking Ninjago is a VERY unpopular opinion in the Lego community. Everywhere I look-not just on the TTV message boards, but in other parts of the Lego community too, almost nobody likes Ninjago. Some folks are just salty that it kills pretty much every “original” IP, but many are critical of the theme/series itself. Whether it was really that good to begin with depends strongly on who you ask, but a common consensus is that it started out good, but then things went downhill.

So, for those of you that are of this mindset, when do you think Ninjago’s “seasonal rot” began? Or, in case the title wasn’t clear enough, do you think it even declined at all? Like, has it stayed consistent in quality, or did you always dislike it?

I’m not going to give my personal thoughts, because 1.) I’ve gotten flak from people who don’t like reading my opinion pieces, and 2.) I’m not even allowed to like Ninjago on these boards anyway. :roll_eyes:

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I’m really surprised about that, I’m in some Lego groups myself and it seems well thought of among TFOL’s and young AFOL’s at least. But I can imagine the castle and space fans etc.being salty about a theme that due to its broad elements, encompasses the need for most other original IP’s e.g. this year replacing a need for an Atlantis or Aquaraiders type theme.

I don’t hold this mindset as I have respect for the Ninjago fandom, the often great sets and the somewhat interesting story (Idk I don’t follow it so I could be way off the bullseye)

But if I was to pick a year where things changed, the so called “final battle” was a big turning point, the metamorphosis of a another standard 3 year theme into something bigger, the sets that year screamed final wave with the mediocre builds and weak theming…and sure there has been rehashing of ideas after that but for the most part the quality has stabilised, from a build perspective alone.

But if one counts rehashed ideas as rot then any number of times the snakes returned or skeletons etc. could be counted as rot.

Well, I for one would support you voicing your thoughts :smiley:

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For me it declined after the first 3 years… only the first season and waves of sets really catched my interest. I am seriously sick of the theme at this point.

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I mean a decline is inevitable after so many years I guess.

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for me personally, it started to decline around year 5 (if I say season, I count the pilot episodes as one), but I also grew up on the theme, and I was paying a little less attention to it by then (but the OG spinners were a huge loss in my opinion, those were fantastic), but I was really concerned for the theme when SOG came out, and didnt care for the new styling, though Hunted (is that the name?) the year following ended up being a favorite year of mine. I’ve kinda stopped following the story from there, though I will often go back to the early season’s sets and episodes purley because I do like that portion of the theme.

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I like ninjago

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Two things: first, Ninjago’s quality can be judged by both the story and by the sets, and the quality of one is not necessarily a predictor of the other. Like, personally, I think 2019 had good sets and weaker story, and 2020 had weaker sets but better story.

Second, the story’s quality tends to oscillate, and I think that’s partly because Lego (or whoever calls the shots) keeps shifting the number of episodes allotted to any given wave and the writers just have to deal with it. IIRC, season 3 actually changed the episode count twice in production, which says a lot about its pacing. More recently, Season 11 is laden with filler, while The Island completely undersells its premise’s potential with its short runtime. But I’m liking season 14 so far, so I wouldn’t say Ninjago is straight-up rotting.

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For me 2013 was Ninjagos decline because that was the death of the spinner game and as a person who enjoyed the theme for that reason the theme never really recovered from that point. All other sets in the same vein as the spinners released after that are shallow and gimicky.

I don’t mind the playsets as much but I do think they kinda take away the potential for other themes because its generally a theme that’s underrepresentative like scuba diving, castle and more mixed with dragons and mechs that gets picked for the next wave. Then they pick a generic snake villain army and voila you’ve got a new theme of Ninjago. The biggest issue with the toy side of Ninjago is that it’s getting repetitive and uninspired.

At least the show’s still good

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Ok, but what set the spinners apart from any of those shallow and gimmicky toys? Arguably, the Airjitzu was actually cooler because it could literally fly.

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I think Ninjago is one if those things where you either grow super attached to it if you were right from the beginning, or if you were just casually into the theme, you quickly grow out of it. I have started watching the series pretty late into its run, when it was already at season five, so that might explain my lack of dedication to it.

I think the series not growing and maturing with its audience is a big turn away factor for many people (myself included). Despite being around for 10+ years, the characters feel like they haven’t grown whatsoever, being almost exactly the same as the first time we met them. For a line that has ran for so long, this is pretty embarrassing.

Honestly, in it’s current state, the Ninjago TV Show doesn’t hold that much value for anyone above the age of 12, and those older than that who still watch it mostly do just for the sake of nostalgia. My younger brothers are 10 and 12 respectively, and while they had a brief Ninjago phase a while ago, they’ve long since grown out of it, and I am willing to bet most other kids within that age range did as well. If the writers would have made an effort to make the series more mature, say, the way Avatar the Last Airbender did, I am willing to bet things would have been vastly different. But for the most part, they haven’t treated the series anymore than your average series that was created just to sell toys.

Also, from my experience as someone who’s been involved in the Ninjago community for a while, I can safely say that they are the most imature, childish and cringe worthy people I have ever met online. I really hate saying it, but that’s how my experience was, unfortunately (and I’m sure many other people who are Ninjago fans themselves would agree).

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Pretty much the game made me fall in love with the sets. It felt like there was a purpose to each new spinner I bought but not only that you got pretty plot relevant characters for cheap in them.

The cards were pretty collectible and the tcg aspects of it really tugs at my hearts strings. The spinners were simple yet unique to each figure the later ones perfected the design by incorporating more customisabillity options that played into the game.

Now the spinner game wasn’t perfect certain rules were not properly explained and it more times than not ends up in a tie but it was at least effort put into it imo.

I’m a sucker for LEGO sets with a built in game or just outright LEGO board games, the theme and the off brand stuff like Creator, Quest for Makuta and so on. So there will definately be a bias here.

Even though I like Master of the mountains because of the above I also can’t say I was very hyped about the spinjitzu burst sets or the previous seasons arcade units. Not to mention the season 11 and the SOG spinners was a poor attempt at hitting that original spinner nostalgia unfortunatly ending up not much more than a flight lest airjitzu or dragon flyer both of which are kinda the same thing anyway one just has plastic wings.

In conclusion I don’t think any of the supplementary sets from after 2015 are badly designed (except for the arcade units), let’s all be clear on that but I rather spend my 10 USD on a spinner with a fun card game than a ripcord launcher and a plastic shell with a figure that’s even barely canon to the show and sometimes not even that for 15 USD.

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I stopped watching Ninjago after season 6, and had little enthusiasm about that season. I wouldn’t attribute this to Ninjago getting worse, but more so just me losing interest in the theme. Personally, it has strongly declined, as I’ve lost all desire to watch or purchase Ninjago sets. I can’t go out and say the quality is actually going down though. I’m honestly almost impressed they keep coming up with ideas.

As for the hate on Ninjago, I can understand it. It has been around a really long time, and could be blamed for the lack of other big IPs. But when I think about it, if it was Bionicle, I wouldn’t complain about the longevity one bit. Ninjago is Bionicle to a lot of people, so hating the theme is just hypocritical.

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I’ve never been a fan of the abundance of vehicles and mechs in Ninjago. The fantasy elements are what drew me in initially.

@Tarkur I’m glad I’m not the only one that misses the spinner game. Even though it was janky, it had simple mechanics that I enjoyed a lot.

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I was a huge fan of Ninjago at it’s launch in 2011, but ever since I’ve progressively lost interest in the theme for various reasons. Mainly the story.

The sets have always been good design-wise, but personally I think the story reached a plateau. It’s inherently repetative. The same group of characters going through the same struggles over and over again. How many times am I supposed to care about the Ninja going against snake people?

Granted I’ve given up on the series around 2014, so maybe I’m missing some modern nuances. But from what I’ve heard, the opposite is true. I’ve heard of complete retcons of previous plot elements (something I’m sure also happened between 2011-2014) and characters going through the same plot beats over and over again because the creative team is stuck.

The theme as a whole just feels stuck. It’s a concept originally intended for 3 years that was stretched out for a decade.

Bionicle G1 lasted almost as long but never felt as stale. There was an endgame planned. A plot. Every few years they shifted the main characters around. There was always something new, and it all meant something. For the most part.

In Ninjago nothing really means anything. You could skip multiple seasons and not really miss much. And perhaps that’s actually for the better. This is a toyline after all, and perhaps a decade long complicated lore isn’t the best marketing strategy. Some believe it’s what killed Bionicle back in 2010.

So maybe what I believe to be Ninjago’s greatest weakness is also it’s greatest strength. Each year feels almost like a blank slate, and anyone can jump into the line at any point with no confusion. It’s genius, in a way. Eventually people like me will get bored of Ninjago and it’s repetitiveness. But that’s okay, and maybe even by design. The number of new kids every year surely outweighs the few man-children like myself who jump ship.

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Just because it is to some people what Bionicle was to us doesn’t me we can’t criticise it. Just like people who grew up with Ninjago are free to criticise Bionicle for its own flaws.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly hypocritical about hating the fact that the theme keeps going in circles without doing anything meaningful, yet it it still gets all the success that other LEGO themes with much more intriguing concepts and ideas couldn’t even dream about having.

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I’ve been a Ninjago fan since the marketing first came out in 2010, and it has definitely declined. I’d say the first crumblings were during Skybound in the first half of 2016. Now I liked Skybound, but I had the distinct feeling upon finishing it that it was a side story, a well-written addendum to the main plot, which in my view more or less wrapped up at the end of Possession/2015 (coincidentally–or maybe not–coinciding with the departure of the original Garmadon character from the series).

Since then it’s been an accelerated train wreck. Day of the Departed was abysmal, Hands of Time only slightly better (though they took a stab at freshening Lloyd as a character by having an ultimately pointless “becoming a sensei/master” arc). The redesign of 2018 was where it really took a turn for the worst. I know a lot of people like Sons of Garmadon and Hunted, but I found them cripplingly disjointed from old Ninjago and pretty empty overall (Hunted especially). The writing of SoG was, admittedly, better than HoT.

March of the Oni was a joke, in no small part due to its titular villains, who were reduced, like the Skrall in The Legend Reborn, to a bunch of grunting primitives bent on antagonizing the ninja for… reasons. Then came the new-new-new reboot in second half 2019, and Ninjago took its last nosedive. “Seasonal rot,” as you put it, has been chronic for a long time but never as apparent as in Season 11, which was just a bunch of filler with two-dimensional villains, cringe-worthy writing, and no ramifications or consequences whatsoever. I almost haven’t bothered to fully watch a season in English ever since, because Ninjago has become a mere “villain of the week” or really “theme of the season” circus act. You had “ninja in a videogame” for Prime Empire, then “ninja underground” for Master of the Mountain, then “ninja on an island,” “ninja underwater,” etc., etc. It got really old really fast. There are no longer tangible connections between seasons or noticeable growth among the characters. Everything has stagnated storywise. The plot, when there is one, works toward nothing higher than a brief and often disappointing climax that’s quickly forgotten in the ensuing shenanigans of the next season’s opener.

I will give Seabound a little bit of credit, because it’s the only season I’ve watched fully in my native language since Season 11, and I enjoyed small aspects of it while watching. I still find it forgettable, though, and it really does nothing exceptionally new. Not even the ending is that impactful considering how many times we’ve gone through “lose a ninja, gain a ninja back!”

Set-wise, I think Possession was also the high point. I’ve found many of the proceeding waves lackluster. There are some fantastic sets, like the Legacy Storm Fighter, and some decent waves–Season 11’s sets weren’t actually too terrible considering their subject matter. Overall, though, the sets have taken on the rehash-y feeling of the show in addition to being generally dinky and oddly conflicting in season-to-season aesthetic (not that there shouldn’t be differentiable aesthetics for seasons, but there’s a big difference between the cohesiveness of the first five waves and, say, the current scuba-fest).

I’d say that’s my two cents, but that’s more like twenty dollars. There you go. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes I agree. Hating the theme for its story flaws is fine. It’s when you hate that it’s still here. I can’t hate it for existing, but I can for it being a bad story.

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ahacktually hate is a very strong word snort

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Perhaps the best way to do this would be to quote another one of my posts.

I think that’s why so many people were angry that Ninjago was getting cancelled. It was such a big, epic theme that did NOT deserve this lame excuse of an ending. Some folks would agree that Season 10 was a good ending…but it wasn’t the end.

Yeah, those were pretty neat. But the Chima Speedorz that replaced them were cool, too.

Hunted is Season 9, which came out the same year as Season 8 (Sons Of Garmadon). But I agree, Hunted was really good.

I mean…yes.

Ninjago does eat up a lot of ideas that could work as their own themes. Sky pirates, VR games, undersea adventures, ghosts, robots…and all sorts of things.

But at the same time, it keeps me guessing. Like, what can Ninjago do next? They’ve done practically everything under the sun by this point, so what can the creators possibly come up with next?

Please tell me it’s not another snake theme. Wait…that’s the theme for the early 2022 sets…

I fall into the first category, in that I was there at the start. My Fifth Grade self freaking loved the 2011 wave, and my love continued throughout most of middle school. During my high school years, I was kind of an on and off Ninjago fan. I didn’t watch the show, but the sets…there were some phases where I was wishing Ninjago would just end already, but other phases where I was like “Hey, this new wave actually is kind of cool!” And I was one of the few people who went to see The Lego Ninjago Movie.

Season 4 definitely felt more mature than past seasons. And I’d argue that the characters have had development over the years. But as far as status quo goes, yeah, I can see how one would think nothing’s changed.

I didn’t exactly love those, either. I got the Cole one, and I had a tough time figuring out how to use it right-hence why I made this topic:

Eljay once said that he got a lot of what he loved about Bionicle out of Ninjago. And the more I think about it, the more I realize I agree with him. It’s a big, epic story-driven Lego theme with diverse characters and a plethora of cool sets.

I’d say that’s the biggest problem with Ninjago’s lore: they tend to retcon a lot of things. And there’s only so much one can forgive.

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As I’ve said many times before, I don’t blame Ninjago for taking ideas that could have been new themes, I blame licensed themes for taking up all of the shelf space so that Ninjago is the only place where designers can put their original ideas.

While the claim that Ninjago killed off themes like Nexo Knights, Bionicle G2, Hidden Side does have a bit more merit, I think all of those themes had some of their own reasons for dying out as well. (I hesitate to claim that they “failed”, given that Nexo Knights and Hidden side both had pretty normal lifespans as far as original themes go.)

Speaking in terms of Ninjago itself, as opposed to its wider effect on LEGO, I think too many people (specifically within the BIONICLE community) give it crap just because it’s aimed at a younger audience, because apparently that makes it objectively bad in some people’s eyes. If it’s not for you that’s fine, but the show being too childish for your personal tastes doesn’t make the show garbage. Especially considering that the show is, at the end of the day, based on a toyline.

I can’t speak for the entire history of the theme in terms of sets, but I think the quality of the show has been pretty consistent despite the occasional dip in writing quality.

I don’t think the issue is as much an objective decline in quality as it is the fact that people are just getting tired of the theme. It has lasted 10 years after all, and the basic formula of the set releases hasn’t changed much in that time.

Although I don’t dislike the direction that the theme went in starting from the second year, there was something special about the more fantasy focused style of the first year that’s been lost.

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