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

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).

4 Likes

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.

3 Likes

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.

3 Likes

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.

5 Likes

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.

5 Likes

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.

2 Likes

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:

7 Likes

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.

2 Likes

ahacktually hate is a very strong word snort

1 Like

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.

3 Likes

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.

4 Likes

I don’t think the simple fact that it is aimed at a younger audience is an excuse for its tone that keeps shifting around from decently mature to stupidly childish. For whatever reason, it seems like the writers have a very hard time keeping a consistent tone. One season may be mature enough to keep you interested enough to want to see where the series goes next, only to be directly followed by a super imature and childish next season.
I know this is a show that exists primarily to sell toys, but is a consistent tone too much to ask for? If you want to make just a goofy kids show, stick to it. But if you want to make a more mature show that older audiences can take seriously, again, stick to it.

1 Like

Ninjago is one of those themes that’s popular with people that were born in the mid/late 2000s and beyond. I know almost nothing about Ninjago’s story as I was halfway through high school when it debuted. My exposure to Ninjago (and Frozen) comes from babysitting kids who were really into it. It’s kind of a mashup of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bionicle. The pieces in this theme are quite good for doing constraction mocs because of the colorful nature of the vehicles and dragons and minifigs. It’s not bad in that regard. Bruni the salamander is probably the best Ninjago set. It has a lot of uncommon rounded blue pieces that work well in constraction and I would highly recommend buying it to upgrade your water mocs.

2 Likes

I personally felt that Ninjago went into a decline starting with Possession that continued all the way to Hands of Time. That’s when things got really stale story wise imo and the sets just didn’t have that great of an appeal. On the set side I think Day of the Departed had the strongest wave of sets during this time.

However, I think Ninjago reversed this decline and went into a great run with Season 8 and the Oni trilogy. I think this came because of the more mature storyline during this time and the sets were riding off the high of the Ninjago Movie. Even in the newer seasons, I think the set waves have actually been pretty good. The story is much up for debate depending on whether or not you like the path the writers and story team decided to go down.

I personally am fine with it. I consume the tv show for entertainment and I have a fairly low bar for being satisfied (Revenge of the Fallen is my favorite Transformers movie just to give you and idea) so some of the nitpicks, pacing issues and cliches don’t bother me so much. Though I can see why some people do have problems and issues and generally grow apart from the line. I’ve been a fan since day one and I fully intend to stick around longer.

I was never really all that into Ninjago, though i do agree that the loss of spinners was bad. The whole Mata-nui-darn theme was named after what you would say when you unleashed your fidget spinner ninjas! i think, at least. i vaguely remember that being in a lego club magazine… What was also annnoying is all the snakes. they were cool the first time around, but now snakes are just a little annoying. Bring back the skeletons! that was the only reason i ever bought ninjago!

4 Likes

Yes, shouting “Ninja-GO!” was heavily advertised as the thing to do while playing the game, especially in the spinner commercials. If I remember correctly, it was even showcased in the actual spinner instructions themselves that told you how to play the game.

2 Likes

I liked the spinners. But I viewed them as cheap ways to get rarer figures. At one point they were selling spinner add-ons that were spinner sets without the spinners. Basically CMF packs. A minifigure collector’s dream.

I always regretted missing this one. Perhaps I’ll get it on Bricklink someday.

4 Likes

lol I was a ninjago superfan until I got back into bionicle and never really liked ninjago again.

1 Like

I like ninjago

1 Like

I think that it was year three’s wave of sets that are the weakest in my eyes. The legacy sets really help you forget how bad those old sets look, but year three had some admittedly very bland looking sets. The best one in my opinion is battle for ninjago city, because it was a very cool package that basically is a recreation of the final battle of season 3 (the better season that year, fight me). And most of that wave was ok, but the winter wave from the final battle was underwhelming. I barely owned any of those because they aren’t that good. But every legacy set of both waves crush anything they made that year. 2013 was definitely the point in ninjago I consider to be the weakest despite my nostalgia for it. Most of the other years don’t have the problems that the year had, and it’s generally the year I have the least interest in collecting all the sets for

3 Likes