'Lego Ninjago Movie': See How Designers Turned Film's Setting Into Epic Model

Marcus Errico
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

With 2014’s blockbuster (pun intended) The Lego Movie and this year’s spinoff, The Lego Batman Movie, the toy brickmeisters have become a force in Hollywood. This fall’s The Lego Ninjago Movie will try to keep up the momentum. Based on an original toy line-turned-TV series launched in 2010 about a group of heroic minifigure martial artists, the movie version supersizes the premise. Lego designers worked hand in hand with filmmakers to make sure the film matched the toy aesthetic, and vice versa. There are 18 different Lego Ninjago Movie sets in the pipeline; Yahoo Movies has your exclusive first look at the flagship model: Ninjago City. Comprising nearly 5,000 pieces, the set is based on one of the film’s key locations (as seen in the trailer) and will be available Sept. 1 — just in time for the film’s Sept. 22. release. Click through for an up-close tour of the insanely detailed set, along with some never-before-seen concept art that illustrates how closely the toys and film align.

Ninjago City Concept Art Split-Level Overview

“To capture the scope of Ninjago City, we split the model into three sections, each representing a different chapter of the city’s evolution,” the designers, Nicolaas Vás and Christopher Leslie Stamp, explain in the set’s notes. “However, this led to the challenge of blending the levels together into a complete model. For example, we positioned the tower further back on the model, to give the impression of it rising from behind the buildings.” (Credit: Lego)

Ninjago City Film Concept

“In the movie, Ninjago City is unlike anything we’ve seen before in a Lego set. One of the main challenges with a model like this is the difference in size between the vast on-screen location and the smaller model version,” the designers explain. (Credit: Lego)

House Detail

“As both [the movie’s set and the toy model] are built from Lego bricks, our approach was to choose key silhouettes and details which could be rebuilt at a smaller scale and still match the overall look [of the film],” the designers say. (Credit: Lego)

Top Level

Features a bridge, sewer outlet, stream with translucent-blue and translucent-green water elements, sliding elevator with room for a minifigure, traditional fish market with fish and crab elements, house with dining room and bedroom with sliding screen doors and foldout solar panels, Sweep the maintenance robot’s service station with assorted tool elements, and a taxi stand with telephone element. (Credit: Lego)

Lego Ninjago Movie Concept Art

Storyboard panels show the characters in action. “I found the most fun aspect of this model was how easy the size allowed me to visualize the characters’ movements and interactions around the city,” says Stamp. (Credit: Lego)

Ninjago City Concept Art

“My favorite part of designing this model was the opportunity to include things which we wouldn’t normally have in a Ninjago set, such as the pufferfish or the pink bonsai tree,” says Vás.(Credit: Lego)

Level 2

Includes modern fashion store with two mannequins and assorted Ninjago products, a construction site with a bonsai tree, a comic book store with brick-built sign, cashier desk, comic book stand with collectible training cards, a crab restaurant with brick-built crab entrance sign and oven with that “crab-grilling” function, a cash-dispensing ATM, and a display stand with interchangeable movie posters. (Credit: Lego)

Lego Ninjago Movie Ninjago City Concept art – BI 1 – 4

“We shared a lot of the same inspiration that the moviemakers used, but we also drew inspiration from real-life places we have visited, amazing cyberpunk creations in the fan community, and of course the Ninjago TV show,” the designers say. (Credit: Lego)

Level 3

Features a radio tower, rooftop sushi bar with sushi conveyor belt function and brick-built food, bathroom with sliding door, and brick-built puffer fish and squid sculptures, Lloyd Garmadon and Misako’s apartment with an opening window, bunk bed, kitchen unit and attic space for the Green Ninja Suit minifigure. (Credit: Lego)

Pufferfish and Squid Detail

(Credit: Lego)

Overview of Ninjago City and Element Details

(Credit: Lego)

Complete Set

A look at the fully assembled 4,867-piece three-level set, which includes a traditional fishing boat and 16 minifigures: Jay, Kai and Lloyd Garmadon, Green Ninja Suit, Misako, Jamanakai Villager, Sally, Ivy Walker, Konrad, Severin Black, Tommy, Guy, Juno, Mother Doomsday, Shark Army Gunner and Officer Noonan, plus Sweep the maintenance robot. It will retail for $299.99. (Credit: Lego)