Following the BAFTA screening of the first two episodes of LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu season seven, presenter Nigel Clarke interviewed LEGO’s Simon Lucas about his career, ninja and the future.
Simon serves as Senior Creative Director on the Ninjago brand, a role that sees him liaise with parties including toy designers, script writers and animators. Much of this work is undertaken from LEGO HQ, located in Billund, Denmark. Simon displayed various slides showcasing the corporate HQ, whose architecture emulates the child friendly play focus of the brand with elements such as slide tubes inside the building.
The genesis of most LEGO themes can be found in concept sketches, with Simon showcasing the first one produced for Ninjago depicting early but recognisable takes on the initial heroes and villains. Ninjas were chosen as a theme as it was felt the concept had great imaginative potential. Nigel asked the children in the audience to name their favourite of the heroes, with Lloyd generally winning out. Simon welcomes feedback like this from the audience and actively seeks it out, wanting Ninjago to be engaging toys and entertainment that improves itself further based on said feedback. As a child he was a big fan of cinema and he’s pleased that children today can use LEGO in tandem with modern technology to create their own stories in new and exciting ways.
Although season seven has just begun, season eight is in production and fans can look forward to it next year following the release of The LEGO Ninjago Movie in cinemas this Autumn. Simon outlined that a central focus of season seven will be the mysterious parentage of siblings Kai and Nya. Nya’s former alias of Samurai X will also return in a new form, with a mystery as to who has assumed the identity. More concept art was shown, having been drafted in collaboration with those who work on the toys and those who work on the show. These included a few spoilers for sets that tie into the major events of the season and model sheets for the Vermillion, the snake construct soldiers of new antagonists The Hands of Time.
The floor was then opened to allow young, eager fans to raise questions. Asked how many Ninjago sets there will be in total, Simon responded that they obviously can’t release everything but he welcomes fans making their own builds of what LEGO don’t produce an official set for and sharing those builds with other fans. On being employed by LEGO, he stressed there isn’t a single route/qualification that all his colleagues share but that the most important skill is to have passion and creativity to create things using LEGO elements.
Simon’s own inspiration for his work is his long term fandom for Star Wars, owning various LEGO sets based on the series. On his personal favourite Ninjago character, he rotates frequently but admits a preference for Nya and is proud of what they’ve achieved with her in defying stereotypes for female characters. Completing an episode of the television series takes roughly one year.
The Ninjago name was inspired by two sources. It is a combination of ‘Ninja’ and ‘LEGO’ but was also designed to serve as a catchy battle cry for the heroes (“Ninja, GO!”). The team of product designers for the toys consists of ten people. The specific elements each hero wields the powers of were designed to complement their personalities and be easily recognisable to children.
Asked if more female ninjas would appear in the story, Simon hinted that the previously established Skylor and Pixal will take on bigger roles and additional a few other female ninja may be planned to appear in the future. Regarding the series chronology and placement, he doesn’t feel it’s analogous with real world history. The current arc will address more of what happened before the current generation of heroes and he feels more of that lies ahead for the story. To this end, he suggested that questions raised in season seven may well be answered in season eight. Although he has a senior role on Ninjago, he is also involved with working on Nexo Knights and most recently The LEGO Movie 2.
At this point we were shown the trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie, but first Simon revealed he had brought with him a world exclusive. Straight from LEGO’s factory, he was accompanied by the brand new minifigure of Lloyd’s movie design (see photo above).
LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu season seven airs weekdays at 4pm from 3rd April on Cartoon Network UK.The thread view count is 325