The Elves theme has been of consistently high quality during its first two years, offering some tremendous large sets as well as an impressive range of smaller ones. 41181 Naida's Gondola & the Goblin Thief contains just 67 pieces but is a worthy addition to the world of Elvendale despite its small size.
The two figures included are currently exclusive to this set and I am very pleased to see another nautical vehicle as 41073 Naida's Epic Adventure Ship proved to be one of the highlights of the first wave. Hopefully this tiny gondola will be similarly impressive, particularly since it incorporates a new golden scroll element which looks splendid.
Naida the water elf wears a new blue outfit this year and this is accented by some metallic silver jewellery printed around her neck. I like the contrasting shades of blue on her dress and the dual-moulded hair looks great, with a hole for an accessory at the back and pointed ears on either side. Naida's skin is adorned with some blue markings and the water symbol on her left shoulder is a particularly nice touch.
The Elves are opposed by a small army of Goblins in 2017 and Roblin is one such creature. Most of these figures have spring yellowish green skin and I like the contrast this offers against Roblin's magenta clothing and hair. He wears a reddish brown belt which features the Goblin King's emblem, a pouch and a bar of chocolate. Unfortunately this does not continue onto the back of the torso but he does include a pin hole for an accessory.
Plenty of accessories are included, the most notable of which are two new printed tiles. The 2x2 tan tile shows the route to Emily Jones and the Goblin King's fortress while the 1x2 tile is cast in trans-bright green and features the Goblin Eye and some crystals. These crystals provide a source of power for the Goblin King's portal and two of these trans-bright green crystals are included along with a printed compass and a basket.
The Completed Model
Naida's gondola is fairly simple but includes some charming details and an attractive colour scheme of blues, reddish brown and pearl gold. The bow is not as sharp as I would like but the rest of the model is quite impressive, with deck space for storing the basket of crystals and a seat for Naida between two decorative pink flowers.
A trans-medium blue head represents a lantern and this element has only appeared in four previous sets, all of which have been much larger than this one. The golden scrollwork at the rear is a brand new piece and it looks marvellous, although the scrolls do not fit the diameter of a bar which slightly reduces its versatility. I think the front of the gondola would look a little better with a matching design but the colour scheme is pleasingly balanced.
Roblin, meanwhile, occupies a small island and is equipped with a rotating catapult which launches evil seeds. These seeds include printed ball components in 41185 Magic Rescue from the Goblin Village and it would have been nice to see those included here, although they would not have fitted entirely within the small catapult bucket.
There is space for Roblin to stand behind the telescope and watch for intrusive elves. Luckily he is also equipped with a chicken leg to maintain energy during even the longest lookout periods and there are some lime green berries hanging from a nearby leaf. The combination of curving green slopes and angular light bluish grey rocks looks splendid, as do the lime green elements which represent moss on top.
The Elves range continues to impress. Mini-doll based sets are often criticised for including relatively few figures but this tiny offering includes two opposing characters and therefore offers good play value given its price point of just £8.99 or $9.99. The models are perhaps not up the standard we have come to expect from Elves sets but they are certainly satisfactory and the island matches the existing style of the Elvendale environment.
These figures are exclusive at the moment but Naida will be available in 41187 Rosalyn's Healing Hideout in the summer so the appeal of this set is slightly lessened. Nevertheless, the Goblins are highly collectable and I think this is a worthy purchase, particularly if you are not intending to buy the larger sets.
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