Naida’s Secret Spa – More than the sum of its parts?

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The news that Lego was launching a new range of Elves sets in which it would expand the use of the minidolls into a whole new mythical realm left many both excited and disappointed but as pictures steadily began to emerge, I think it’s fair to say that the anticipation began to build, partly due to the fact that the theme would have a clear back-story and associated media tie-ins, as well as because of the wide variety of parts in new colours that the sets appeared to include.

I personally was eagerly looking forward to seeing the final product, as a fan of the Friends line as well as of all things fantastical, and so when I found this set, Naida’s Secret Spa, at my local Argos, I just had to pick it up and see if the Elves would live up to the hype.

The box has the same curved sides as on Friends sets and the box art is beautiful, in predominantly shades of blue with strong accents of purple. The logo looks suitably magical with ornate intertwined letters and a shimmering effect. On the right-hand side, the 5 main characters are featured: the four elves, each with an elemental nature, and the human girl Emily Jones, who accidentally stumbles into the Elves’ kingdom of Elvendale and must find her way home. I tried to download the app that relates to the theme but it wasn’t available yet so I can’t shed much more light on the back-story but it seems Emily and her new friends must embark upon a quest, which involves finding maps revealing the locations of elemental keys, in order to open a magical portal and send Emily back home. This set appears to relate to the discovery of the ‘water’ map for the quest.

Naida’s Secret Spa

The back of the box shows details of the set against a backdrop of a wonderful Tolkienesque map of Elvendale, featuring intriguing place names such as ‘Sparkle Rock’ and ‘Leaflands’ and illustrations of the other sets in the theme.

Naida’s Secret Spa

Inside, there is 1 loose 8x16 medium azure plate, 1 instruction book and 1 small sticker sheet, and 2 bags of parts. Ahh, the gorgeous, gorgeous parts! I was expecting to see an abundance of new or rare parts in the Elves range and even in this fairly small set, I was not disappointed. As you can see from the picture, among other things we have 3 new coloured limb elements (2 of each colour are included), a pearl gold book, a trans light blue thin Technic lift arm (x4), a 4x4 dark purple macaroni brick (x4) and a trans dark pink crystal (x2), as well as several new printed parts – a trans dark blue 1x1 round tile and an aqua 2x2 round tile, both printed with wave patterns, and a 2x2 tan tile with a map printed on it. Overall impression: Yum yum.

Naida’s Secret Spa

The titular Naida Riverheart, the water elf, is included in Bag 1, and is an exquisitely detailed minidoll. The pattern on her top is similar to the waves printed on the tiles. Her face has some sort of body art and she even has a blue wave-like tattoo on her upper left arm. Her hair is pale aqua at the front and top and gradually darkens to dark blue at the bottom. It also includes the obligatory hole for a flower or bow (pink flowers are included in this set). The only drawback of her fabulous hairpiece is that its reuse value is somewhat limited because of the pointy elf ears peeping through her locks.

Naida’s Secret Spa Naida’s Secret Spa

Naida is accompanied at the spa by her dolphin friend Delphia, which makes use of the mould previously used in the Friends range but this time in a lilac colour. Delphia also has a scroll-like design printed on her forehead.

Naida’s Secret Spa

The build is split into 2 sections. The first is a shady secluded bench with all manner of accessories for Naida to pamper herself with at the spa. I love the use of the cherries piece on top of the trans light blue minifig head to represent a kind of atomizer. The two stickers applied to the 2x2 dark green round tiles give the appearance of a soft leafy cushion, making the bench look a little more inviting. Under the purple and lavender foliage, Naida can chill out completely, sitting pensively and jotting down her thoughts in her diary, and I must say it does indeed look like a very nice spot to relax in – no wonder she keeps her spa ‘secret’!

Naida’s Secret Spa

The second part of the build is a spa pool supplied with water cascading down from above (another sticker applied to the 1x2x5 trans light blue brick), but which has convenient red and blue buttons for adjusting the water temperature to the desired temperature. This is most definitely a decadent place to relax and indulge oneself, as evidenced by the glass of something pink (and refreshing no doubt) on the side of the pool, along with yet more toiletry bottles. The rocky backdrop is built up in a sturdy fashion from light and dark bley bricks and slopes, which set off the bright colours of the foliage perfectly.

Naida’s Secret Spa

The small stream to the side of the main pool is formed of the trans light blue lift arms to make a lever mechanism, which constitutes one of the ‘play features’ of this set. I have to say, I am not terribly impressed with the play features here which consist of pushing a lever to make the hidden diary pop out from underneath the bench and making the map tile slide down the stream from behind the outcrop when the lavender plant element is pressed upon. The set description I found says that Delphia is the one who knows the secret location of the water map and reveals it to Naida – this is one of the scenes shown on the back of the box.

However, overall the set comes together very harmoniously and all the colours complement each other very well, with the pink and purple parts really standing out against the background of medium azure, bley and brown. Naida is a brilliantly executed minidoll and I would actually rather have a second doll rather than Delphia, but I can see her cute appearance appealing to children. I wonder if Delphia will be able to speak in the cartoon and thus will have more of a personality than I had maybe anticipated though?

Naida’s Secret Spa

The little details are what elevate this set from being average to a lovely set in my opinion – for instance, the fact that behind the waterfall there is a little shelf with a heart-topped bottle and a small sponge or bar of soap, a detail that is completely non-essential but just adds a little charm to the build. Whilst the scene represents a whimsical enchanted grotto, the finished model actually feels quite substantial and solid, and at a price point of £17.99 I think it represents good value for money. When you factor in that the parts inventory is a wonderful mix of useful everyday building elements (the bleys and browns) and bright decorative extras (the foliage and accessories) I think that this perceived good value increases even more.

I always knew I wanted the parts from these Elves sets for my own building projects, but the fact that I really like how this set stands by itself has surprised me. Having built this set without much knowledge of the accompanying story to the theme, I can’t wait to find out how this scene fits in overall and I’m looking forward to discovering the mythology of the world of Elvendale as much as I am keen to discover the multitude of exciting new parts the Elves sets contain!

29 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

A nice review. I am not sure if I will pick this one up, but it certainly has me thinking about it!

Now, when is the next one? Tomorrow? :-o

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By in United States,

Good review! I agree that this set's play features are nothing exceptional, but they do help the set tell a story. It's certainly a very beautiful set with a calming color palette. The fact that all of the plants in the Elves theme grow gems on them helps establish this as a fantasy world. I also like the printed elemental icons.

Delphia doesn't speak in the cartoon, but she is treated as intelligent and emotive. As she needs to be, in order to play board games with Naida as shown here!

When pics of this theme were first appearing I found it amusing that people treated a pink or purple dolphin like one of the most absurd things in the theme, when there are actual real-life species of dolphin that are even more pink than this one! Of course, the elegant pattern on Delphia's forehead does help reinforce that she is a magical creature of Elvendale.

The Naida mini-doll is fantastic! Glad to see that she does in fact have two-tone hair. It looked like it might be that way in some of the animations and character art, but I couldn't find any photos confirming it. That, her ornate tattoos/birthmarks, and her style of dress all help her to feel magical and otherworldly. And her expression suits her personality as friendly but soft-spoken.

I'm interested to see what the LEGO Elves app will be like! I'm hoping for a point-and-click adventure game, possibly with puzzle elements. Most LEGO games for my favorite themes like BIONICLE and Ninjago are action games, which I'm not so fond of, but I love a good adventure game (like the classic Mata Nui Online Game from BIONICLE.com, the Ace Attorney games from Capcom, and the Professor Layton games from Level 5). Since this theme is targeted at girls and has a decidedly less aggressive tone than those other story-intensive themes, maybe LEGO won't be so pressured to deliver an action game in this case.

I hope it's not long before we see more LEGO Elves reviews on Brickset! Thanks so much for taking the time to review this set. Even though the details of the story are still not widely available, I feel like you have a great understanding of this theme's appeal beyond just the rare parts and recolors.

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By in United Kingdom,

We have at least three more lined up for later in the week/next week.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review, you've got me tempted now!!!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm looking forward to picking up the Elves sets for my daughter (and me), but why does the dolphin have a tramp stamp on her forehead :)

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By in United States,

Too bad Lego decided to target this theme at girls. Would love to pick up these sets and the princess sets but minidolls are a deal-breaker.

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By in United Kingdom,

Kill it. Kill it with fire.

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By in United States,

My only problem with the sets is I wish the mini dolls were yellow so the ears would match mini figures.

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By in United States,

^On the other hand, the hairpieces can easily be exchanged with LOTR elves.... :)

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review, Lucy. First impressions are that the box art is gorgeous, the minidoll form is perfect for the waif-like Elves, and there's much to like in the parts selection.

I'm sure that many will write this theme off and give it a wide berth just because it includes Minidolls and features some pastel shades in the colour palette, but on the basis of the sets I've seen so far it's more than just an extension of the Friends theme and definitely merits a closer look.

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By in United States,

It's moments like this that I wish my daughter still liked Lego...

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By in United States,

Great review Lucy!
I don't get why people rage on 'it's for girls so I can't get it.' I understand the preference for minifigures over minidolls, but seriously, it's Lego...you can still use those magic Elven hair pieces on a standard minifigure, and it's not like it's difficult to buy extra freshie minifigure parts these days.
I love the theme, to my mind it's perfectly on point. Yes, I'd have preferred minifigures to minidolls but the character designs are still good despite this. Yes it's a new theme aimed primarily at the girl market, but I think they're testing the water in making something for girls that boys might also enjoy - which to be fair is pretty much all that girls who are into Lego have had for the past 10 years.
I will probably get the whole theme, which is fairly unusual for me, with extras for customising and attempting to build some of the sets on a bigger scale!

(Also @Brainslugged - a tribal tattoo is not a tramp stamp. a tramp stamp is any style of tattoo positioned on the 'lower back' area.)

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By in Australia,

Thanks. I can hardly wait to get this range - the colours are excellent. Any idea anyone when they will start appearing in Australia? They aren't even listed on our lego.com.au site :(

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By in United Kingdom,

The hairpiece can be reused on fleshie kid minifigs too - some children have ears like the FA Cup.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ 1st March I believe.

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By in Australia,

Lol, write this line off, then they'll QQ when they have to buy these sets at 3-4 times the price off ebay ;)

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By in United States,

I love this theme too. Middle-aged male, but these sets, minidolls and all, are perfect for what they set out to do. I'll get the entire theme, and it will be for me as my daughter has shown zero interest for these sets. She likes the Friends and Princesses, and I have a feeling that she nose in when I'm building the first of these sets, and then the rest will be hers. *sigh*

After playing with and collecting LEGO stuff for over thirty years, I have a great love for minifigures, but the minidolls are used much more by my daughters... and by me... in our house.

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By in Germany,

Will buy it for parts only.

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By in United Kingdom,

It is a nicely designed set only let down by Lego's lack of imagination for girls. This is basically a make-up stand, a shower and a hot tub; albeit one in a magical world of whimsy.

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By in United States,

I actually really like the little waterfall and pool and all the little stuff hidden everywhere, but there's a couple things I'm not that into.

For one, I'm a little burnt out on Lego's "small vignettes" style of builds. You can see this in a lot of LOTR/Hobbit sets where a landmark is just kind of floating wherever. Or the entire set is an outcropping or wall or something with no connection to landscape. Compare something like 6066 to 79012 to see what I mean. I feel like the other Elves sets are better at being more cohesive of a build. Maybe you could combine the two vignettes here somehow.

Other than that it's very nice. I personally am not interested in all of the blues/purples/pinks, but it is what it is.

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By in United States,

@Bricklunch I'm not sure what exactly is supposed to be wrong with that. How are any of the things you named unimaginative? Maybe they're not as action-packed and adventurous as some other sets, but frankly slice-of-life play and storytelling is every bit as legitimate as adventure play and storytelling.

I recognize that there is a big problem in a world where adventure storytelling is NEVER marketed to girls. But this theme has done a pretty great job balancing both types of play and storytelling, and I see no reason it should completely eschew the slice-of-life stuff if girls genuinely respond well to it. In fact, I often wish boy-oriented themes had a better balance between these two types of play. It's a bit sad when there are hardly any LEGO castles with kitchens, dining rooms, or bedrooms — there's more to life than action, after all!

@DanRSL: Keep in mind, though, that #6066 would be around $48 in today's money. So it's almost fairer to compare it to #41075 than to this set! What's more, there's something of a give-and-take between volume and detail. And modern sets (especially girl-oriented sets) tend to be a lot more detail-oriented than old-school sets.

Don't get me wrong. I do appreciate some of those older sets that felt a bit more encapsulated, like they showed a complete setting. One set I loved as a kid was #6048. Of course, it was already starting to show some of the simplification that characterized sets of the 90s, using large mountain and parapet bricks to give it its distinctive shape. And its interior space was cramped and lacking in detail. Today I don't think I'd enjoy it nearly as much as I did back then, despite its distinctive silhouette. And growing up in the 90s there are a lot of childhood favorites I feel that way about. Maybe that's part of why I love modern sets so much — they feel much more detailed and sophisticated than the designs I grew up with!

Sorry for rambling; a lot of this is probably tangential to the point you were trying to make.

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By in United Kingdom,

^Aanchir: I quite agree that there can be too much adventure based play and a slice of real life would be a welcome addition in a castle type set. I put a kitchen and bed in my Slave I. This set caters for an important part of children's role play. I don't greatly dislike the set, it is nicely designed and beautifully rendered but it Just feels like a friends set transposed to a mythical setting without really making the most of the potential of the setting. To me it just feels a bit cut and paste of a tried and tested formula (heaven knows Lego is good at recycling popular themes at a regular interval). Not to mention it is hardly expanding girls horizons. I know it doesn't have to but I just wish that it did. Basically its "I have a magical map and a dolphin - oh, I think I'll comb my hair". Hopefully the other Elves sets will capture the potential a bit more firmly.

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By in United States,

I find a "secret spa" hidden in a forest world much more imaginative than the way Emma's house concentrates so much on similar ideas. Also, given how much else is packed into this theme (a ship, a bakery, a workshop, and so forth) I think accusing it of lacking imagination is somewhat unfair. Yes, I've seen other sets in the theme that appeal to me more, but that's mostly because I don't like the dolphin much--can't stand the big eyes.

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By in United Kingdom,

The other elves sets do make more of the theme and do move away from the 'friends without electricity' vibe that this set emulates.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir

Would #6066 really be that high, though? The piece count is only 225, with 6 minifigs and a horse, I wouldn't be surprised at $30 but not much more than that. Probably more a testament to the proliferation of smaller pieces over the years or smaller details like you said than anything else.

I didn't really mean to compare it to this one aside from the "floating vignette" and "grounded set" comparison. Maybe a better comparison for that would be #41033 as a similarly sized "grounded" set. The "floaty set" issue is more obvious in sets like these : #9471 #79011 even #10235.

They remind me of tabletop RPGs with minatures, but maybe that's kind of the point.

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By in United States,

How soon til the tree parts are a avalible on brick link?

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By in Poland,

In my eyes Elves is just another castle theme, with a Minidoll twist. I will try to collect them all even if I want castle and treetop the most!

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By in United States,

@DanRSL: As for whether it would actually cost that much today, there's no telling. It's entirely possible the LEGO Group might have made technical improvements on their production line that allow them to produce and sell a set that size for a lot less. But what I know for sure is that #6066 cost $23 in 1987, and according to WolframAlpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%2423+1987+dollars+in+2015), the value of the dollar has more than doubled from 1987 to 2015 thanks to inflation. So even if it seems like a cheap set in hindsight, $23 back then was not a drop in the bucket!

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By in United States,

I had high hopes for this theme, and it looks like so far things are meeting that expectation. The more I see these minidolls, the more I am okay with them. I still wish they were a little more poseable, but the extraordinary level of detailing goes a long way to forgive that. Looking forward to more reviews!

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