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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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’!
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.
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?
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!