Review: 41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

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Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

©2016 LEGO Group

Who doesn't love dragons? This wave of Elves sets gives us three. Zonya the Fire Dragon is the largest of the three - is bigger better, or is she just blowing smoke?

The front of the box shows Zonya the Fire Dragon helping Azari and Emily roast marshmallows, with artwork of the rest of the elves along the side, with a very friendly looking white and gold dragon peering in from the upper right corner. The back of the box shows different scenes from the cave as well as Emily and Azari flying on Zonya onto their next adventure. It looks like Zonya is able to have two riders at a time.

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Inside the box we find four numbered bags, two instruction booklets, Zonya's head and a small sticker sheet. There were two dragon wings in my box, which means I didn't win the dragon wing lottery this time around.

First mini doll is Azari, who comes in the same outfit as she did in the Starlight Inn, and like in the Starlight Inn, she does not have a printed piece indicating her elemental power (fire) like Naida does for water. I find this odd, because there is a printed piece for the elemental power in the set, but it's used later on the dragon and not for Azari. The other mini doll is Emily Jones, in the same outfit that we saw with the baby Wind Dragon (still loving those red tennis shoes). Her main accessory is a stick with marshmallow for roasting, though considering the size of the marshmallow I think it's big enough for Emily, Azari and Zonya!

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave)

The first bag is dedicated to making the torso of the dragon, with some great use of pieces that have studs on two sides to make the base for the seating area. Some strategic use of stickers add some great detailing to the torso. I really like how LEGO has been using stickers of late that has the background being the same colour as the brick to which they're being applied. For me at least it takes away some of that "sticker anxiety" about making sure they're put on perfectly.

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

The second bag continues the dragon, starting with the tail, which uses two new flame the pieces to embellish the end of the tail with jewels used for the other portions. Again the grey ball joint pieces are used, and while the look isn't overly jarring, it really is time for LEGO to start making these in other colours, particularly since they're so useful. Merina the Water Dragon used stickers to embellish her tail, and I like that stickers aren't used for this portion on Zonya.

Details on the legs include the three studs flat pieces with points, some clear 1x1 round pieces on the front legs and again some strategic application of stickers for the feet. I really like how the designer has not relied on stickers for details on this set. Zonya's head, like Merina's, is a great molded piece that has some terrific markings that are indicative of the fire elemental that she represents. There are some great horns for the top of her head and I was very relieved that they did not use a ridiculous hair bow for decoration, instead replacing it with the same jewel that embellishes the wings. Speaking of the wings, they are quite impressive and serve to finish off a great model. A gold stud holds onto Zonya's tongue (or breath representation, depending on how you view it).

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

The only minor quibble I have about the dragon in comparison to Merina is that you have a much larger range of motion and posability with Merina's wings, whereas with Zonya's they just hinge up and down. I think that's understandable considering the size difference in the wings, and that Zonya's wings are attached in two places, and Merina's only one. I suspect that's necessary for a dragon Zonya's size.

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

The third bag starts the surrounding landscaping, starting with the campfire that Zonya helps to start. I like the use of a floral piece in the fire itself. Next comes the shadows fountain, with a hidden sliding feature to allow the water to turn from green to blue. What a great play feature! The shadow foundation has green and black features to it, giving it an ominous feel. Good thing Emily can change the water from green to blue!

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

The fourth bag builds the titular Lava Cave. Since there was an article on Brickset some time ago, I was happy to see a few 2x4 bricks used in building the base of the cave - actually, for the moss beds that are found in the back of the cave.

One thing I've noticed in this wave of sets - lavender parts look more like magenta parts in the instruction booklets. It was something that had me searching for the wrong colour the first couple times. I'm surprised they couldn't get the shading a little better in the booklets.

After building the moss beds, the sliding mechanism of the lava fall comes next - I love the taller translucent pieces in bright orange - the box art doesn't really convey that very well. It's interesting that the pull mechanism is also decorated with a printed piece of the fire elemental magic - perhaps that's because only Azari can use it? Regardless, I still find it puzzling that Azari doesn't get one of her own. I really enjoy when the designers build in the kinds of sliding features - it seems to be a regular feature in Friends and Elves sets. These mechanisms work very smoothly; I don't think that will ever get old, especially when built into the story like they are here.

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

As an example of the detail I love to see in the Elves sets, I'll highlight the little purple toadstools by the stepping stones on the lava river to gain access to the cave. Something that wasn't necessary for the set, but a great use of detailing. Same for the crystal rockfall on the other side next to the lava fall.

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

Overall thoughts

I'm starting to sound redundant when it comes to this wave of Elves sets, but I think this is a great set, especially for the price ($39.99, 441 pieces). I really loved Merina, but would tend to agree with the commenter who said her body was a little on the short side, especially now that I've built Zonya. I think the dragon is terrific, even if you can't rotate her wings. Stickers are used sparingly but to great effect - I don't think any of the stickers other than the ones on the dragon are necessary, but I think the stickers on these dragons have been some of the best use of stickers that I've seen in a LEGO set.

41175 Fire Dragon's Lava Cave

The Shadow Fountain is great and I love the premise of turning poisoned water to pure water, and the lava cave, with its sliding mechanism and details of crystal rockfalls and toadstools are great. I really like how the Elves sets tie into an overall story, and this set offers lots of opportunity to reenact that story plus encourage children to make up stories of their own.

11 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Awesome review!

You know, I think the middle black thing on top of the fountain can be replace the diamond + slope on the dragon's head to show it's been possessed or something, it's in one of the product videos.

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice review

"Wing lottery"
I hear that the wind dragon (forget her name) that is to be released in August has four wings!

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By in Australia,

Nice Dragons in this theme. Though I'm not keen on the the Summer Wave white Dragon which will have 'plastic sheets' for wings.

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By in Finland,

Zonya the FIRE dragon... Sounds a bit underwhelming and obvious. ;)

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By in United States,

Excellent review! I'm working on a review of this set of my own currently, and I have to say I share a lot of your opinions about this set.

But I do have a few comments. Firstly, you point out that Azari, unlike Naida, does not use a printed tile for her magic. But in fact, none of the Elves use printed tiles for their own magic (in their hands). You probably mistook one of the extra printed tiles for the unprinted one intended to be used in Naida's hand.

One feature I love about this year's Elves figures is that not only do they have amazing new outfits, but they all have new face prints as well! The main difference is that the Elves who wore closed-mouth smiles last year now have open-mouthed smiles, and vice-versa. That kind of variation should be great for things like Brickfilms!

Even though Zonya's wings are fixed in place in two places, the flexibility of the wings still allows for them to be tilted forward and backward a bit for flying poses. It's a nice touch even if it's possibly unintended. Zonya is a great build overall, and incredibly sturdy.

The landscaping in this set is phenomenal even by Elves standards. The cave itself seems remarkably cozy for being lit by scorching hot lava. And the shadow fountain does a great job of teasing the darker, moodier environments in the summer sets. As CM4Sci points out, the "crown" can also replace the details on Zonya's forehead to represent the evil helmet from this year's mini-movie! Interestingly, the mini-movie seemed to interpret the "purification" feature differently, as an illusion designed to lure the Elves toward the enchanted water rather than as the removal of the fountain's dark magic.

Altogether I've loved both of these Elves reviews, and can't wait to see more!

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By in United States,

Very good review guys, as usual. I love the shadow fountain... although the more I see of them, the less I like these dragon head molds, which kinda turns me off of buying them. :(

The REST of the set is awesome, but I just can't get behind the dragon heads... they make lovely brick-built heads for Ninjago, so why not here?

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By in United States,

@PicnicBasketSam: I think the molded dragon heads in Elves are kind of necessary to ensure that the adult dragons fit in with the curviness of the mini-dolls, baby dragons, and other small animals. Because it uses regular minifigures, LEGO Ninjago characters are inherently blockier than LEGO Elves characters, so a dragon face with sharper angles doesn't feel so out-of-place as it would in the Elves theme. Believe me, I spent a lot of time last year trying to build a LEGO Elves dragon that genuinely felt like an adult version of the baby dragons and was curvy enough to fit the Elves design language. But I never came up with a solution I was truly satisfied with. I think the use of molded dragon heads and wings on brick-built bodies is a great compromise that doesn't minimize the building to the same extent as LEGO Castle dragons, but doesn't feel as aggressively angular as LEGO Ninjago dragons.

This set is great! My biggest disappointment is that the thickness of Zonya's neck greatly limits the amount it can turn side to side, even if it does look more natural than Merina's much thinner neck. But her legs, wings, neck, and tail are still far more articulated than a typical LEGO Castle dragon! She has all kinds of lifelike curves as well, despite the head and wings being really the only parts designed specifically for dragons! It'd be interesting if LEGO Castle shifted towards this more brick-built approach as well, but I kind of doubt that it would on account of Castle sets typically being aimed at a younger audience than Elves sets. Of course, LEGO could always surprise me.

The articulation in Zonya's wings may be limited, but it's still enough for her to bank left and right. :) The only dragon wings that come as extras are the new smaller ones, so not getting an extra in this set is normal and not just luck of the draw. I agree with you about how great stickers are that match the color of the brick they're on. Some people prefer clear stickers but I find colored stickers much easier to apply.

The elemental icon tiles generally are used not on the Elves themselves but rather on things they can magically interact with, so in that respect it makes sense to have them on the dragons and the sliding lava fall function in this set. Of course, since there is always at least one extra of these, you can definitely also use it to represent the elemental magic in the Elves' hands if you so choose.

I like the scenery in this set, even if the sliding function in this set is something we've seen before (for instance, with the waterfall in http://brickset.com/sets/41078-1/Skyra-s-Mysterious-Sky-Castle). The Shadow Fountain is really the first time the Elves theme has dabbled in really dark subject matter, and it looks appropriately spooky.

I agree that the color matching of lavender and medium lavender parts in this wave's instruction booklets is confusing, and that's quite surprising to me since I normally don't have much trouble identifying LEGO colors from modern instructions.

The Elves sets really do tend to have an exceptional value for money. http://brickset.com/sets/41171-1/Emily-Jones-the-Baby-Wind-Dragon and http://brickset.com/sets/41177-1/The-Precious-Crystal-Mine are really the only ones this year with a price per piece higher than ten cents, probably because they both have some fairly large parts relative to the size of the set (not to mention exclusive baby dragon and egg colors).

Thanks for the review!

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By in United States,

@Aanchir: It's not the concept of molded heads that I don't mind... but, these ones don't do it for me. The wings I don't mind... brick-built ones in Ninjago work just fine, but they don't look so good. Master Wu Dragon, one of the best Ninjago sets, has ugly Technic wings. Jay's Skybound dragon looks a lot better.

Also, I dug out an instruction manual from late 2014 for the Creator set Rainforest Animals, and the color matching is really bad. Normal green is really, really bright, especially compared to the lime green in there.

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By in United States,

@PicnicBasketSam: Huh, I actually like Master Wu Dragon's wings better than the ones on Jay's Elemental Dragon. The latter set's wings have some pretty huge gaps, and shapes and colors that are distributed unevenly. Master Wu Dragon's wings feel more coherent to me because they repeat the same motifs throughout (the circular gold disks and gold "feathers"), and their gaps are more consistent in size. They're definitely not flawless, but I think they do look good on the set.

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By in United States,

Great review as usual MeganL, thank you. I'm loving this wave of Elves sets, with the dragons making an excellent twist to the original storyline. I'm looking forward to the review of 41174 the Starlight Inn

I would like to repeat a request from a commenter on your review of the water dragon adventure - please link to the set in the database (makes it easier to navigate on mobile) and also include the price in gbp and eur (it's not always easy to convert USD prices to european as they vary so wildly).

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By in United Kingdom,

The animated series features five adult and five baby dragons; one for each of the elemental elves and the white one is the queen of dragons, that Emily gets to ride. So far we've not seen the white baby, the queen dragon, or the four-winged wind dragon in sets. The elf from the inn has her own sky-car - which has featured in a small polybag - to join the flying dragons.

The character Ragana is a witch elf in a long black dress who gets her evil magic by drinking from the shadow fountain. The fountain turns from green to blue to try and tempt other elves from drinking from it. She captures the queen dragon, so the elves hide the eggs but then have to look after the babies, and confront Ragana to rescue the queen dragon (who seems to be the mother of all the babies) and win back the trust of the other dragons.

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