41239 Eclipso Dark Palace is the largest of the twelve DC Super Hero Girls sets released so far, containing 1078 pieces. I found the quality of the first wave to be fairly mixed but this set appeals to me a great deal as it includes some excellent mini-dolls and the palace itself looks superb, featuring an imposing entranceway, a vivid colour scheme and extensive interior detail.
Furthermore, official images demonstrate several interesting functions and I am looking forward to the latest rendition of Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet as I think models of this challenging subject matter continue to improve with each new design.
This set includes just three mini-dolls, although all three are thoroughly impressive. Wonder Woman is the only character to have appeared previously but sports a brand new outfit which is more detailed than the already excellent figure found in 41235 Wonder Woman Dorm Room. Her intricately textured hair piece is almost identical to that seen on the previous mini-doll and includes a golden tiara which now features a metallic finish to match the printed designs on her torso, wrists and legs. I love the combination of red and dark blue and the extra smattering of gold completes one of my favourite mini-dolls to date!
The Flash is the first male hero to appear in the form of a mini-doll and I have been looking forward to his arrival. Barry Allen is traditionally depicted with blonde hair and a yellow component, which is new in this colour, is accordingly used. The torso is decorated with the Flash symbol as well as some yellow lightning designs and these continue onto the back where his folded mask is also visible. It is rare to see back printing on a mini-doll but is very welcome and I appreciate the inclusion of red and white running shoes printed on the feet.
Barry is unarmed but Wonder Woman comes with the Lasso of Truth and a delightful printed shield. This design is brand new and looks marvellous, featuring the heroine's famous insignia surrounded by a blue ring and six yellow stars. It matches the mini-doll perfectly but would also be suitable for any of the comic book Wonder Woman minifigures which have not appeared with shields so far. I must mention that the shield in the animated series does not feature yellow stars around the edge but I actually prefer this decoration.
The villainous Eclipso is traditionally depicted as a male character but I think this female incarnation looks brilliant. Her purple hair piece is brand new and matches the animated character model while the printing on her face features a purple shadow covering one side, recalling the effect of an eclipse. Furthermore, this design captures her different coloured eyes and includes some deep purple lipstick so shows impressive attention to detail.
Eclipso wears two fabric components around her neck and waist. The feathered lining around her neck is formed using a spongey material so does not sit entirely naturally but her dress is made from a stiffer fabric so hangs perfectly. They both look splendid and certainly lend a sinister air to the mini-doll. Her torso and legs are equally detailed as they are printed with a necklace, purple stripes and purple boots. The figure comes complete with a black staff topped by a trans-purple gem.
Eclipso is supported by a small army of three Kryptomites. These figures appear in every DC Super Hero Girls set and consist entirely of striking crystalline shapes. White 1x1 bricks with studs on four sides form the core of the Kryptomites but they are otherwise constructed using orange and trans-orange elements, including the 1x1 pyramid which only appears in this colour in four other sets. Some variation in facial expressions would have been welcome but otherwise I think they look great. The villains are armed with a flail, a sword and a sai.
The Completed Model
Eclipso's palace is the primary focus of this set but it also includes a fairly substantial model of Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet. Naturally, we have not actually seen the Invisible Jet in the animated series but its general shape has been revealed and in that respect this rendition is reasonably accurate on the whole, with a single vertical stabiliser towards the rear and swept wings. Furthermore, the size seems to be appropriate, although the show indicates that the vehicle should seat more than two people.
Nevertheless, I like the tandem seating configuration on this model, particularly since the set includes two heroes to occupy the seats. They are accessible by opening the hinged canopies and the interior is furnished with some control panels which are formed using stickers. Unfortunately, there is no designated area for storing Wonder Woman's shield or the lasso of truth while both the pilot and passenger seats are occupied but you can squeeze the accessories between the figures if you wish.
Three stickers are applied inside the cockpit and five more are used on the exterior, the most notable of which are those on the wings. It is quite difficult to apply such large stickers without trapping air bubbles or dust but they do look quite impressive, featuring Wonder Woman's symbol split down the centre by the fuselage. This golden design matches that on the nose and contrasts nicely with the white and trans-clear colours which dominate the model. However, the Invisible Jet is not designed entirely around its appearance and includes a pair of stud shooters as well as flaming engine nacelles.
Of course, the consistent challenge of designing an Invisible Jet is that the model is bound to be eminently visible, incorporating some trans-clear elements but also a number of opaque colours. That is undoubtedly the case here but it really does not bother me as the plane looks great in its current form, with an interesting wing configuration and a good level of detail throughout. Logic dictates that an entirely trans-clear model would be the closest we can get to an authentic Invisible Jet but I think that would look rather messy as numerous tubes and studs would be visible inside, thereby spoiling the overall effect. I am satisfied with the current design and it is probably my favourite rendition to date!
Eclipso's palace measures almost 40cm in height and is 27cm wide, although only when the purple spikes on either side of the entrance are taken into account. In fact, the model is built on a single 16x16 plate so occupies a smaller area than I was anticipating, although it still looks very foreboding. The black, purple and magenta colour scheme is excellent and a few trans-light blue elements are also included, particularly on the ground floor.
The exterior features angled spikes and an arched design with a throne for Eclipso at the centre. This also includes a pair of spikes and can be rotated to view the prison pods situated behind the throne. The shaping of the flexible tubing looks superb and I like the printed 4x4 dish which looms over the palace. It is decorated with an eclipse design to match Eclipso and crackles with metallic silver energy so appears shiny under the right light conditions.
Eclipso plans to drain the powers from each super hero, presumably with the aim of enhancing her own abilities. Four prison pods are therefore found at the back of the palace and these are connected to a central tank with a lightning bolt underneath. In this configuration the tanks are quite difficult to access as they are enclosed by a Technic assembly, although the exposed Technic liftarms do not bother me too much as this seems to be a fairly industrial room so it makes sense that Eclipso and her minions would have made little effort to beautify it.
Thankfully you can open the palace to access the interior more easily. Opening the front door will cause the side panels and prison pods to fold outwards. The model presents a much larger facade in this form and the mechanism works very smoothly, using an adequate number of supports to ensure that the floors held only by Technic liftarms will not flex.
The walls are constructed using Technic panels so are very sturdy but they lack detail when viewed from the outside. The interior surface is more interesting and includes a pair of stud shooters mounted on a ball joint along with an adjustable spike, the tip of which is made from rubber. I find areas like this somewhat disappointing when compared with Elves sets such as 41180 Ragana's Magic Shadow Castle as that model is far more detailed throughout, although this Technic assembly is sturdier.
The prison pods separate in the centre, leaving a large gap in the floor but allowing easy access to each cylinder. They can be opened on hinges and there is space to stand a mini-doll inside without the need for removing capes or other accessories. The open area in the centre is slightly bothersome but there is a small area of floor from which Eclipso might address the trapped heroes before draining their powers.
Each pod is decorated with a sticker showing the symbols of the Flash, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Supergirl and control panels also feature stickers showing some technical readouts. It seems odd that Batgirl has a pod when she is without super powers, although Eclipso may be trying to steal other aspects of the character such as her extraordinary technical and deductive abilities.
The ground floor is more intricately detailed and includes a display showing how Eclipso plans to heighten her powers as well as a magenta rug, a laboratory and a mirror surrounded by beauty equipment. This should come as no surprise as it is undoubtedly difficult to maintain such an evil appearance! Each side can be opened for easy access to these areas of the palace and some pieces of furniture, such as the control panel, are removable so you can change the internal layout.
Opening the other side reveals a weapons rack and the pit from which the Kryptomites emerge. This reminds me a little of the Uruk-Hai birthing chamber from Lord of the Rings and features orange pieces which are intended to represent lava along with a few other translucent colours suggesting the involvement of magic. A creation function would have been appropriate here so it is a shame that no such feature is included, although I think it looks alright without it. Once the Kryptomites are created and have collected a weapon from the rack they can begin training using what seems to be a sinister swingball set.
The top of the palace is decorated with an enormous spire and a trans-blue window which could be mistaken for another prison cell at first glance. However, the presence of two upward-facing stud shooters indicates that there may be more to this section of the palace than initially meets the eye.
In fact, the spire is a small plane which can be launched should Eclipso need to make a quick getaway! This is known as the Jewel Jet and the craft slots into two Technic cylinders so will remain securely fixed in place until needed. Removing the jet leaves the palace looking much shorter but it is still presentable and this feature increases the play value as Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet can continue the pursuit.
The Jewel Jet is slightly longer than the Invisible Jet but is considerably less detailed, featuring only two stud shooters behind the cockpit and an extremely narrow profile. I think the canopy looks too large in relation to the rest of the jet but the black, purple and magenta colour scheme is pleasing and I am glad to see Eclipso's insignia adorning each side.
A mini-doll can comfortably sit beneath the hinged canopy and a control panel is placed in front of the pilot, decorated with another sticker. I was dreading the application of so many stickers but actually found it relatively painless, particularly when compared with 41232 Super Hero High School which includes plenty of much larger stickers.
I expected little of this set beyond a tremendous selection of mini-dolls but it has actually proven to be a lot of fun! Both the exterior and the interior of the palace are quite nicely detailed and the model includes lots of play features which all work very well. Furthermore, the Invisible Jet looks excellent and surpasses the previous renditions by a considerable margin in my opinion, despite the inclusion of many opaque components.
The quality of the set is not in doubt but the UK price of £99.99 seems quite high in relation to its content. Eclipso's palace is fairly deep but does not appear to be very large when viewed from the front, especially when the prison pods are retracted. Moreover, the inclusion of just three mini-dolls is disappointing, although each one is truly excellent. I think this is one of the strongest DC Super Hero Girls yet released but still have some reservations concerning the price so would probably recommend waiting for a discount.
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This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.