Review: 41196 The Elvenstar Tree Bat Attack

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Elves has been one of my favourite themes since its first year. Sadly enough it looks like this year will be its last (if the fact that no Elves sets are featured in the winter catalogues are any indication). So it was with more than a bit of wistfulness that I started building 41196 The Elvenstar Tree Bat Attack. It's the largest Elves set this year. It's also one of the best sets I've built this year. Read on to learn all the reasons I love this set.

The front of the box shows Azari, Naida, and Lumia ready to defend the Elvenstar tree from the oncoming attack from Noctura and two of the bats. Noctura has come through the portal and is ready to capture whatever magic she can! The back of the box shows the back of the Elvenstar tree as well as some of the many moving functions in the set. Inside the box are six numbered bags, a small sticker sheet, a slide in dark brown (which I originally thought was new, but it turns out we just haven't seen it in a couple years), and a bag containing one small instruction booklet and two large ones.

Minidolls and animals

Two of the Elves are included in this set. The first is Azari Firedancer. She's in a new red (obviously!) outfit this year. The printing is on all the minidolls is quite impressive. Azari has red markings on her forehead, right cheekbone and upper left arm. She is wearing a red sleeveless tunic with gold embossed flames. She also wears a cross body gold belt. Her tiered skirt is fringed with gold, and tops off a pair of tall red boots also embossed with stylized gold flames.

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Azari comes amply prepared to defend the Elvenstar tree; her accessories are a crossbow stud shooter and a fire magic element.

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The other elf is Naida Riverheart. Naida has a similarly stunning outfit with a two tone sleeveless blue tunic with silver fasteners and accents along with a dark blue crossbody belt. Her skirt is also a two tone blue and she has tall blue boots with stylized silver waves. She has blue markings on her forehead and white markings on her right cheekbone. Like Azari, she has markings (though blue in her case) on her upper left arm.

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Naida is also prepared for defense; her accessories are a water magic element and her water staff.

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The last minidoll is Lumia, an ancient elf. She is the greatest ally for the Elves and an old foe (and friend, if you've seen the webisodes) of Noctura. Lumia is, not surprisingly, all dressed in white. Her white hair is swept up in a high off center ponytail and is tinged with gold ends. She has gold and white markings on her forehead and gold markings under each eye. Her white tunic has intricate gold detailing and her gold cross body belt is affixed with a silver star. Lumia's skirt is white and gold; her tall blue boots are detailed with stylized gold light rays.

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All of these women are ready for action! Lumia's accessories are her light staff and the Book of Ancient Magic.

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The next character isn't a minidoll - at least not in this set. It seems that Noctura can change into a bat, and we meet that version of her here. Noctura is brick built, and needs a couple stickers for detailing on her chest and back. Her back allows for a rider on the back, but I don't think any of the Elves are anxious to try that any time soon. Her bat wings are the same as we see on Noctura's Tower in 41194.

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Like the minidolls, Noctura has wonderful printing. I particularly like the detailing around the eyes and that purple nose.

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Finally, we have some animal accomplices - Blubeary the bear for the Elves, and Hippo and Crase for the bats. Hippo is found in one other set; Crase is unique to this set. I don't think either of them looks particularly evil. If you've seen the webisodes, Crase looks to me like he could be the little double agent (it's either Crase or Vespe, I'm not sure which). There are also a couple pale yellow spiders, which I've not included in this picture.

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The completed model

The first build is the portal to the shadow world. Even though it's a small build, there are a lot of lovely little details, such as the sparkly mushroom and crystals. You'll notice targets for practicing off to the right - those will flip down when struck.

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Pressing down on the level at the back of the tree branch causes it to rise so Noctura and her accomplices can fly through.

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In the rear of the portal there's a launching mechanism, thanks to a Technic flex rod. Ammunition is close by.

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The Elvenstar tree has three levels. The base of the tree has some nice details, along with a mailbox and the base of the slide coming from the next level up.

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The back of the tree has two main areas. The first is a bathing area, which we see Naida enjoying. It's at the base of a waterfall, and there are all the accoutrements an elf could want here.

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Next door there is a room that is Lumia's study and workshop. You can see that she has shelves with supplies, some drawers, a mortar and pestle in the centre, and some plants growing off to the side.

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However……move the knob on the side of the tree, and the study turns into a bedroom, with two comfortable looking beds.

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The other side of the study looks at first to be pretty nondescript, with just a branch hanging off the side.

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If you rotate that branch to the front of the tree, the staircase to the next level will appear.

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The staircase leads to a dining area, where Lumia and the elves can plan their defense strategy while enjoying food and drink. There's a water pitcher here with a couple glasses as well as some food. I am not at all surprised to learn that elves eat sushi - that seems a very elfin meal.

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The front of the dining area is just as lovely. I love the gold scrollwork details.

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On the other side of the dining room, we have another defense mechanism for the tree - Blubeary is standing guard, manning (or is it "bearing"?) the stud shooter with appropriate ammunition close by.

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There are more details on the top level. First, Azari's Volcano Hammer can be used to forge more weapons, in this case a sword. Moving the branch allows the hammer to do its work.

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There's also a swinging punching bag for the Elves to work on their hand-to-hand skills. Hopefully they watch out for those spikes!

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Finally, there's a room for a large moving telescope. The telescope can be adjusted to whatever angle needed. There's a star map provided for guidance.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

I love all the details throughout this set. Here's a view of the branches as seen from the top of the set.

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All put together, the Elvenstar tree looks lovely from the front and back.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Overall thoughts

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I've always enjoyed Elves sets, and this one is no exception. The designer has done a great job of making this set look like a tree while adding functionality and a lot of moving functions. I particularly like the touch of having a room for each of the elves - fire, water, air and earth - with the appropriate colour roof. The minidolls are intricately detailed and look terrific. There are so many opportunities for play, thanks to the story provided by the webisodes, not to mention all the moving functions and all those details!

For those who like Elves sets for the parts, this set will also not disappoint you. There are several new pieces and new colours, as shown by the inventory here. As I said earlier, I think it's one of the best sets I've built this year. For the price (883 pieces, $79.99, 79.99€, £69.99), I think it's worth considering picking up. If Elves is on the way out, odds are you'll be able to find it on sale.

I think it's a shame if this is the last year for Elves. I've always enjoyed the fantastical, whimsical, and imaginative sets. I can only hope that LEGO comes up with a theme that's just as good to replace it.

Did you enjoy the Elves theme? Should we review more sets before the end of the year? Let us know in the comments.

 

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42 comments on this article

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By in United States,

another big fan of the Elves line, here! please, yes more reviews--and i better pick this one up before it's gone, looks great! thanks for the splendid review

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By in Bulgaria,

This set along with most of the other Elves sets from this year are waiting in the top of our closet for Christmas morning. Thanks for the review, really looking forward to the kids building it. Hoping 2019 has a suitable replacement as Elves will be sorely missed around here.

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By in United States,

Great review! Regarding the mini-dolls — not only is their new armor coded to their elements, but also to their creatures! Naida's armor has a turtle motif near her right shoulder, and Azari's has lion heads in profile on the left and right sides. In general, I love that each LEGO Elves character has elegant magical armor and weapons to really help sell the "final battle" concept. Although, it's kind of surprising that Naida has a new hairstyle in the more lifelike illustrations on the box art (similar to Rosalyn's from last year) that she doesn't have in the sets or webisodes.

Lumia is an amazing design, but it's a bit of a bummer that she doesn't have a shoulder tattoo like the one she has in the webisodes. The magic effect elements are fantastic, but it's kind of a shame there isn't one in Tr. Green for Farran or Tr. Bright Bluish Violet for Aira. Maybe if we're lucky recolors like those might show up in future non-Elves sets.

Noctura's bat form is also quite nice, although the Tr. Bright Green diamond on her forehead would more accurately match the Shadow World faction if it were in Tr. Fluorescent Green like the trailing edge of her wings. She looks really cool facing off against Lumia's wolf form from the other of the two summer sets.

As for the tree itself, it really exemplifies the Elves theme's emphasis on livable details and magical play features. I love the "round table" with seats coded with stickers for all the Elves' elements. There are also some incredibly heartwarming easter eggs in the form of the stickered portraits of Lumia with the baby elemental creatures! But the forge, training area, and targets also help to reinforce that this is not just a peaceful home but also a stronghold in which the Elves can prepare for the battle ahead. The curved base elements, a common trend among Elves sets, also add to its beauty and naturalistic appeal.

Overall, the treehouse's ornate architecture, color-coded alcoves representing all four elements, and exceptional integration with its environment make it a brilliant swan song for the Elves theme which exemplifies the theme's strengths. I will certainly miss the Elves theme a lot and like you, I also hope that we see new themes just as beautiful and brilliant in the future!

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By in United States,

Great review! This is very possibly my favorite set of the year, and a wonderful send-off for the Elves theme. I hope you do take the time to review 41195 as well, since it is a great complement to both this set as well as Noctura's Tower from the first half of the year.

Architecturally, this set is a wonderful upgrade of the treehouse from the first year, with four peaked roofs in elemental colors and wonderful details like the twisting roots of the tree, the use of the ornate vine pieces in the windows, and one of the most effective uses of the moving spiral staircase pieces I've experienced in a set.

There are so many amazing features to this set even beyond the ones you've mentioned. The stickers in particular add some fantastic details. For instance, the inside of the Book of Magic features an illustration of the Volcano Hammer, and beside the spa is what looks like an alternate page featuring the Monsoon Staff. The back of the leftmost branch features portraits of Lumia and the elemental guardian creatures back when they were wee babies, and the back of the observatory features a star chart. One of the stickered details that surprised and impressed me the most was the seats around the round table on the middle level, each of which has one of the four elemental icons. Even the postbox features a bit of an easter egg, featuring the same postal service insignia from 2016's Secret Market Place.

Partswise, this set offers some fantastic unique elements, including unprinted versions of the elemental diamonds from the elemental guardians as well as the lovely recolors of the curly vine piece introduced last year to represent fire and water magic. These transparent recolors are a much more dynamic representation of elemental magic than the 1x1 round tiles on the figures' hands, and it's a shame that due to Farran and Aira once again sitting out the summer wave's sets we may never get transparent green or purple versions to represent Earth and Wind magic!

P.S.: The bat which ends up helping the Elves in the webisodes is Vespe. You can tell by the black band across its nose.

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By in United States,

I don’t collect Elves or even like it that much but I will always go out of my way to praise this set, because it’s seriously one of the best designed sets I’ve ever seen. Thr Elves range has had a LOT of amazingly designed location playsets, and its a shame we don’t get anymore due to 2018 being its final year. I hope the designers of Elves make their way into other themes and put the same amount of detail and functionality into future sets!

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By in United Kingdom,

I absolutely adore this set.. But i was lookin at the list of themes lego have for 2019 on google and Elves wasn't t part of it so I think it might be ending this year which is disappointing..

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By in France,

Looking at the title, I was expecting batman stuff.. I'm disapointed ! Jokes aside, this set is a wonderfull source of accessories ! I'll buy it just for that ...

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By in Canada,

Sorry to see Elves go this year. Was a collector of the theme. Hope to that there will be a replacement. Yes there is Friends and I have picked up some of them as well but I was much more intrigued with the Elves line. Please LEGO do you have something cool and new in the mini dolls lineup?

P.S. I have yet to build this years lineup. Have a granddaughter that I am thinking of gifting all my Elves LEGO to eventually and I thought it might be fun for her to actually open some of the new sets. It looks like a great set. Thanks for the review.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks Megan for the excellent review.

I must also lend my voice to the Elves love-in that's developing in these comments - such beautifully designed, colourful and appealing sets. They'll be sorely missed if, as seems likely, we don't get any more of them.

Farewell, Elves, and please keep the reviews coming Megan!

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By in United States,

Elves has been a great theme and at least it's ending with some great sets. This treehouse does a good job of tying together the four main elements of the Elves into one big structure. I'm more disappointed by the availability; at the US Lego Store I visit, they don't have any in stock and claim that the last two sets are only available online. :(

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By in Denmark,

This set smells like "christmas present"

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By in United States,

I too have all the sets from this wave of Elves on a shelf in the closet, waiting for Christmas morning. I didn't read the details of this review as I don't like spoilers :) But I've read most of your reviews of the Elves line, and they're a great guide to the playability and the build. I'd love to read more!

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By in Australia,

Our household too will greatly miss the Elves lineup. It has been the standout favourite theme for our kids for the last four years. The dragons in particular got my youngest daughter willing to build and play with lego. There are two copies of this set waiting in the cupboard for my daughters for Christmas Day. Thank you for the review.

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By in Sweden,

I just don’t understand why they didn’t release the Elves TV series for free. They even spent a lot translating it into multiple languages. And most sets don’t make any sense without watching the show. Just a weird business strategy to charge money for what are essentially great commercials. Same problem with Nexo Knights, Ninjago, and Friends line.

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By in United Kingdom,

Did we ever get an Elvendale Post Office?

I will miss these sets.

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By in United States,

I too am sad to see elves go. This was the only theme in a long time where I've wanted every set. I've purchased everything for the previous waves and still have a couple to go from this last batch but I expect to grab them very soon. Bye, elves. I will miss you.

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By in Australia,

I love Elves also. I collected the first wave, but the thing is LEGO has too many lines, and my money has been spread quite thin, so I have dropped Friends and Elves for the second year now. I have even cut other non-Lego expenses, but still come up short! Another missed opportunity, like Nexo Knights unfortunately.

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By in United States,

Thx for the review. I never pick up an Elves set but I know they have so many interesting parts usage and colors, this review is making me want to get some sets now.
I think I will.

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By in Australia,

I will say, I ended up enjoying the Elves sets a lot more than I thought I would. They were whimsical and lovely, and I honestly regret not buying more of them.

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By in United States,

@Dude45: In the United States, at least, most of the Elves TV specials and webisodes were available to view for free on YouTube. The TV specials were also shown on Disney Channel (albeit at rather poor time slots), and of course "Secrets of Elvendale" was on Netflix. All in all, I'd say that's at least on par with Ninjago, which over here requires either a paid cable subscription package that includes Cartoon Network, a paid subscription to a streaming video service like Netflix, or purchasing the episodes on DVD.

Releasing all the LEGO TV shows for free instead of selling them to broadcasters or distributors would almost certainly not allow the kind of production budgets they typically get… unless, of course, the production costs were absorbed by price hikes on the sets themselves, which I imagine would do more harm than good for these themes' popularity. Even at its cheapest, animation is a lot more expensive than many people seem to realize, and all in all, the most cost-effective means of distribution for consumers is probably to leverage stuff like cable/satellite TV or streaming service subscriptions that many families already work into their budgets.

@HugeYellowBrick: Yep! It was the top floor of #41176-1, with the purple roof!

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By in United States,

@Dude45: Most of the series is free to watch on YouTube. The only real exceptions are the fourth TV special "Down a Dark Path" (which was more or less filler since the second year's main story was both introduced and resolved in "Dragons to Save, Time to be Brave" parts one and two), and the Netflix series "Secrets of Elvendale". In the latter case, the webisodes continued to provide an alternate take on that year's main story beats, and might even arguably be more canon (since the conclusion differs between the webisodes and "Secrets of Elvendale" and the webisodes alone feature the significant plot point of Emily's amulet being damaged).

In regard to why Secrets of Elvendale, along with series like Nexo Knights and Ninjago, are mostly available through paid services... the short answer is that series like those cost a good deal of money to produce. Even with the sets themselves as the main revenue stream for Lego, financing series of that quality and length typically involves selling them to streaming services like Netflix or TV networks like Cartoon Network, which recoup those costs through subscriptions and advertising respectively.

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By in United States,

@HugeYellowBrick: The second floor business in #41176 The Secret Market Place is a post office, staffed by Owlyver the Owl.

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By in Taiwan,

Anyway it does look like the fourth season doesn't get as much investment as the last year had, mainly no continuation of the TV show and then the not so much progress on sets.

And like many previous adventure themes which discontinue with abandoned storyline, it feels like if being the last year it should have a more proper story to cover the five sisters, even better if their figures are physically introduced. Not sure if this chapter was meant to be just a midpoint or TLG cut down more details.

For this year obviously TLC focus on the Friends reboot series (which for this time the cartoon is fully released in YouTube), and 2019 first half on the minidolls of TLM2. Hope that there is some news in later times.

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By in United Kingdom,

Elves is the most popular theme in our house also. I really really really wish they would have done a D2C set - the equivalent of Ninjago City perhaps! Great review MeganL. I hope you do more!

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By in United States,

I can't help but feel like Elves is primarily marketed towards "AFOL Dads with Daughters" rather than an organic phenomenon. The concept of "femme Lego" is complex because of how tightly the minifigure is tied to the brand identity. Elves and Friends are always playing second fiddle to Ninjago and Lego Star Wars and kids know that the minidolls are incongruous with Rey if they like her instead.

Jamie Berard talked about how young boys envision themselves as the minifigure and they can't do this with the Elves.

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By in United States,

@CopperTablet: What?

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By in France,

Elves theme has been such a great provider of new shapes, parts and colors (or recolored parts and so on) that I am sure that the whole Lego community will somehow miss it, even without noticing it. On the other hand, having a few Elves sets at home for my daughter, I have always appreciated them, mainly for the reasons mentioned above, but also for their overall look so bright, colorful, joyful, "alive" style, and ingenious play features. It's a pleasure to play with them (and we still play adventures together), they gave us so beautiful dragons, places, minifigs, intricate printed details and new molds! I discover reading this review that the theme is close to its end and am very upset about it. It was unique, and if probably first and mainly created to attract more girls to Lego, drove many of us to look closer to the released set, almost when one sees pictures and reviews like this one. Hopefully a new theme will advantageously replace it, but I don't know which one could propose such a colorful and overall diversed palette. For instance, I was not the main target for both, but did not regret when Nexo Knights was stopped, when I obviously will for Elves! Thanks for the great review this time again MeganL, sad to discover that it comes to be one of the last for the theme.

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By in Netherlands,

'I am not at all surprised to learn that elves eat sushi - that seems a very elfin meal.'

Disappointing. I assumed elves are vegan...

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By in Canada,

Actually I think Elves is better than it predecessor Friends. I'm gathering it was only scheduled for a 3 year run like Chima and Nexo Knights.

What will be the replacements for Nexo Knights and Elves next year?

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By in United States,

@CopperTablet: What? You seem to have greatly misunderstood the factors that went into the design of themes like Friends and Elves.

Firstly, if Friends plays "second fiddle" to themes like Star Wars and Ninjago, then themes like Castle, Pirates, Lord of the Rings, and even DC and Marvel Super Heroes play "second fiddle" to Friends. Friends sets are routinely included in lists of the best selling sets of the year, and the outsized impact Friends has had on Lego's demographics is quite clear from the growth of Lego's female customer base over the course of its lifespan. Elves, as a smaller theme, is probably a less impactful seller, it's true—but still one that has lasted four years, a longer lifespan than the vast majority of Lego's "Big Bang" themes (Ninjago being the main exception).

Secondly, your assumption that boys can't see themselves in the mini-doll figures is not just wrong but entirely irrelevant. One of the big findings of the research that led to the development of the mini-doll was that girls tended to be the only ones that felt a need to "see themselves" in the figures in the first place—girls tended to play with figures in the "first person" while boys tended to play with them in the "third person" as more of an omniscient narrator.

Finally, from my personal experience I think that the "incongruity" between mini-dolls and classic minifigures is barely a concern for kids. I just visited my four- and six-year-old cousins and they (both girls) seemed to have no qualms about playing with both alongside one another. The only time it even came up was when they were putting figures together, specifying whether they needed a "thin neck" or "thick neck" head to complete a figure (most of which were mixed and matched in the first place rather than built into the recognizable princesses and super heroes they had started out as).

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By in United States,

I love LEGO Elves! My daughter loves them and they are my niece’s favorite too. I hope they make more in 2019!

I ran into a LEGO rep yesterday and I asked if the elves theme was being discontinued , she said “they did not tell us they are discontinuing it”

It may not indicate much but it’s better than hearing that it will be discontinued.

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By in United States,

Will be sad to see this theme retire - hopefully Lego can outdo themselves with it's replacement

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By in Germany,

We have a few of the smaller Elves' sets, but our daughters never really played a lot with them. Shame really, as I thought this was one of the better non-licensed themes of recent years. No match for Ninjago, but still quite cool and especially rich in new colours/recolours.

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By in United States,

Elves isn’t over yet :)

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By in Poland,

This set is great but has one major problem - NO ENOUGH PLACE FOR MINIFIGS at the back.

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By in Japan,

I LOVE SO MUCH the Elves Theme, but hurts me as much the fact that they come with Minidolls instead of the traditional Minifigs. I love the design and printing they do in the Minidolls torsos, faces. I just wish they were done on minifigs instead. I see so much potential for a future fantasy-castle theme on those sets. I wish they release someday a castle theme inspired on the Elves using similar design, color palette and atmosphere...
And don't get me wrong, I don't want LEGO to cancel Elves. They can continue doing for as long as they can. I just wish a Elves-like theme on the main traditional LEGO Castle, with minifigs, TOGETHER with the Elves. Ah dreams...
At least the hair pieces can be used in Minifigs (and that's what i do everytime I get a Elve set). I Have a entire collection of elf-theme figures based os scraps from this theme.

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By in United States,

I’ll be very sad to seethe Elves theme go. So much charm, such incredible, playful detail and dragons!

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By in United States,

If they’re gonna make a new theme specifically designed for girls again, they should use normal minifigs, I’ve never met anyone who actually likes the doll figs.

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By in Taiwan,

@BrickHelix As I personally like both, it's a firm result from LEGO marketing research that most girls prefer minidolls. Otherwise the Friends 2018 reboot would have been without minidolls already.

I would just say it'd be nice to seeTLG also do Elves characters in minifigures designs.

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By in United States,

We loved the Elves theme in our house (kids & mom too) - one of our favorite themes ever. This year's sets are a bit meh for me to be honest, although I still enjoy the overall atmosphere of the theme. It seems like it may have run its course... definitely hoping for another imaginative, fantasy-based theme that leans female - ideally involving castles!

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By in Germany,

Such a great and wonderful-looking set! I am glad, I added it to my collection.
I always liked the imaginative, colorful style of the Elves sets with their great attention to all the small details! Especially the location based sets. All together I own ten Elves sets and I will miss this theme, if it should in fact be discontinued.

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By in United States,

Very cool set. I might have to grab this one. Sorry to see this theme end. It was fun. Something similar with actual minifigs would be very welcome.

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