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.
Azari comes amply prepared to defend the Elvenstar tree; her accessories are a crossbow stud shooter and a fire magic element.
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.
Naida is also prepared for defense; her accessories are a water magic element and her water staff.
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.
All of these women are ready for action! Lumia's accessories are her light staff and the Book of Ancient Magic.
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.
Like the minidolls, Noctura has wonderful printing. I particularly like the detailing around the eyes and that purple nose.
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.
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.
Pressing down on the level at the back of the tree branch causes it to rise so Noctura and her accomplices can fly through.
In the rear of the portal there's a launching mechanism, thanks to a Technic flex rod. Ammunition is close by.
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.
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.
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.
However……move the knob on the side of the tree, and the study turns into a bedroom, with two comfortable looking beds.
The other side of the study looks at first to be pretty nondescript, with just a branch hanging off the side.
If you rotate that branch to the front of the tree, the staircase to the next level will appear.
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.
The front of the dining area is just as lovely. I love the gold scrollwork details.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I love all the details throughout this set. Here's a view of the branches as seen from the top of the set.
All put together, the Elvenstar tree looks lovely from the front and back.
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.