"I was lucky enough to find this set around Christmas last year, but I wanted to wait until new webisodes were released before actually building it. Now after waiting months, that time has finally arrived!
I'll start with Liska the earth fox. What I like most about her is how articulated she is. Her legs are adjustable, her head is adjustable, and even her jaw opens and closes!
The downside to having such detail on Liska, for me, is that it takes away from the main structure. Noctura's tower is kind of on the small side. I like Ragana's castle because it's a lot more spacious inside compared to Cronan's fortress and Noctura's tower.
But aside from that, there are many intricate features to Noctura's tower that make it spooky and fun. I like the cauldron and how you can pour the potion bottles by turning a knob. Some of my favourite decorations are the spider webs, mushrooms, and the jar with a skull!
The only disappointing thing for me was that I could not finish building the set! I got to the very last step which required me to put a rod through a hole. But the rod got stuck halfway through and there was nothing I could do. This mechanism controlled the "flapping bat wings" on top of the tower, so I'm a little sad that I won't be able to complete it. But even without the flapping feature, the tower is still spooktacular.
I always like how the villains' outfit colours match their buildings. Noctura's minidoll uses black and teal, which are also the main colours of her tower. The bats are adorable, and Farran looks spiffy as always!
All in all, this is another great villain castle. I would just recommend, be careful when building the "flapping wings" mechanism (especially with the black "windmill" piece that turns the green chain, because I could not fit the rod through the hole). But other than this last step, I had no trouble building this set. It has all the spooky features that are perfect for the Shadow World!"
"Ever since Ragana's castle was released last year, I've had my fingers crossed for more evil fortresses. That being the case, I purchased this set as soon as it was available, and it did not fail to meet my expectations.
My favourite thing about this set - the drawbridge! By turning a knob, you can easily open and close it, and I simply love those translucent green chains along the sides. The mechanism that turns the chains to lift the drawbridge is an ingenious idea! There is also another knob that allows you to open/close the jaws of the two evil plants that are located left of the drawbridge. The first time I built the mechanism, I put it together incorrectly, and it didn't work. Once I re-built it, everything was fine. (You shouldn't have a problem if you pay close attention to the instructions.)
The inside of the fortress is a little cramped. I would have appreciated just a bit more space. In terms of overall design, I like how the fortress uses red, green, and black, to match Cronan's appearance and outfit. The facial expression on his mini-doll does a good job of capturing his wicked and clever nature. For Sophie's mini-doll, a different face is used here than in "The Capture of Sophie Jones." I like her expression too - she looks worried! Emily's expression is neutral . . . although I must say, I love her outfit!
There are lots of new and awesome accessories in this set - two shields with an evil-eye design (printed, not stickers), a spear, a sword, a purple potion bottle, and an evil book (the cover is a sticker.) I particularly like the new amulet pieces. Before, the amulets were just printed on the clothing. Now, it's an actual accessory that you can remove from the mini-doll. I like the new and improved version much better!
I could go on and on . . . The elves theme continues to put forth beautifully designed sets, which are accompanied by creative, and well-written story-lines. Ragana's castle remains my favourite set so far, but Cronan's fortress isn't that far behind!"
"In 2013 came Olivia's house; then in 2015 came Emma's; now 2017 brings Stephanie's house, an equally beautiful set.
Let's start with the exterior. To me, the stunning outer architecture is what sets it apart from the previous two installments. What immediately catches my eye are the windows. Such a lovely new printed design, and the bay windows in the dining area add to the picturesque charm. On the top floor, there are shutters - I modified them so that you can actually close them to cover the window. Aside from that, I like that the porch swing can fit all three mini-dolls. The porch swing gives the house a quaint cottage feel, while the balcony balances it out by adding a regal flair.
Now, on to the interior. Several things to consider - 1. Very difficult to access the dining/kitchen area. However, this was designed with a remedy in mind, as the top floor is easily removable. 2. I find it odd that the seats in the kitchen don't all match. 2 look like stools, while one looks like a chair. 3. No rooftop area. Less front-lawn, which I don't mind (more focus on the actual house.) 4. First of the friends' houses to have a staircase; seems to be a new piece with the January 2017 wave. Note: Left side does NOT separate from the right side, as was the design with Olivia's/Emma's house.
This set comes with many cool accessories/pieces that are relatively new - a list with writing on it, a party invitation (both printed, NOT stickers), and even an entire pie (divided into four slices. Also comes with one extra pie slice in case one is lost, for a total of 5 slices.)
I always love the mini-dolls that come with the house sets, the parents in particular, as new face/body pieces are often created especially for them. It's nice that the mom is wearing pants instead of a skirt for a change, and I'm glad to see another face with glasses (only the second so far with the mini-dolls I believe). As a side note, I've noticed that only older characters have had glasses, but obviously, teens and younger people wear them too, and I would like to see this represented. Sort of disappointed that we have yet to see a brother or sister included. It could even be a similarly aged sibling, to avoid having to make a whole new 'shorter' version of a younger brother/sister.
Overall, this set is a nice addition to my collection of Friends' houses. At the current rate, we may see Mia's or Andrea's house in 2019 and by 2021, we should hopefully see all 5 houses. A long wait, but I know there will be plenty of other wonderful sets to occupy myself with in the next 4 years!"
"There is no other set in the Friends/Elves/Disney Princess themes that is quite like this castle. The outer architecture is elegantly foreboding, while the smaller features add to the evil vibe. Crystal ball for spying on enemies? Check! Secret trap door to capture victims? Check! The bridge rotates very well, not too easily, so it can still be walked upon without accidentally going overboard. The cauldron is spooktacular. It is large enough to fit quite a lot of small ingredient pieces, which is great for those wanting to make longer, more complex brews and concoctions. The row of spell jars on the shelf above add such nice detail, as do the black thorns that give the throne, bed, and landscape a sinister, spiked quality. In short, this castle has everything a villain could possibly want! Ragana is a phenomenal mini-doll, using all new pieces. I particularly like her colour scheme of pink, green, and black that is also used throughout the set. Aira and Naida have no business being at Ragana's house, but they can use the catapult at a distance, which works great. This set comes with so many other cool pieces, like an hourglass and a dragon book. Overall, Ragana's castle is my favourite set so far, and by favourite, I mean out of the entire Elves AND Friends AND Disney Princess themes. I have been collecting those three themes for many, many years and nothing satisfied my penchant for evil design like this set. Adding a villain to the Elves theme was the best thing that could have been done. It opens a whole new avenue of play/storytelling for Lego fans, and I think it is definitely worth the higher price. My one qualm about this set was the stickers. I'd prefer if they were just printed directly on the pieces, but I know that stickers minimize the cost of having to make new pieces all the time. It's just I usually put the stickers on BEFORE I place the piece on the set, but for some here, you have to put the stickers on AFTER you attach it to the set or else it can go lopsided, and some are at really awkward angles to get the stickers to align just right. Like I said though, it hardly matters. I can't really complain about the stickers when this set is so awesomely villainous! Keep it up LEGO company!"