Thanks to a tip from a post here at Brickset, I jumped on the Amazon early release of three of these sets #71073
. I built the bakery first and found it enjoyable with a fun color palate. Some nice play features, but overall it is a facade. Next up the ship - it is really delightful and has some technic bits to make the sail turn with the ships wheel. Last the Treehouse - WOW - yummy parts, scrolled railings in sand green and a clever use of the new angle pieces
in med lavender. The new small mixel ball joints are used to articulate the foliage. Overall, I kept on thinking about this painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Hopefully, older girls are as delighted with this theme as I am and it becomes a long term money maker for LEGO. The builds are more intricate than the Friends line. I even applied the stickers! They are elegant, unlike the ones aimed for young girls in Friends. Now about those minidolls. The hairpieces are fantastic and work well transferred to minifigs. The printing on the minidolls is very nice, the costumes are well designed and the facial expressions are less "Big Eyes." They are ok in their own environments, but only their hair going to middle earth.
Here are some pictures of minidoll elves vs minifig elves
I like the purple hair on "scary Galadriel"
I will add on...
We (we being my kiddo) built the bakery, treetop hideaway and spa this past weekend.
The colors are fabulous. Initially I thought the bakery colors would be jarring with the rest of the purple/aqua, but it is not. If anything, the colors are vibrant, and remind me very much of the Lisa Frank sticker colors from when I was a kid.
The special features, I did agree with the reviewer of the spa (from the front page). I thought the special features were weak on the spa. I also felt they were a bit weak on the bakery. They were great on the tree top hideaway. They were good enough that after watching a Jangbricks review of the hideaway, my 8 year old really wants it now.
We loved the bridge. The convertible bed is wonderful, the ability to move the branches away like a curtain was fantastic. Overall it is filled with a ton of details, and is definitely the gem of the line. Did I mention gems? Yes, the trees even have gem details to them, and there are some nice flower bunches as well.
Minidolls. We are huge fans of the minidolls in this line. My only issue is that they continue to only deliver so few in a set. I presume it is the delta in price compared to the minifigs, but it is a bit frustrating at times. Having said that we did get most of the main characters except Aira. They did up the male minidolls, which I think was nice. Right now there are 11 minidolls with 3 that are male (2 distinct). This ups the percentage to near 30%, and they are found in 1/2 the boxes. The summer line, though, has no male minidolls and will drop these numbers.
Animal. Most of the sets come with an animal. I don't think the ship does. These are also a huge hit here.
I think overall there is a fair amount of playability.
The bakery, while it is a facade has details like dough, rolling pin, rolled out bread, bread that goes into the lava oven, and one can slide that in and out. The baker has a little area to work. I thought the back of this looked fine, compared to the back of the upcoming 'castle' that really has nothing at all in the back.
The hideaway has obvious playability as well, and the spa if I ignore the perfume and make-up stuff, is great as well.
If you are familiar with Friends there is a fair amount of modularity to those. That is purposely done. These do not feel quite as modular. There is some, but no more than typical Lego sets.
I don't know if the minidolls cost more for them to make. The parts are way more expensive on replacement parts compared to regular minifigs.
Elves doesn't seem like a jump at all, nothing like the start of Friends, really just a continuation of what was started by Friends.