I must admit that despite my best attempts at resisting the temptation I always get myself into trouble over “cute” stuff. So it was a given that on day I would buy Aurora’s Forest Cottage (43188) one day as soon as I saw the small deer included in the package when first photos became available. Now that I have it, let’s look what it has on offer.
Contents and Pricing
Let’s not kid ourselves: Disney Princess sets are hopelessly overpriced. LEGO and Disney clearly know that they can get away with everything as long as they can rely on little girls (and boys) bugging their parents about their favorite character from an animated movie. This is no exception.
At a suggested street price of 40 Euro for a mere 300 pieces the usual metrics of 10 Cent per piece are seriously out of whack on the wrong side of the scales. That being the case, there’s limited room for the retailers to go lower, as no doubt they feel the squeeze just as hard, so the best you can hope for is the usual 20 to 30 percent discount reigning in the price at around 30 Euro. For my taste that’s still way too much, as the contents is simply rather sparse, all things considered, and at the end you have a relatively small model. Again this is one of those situations where 25 Euro would be much more preferable and an MSRP of 30 Euro would have been sufficiently adequate.
The actual contents consist of the main building, the cottage, a small bridge, two minidoll figures and a couple of animals with the only real exclusive items being the Maleficent figure and the small deer/ fawn/ Bambi. the rest is standard fare, though I don’t necessarily mean this in a bad way.
Figures and Animals
As indicated above, the Maleficent figure so far is exclusive for this set. There have been versions of this character before, but this one has a new face print as well as more elaborate prints on her gown compared to older editions. Aurora has also some new prints, so at least there’s that. The two figures will be enough to play out some of the plot beats of the movie(s), but I find it troublesome that not more were included. I’m dying for at least one of the three fairy godmothers or a non-descript palace guard or forest huntsmen. This seems so obvious to me!
The animals are a line-up of Aurora‘s little pets/ friends, one of Maleficent‘s spy crows and a random blue bird, which similar to the humans is not nearly enough in my opinion. In the movies, the swampy glade where Aurora tries to hide is overflowing with natural life, so there should be more of these creatures.
A lot more in fact. The point that bothers me the most is that there easily could have been five or more of the pigeon-like small bird in different colors just to perch them on the house and the hinted-at tree. I think it would have been wonderful to have some in the “light” yellow, blue and pink colors and of course I wouldn’t have minded a bunch of grey and brown “sparrows”, either. On that same note I once more think that reusing the old Elves birds is no longer a good idea and they really, really need to consider creating an actual mold to be used as a crow/ raven/ magpie with that threatening pose.
The other animals go of course also back to the Elves era, but since I didn’t have any of those and the whole point kind of was to get the Bambi with this set, that’s actually okay, even more so since the squirrel also only got a re-issue last year and thus isn’t that widespread yet.
The only small side build in this set is the bridge leading to the cottage over a small stream in front of it. For this set this has been kitsch-ed up to the max with a few Pearl Gold elements and of course the Dark Pink bubbles. I would much have preferred this to be a little more mundane, but bigger instead, be it just for the simple fact that it’s so tiny and narrow it doesn’t even hold up with the figures next to it. This is one of those cases where the protagonists would simply take a wide step to pass the river. Making it about one third larger at least would have conveyed the idea much better.
The house is overall acceptable, but pretty plain, all things considered. At only effectively seven studs deep it is quite shallow and being that it’s only around 20 cm wide and tall you can imagine how small it actually is and there’s only so much you can cram in.
The color choices no doubt will be a matter of personal taste but I quite like the Bright Light Orange to give the illusion of a golden thatched roof gleaming in the sunlight. The rest of the colors is also surprisingly consistent and almost restrained if it weren’t for the Medium Lavender and Dark Pink elements (excluding the leaves). Even using the brown support piece is fitting to support that feeling of a timber frame house.
At the risk of beating this to death, one of my main qualms with this set is the absence of that busy feeling of an old, overgrown house and this is unfortunately not really mitigated by what little greenery is there. The front “lawn” is barely used and could easily have been plastered with tons of flowers. The tree integrated in the cottage is also a bit on the sparse side. It should have been extended to tower over the house itself and of course then it should have had many, many more branches with leaves. This also harks back to my point about the birds earlier – bigger tree = more birds.
As you would expect with such a small building there isn’t really much going on on the inside. Then again a small cottage isn’t a luxurious villa to begin with, so that’s probably in a way appropriate. the essentials are all there with a small dining table, a fireplace and the upstairs bed. There’s just not much else and at the least they might have included a ladder to the upper deck.
The smoke vane is the new cloud element introduced in the Monkie Kid series and while not physically present, the fairies are at least hinted at with their magic wands. The chimney is bobbing up and down with a simple mechanism and in addition the water wheel makes rattling noises with some 1 x 1 round bricks inside. There’s not really much more than that to play around with.
I guess at the end of the day this set is what they call “serviceable”. It basically does nothing wrong, but denies itself its own chance of being really great. The specific point here is of course that it has been trimmed down to cater for the 5+ crowd, but personally I feel that this for once would have been a chance to go the Harry Potter route and make the set a little more realistic and complex without losing its appeal to the younger crowd, either. So for me it’s a story of more than one missed opportunities. The fundamental ideas are all there and given the nature of the thing it should have been simple enough to expand upon them, they just didn’t for whatever reason.
On its own merits, however, this is funny enough one of the better Disney Princess sets, as at least you’re getting a decent house out of it and not just a vignette with some tie-in character dolls. However, it’s still seriously overpriced, so carefully consider how much you or your kids need it. I’m pretty sure if Elves was still around with new sets I would have made a different decision and many of you may see this just as much as merely a compromise.