Lego Modular Houses
||It has been suggested that this article be merged with List of Lego themes. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2012.|
|Total sets||10 (as of 2015)|
Modular Buildings is a series of Lego building toy sets introduced in 2007. Created in response to feedback and suggestions from the Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL), and the Teen Fans of Lego (TFOL) community, the sets in this series are generally intended for more advanced builders with most sets containing more than 2,000 total pieces and making use of unorthodox building techniques which have not been tried before in official Lego sets. In contrast to most LEGO sets which are aimed at children and adolescents, the suggested age of most sets in the Modular Buildings series is 16 years or older. The Modular Buildings sets have been received with positive reviews, being considered by Lego designers and fans as "toys for adults". The sets include Market Street, Cafe Corner, Green Grocer, Fire Brigade, Grand Emporium, Pet Shop, Town Hall, Palace Cinema, Parisian Restaurant and the newest model, Detective's Office.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Sets
- 3 Related Set
- 4 Challenges
- 5 Reception
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
All sets in the series can also be joined together to form a larger "neighbourhood" layout of several buildings standing adjacent to each other. Connectors at the base of the models are aligned for easy connection with other models in the series.
In 2006, a poll was taken, aimed at the AFOL community. Adult fans were asked to share their ideas and opinions of what concept they would like to see for a future model from The LEGO Group. Some of the ideas submitted were: more town and everyday buildings, structures with more architectural detail, realistic buildings, minifigure scale buildings, solid and enclosed buildings, and more. These ideas were taken into consideration and a year later the first set in the Modular Buildings series, Café Corner, was released. A LEGO fan was invited to provide feedback and suggestions during the design of that set.
To date, 10 sets have been released in the series, averaging about one new set each year.
Café Corner (set number: 10182) was the first of the Modular Buildings series. It was originally released in April 2007. The set contains 2085 pieces and is recommended for builders 16 years of age or older. Some of the set features include a 3 floor building set on a street corner, a vertical 'Hotel' sign, opening doors and windows, café tables and umbrellas, a striped awning and 3 minifigures. Many unusual building techniques were incorporated, such as annexes, fanned ski shoes as decoration, a hotel sign using a SNOT technique (studs not on top), angled corner, and a 3D façade.
During development of this first set in the series, the designers considered the cost of several options. One more expensive version had additional café features, dark green interior walls, a bike and an additional minifigure. In contrast, a lower cost version of the set was considered which lacked rear exterior walls, interior stairs, and extra interior walls on the second floor, and had only 2 minifigures but no bike.
LEGO fans could suggest improvements to the initial prototypes such as adding color to the roof (which was originally gray) and translucent elements to the hotel sign.
Market Street (set number: 10190) was the second of the Modular Buildings series and designed by Dutch Lego fan Eric Brok. It was originally released as a follow-up to Café Corner in 2007. The set contains 1248 pieces and is recommended for builders 10 years of age or older. The set features include opening doors and windows, a gate, a striped awning, and 3 minifigures. Advanced construction techniques used in Market Street include: curved staircases, "stripped paint" sections on the walls, interchangeable floors, Dutch/Belgian stepped roof, a basement, offset windows, and wrought iron-look decoration and gate.
Market Street is a unique set in the Modular Buildings series in that it has fewer than 2000 pieces and is recommended for builders 10 years and up rather than the usual 16. One of the reasons this set was smaller than the others was to provide a lower cost entry point into the Modular Houses series.
As a Lego Factory set, Market Street was to showcase a fan design, thus promoting the Design-it-yourself vision of Lego Factory. The modularity of the resulting model also may inspire people to design their own floor modules (or furniture sets) in Factory, without having to build an entire house.—Eric Brok, Adult Fan of Lego, Designer of Market Street
Market Street is the only set in the series to be released with Lego Factory branding on the box. This is because it was originally designed by a LEGO fan rather than a Lego designer. Eric Brok, a LEGO fan from the Netherlands, designed the set working closely with LEGO designers.
Green Grocer (set number: 10185) was the third of the Modular Buildings series. It was originally released in 2008. The set contains 2352 pieces and is recommended for builders 16 years of age or older. Some of the set features include a blue and white awning, opening doors and windows, detailed interiors to each room, a roof terrace, a fire escape, access to a courtyard behind the building, and 4 minifigures. Advanced building techniques used in Green Grocer include using black skeleton legs and hammers to make railings, using black spear guns as railings for the fire escape, using a paddle for a pendulum in a grandfather clock, and using hinges to make a bay window.
Green Grocer differs from the previous two sets in the series because it has a greater level of detail inside. Whereas Café Corner and Market Street had bare interiors, each floor in Green Grocer contains a prop such as a standup radiator or some furniture such as a grandfather clock. The first floor is fully furnished as a grocery, with refrigerated shelves with opening doors and cartons of food. The assortment of Lego food pieces in the grocery includes carrots, apples and bananas. There’s also a stairway to the apartment above, and a mailbox set with letters.
Fire Brigade (set number: 10197), released in September 2009, was the fourth set in the Modular Buildings series. The set contains 2231 pieces and is recommended for builders 16 years of age or older. Modeled to look like a realistic 1930s fire station, the set includes a bell tower, an opening garage door, a '30s style fire truck, and 4 minifigures with a fire-dog. Like Green Grocer, all floors in the Fire Brigade set are fully furnished. The Fire Brigade is the first Modular House to come with a vehicle, the '30s style fire truck. The set also includes some new, unique pieces, such as gold fire helmets and a red sliding garage door.
New building techniques introduced with this set include a systematic way of building numbers. On the front of the building the year 1932 appears, which is a reference to when LEGO was founded. The number 3 also appears on the pavement of the set representing that this is the 3rd set on the series from Lego set designer Jamie Berard (he had previously designed Café Corner and Green Grocer).
Grand Emporium (set number: 10211), released in March 2010, is the fifth set in the Modular Buildings series. The set contains 2182 pieces and is recommended for builders 16 years of age or older. Modeled to look like a realistic early 20th Century department store, the set includes a realistic exterior with an ice cream stand, store window displays, window washer platform, and rooftop billboard. Interior details include an escalator, dressing rooms, and a wide assortment of "merchandise." It is built as a corner, similarly to Café Corner and Palace Cinema. There are 7 minifigures, including some that are made to look like mannequins.
Pet Shop (set number: 10218), released in May 2011, is the sixth set in the Modular Buildings series. The set contains 2032 pieces and is recommended for builders 16 years of age or older. It is the first set in the series that is actually made out of 2 buildings that separate using the same Technic pins that link the rest of the modulars together. They can be reversed or separated and wrapped around another building. The brown building is a town house and the sand blue building is the Pet Shop. The brown building is the only building, with the exception of Market Street, that has a basement. There is a special feature on the Pet Shop on the ground floor, where the staircase can be folded away for more access room for playing (This was an issue with Market Street). There are 4 minifigures, 2 parrots and a fish tank with goldfish. The set also includes 3 dog bones, a ball, a frog toy, a birdhouse, a bucket and a brush. This is also the smallest set by height and stands at just over 25 cm. The next tallest modular is Market Street at 33 cm. The set includes a full interior including a toilet, bed, kitchen and fireplace.
Town Hall (set number: 10224) was released in March 2012 and is the seventh set in the Modular Building line. The set contains 2766 pieces and is recommended for builder 14 and over. It is the largest modular set, taking the title from the Green Grocer. It contains many interior details, such as a working elevator, along with board tables and balconies to look to the floor below. Along with the interior details the set also has many exterior details, such as four pillars on the front step and windows at the back of the building, and also a clock tower at the top of the building. The date on the building, 1891 represents the birth year of the founder of LEGO and when reversed, it's the birth year of the designer, Astrid (1981). The set was priced at £149.99, $199.99 or €179.99 as released by LEGO on February 16, 2012. There are eight minifigures in the set with a wedding couple. The set had a global discontinuation date of 31 December 2014 and had a much shorter lifespan than its predecessors.
Palace Cinema (set number: 10232) was released in March 2013, and is the eighth set in the Modular Building line and the third corner building. The set contains 2194 pieces and has two floors. Palace Cinema is the first Modular Building set to be released with the LEGO Creator Expert branding on its box and so far is the only one to include stickers. Also, Palace Cinema is the second Modular Building set to have only two floors, instead of the usual 3, and include a vehicle, a black car styled loosely on a Buick.
Parisian Restaurant (set number: 10243) is the ninth set in the Modular Building line and was released in January 2014. This set contains 2469 pieces and has a fully stocked, blue and white tiled kitchen with tableware as well as an apartment with pull-down bed, kitchenette and fireplace. On the top floor is the artist’s studio that includes a cast iron heater, easel, paintbrush and two works of art. Outside, on the second floor, stairs lead down to the roof terrace lined with hanging lanterns and flowers above a patio for diners. This set also includes hard-to-find white croissants and bricks in olive green, dark blue and dark red. Advanced exterior details include facade with croissant detailing, sidewalk, bench, scooter and even a dumpster and trash can at the back.
The Detective's Office (set number: 10246) is the tenth set in the Modular Building line and was released January 1, 2015. This set contains 2262 pieces. It contains a detective's office, a hair salon named "Al's", a pool room, and an upstairs apartment. The "Al's" sign resembles the various signs from the Pet Shop, Town Hall, and Fire Brigade. The featured "Pool" sign uses a building technique never used before. Inside the pool room features a fan, a pool table, and a dart board. The detective office features clues, a cabinet, and a secret storage space behind a picture. The hair salon features a mirror, scissors, lights, and chairs for customers. The apartment holds an old style toilet and a small kitchen. This modular varies from previous buildings because it has secret compartments that allow cookie smuggling throughout the building, a new box design, new pieces, and somewhat more of a modern design. It also is different because it is the only modular to have two buildings on the same baseplate. The front of the building features a newspaper stand, some sort of tree and 2 balconies. It includes 6 minifigures.
Lego Designer Jamie Berard created one of the Modular Buildings and decided to make a mini version of his set for fun. Five of these were then released as a single set 10230 containing 1356 pieces, each one on an 8x8 baseplate, making them quarter-scale with respect to the original buildings. Initially this set was for Lego Group VIPs only, but it later became available for general sale.
In October 2014, four sets similar to the Mini Modulars were released as Toys "R" Us exclusives. They are 40180 (Bricktober Theater), 40181 (Bricktober Pizza Place), 40182 (Bricktober Fire Station) and 40183 (Bricktober Town Hall). Despite the similarity of names, they are not mini versions of existing modular buildings; they are new designs. They are simpler builds than the original Mini Modulars, based on 6x8 plates, and each one includes two vehicles; the target age is given as 7 and up.
A challenge faced by the designers of these sets is that they are not able to work with the full palette of Lego bricks and colors ever produced when designing. Instead they are limited to the bricks and colors currently in production by Lego at the time of the product design. As an example, for Café Corner, the designer wanted to include a bicycle piece in the set, but at the time, the machine that made bicycle pieces was broken. It had to be fixed in order for the designer to be able to include the piece in his design. With Market Street, the fan designer was limited to only the bricks and color combinations available as 'active components,' meaning bricks that were already in production. No new bricks could be introduced.
There have been scheduling challenges faced in the design of the Modular Houses sets. For the Green Grocer set, the designer believed that the set could have benefited from another design iteration before release. The detailed nature of these sets requires a greater amount of design time than a normal Lego set. It is expected that future sets in the series will not suffer from such schedule pressures.
During the design of Café Corner (and presumably with the other sets in the series), the designer had to work closely with the building instructions team due to some of the "unorthodox techniques" that he used "which have not been tried before in official Lego sets." 
The reason interiors were not included in the first two models in the series, Café Corner and Market Street, was because they could not be seen in the pictures included on the packaging. Once the success of Modular Buildings sets had been proven with these first two sets, for the third set, Green Grocer, the designer was allowed to include interior details in each of the floors. As a result, many of the interior details of later sets, such Green Grocer, are not visible on the box and are only discovered while building the set. However, the boxes of each set feature some of the interior details such as the escalators inside Grand Emporium.
The Modular Buildings series is viewed by Lego designers and fan sites as "toys for adults". Product reviews have been very positive with the biggest criticisms being price and degree of difficulty. With Café Corner, one reviewer complained that the interior of the building was bare of any finishing. This complaint was addressed in later models such as Green Grocer, which had finished interior details included in each of its three floors.
When the first set in the series, Café Corner, was released, the designer indicated that more sets would follow in the series only if sales of the first set were successful. In a later interview in 2008 covering the third set in the series, Green Grocer, the designer indicated that sales had been strong enough to support four sets in the series (referring to the planned 2009 release of Fire Brigade as the fourth set).
- Meno, Joe (Spring 2007). "Café Corner: Behind the Bricks". Brick Journal 1 (7): 26–32.
- Krutzfeldt, Melody (Spring 2007). "Checking Out the Corner (first review)". Brick Journal 1 (7): 33–35.
- Meno, Joe (July 24, 2007). "A Look Behind Market Street". BrickJournal.com. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- "Café Corner Product Listing (10182)". lego.com. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- http://www.bricktow ntalk.com/2007/05/coming-soon.html
- "LUGNET Product Information for Market Street (10190)". lugnet.com. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- "Market Street Product Listing (10190)". lego.com. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Evangelista, Joseph (June 29, 2007). "A Look at the Market Street". Brick Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Krützfeldt, Melody (June 29, 2007). "A Second Look at the Market Street". Brick Journal. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Meno, Joe (March 8, 2008). "Behind the Bricks of the Green Grocer". Brick Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- "Product News: LEGO Group publishes new entirely fan designed product". LEGO.com. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- "LUGNET Product Information for Green Grocer (10185)". lugnet.com. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- "Green Grocer Product Listing (10182)". lego.com. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Meno, Joe (April 3, 2008). "Going Green with the Green Grocer". Brick Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Meno, Joe (June 15, 2009). "Build an Authentic Vintage Fire Station!". Brick Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "Grand Emporium Product Listing (10211)". lego.com. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- "Pet Shop Product Listing (10218)". lego.com. Retrieved 2011-05-10.