Thursday, November 27, 2014

LEGO® Parisian Restaurant 10243 vs Pet Shop 10218 vs Grand Emporium 10211

Here's my take on not one LEGO® Modular building but three of these Creator Exclusive sets; Grand Emporium (10211), Pet Shop (10218) and Parisian Restaurant (10243)

If you've stumbled across this article you're probably considering one of these three sets and hopefully they are still available at the time of this read. Furthermore one would by now have come across and read various reviews about each Modular set, since I was doing some sorting and organization of storage space I decide to do a review on the three we own.

I hope that the content here will offer new LEGO® fans valuable points of view about these three modular buildings and for those who already own any of them this article should act as eye candy of these LEGO® Modulars we've come to love.

Why these sets?
First thing you may ask is why these three particular Modular sets. Well it's a bit of a weird and also a personal one, some time back I returned to LEGO® after deciding to let my kid try some LEGO® himself. Since then the LEGO® experience has obviously impacted me harder than my kid and I eventually decided to build a collection of LEGO® that is worth keeping so that my kids may either choose to continue the creative building process or capitalize on the resale value of these Exclusives when the time comes.

The basis of our Modular Set decisions were based on the 'essential' principles of town establishment, by 'essential' I mean unofficial, simplistic and total unscholarly principles but my logic were as follows; like humans minifigures need to eat, sleep and trade so an establishing town needs residential property for the population to rest, at least a food and beverage outlet to feed the population and finally space for some retail therapy.

Municipals and public service structures are important but the Modular sets related to those themes especially the Fire Brigade 10197 are now retired and way too unattainable at the time of this writing. Town Hall 10224 is available but our small town is just not big enough for two Mayors. So to keep things 'essential' I stuck with the above basics to keep the play factor real and nothing too luxurious.

To keep this article manageable I will stay focused on 4 areas of discussion:
1) Release and Availability
2) Piece Count and Details
3) Design and Build
4) Size and Storage

So let's get to it.

Release and Availability
Of the three Modulars The Grand Emporium is the one that is retiring so whatever stock you do find are remaining sets or stock pile sets so availability will become rare, so any Grand Emporium sets you do find you might want to grab it if the payout matches the desire to own this Modular. 

At the time of this writing the LEGO® Online Shop has listed the Grand Emporium as a cold sold out, it still has not changed its label to Retired like the other officially retired sets but prices of available sets are seeing 30-60% increase over their original shelf price in the open market like eBay.

The Pet Shop and Parisian Restaurant are still in production with the latter easily available in most specialized toy stores including the official LEGO® Online Shop, The Pet Shop is next in line for retirement so unless you really like the design you could probably wait another 3-6 months (maybe a year who knows) or so before things start going crazy as with The Grand Emporium and insane such the Fire Brigade.

An overview of the LEGO® Modulars ever (and to be) released.

Piece count and details
Each of these Modulars have a piece count of the following:

Modular Set
Grand Emporium (10211)
Pet Shop (10218)
Parisian Restaurant (10243)

One would think a higher piece count would indicate the potential size of the final build but from the picture above you will see the smallest building of the three is actually the set with the highest amount of pieces; The Parisian Restaurant.

The full service kitchen of the Parisian Restaurant
Due to the detailing of the set and being the most recently released set (2014) out of the three the Parisian Restaurant most likely benefited from a lot of feedback from preceding sets over the years. This could have inspired the LEGO® modular design team to focus on the small details which is why The Parisian Restaurant comes with a full service kitchen, multiple food items, a fully loaded fridge with milk and cheese, lamps, a fully furnish 1st floor apartment and a top floor Artist Studio with a baking oven plus 2 paintings. All of which contribute to a more elaborate play for my kid.
I must say out of the three the Parisian Restaurant has got the most character and charm because of these fine details. It was the reason why it was our first Modular. 

Artist Studio above the Parisian Restaurant.

Here's a short preview build of the Parisian Restaurants' Artist Easel and Artwork, just the kind of simple details that make the 10243 set imaginatively charming.

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A fully furnished 1st floor apartment.
Working backwards (bypassing Palace Cinema 10232 and Town Hall 10224, sorry I don't own them yet) you will see that the details begin to reduce, where Pet Shop with a decent amount of exterior and interior details has 2 rather empty floors. The play naturally exist within the Pet Shop, its building and on the ground floor of the Town House. 

The 2 unique detachable buildings of the LEGO® Pet Shop 10218

That being said this leaves lots of room to furnish later on which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is our most recent and third modular so we haven't really had to time to do any renovations.

Though its the set with the lowest piece count it does come to you as a two piece detachable building which is unique to the entire Modular range, this would allow one to split the building across a town. Unfortunately this pretty sweet feature does come with a price and that's space, as each building is narrow it's makes it tough for hands to get in to play, even my kid who has tiny hands has issues. 




Design and Build
The Grand Emporium was our second modular acquired and when it comes to design the Grand Emporium stands out as a really nice architectural piece, for those that like the LEGO® Architecture™ series this is a great modular to transition into. 

The Grand Emporium 10211 and its distinctive architectural features
Many have said the Grand Emporium reminds them of the iconic Flatiron building in New York City, and I agree. The architectural design and elements are uncanny with its distinctive Tripartite Façade as pictured above, the Cornice was a nice touch as well.

The small downside to the Grand Emporium falls upon the build experience which can only be described as repetitive but even with the slightly boring build I was still rather excited and could not wait to get it finished because of it's design. Till today I still enjoy looking at it to appreciate its design. 

Imagine doing this build on 2 full floors. Nice symmetry though.

The interior holds another slight downside as the Grand Emporium lacks enough store detailing on the 1st and top floor, for a retail outlet it just did not have much stuff for sale, but similar to the Pet Shop this meant room to furnish and expand the original set which is what we did.

The Grand Emporium furnished with extra products.
In addition to its grand exterior it houses a bustling ground floor with mannequins, cashier and sales person, a window cleaner and an ice-cream stand out front but what was nice about the interior was the Chandelier and escalators which gave light to some unique build techniques along with the front 'SHOP' Signage which was quite cool as well.

The top floor Chandelier along with additional product 

While the Grand Emporium does measures up to its name in terms of design the Pet Shop and Parisian Restaurant do deliver on design in their way.

For instance the Pet Shop has its cool storefront sign (all these signage gave inspiration to the signage of my HUB Bike Shop Cafe MOD) and the Town House with its characteristic bay windows.

The frontage of the the LEGO® Pet Shop 10218.

Not forgetting the classical ornaments of the Parisian Restaurant upper façade that further amplifies the charm of the modular. Again it is why it was one of our first.

The classical design of the Parisians upper floors.
With LEGO® Modulars you can't go wrong with the designs, as Exclusive sets in their portfolio the design team would never compromise on their aesthetics so I'm sure lots of research and time was placed into creating them.

Size and Storage
Now here comes practical part of my overview. I'm sure not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated room or space to keep a LEGO® town displayed all day and all year round.
I tend to keep our sets stored unless my kid wants to play with a specific modular and on special occasions the town would be set up for a day to have a full on play session.

Before I got these sets and any LEGO® sets for that matter I always look at the size specifications to see where and how they could be stored before being acquired. When you have young kids LEGO® can't not be left around the house for safety purposes. Furthermore as a parent you do want to encourage and maintain a good habit of keeping things organized.

I've found that a good storage system for these Modulars and LEGO® in general are the IKEA BESTÅ Storage Units each unit section easily fits 3-4 modulars depending which one and I can safely say these three sets fit with space for another 32x32 custom modular I built. You won't have to split the floors but you could do that and enjoy a game of LEGO® Tetris (the above pic will give you an idea) to get the most space out of your storage units. Even with the current four modulars in one storage section I still have space to place containers of spares within the same unit. To me its by far the best way to keep things well stored and organized.

Summary and Conclusion
So there you have it, three really nice LEGO® Modulars each unique with their own characteristics (and flaws). Today the Parisian remains to be my favourite even with it being the smallest, to me the level of detail and it's classic design makes it a modular worth having. This same attention to detail can be seen in the latest Detective's Office 10246 and I reckon this will be what we can expect from future modulars.

It would have been nice to have gotten the Fire Brigade 10197 as my son is into Fire Stations and Fire Trucks at the moment but I guess you could say I came into the game a little too late and could not find any rationally priced sets.

There is the LEGO® CITY Fire Station 60004 which by looking at the part inventor might prove to be a decent modification project in the not too distant future.

Finally, I can see why many kids and adults enjoy LEGO® around the world and these Exclusive sets truly exemplify the potential of its creative system, furthermore it somehow fulfils our desire to play with miniature structures.

If you've reached this point of my overview it means I have done something right to keep your attention with either my words or my illustrative pictures. I hope you enjoyed this overview of mine and please do comment or feedback with any corrections if spotted. I must admit I'm hardly an expert in LEGO®, just a somewhat crazy parent that enjoys finding toy systems that can contribute to my children's (and my) creativity and right/left brain play.


UPDATE 6/5/2015: LEGO® Grand Emporium 10211 is officially retired

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