This is my second full sized Modular Building set (see the Parisian Restaurant review). I really enjoyed the first one, so read on to see how this one compares :)
If you haven't already, be sure to watch the LEGO designer video for an interesting story about the various parts of this set.
The box measures 10 x 37.5 x 58 cm, weighs 2.6kg and contains:
- 18 x numbered bags of parts (4 x #1+ 4 x #2 + 5 x #3 + 5 x #4).
- One 8 x 16 DBG plate.
- Plastic wrap with instructions (1 book). No cardboard backing or sticker sheets.
See the full inventory of 2257 parts.
The instruction booklet is quite noteworthy in this set. For the first time (that I've come across), the single book of instructions has 173 pages with glue binding. The other difference to previous books, is that the steps sometimes have a thin red highlight around the parts to be added in each step. Not all steps have them or it would get in the way, but rather just the ones where it would be easy to miss something. I found it quite useful and a welcome change, hopefully we'll see more of this in other 2015 sets.
The photo below of the binding is how it looked after I completed the build. So, it is quite strong and hangs together quite nicely.
This set comes with six minifigs (and a cat). As is the norm with Modular Buildings, all of them have the standard smiley face print.
While technically not a new LEGO part, the set comes with a piece of cardboard that has a mirrored surface on one side. It's approx. 7 x 4 studs in size (a fraction less) and is used quite effectively as the Barber Shop mirror.
The other new part is 18674 which is a 2 x 2 round tile with a single stud in the middle. There are only two White ones of these, and they are used as tabletops in both cases.
New printed parts include the window prints - "The Highlander" and "Ace Brickman Private Detective". There are some new tile prints: a 2 x 2 round tile with Dart Board print, and a 2 x 2 square tile with Wanted poster.
New part colors are:
- 93575 - Hero Factory Fist is new in Dark Bluish Grey
- 86500 - 4x4 Dome is new in Dark Green
- 3811 - 32x32 Baseplate is new in Reddish Brown
First Floor - Pool Room
With this set being called "Detective's Office" it might seem a bit strange that the entire first floor has nothing to do with detectives. The Pool Room has a single pool table with a nice design. The room is a little cramped though, especially once the walls are up it's quite hard to get your hands in there to move things around. It's almost as if this stuff was designed for kids!
The front windows have "The Highlander" printed on (no stickers anywhere!). The round theme with the domes, and ball joints used in the columns looks good and suits the pool room well.
First Floor - Barber Shop
The other half of the first floor contains a Barber Shop. In between the two rooms there is a small walkway with stairs in the middle. It's a nice addition to break up the boxiness of the building, and actually serves a purpose to the story (see designer video). The staircase in the shop can be moved out of the way to give better access to the secret passages under the stairs and behind the cabinet which swings open.
The sign that spells AL'S is cleverly done with sideways plates/tiles that clip on to horizontal bars behind the sign.
The completed first floor looks very nice.
The rear looks a bit bare though. I'd like to see them make more use of this space, it seems such a waste when the inside of the buildings are so cramped.
Second Floor - Foyer/Bathroom
The next part of the build starts with the foyer/bathroom. It is the entrance to the neighbouring Detective's Office, accessible via the staircase from the alleyway. There's not much to see in this room, other than the tiny bathroom. Is it just me, or are there a lot of toilets being created lately?
There is a small balcony area with a pot plant outside, but the only way for anyone to access it is by climbing out of the window to stand on the black grill - of which I have no idea what it's purpose is.
Second Floor - Detective's Office
Finally, we get to the actual Detective's Office. Inside the office, there is a nice assortment of furniture. The window has been printed with "Ace Brickman Private Detective".
There's a ladder hanging off the outside of the office which is clipped at the top. If you move the clip out of the way, it will fall down through the hole towards the first floor. Unfortunately it is nowhere near long enough to actually reach the ground, making it hard to use. Still, it looks cool.
Third Floor - Kitchen
The third floor contains a kitchen, and a rooftop. The kitchen is accessible via the staircase from the 2nd floor, so is open to anybody. Given the story that it's where all the illegal sugary goods are made, that seems a bit strange. There's also a cat in here for some reason. The strangest thing about this floor, is that the arched windows don't have a glass in them! Come to think of it, have LEGO actually released an arched glass window or is it all lattices?
Third Floor - Roof
The kitchen has a door to access the roof. There's a cool looking water tower in the corner and a skylight into the Detective's Office. The water tower makes nice use of the Link Treads to get the rounded shape. I had no idea they could fit into the bottom of 1x3 tiles like that. The edging on the roof also makes nice use of the Hero Factory fist parts, which have been newly released in Dark Bluish Gray just for this purpose.
There is also a separate roof to go on top of the kitchen area. Nicely decorated with Unikitty tails around the edges. These too have been newly released in Dark Bluish Gray.
The last few items to be build are the Pool neon sign (I'll bet the Private Detective loves that just outside his window), the newspaper stand, the tree, and the lamp post.
There are 5 rooms in this set, and only one of them is a Detective's Office. It might be better called "Al's Illegal Chop Shop and Pool Hall", plus the prohibition and smuggling story from the designer video seems a bit out of character for LEGO. Despite this, it is of course a fun set to build.
As with previous Modular Buildings, this set has so many little details. You really have to build it to discover them all for yourself, the photos don't really do it justice.
While the Detective's Office looks pretty cool with the split building, I found it difficult to get my hands inside to move things around or fix things. I'm not sure if I preferred the Parisian Restaurant over this set. I like the look of the Detective's Office more, but probably prefer the Parisian Restaurant for playability.
For lots more photos taken during the review of this set see my Bricksafe page.