Lego introduced the Modular Buildings range in 2007, and there have been 13 sets released so far, the last of which was the Diner in early 2018. There was Cafe Corner, then Market Street, then the Green Grocer, then the Fire Station (which we’ll look at soon) and then came this – the Grand Emporium. I needed more buildings for our town, so I cut the sellotape on this one. Most expensive tape I’ve ever cut.
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At street level we have the traditional modular lamp post, along with a mailbox, two flower pots and an ice cream stand. Every modular build starts with tiling the street outside, and this is no different, and this time there’s a fancier blue square pattern leading up to the main entrance.
And that entrance is a revolving door with the word SHOP in yellow letters above. There’s some fun building techniques in making that work, and the overall effect is fantastic. Above each of the ground floor windows is a green awning, and through the windows you can see some of the available products, including hats, suits and dresses. The latter two are modelled by minfigures with the faces turned to the back so they look like mannequins, a simple yet effective trick.
Floor 2 and 3 look almost identical, with 8 windows on each, and a nice combination of flat tile and grill pieces to add some interest. The differences are that on floor 2 we get some flagpoles and flags, adding to the fact this is meant to be an upmarket shopping destination and finally on floor 3, we have a window cleaner on a platform hanging from the roof.
The roof itself has a clever use of curved pieces, with a flower stuck back to front on a tap as the central emblem. On the very top is a large skylight window, and a billboard with three lights. The billboard has a blue present and what appears to be a disappointed Lego character. If I think of a good alternative, that seems like something that could be swapped out for something better.
The two other sides are much plainer, but the rear side does have a back entrance with door and light, with two upper floor windows. Unlike many of the other modulars, the wall colours are consistent due to the lack of detail on the inside.
Of course the reason it’s called a modular, is because it all comes apart into separate floors. Newer modulars connect each floor through the use of a small number of studs on the top of each previous one, but this one does it with no studs at all, with each floor just resting on the top. This makes it much easier to take apart, but also means each floor can feel a little shoogly when pushed.
If we take it apart, I can show you the interior, and unfortunately it’s not quite as detailed. While later modulars really pushed what could be done outside and in (even if that resulted in smaller sets), it is clear that the effort here was spent on the exterior.
It’s not completely barren though, and the ground floor makes an effort to complete the department store theme, with a main checkout desk, cash register, central table containing various pieces of what appear to be jewellery, and a small changing area in the corner with a curtain. The only wall decoration is two pairs of trousers.
An escalator takes you up to the second floor, which has even less to show. Just two tables, one with two gold plates, and another covered in glasses. With nothing on the walls, and just an escalator up to the next floor, this as simple as it could be. I guess this is the homeware department.
And then on the top floor we have the sports department, with an exercise bike, container with two exercise balls and a table that has a small house on it? Or is this the baby department and that’s a trike? At least it’s finished off with this nice chandelier, made of lots of transparent 1×1 slopes.
I’ve said before that I have a soft spot for the modular range, and this one is no exception. It looks really great from the outside, and would add a touch of elegance to any Lego town. The build itself was straightforward, which as always makes me question the 16+ age range on the box. I’m not too bothered by the bare interior, because at the end of the day it’s never really going to be seen, so I’m not too averse to them using the piece count to make the outside as great as it can be. But on the flip side, sometimes you need to paint behind the radiator too, so maybe the best solution is just to increase the cost to do both.
If you have the means, you won’t be disappointed if you manage to pick this up.
This is set number 10211, and when it was released in March 2010 it retailed for £133 or $149. Nowadays, expect to pay upwards of £250 to get one brand new in box. It has 2182 pieces, and is recommended for ages 16 and up.
The overall look is of a 20th century department store, like a Harrods or Macys. Modular buildings are great because of the attention to detail, and the three floor exterior of this one doesn’t disappoint (unlike the interior, which we’ll get to shortly).