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REVIEW: 10211 Grand Emporium


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#1 Svelte

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 09:39 PM

INDEXED

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Set Number: 10211
Set Name: Grand Emporium
Theme: Modular Houses
Pieces: 2182
Price: $US149.99; EUR149.99; GBP 139.99: $AUD249.99
Links: Shop @ Home; Brickset; Bricklink

NOTE: All images in the review are clickable through to larger flickr versions.

Introduction

The release of a new Modular Building from LEGO is now an exciting annual tradition, akin to Christmas, or a birthday :laugh: It brings anticipation, excitement, and a frenzy of activity once the big day arrives! We're now up to No. 5 in the series (yes, I count 10190 Market Street) and the line - designed by Exclusives maven Jamie Berard - shows no sign of flagging. Almost 3 years have passed since the release of the original Modular Building, 10182 Cafe Corner - how does the latest addition to the range measure up? Will it attract shoppers to stores with crazed desire in their eyes, or will it be relegated to the bargain basement? :oh: OK, spoiler - probably not the latter :laugh:

Part 1: Box, Parts and Minifigures

The box is the same standard size as the other large Exclusives. No inner tray was as introduced in 10185 Green Grocer, which is a shame as its hard to keep these weighty boxes mint without support.
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The back of the box shows a wealth of detail! Aah, if only they reproduced these delightful vignettes inside the instructions so we didn't have to rely on keeping the box - boo! (Odd that they only seem to do this in Star Wars sets... anyone know why? :look:)

(There are heaps of closeups - with witty captions! - of the box details in my flickr stream for those interested :wink:)
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The figs and some of the interior furnishings. Designer Jamie Berard has really captured the feel of a Department store, with a mesmerising display of crystalline beauty and shiny shiny pieces! Perfume bottles! Gold plates! Emerald goblets! Be alert or be-dazzled! The toys are a welcome addition to the range provided in 10199 Winter Toy Shop and you could easily add to your shop display using the mini models there. Typical giant retailer, comes along and puts the small independent out of business :laugh:
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I'm not sure what this gentleman - previously seen pantless in the change room - is doing in this shot from the side of the box... Maybe that's why this box is marked 16+ only :oh:
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There 3 instruction books but this is more like Green Grocer's 4 part build - ground floor, 2 middle floors, and detailed roof. Posted Image

You can find a 2000+ pixel wide clear image of the parts listing here if you're so inclined :wink: It's a wonderful selection, full of exciting new pieces like the Prince of Persia arch and dark green windows aplenty, but also full of old reliables like basic tan bricks, black headlights, white plates, and lots of tiles.

Too many baggies to photograph properly! The sight of so many parts would send any AFOLs heart a-racing :wub:
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The contents of all the 'Bag 1's:
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Interesting parts from these bags. The green domes are surprisingly solid, as others have noted, and brilliantly reflective. Trans-clear headlight bricks! A curiosity, but sure to fetch a high-price on Bricklink. Much tiley goodness. Also 10x metallic grille tiles.
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The *human* minifigs. A nice selection of figs, with a great mix of newer torsos and hairpieces. The shopping bags are cute - any excuse to add some of those uncommon 1x1 tiles in medium blue. And who even knew a minifig could hold pants like that? :wacko: :laugh:
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Mannequins. Yay for an extra of the 2009 hairpiece! Yay for another Brickbeard's Bounty dress ensemble! Yay for dark tan man-hair! (Suck it Ricecracker - I told you it was dark tan :wink:). The minifig heads aren't blank, just classic smileys turned around :thumbup: Using classic smileys is one of my favourite part of these sets and really hearkens back to a (different) golden age of building.
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Ordinary shop dummies or something more sinister? You be the judge!
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Part 2: The Build - Ground Floor

Now we start the build itself. "You can never have enough hats, shoes or LEGO tiles", as fashion editatrix Patsy Stone might have said if she were an AFOL:
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Quality control rears its ugly head early in the build. A new shade of medium bley, perhaps? Actually the quality of the rest of the set was pretty good - much better than previous sets - so it's unfortunate I noticed this so early on:
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A smidgeon of dark green unexpectedly tucked away below the rest of the ground floor build - typically lovely attention to detail.
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We start adding interior details. An assortment of potions and perfumes. It's like Benjamin's 'Arcades Project' come to life!
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The three easily detachable counters (there's a 2x2 round plate on the base) can be recombined for a gambling table! Cafe Casino, anyone?
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They don't take credit cards in this store - look at that old skool register! Gemstones are securely locked away and held in place by those trans-clear headlights.
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You can see that the Emporium has a much bigger interior footprint than its predecessors and doesn't cut in at the back - this is necessary to allow room for the escalators - and more furnishings, of course!
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The domes are really, really reflective! They look great. Headlight lovers will be relieved to know that the new 1x1 brick with stud on one side hasn't made old faithful extinct - there's 68 black headlights in these wall sections :thumbup:
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With the canopies and brick detailing added. Lookin' classy! You can see that compared to the other modular houses, the Emporium is a lot lighter and brighter in colour selection.
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The revolving door is divided into 3 panes of glass, unlike the simpler version used in the Airport sets with 4 panes. The Technic half-pin with ball pops into the turntable - clever!
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Another clever technique utilising the 1x3 tiles for strength on the lettering. Extra clip plates hold the hose sturdily. The quality of yellow seems better than at its low point in the glowy alien mess produced in mid 2009 (like in 7641 City Corner) although colour differences persist. The dream is to have 2 10211s side by side - with one sign reading POSH and the other with SHOP. Haha!
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Next up, we build the escalator. The effect of treads is given using lots of those 1x2 cheese pieces in bley. Finally a decent use for this piece! :grin:
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The assembly attaches firmly in place.
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The addition of 1x1 bricks with cheese at the top finishes off the join noicely.
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It didn't really strike me looking at the early images that were released, but I love, love, love, the simple throughline of blue on this effective little model. The gold is a nice touch. Great work! Even the smallest details are made as perfect as possible.
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Mailbox and odd potplant technique with Technic axles and round 2x2 plates. I like mine better! Haha!
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Just for comparison :wink:
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The completed ground floor. Isn't it lovely? Awash with tasteful splashes of dark green, dark tan and dark blue, with brighter accents such as the fire hydrant, ice-cream vendor and SHOP sign. There is something seamless yet simple about the design. It has a 'classic' feel even though it isn't really comparable to any classic set. It doesn't feel fussy or tricksy, like some of the details on 10197 Fire Brigade either -  it's gauged just right.
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Bird's eye view!
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Side-on view.
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Looking back over the interior of the ground floor. With the tan floor, it's warm and enticing in a way that bley or green wouldn't be.
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The rear exit. The curve is simple but well done. Solid gold doorknobs - nothing but the best for the customers of LEGO City!
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Leftovers. Probably that ice-cream is supposed to go inside the cart. Oops!
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At this point of the build, one needs some time to have fun with captions! :wink:

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:oh:
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Part 3: The Build - First Floor

Now we move on to the first floor build. Yay for parts! The quality of tan is much higher than in 07-08. Colours aren't 100% perfect, but they are a lot better.

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The divine new Prince of Persia curved arch. If only they had this piece (or a larger version of it) in production before doing the 10189 Taj Mahal (all the Taj arches are pointed, and LEGO's version just does not look right)
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19 dark green 1x2x3 windows and 19 dark green 1x2x2 windows. There's 38 more in the upper level too! It reminds me of painted-over ornate Victorian ironwork. Next stop: The Great Exhibition hall! The Crystal Palace! MOC heaven!
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The base is simple and sturdy. The curve is a nice departure from the more angular look of 10182 Cafe Corner.
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Where is the bridal registry? Tut-tut!
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The through-line of dark tan adds a luxe strip to the walls.
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The arches and dark green windows remind me of LOTR's Rivendell, for some reason. Let the Fantasy MOCers rejoice! It's a dreamy Art Deco combination, with the organic colours and arboreal curves.
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The flags add a splash of colour although if it was a real store it would be more likely to be billowing signage. 'SHOP AT SHOP! YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP! FOR SHOPPING!'
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From the side, we get a cross-hatch detail from the windows.
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Overview of the interior.
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It's pretty classy. Not the kind of store to put you through a metal detector and body search on the way out. And yet it is strangely unattended... FINALLY THE THIEVES OF LEGO CITY HAVE SOMEWHERE TO STEAL FROM! All those years of enormous Police HQs are justified, retrospectively. I'd like to see the thieves sneak out that bowl in their pockets.
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Noice. It really is.
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Ground floor and the first floor assembled together. We're almost there!
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Side-view.
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Extra parts from this part of the build - surprisingly stingy!
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#2 Svelte

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 09:59 PM

Part 4: The build - Second Floor

The parts! More than the last section, as this includes the roof.
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The 2 smokey 12 wide windows of hugedom, 22 Prince of Persia arches in white, and 3 bley parts I've never seen before.
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A lonely window washer. How he maintains a smile on his face during his endless hours dangled above the street is beyond me. Is it happiness? Is it crystal meth? Only his dealer knows for sure.
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The build is similar to Part 2, but with a different arrangement of display plinths. Is it repetitive? Maybe a little, but it didn't bother me. It's not like it was super-complicated like the 10196 Grand Carousel.
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So cute! The scooter rocks, the mini Creator house is brilliant, and the balls are... balls. As I said, you could add any existing toys from the 10199 Winter Toy Shop.
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So beautiful! Check out the instructions to see exactly how this is put together, but it's mainly little clips and 1x2 trans plates arrange around one of those plates with 8 side arms (and one more trans-clear headlight :wink:). Adorable genius!
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And it looks amazing in position, too.
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The finished second floor - not too different from the first, except missing the flagpoles.
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Next up, we start the roof. The base of the roof is slightly different to the other floors, to allow room for the skylight.
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The two giant windscreens sit next to each other and are held in place by clip plates at the edges. These windscreens are an interesting choice of piece for LEGO to revive, appearing as they do in only 3 sets in the late 90s - will we see it in some other upcoming set?
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Lots of 1x3 tiles for your enjoyment, 1x3 tile aficionados. It is a blessing how parts-friendly these sets are! Jamie makes sure to give us multiples of all the good stuff :wink: The edging is solidly built up with inverse slopes and 1x1 round bricks, too.
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Organic and beautiful detail on the underside of the roof.
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The floodlight part of the billboard assemblage.
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The billboard makes good use of 1x3 tiles in yellow to give a smooth (yet a little terrifying) rendition of a fig face. The gift-wrapped present is attached by the back of a headlight brick to a 2x2 dark tan jumper tile. I smell a 'Customise your 10211 Billboard' competition in the future!
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The completed roof:
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All the layers added.
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I couldn't resist another closeup of the chandelier through the roof, although honestly the logic of having a chandelier below a skylight does seem a little odd to me :laugh:
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The detailed interior:
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Our meth-loving friend on his window-washing apparatus. He even takes a cup up with him! Surely that violates health and safety legislation? What if it fell and hit someone? Tssk!
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Sparse parts of spare.
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Part 5: Finished Model - The Grand Emporium!

And here we have the finished building, in all its lustrous beauty. A true marriage of art and commerce!
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Side elevation:
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Low angle looking up, also showing the window washer. If I was a fig I'd be pretty impressed too :sweet: You can see here how the white arches really add another level of decorative delight.
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Like real retail buildings, the sides are pretty non-descript.
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So much tan! The tan is a lot warmer than the mainly-bley walls of Fire Brigade.
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And finally, my own Department Store meets the Grand Emporium! It's a marriage of minds :laugh: The Department Store wins on height - at least until I get a few extra floors for the Grand Emporium :devil:
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Conclusion

Let's face it, like those special annual events such as Christmas or a birthday, the release of a new Modular House is to be ignored at your own peril, so you can already guess I'm going to tell you to buy this set! :laugh: You can already get a feel for parts/ value/ playability from the review (posing the figs in compromising positions is hours of entertainment in itself!).

- The use of a 32x32 baseplate makes moving the thing around easier than the potential 'lift and separate' effect you get with the other Modulars - can we keep this in future?
- The colour scheme is a lot lighter and warmer - and more inviting - than its predecessors. Even Green Grocer feels 'darker' with the black/ bley roof. All it lacks is a PF sound brick playing 'muzak' on repeat for the full consumer experience.
- The interior is not too detailed, which I personally don't mind as it does encourage you to add your own touches. It doesn't look as empty as it does in some of the official images, either. The only thing I wouldn't mind is a tiled ground floor - maybe Jamie could give us a sketch or idea for an unofficial parquetry floor or somesuch? HINT HINT.
- A sense of humour is to be encouraged and the funny box art is a great tradition which I hope continues  :thumbup:
- Having 2 almost identical top floors is a twist on the corner design and a neat idea to make it much easier to build higher versions - I really like this as many of these department stores have near-identical middle facades
- For me, this is right up there at the top of the modular series along with 10185 Green Grocer. There is something amazing about the vast expanse of frontage a corner building creates, so it's very pleasing to see this style return 3 years after the release of the original.

Thanks for reading!

And of course a big thankyou to the talented Jamie Berard for continuing to bring us these marvels!  :thumbup:

#3 GRogall

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:10 PM

Thanks Svieti!

Great review, and excellent pictures! :)

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#4 wooootles

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:15 PM

Thanks!

GG still the best modular model, but GE wins in a landslide when it comes to part selection.  So AFOL/MOC friendly!

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#5 Extreme Sadness.

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:16 PM

FINALLY!This is easily your best review yet!Though, the dude that doesn't have any pants on is kinda creepy, especiallly since he is essentially molesting the Gangster-in-training on the back of the box :oh: .

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Edited by Extreme Sadness., 03 March 2010 - 10:17 PM.

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#6 Zorbas

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:20 PM

Amazing review!

A great thanks for all the detailed photos and the fun moments :grin:  Svelte!

Man, GE looks absolutely beatiful! :wub:  I bought my first modular--Cafe Corner, what an excellence!-- about a month ago and  built it last weekend and I must say that this one HAS to be next to it.
All the details look fantastic and the building  design is just great! Grey, dark green and tan produce a wonderful result for the eyes.


Thanks again for the splendid review Svelte and a great thanks to Jamie Berard for this marvellous set!
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#7 the Inventor

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:31 PM

Thank, Svelte for this great review.  :thumbup:
:wub:
It does indeed look much warmer than the other modular buildings.


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#8 lightningtiger

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:34 PM

Thanks 'Svelte' for this highly detailed and AWESOME review of an AWESOME set. :grin:
Let me ask you, I your opinion could a down escalator go in there, my observations say yes, then it would be just like my local Myer's department store at TTP which is as old as me (over 40 years, yep I'm old). :wink:
It also appears to me that there is room to add more merchandise and display fixtures on any of the floors - I'm still going to design that basement for this !
Thanks again for a fun and informative look at the GE, I must say it almost comes close to the GG.
Keep on bricking everyone ! :sweet:

#9 The Cobra

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:34 PM

This is better than "outstanding". Thanks for this terrific review!
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#10 Etzel

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:35 PM

Excellent review, Svelte! I had really fun reading it :laugh: :thumbup:

The Grand Emporium sure looks good. The amount of tan and lot of useful pieces makes it interesting from a part perspective. I will have to wait and see what this will cost in my country before I decide weather or not to buy it.  It will probably be quite a bit and there are a lot of other LEGO that I plan to buy this year :sceptic:

#11 brickme

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:39 PM

Wow really outdo yourself svelte. (aside from shaving)  :tongue:   Anyway this set looks spectacular! Can't wait to pick up a copy.
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#12 Erdbeereis

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:41 PM

Another awesome review, thanks Svelte. :thumbup:

This really is a beauty of a set, lots of great parts as well. I'll maybe try to get this one.

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#13 Bonaparte

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:42 PM

Wow, this set is just unbelievable  :wub:

Even tough I'm not a City collector I've been buying several of these modular buildings because I just can't resist buying them. This shows that there are people in the LEGO Company who are extremely talented. And I'm very thankful that these people are allowed the creative freedom to make something as awesome as this. Thanks!!!

And a special thanks to Svelte for making this review. So many pictures and each of them available in high-res... that must have taken a lot of time and devotion.

This is a review worthy of this set!

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#14 Rufus

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:49 PM

Wow, what an absolutely delightful review!  Svelte, you have outdone yourself here.  It's witty, informative, with colourful, descriptive language and  beautiful clear pictures demonstrating every little detail of this amazing set.  I was alternately laughing and gasping throughout.

Quote

These windscreens are an interesting choice of piece for LEGO to revive, appearing as they do in only 3 sets in the late 90s - will we see it in some other upcoming set?
10212 Imperial shuttle windscreen??  But then it be mahusive.

Hats off to Berard for another modular masterpiece.  Ever practical Rufus has only one concern:  two up escalators, how do the poor devoted Lego shoppers get back down?  Or do they remain trapped for eternity in the Toy department?  Worse things could happen!

#15 prateek

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:50 PM

Wow! A great review, and an even better set! This is one of the best modular buildings yet, with GG up there too. IMO, leave Jamie alone :tongue:  :look:

#16 Svelte

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:55 PM

View PostRufus, on Mar 4 2010, 07:49 AM, said:

two up escalators, how do the poor devoted Lego shoppers get back down?  Or do they remain trapped for eternity in the Toy department?

It's the perfect sales model! :laugh:

#17 Ricecracker

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 11:07 PM

View PostSvelte, on Mar 3 2010, 04:39 PM, said:

...Suck it Ricecracker - I told you it was dark tan :wink:
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Great review, Svelte. Thanks.

This set has an amazing parts selection, and is incredibly designed. My hat is tipped to Jaimie; I think it's time for another appreciation week! :laugh:

#18 BlueBard

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 11:29 PM

A wonderful and nicely detailed review as usual, Svelte!  :thumbup:

#19 Loganwan

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 12:18 AM

Thank you for the review.  I can see that this set is as good as I was hoping it would be.

The three bley parts you did not recognize are faux hydraulics.  It is the arm part that extends from the inside of the main body of the tube.  Personally I think there is someone that says they are going to make a part and will give a cash bonus for anyone who can put a new part into their set.  :)   We see the internal of the hydraulic here, and the external part is used as an exhaust pipe for the Pig Farm's tractor (7684).
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#20 CP5670

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 12:23 AM

As always, excellent and funny review. I haven't been a big fan of the modular buildings in the past, but this is the first one I think I'm going to buy. It has a more modern look and feel than the previous modular sets and arguably has the best interior detail we've seen so far. A department store is also something that has never been done in any normal City set.

Quote

It's pretty classy. Not the kind of store to put you through a metal detector and body search on the way out. And yet it is strangely unattended... FINALLY THE THIEVES OF LEGO CITY HAVE SOMEWHERE TO STEAL FROM! All those years of enormous Police HQs are justified, retrospectively. I'd like to see the thieves sneak out that bowl in their pockets.

:laugh:

Maybe they could use the security camera from the City Corner. I guess that sport equipment is more valuable than these fancy clothes. :tongue:

#21 Brickus

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 12:26 AM

Thanks for the excellent review Svelte.

#22 FinalFeature

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 12:40 AM

Thank you for the review Svelte!

#23 slimninj4

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 12:46 AM

just bought it today. Huge box and loving the details.

#24 Piranha

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 01:08 AM

Thanks alot Svelte  :hmpf_bad: now you have made me want this set  :grin:
Great all around review, nice commentary and great pictures.

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#25 Corvus

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 01:21 AM

Thanks for this absolutely beautiful review, Svelte! The pics were very informative, and your review was humorous, as always.

The GE is a lot better than I thought it was. When I first saw it, I thought it was fairly bland and unimpressive compared to the other modular city sets. However, this is a beautiful set, both inside and outside. The parts selection is also amazng. :wub:
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