With 12 new LEGO stores opening in North America this year, one happened to be in my hometown of Wauwatosa, WI. The news was very exciting since it would be the first LEGO store in Wisconsin, and the closest store was in Schaumburg, Illinois. For the store grand openings, this set was one of the giveaways for spending $35 or more. My time there was quite the experience. I had to wait in a line of 2,000 or so people, which stretched the length of the mall the store is in and then some. Kids and AFOLs alike lined up starting at four in the morning to get their hands on this promotional set, and luckily, after a two-hour wait, my 10 AM arrival was awarded with this very rare set.
Set: 3300003 LEGO Store Promotional Set
Number of Pieces: 280
Number of Minifigures: 0
Price: Free with $35 purchase
The box is simply designed and much smaller than I originally thought (about the size of a 20 USD set). The minimalist black design reminds me of the Architecture series box designs, which is a good thing in my opinion. I almost don't want to open the box, because of its potential value. I see a few people who were at the event in Wisconsin are already selling them for insane prices.
The back of the box shows a few of the interior details of the store. There's a kind of artsy photograph of the set serving as the backdrop here. You might also notice that the box is opened by popping in a punch hole rather than by tearing the flaps. A welcome addition, I think; I will probably keep the box because it opened so well. The top and bottom of the box just show some details on copyrights and where the various components of the complete set where made.
The left and right sides of the box show the set from different angles, and also feature more Lego store silhouettes. Nothing much to see here, but extra details probably aren't necessary for such a small and irregular set.
Pouring out the contents, we have four baggies of pieces, an instruction booklet, and yes, a Dreaded Sticker Sheet. Luckily it's only one sticker, but I would think to increase the value (and uniqueness) of this promo set the designers could have printed it on. I would like to note that the bags were packed pretty snugly within the box when I opened it, so that the instruction booklet lay flat inside and was not bent at all. In addition, none of the pieces were scratched or otherwise damaged, so I think that TLG should start packing all sets like this to save on money as well as cut down on paper production.
The instruction booklet, like the box, is also very simple. Featuring a calm, blue background and piece call-outs for each step, the building process is fairly straightforward. There aren't many pieces of similar color in the set, so there isn't really any issue when it comes to using the right parts according to the manual.
Before we start the build, I would like to point out some parts that caught my eye. Firstly, there are a lot of different trans-clear element included, which can always be useful. This set contains three-brick high windows, 2x2 round bricks, 1x1 bricks, headlight bricks, and the new 1x1 round plates all in trans-clear. We also have smokey cheese, 2x2 yellow plates with center studs, and an interesting 1x4 black tile with a stud on either end. I'm not sure how new that last element is, but I'm sure it could be a great substitute for using both plates and tiles.
Starting right away with the build, we start be laying the foundations of the mini-scale building. At this point the placement of parts may seem a bit random, but it will all make sense shortly. You can see that the base makes use of a lot of tiles, for a smooth surface. Studs are only present when there's a need to attach something, and that's something I really like.
Now we build up the walls a little bit and add some interior details. In the front of the store there is a trans-clear 1x1 brick representing a glass case containing a displayed set (in my store it was the mini-modulars). The stacked 1x2 red plates are the giant classic 2x4 red brick frequently seen in Lego stores. We've also added the checkout counter complete with a black cheese slope as a cash register and another glass case, I assume. Note the studs attached to bricks with studs on the side on the back wall. This is a colorful and clever design for the famous pick-a-brick wall.
Next we finish building up the side and rear walls as well as complete the four rows of pick-a-brick containers. Together the studs make a rainbow of colors, and I am instantly reminded of that awesome feeling you get when you fill a cup up to the brim with bricks for the next big MOC project.
This next part is really cool. Two identical "shelves" are built to line the side walls of the store. The multi-colored bricks represent various set boxes, and the white 1x1 bricks on the side are the posts. The trans-clear 1x1 is another glass display case, and - this is my favorite part - the 1x2 bricks with Technic pin holes are the little round display windows that show some MOCs that decorate the store. I thought this piece usage was really cool, and although simple, I would've never thought of adding this detail. Here's what I'm talking about:
Kudos to the designer for adding this small but much appreciated detail.
Here's the store with the shelves added. Also notice the two micro sets displayed in the very front. I assume the left one, in blue and grey, is the giant Super Star Destroyer (let me tell you that thing is impressive ). And then on the right I think the house-shaped thing is supposed to be a modular building. Both are really neat details.
Now we start building up the front windows. The black and clear parts go well together, and this is where the trans-clear headlight bricks come into play. They are used to attach the "door handles", which work really well for creating an all-glass door. I will surely be using these special pieces for that technique in the future. On another note, building the stacks of black 1x1 bricks is a little repetitive and annoying to get them to line up correctly, but this doesn't really take away from the overall experience too much.
Building up the rest of the front wall. The trans-clear 3-high window pieces look really nice here and allow a good view to the inside. Also, the Lego sign is added, which I have a few gripes about. Firstly, the sign should be all red (so using red pieces instead of white). Also, it's a shame that the logo is a sticker and not printed on to the tile. Like I said earlier, it would really make this exclusive set exceptional, not only for the value but also not having to deal with the annoyance of applying the sticker (my hands are not steady at all so it's a miracle that I got it on at least partially straight and center).
Next we top the walls off with plain tiles and the new tiles with studs. These will help keep the roof on but also make it easy to remove. This is not a new technique on TLG's part, but the parts that do it are. The piece is certainly easier to use than 2 1x1 plates and a 1x2 tile that it replaces.
Also notice the little green cones that represent trees on the outside. I'm pretty sure my store inside the mall didn't have these, but they're still nice details that fill out the outside.
Finally the roof is built. In the center are six yellow 2x2 tiles with center studs, capped off by the new trans-clear 1x1 round tiles. This little design symbolizes stud shapes, which is a cool little detail that is certainly better than a plain roof. And I can only begin to image the usefulness of the 1x1 round tile.
Not to be forgotten, the underside of the roof features some pieces that make up a light fixture for the inside of the store. Again, it's these little details that really make mini designs like this.
The complete set. Overall, it is instantly recognizable. The design is smooth and sturdy (so no worries about kids breaking it unless it's dropped on the floor, and even then I think it would hold up pretty well). Although the whole thing is rather small, it is also impressive and makes a great display piece or paperweight.
A front view. This scene should be familiar to any FOL who's had the chance to visit a Lego brand store.
And an angle on the back. Not much to see here, though what could there possibly be? I think I would prefer it to be plain than if they added some sort of design, such as stickers or even a mosaic.
The roof can be attached and removed from the walls really easily, as mentioned before. It's fun to do and allows one to peer inside:
The extra parts in this set were quite generously given. A lot of 1x1 round plates and even a 1x1 round tile are left over. One thing I don't get is why another 1x6 white plate was included. The parts inventory says that there is eight included in the set, but this one makes nine. Strange, but okay.
Build/Design: 10/10: I thought that the design was very clever with all of the little details representing different things inside a LEGO store at a miniature scale. The pick-a-brick wall, round display windows, and details on the roof were all great.
Playability: N/A: As a collector's item and a promotional set, this category isn't really applicable here. It's more of a display item than anything if you're like me and actually open the set rather than sell it for profit.
Parts: 9/10: This set definitely contains some unique and useful parts. The trans-clear headlight bricks and 1x1 round tiles are pieces that I've never seen before, and they certainly add to the value of the set. My only gripe is that the logo sign was a sticker and not a printed tile.
Price: 5/5: This set comes free with a $35 purchase, so it's a really excellent deal. I suppose if you consider the time cost a factor (waiting in line for two hours), you could say it costs a lot. But I don't really mind that, because I feel privileged to own such a neat set and it was well worth the wait.
Final Score: 24/25: An excellent rating. This set is exclusive and is well-designed to boot, and I'm really glad to have it. I was also shocked to see so many Fans of Lego in my area, young and old alike. It is pretty much unheard of to have lines longer than a few hundred people in the small city of Wauwatosa and even in Milwaukee, but thousands of people from all over Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Canada came to this event. That really goes to show the popularity of our favorite little bricks, and also rejects the general notion of people unfamiliar with Lego that "they're just for little kids".
Overall, I highly recommend this set to anyone having a store opening near them this year. It's a cool thing to have, and it's also very valuable if that's your thing. Get there early, because there's a limited amount of these. I don't know if buying one of these for over 200 USD is worth it to someone who's not a die-hard collector, but I guess that's really up to you. And of course there won't be that satisfaction after you waited two hours in line to get it, but that's just me.
A minifgure peers inside, wondering when his local store will open its doors. Too bad he's too big to fit inside...
Edited by Rufus, 26 May 2012 - 09:04 AM.