LEGO, Productivity

LEGO Brick Bank: How To Cash In On Fun With A Sound Investment

Next up in my series of reviews for the LEGO Creator Expert range, I’m tackling the LEGO Brick Bank. I have previously reviewed Assembly Square and the Parisian Restaurant. The Brick Bank has a dual function, as it might be enabling me to ‘bank’ for my future.

Now I couldn’t bear to part with these kits or to not even open the box in the first place, but those that have more self-restraint have earned a tidy profit. This is not a guaranteed money spinner, as with any type of antique collecting, but retired models in the LEGO Creator Expert range have sold for 2 or 3 times their original value. If a set is rare enough, I think you could recoup your spend even on a model that had been built. As we know, that isn’t my motivation for buying them, but I thought it worth mentioning, especially as today’s build has a financial theme.

Lego Brick Bank: How To Cash In On Fun With A Sound Investment

What I love about the LEGO modular builds are their intricate, technical builds, like the underside of the bank roof, and their humorous details, such as the frog below. I have no idea why there is a frog on the roof. I thought it might be a tribute to a designer’s favourite animal, but I can find no details on this. Either way, he livens up the winch, currently being used to help the launderette sign, but which also serves a more nefarious purpose.

LEGO kits are great for the imagination, but to help you along, Brick Bank has a secret storyline. The seemingly innocuous photographer is actually *gasp* a bank robber. Having hidden her disguise on the roof, she uses the winch from the rope to lower herself down into the bank vault via the chimney. In no small feat of engineering, it is actually possible to drop the figure down through the completed building, then remove the top floor to find her safely in the locked vault. You cannot imagine how much fun myself and my parents had ‘testing’ this feature.

Here is a shot of our robber doing a test run before the roof was put on. Despite the hot fire on the other side, she slipped down the chimney like a Father Christmas in training. The bank manager is totally oblivious, although I would be too if I had that grand red and gold stamper to play with. He also has a pet parrot, which I’ve managed to cut out of this photo, but provides a nice link to the florist in Assembly Square. In his drawer he has a love letter, perhaps it is from her?

Now you might be wondering why there is a launderette tucked into the back of this rather grand old brick bank. Well it’s not so all the LEGO people can wash their clothes. If you look carefully, you will see that the top right machine is out of order. It has a false back and if you post money through it (or diamonds, both of which are generously supplied) then it ends up in the safes in the vault. This is, of course, money laundering. Feel free to groan at the pun, but it’s a neat feature.

As the machine unit fits into the vault, on the back is a coin counting machine. Adorably, it actually does stack the shiny coins (and the spares that I couldn’t fit in went in Assembly Square’s fountain for luck). This is not a playset for fat fingers, the vault door is simple but very effective and there’s a lot crammed in a small space. There is also some beautiful architecture, rivalling the restaurant I think. The stained glass windows are a particular highlight, although as they are made by a billion stacks of 1 by 1 pieces, they are also a literal pain. I had to soak my fingers after assembling the panels! But the pain was worth it.

With the Brick Bank being a floor shorter than the others, you might think this was a smaller or less detailed build. But while it is shorter when the buildings are lined up, the footplate is packed with fancy tiling, window treatments, an insane skylight and a beautiful chandelier. There are plenty of story opportunities, even if you ignored the criminal activity. Best yet, for collectors at least, this is one of the corner buildings, so it finishes the end of the road nicely. Next time, I’ll be delving further into the criminal underworld of LEGO with the Detective’s Office.

LEGO, Productivity

LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

As promised in my last LEGO review of Assembly Square, this month we continue my new-found addiction with a look at the sumptuous LEGO Parisian Restaurant.  Let’s dive straight into this intricate build.

LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

I already have a patisserie in Assembly Square, so popping a restaurant next door seemed like a good move. In my head, the chefs are brothers with a friendly rivalry. The restaurant chef is called Albert, I know this because LEGO kindly included a sign with the restaurant. I also have an enormous croissant, which is possibly my only complaint with this build, the food is a little out of proportion. See into the kitchen in the photo below, where that lovely turkey has been perfectly cooked, but not in that oven. Although I was delighted to see LEGO’s usual attention to detail as each drumstick pulls off. Note also the intricacy of the tiled floor, and the stack of dishes by the sink. It’s all these little details that make these builds a joy, and the LEGO Parisian Restaurant does not lack joy.

LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

So packed is it, in fact, that some of the details become obscured. Here is a shot of the outside seating area, with the word ‘CHEZ’ carefully picked out. Unfortunately, this then gets hidden under the seats and the table with the enormous croissant. I suppose some builders might enjoy having secret bits to themselves.

LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

There is a second seating area, up a staircase from the front that converts to a side patio, overlooked by a stunning chimney. The chimney is a slow build, one lot of bricks per page of the manual, but the finished effect is superb. It also matters not a jot to the overall playability or structure of the restaurant, which is what I love about LEGO, they pop in bits just because they can. This next photo also gives you an idea of the roof, which is a feat of engineering. I have no idea how they come up with these ways to fit lumps of plastic together. Not only does this roof curve, it also includes windows and *can be pulled down* to reveal an artist’s studio.

That all of this can be done without the LEGO feeling like it is going to snap or fall off is excellent. I sometimes think my LEGO buildings are sturdier than my actual house!
LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining buildLEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining buildLEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

All that chimney is for a lovely kiln, despite our artist not being a potter. She is a dab hand at Piet Mondrian style paintings, a double bonus for me as alongside being a clear fit for LEGO’s style, he happens to be my favourite painter. With Paris being one of my favourite and most-visited places, and with me being a huge fan of dining out, it’s like this kit was invented just for me. In fact, the LEGO Parisian Restaurant was the first in the series that I saw, several years ago in an official LEGO shop. To have it sat on the table in front of me now is an odd sensation.

LEGO Parisian Restaurant: An intricate and entertaining build

The middle floor of this three-storey build is given over a studio flat. The poor chap that lives here doesn’t have a loo, so I suppose he’ll have to make friends with the single mum next door at Assembly Square and use hers. He does have a great pull-down bed though, architects would do well to take notes from LEGO in how to build space saving homes.

Not that building LEGO saves any space in my home, we’ve had to create a special surface for my new street. Next month, I’ll give you a tour of LEGO Creator Expert Brick Bank, but if you want sneak previews, be sure to check out Instagram where I showcase my builds.

LEGO, Productivity

How to build a LEGO obsession: Buy the brilliant Assembly Square

I had a basic LEGO set when I was little, but I never embraced it through to adulthood like many of my friends had done. That said, I did enjoy browsing the LEGO store and seeing the beautiful sculptures that people came up with. I’d keep an eye out for internet articles on new builds. And thus I was led to the LEGO Creator Expert series, a group of modular buildings that fit together to form a street. For the range’s 10 year anniversary, LEGO threw everything into building a town square that would incorporate elements from all the previous builds, include a whopping 7 shops and a flat, 8 highly prized minifigures (plus dog and baby) and a plethora of features to make this LEGO’s most detailed set of the series. I fell in love.

How to build an obsession: Buy LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square | Prior Portfolio | Vicky Prior - Freelance Writer

Assembly Square is a magnificent piece of kit. It also retails for a fairly magnificent price, which given the fact the kit contains over 4000 individual pieces, is actually very reasonable. I had a small amount of savings left over from moving house with my parents, a particularly stressful and complex move. Didn’t I deserve a treat? No, they said, reasonably pointing out that I hadn’t established my writing business in Doncaster as yet, and so needed to keep hold of my savings.

Then came my 31st birthday, when it transpired that my mischievous parents had ordered LEGO Assembly Square the very next day after I’d shown it to them. Apparently, I did deserve a treat after all. This is where things went horribly wrong, if you’re my parent’s bank balance, and horribly right if you’re a LEGO seller. We all fell in love with Assembly Square. We couldn’t believe the detail. Building it satisfied my architectural fantasies and my love of dollhouses. The storytelling possibilities were endless. We had to have more.

How to build an obsession: Buy LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square | Prior Portfolio | Vicky Prior - Freelance Writer
There is water in the toilet bowl!
How to build an obsession: Buy LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square | Prior Portfolio | Vicky Prior - Freelance Writer
A chicken statue tops of one of the buildings

And so this is the first in a series of blogs about the LEGO Creator Expert range. I have all the ones currently available, bar the Diner because it’s just not quite right for me. I will be reviewing each build in turn and I regularly post pictures on my Instagram, where the response from fellow AFOLs (Adult Fans Of LEGO) has been delightful.

Now to the nitty-gritty: The ridiculously large box houses lots of bags of LEGO, numbered 1-6 for each stage of the build. You work from the floor up, with the groundwork including lots of detailed tiling, as well as paving and even street vents. Then you build each room up, filling it with baking equipment for the patisserie, flowers in the florist, a piano for the ballet teacher and a camera for the photographer. Best of all, the flat is occupied by an official AFOL, who has filled the room with her LEGO models. In a stroke of genius, these comprise miniature versions of famous LEGO sets, including the first three Creator Expert buildings. Here is a LEGO train set in miniature, with the Eiffel Tower in the background:

How to build an obsession: Buy LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square | Prior Portfolio | Vicky Prior - Freelance Writer

The outside is magnificent and the inside a hoot, but even the back of these builds is a sight to behold. An alleyway between the coffee shop and the florist leads to back and side entrances, plus access to the dentist , photographer and flat via a gorgeous climbing staircase with balconies. The flat has an outdoor garden and grill area, hidden from front view by the elaborate roof, while the florist has a stained glass window section that can be removed for easier access while playing. The design is a nod to LEGO Creator Expert Brick Bank.

How to build an obsession: Buy LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square | Prior Portfolio | Vicky Prior - Freelance Writer

The keener-eyed of my readers will notice a ladder to the left of the grill area. Rooftop access is very important to LEGO modular builds, and the roof of the blue building can also be accessed via staircase and trap door. Alongside offering surfaces for creating my own outdoor space (I’m thinking a romantic picnic area on top of the flat) it links in well with the rooftop escape needed in the LEGO Brick Bank storyline. But you’ll have to wait for my third review to find out about that…

It should be obvious that I thoroughly recommend buying LEGO Creator Expert Assembly Square 10255 Building Kit, although I accept no responsibility for any ensuing addiction. I do have to tell you that the links in this blog are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and purchase anything from the Amazon store, I will receive some commission. This does not alter the price you pay, though it will enhance my ability to buy more LEGO.

My next review will be LEGO Creator Expert Parisian Restaurant and should be published in March.