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.
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.