LEGO has officially hit 15 years of LEGO Creator Modular buildings, with their latest in the series showing homage to its predecessors.
LEGO 10297 - Creator Expert Modular
Available from LEGO.com and LEGO Stores from 1st Jan 2022.
LEGO's next Creator Modular is a Boutique Hotel, being the latest and greatest new modular to roll out on the shelves... or is it?
Stunning visuals, a new take on creator buildings, but is it worthy of representing the theme in its 15th year? 10 years of Modulars got us 10255 - Assembly Square. A 1.5x sized Modular setup, with multiple buildings and a nice refresher on all previous models with references galore.
The Boutique Hotel is the standard baseplate size, so is it possible that this modular has more in store on the inside? Let's take a look!
Okay, so first things first. Yes, LEGO has done a Modular Hotel before. But for those of you who didn't know, the earlier iterations of the Modular series didn't actually come with any form of interior decorations. They were purely an outside aesthetic building with no depth to the build once through the doors. That's why, in my opinion, a Modular Hotel refresher was very much overdue.
The idea to mix in an Art Gallery alongside the building was also an interesting fresh take on Modular buildings. As we have well and truly too many coffee shops and food places to count by this point. But it doesn't shy away from coffee, as of course, there is a coffee cart with the set too.
The exterior details of the Hotel part of the building are quite pleasing, with the use of golden "eggshells", as I call them, making up our palm tree decoration. With the use of black snakes and handcuffs to make the decorative guardrails and metal framework is brilliant.
But there's a glaringly obvious thing I haven't talked about. Yes, the building is FLESH COLOURED. Even since LEGO Super Mario was a thing, LEGO has introduced the same colour to a number of different building parts (as before they were exclusively Minifigures). Meaning that we are now going to get some pretty amazing MOCS and lifelike creations come out of the prevalence of these new colours. BUT, for Minifigure architecture, I'm a little creeped out.
The coffee cart included in the set isn't anything particularly spectacular, but I do have to commend the sheer size of the cart. This thing is tiny, and it's a good tiny. Previously, we have gotten a Creator Polybag that was clearly designed to be built alongside modular, but the size of it was way too big. This size, being essentially less than 3 studs wide, it's a massive improvement.
The Hotel Bellhop is also a nice little addition to the build, giving our more luxurious patrons a place to throw their luggage when they arrive. I do wish that there was an extra torso or something similar for us to hang a shirt on (like in the Queer Eye set) to really take the full use of this little build. But that is a preference, not a criticism.
The Art Gallery
"El Cubo: Fine Art", or otherwise known as "The Cube: Fine Art", is the art gallery that starts on the left-hand side of the build. I was quick to dismiss this part of the build as being over cramped. To a degree, I wasn't wrong, but I'm surprised how much fit in this spot.
There is admittedly only 5-pieces of Artwork in this space, but I appreciate the commitment to not simply just making a bunch of stickers or printed tiles. There is built artwork here too. I like the clear cube artwork made of translucent traffic light bricks, as well as the lady artwork at the back that reminds me of the "The Girl with the Pearl Earrings" painting, but in its own unique way.
I do wish that this idea might have taken up a bit more space for the build, but this is a Modular Hotel after all, not Modular Hotel and Art Gallery.
The small outside balcony area makes crafty use of the 2x2 ribbed rounded blocks to imply tablecloths. As well as the newer round 4x4 cylinder piece for the plant pot of the palm tree. It's quite easy to get the idea that this is similar to a wine tasting/fancy drinks area, and the use of no seats doesn't detract from this at all.
The walkway up to the balcony is quite nicely executed, albeit maybe for the 1x1 curved tile at the end of the fourth step up. Yet I don't know how I would fix that myself. The laneway also has a few posters that all harken back to previous modular as well. This is the reference stuff I had been looking out for!
From left to right, we have Parisian Restaurant (Chef Albert), Pet Shop Modular (Painter in Red building), Town Hall, maybe? (I'm not 100% on this - Andy Sax at the Music HALL?), Green Grocer (Apple), Cafe Corner (-10% off Coffee), Detective's Office x2 (Ace Detective and Hairdresser), Downtown Diner (Boxing lessons).
I'm pretty confident with most of these guesses, but if Andy Sax isn't supposed to be the Town Hall, maybe that's the next Modular?
First Floor Interior
As we enter into the building, we are greeted with a broad interior, with a concierge desk, sign-in book, flower pot, art décor and a lounge to sit ourselves down on and wait at.
Look, I love this aesthetic, and the floor design is gorgeous, but this is just way too big. I can't help but feel like some of this space could have been better used for the Art Gallery, at least for the lower floor.
The building shape is fantastic, don't get me wrong. I love this new way LEGO is pushing the limits as to how we build buildings, but I really wish we could have just got a little bit more of the art gallery. Even the underside of the stairs just feels like a bit of wasted space. Even if it is for the bellhop when they aren't using it.
Now, this is how you use space. I was very quick to assume that this building was simply going to be two hotel rooms, one on top of another, but LEGO really surprised me here. There are TWO hotel rooms on this one floor.
Ignoring the fact that these folks don't have a toilet (even the Parisian Restaurant didn't have one!), this use of space works really, really well. Both patrons have access to wardrobes, a large bed and a desk!
The first apartment, which I call the "Green Apartment", is a long hotel room that uses most of the weird and odd shape of the building to spread out bare necessity features to not end up feeling cramped.
I really like LEGO's continuous throwback to typewriters, which was also done in the Police Modular, but the addition of a vintage lamp and older styled chair set this room up as a win in my books.
Oh! and spinny chair!
The Red Apartment is the smallest of the three hotel rooms, but that doesn't mean I love it any less. The simplistic build of the side table with a lamp next to the bed. Combined with the teak coloured furniture paints this easily as a small studio apartment for the one-night stayers. But still gives them a balcony to take in the outside air.
There's not much to say, and that is not a bad thing.
Third Floor/Luxury Apartment
It's quite easy to see that this upper floor is the floor you want to be at. LEGO did an amazing job of sneaking in all those staple items you would find at these types of apartments where people pay the premium.
We have complimentary wine, complimentary chocolate, complimentary shampoo and conditioner, a TV, fancy bed lights built into the bedframe, generous storage and a top-tier view overlooking the city. I'm going much too fast, so we'll need to break it down.
First off, one of the big divisions between this apartment, opposed to the ones below it, is the change of the walls to a tan instead of flesh colour. It immediately takes the tacky-ness out of the build and feels a lot more modern. But still keeps the older aesthetic with the vintage TV (with old-timey TV), lamps and wardrobe.
The bathroom for our prestigious guest is the only one in the building, so lucky them. The bath is generous enough to be able to fit a figure in comfortably, as well as sneak in a toilet and basin and mirror. It's a small space, but it's been executed perfectly.
The bed itself is a quite generous queen-sized bed, complete with chocolate and upside-down cupcake lampshades. Yes, cupcakes. Gotta love that NPU! What is also nice is how the bed and this area of the room lie below an open skylight, giving our luxurious guests a gorgeous view of the stars.
And lastly, the chair is not unlike the one used in the floor below, but it's still nice to complete the aesthetic with a nice, relaxing, reading chair. There's really not much to fault here.
The Minifigures that come in this set are quite simplistic in their design, much like all modular Minifigures. But a special note needs to be made about the hotel staff and their unisex torso design. Perfectly matching to the colour scheme of the build, and well designed. Tick from me.
The Boutique Hotel gives us a build like no other, and really redefine the way we think of the shapes of Modular buildings. It gives us a new way to really think about how we use the space given to us and presents us with a very unique and one-of-a-kind build.
I would have no doubts recommending this to a Modular collector. But if you are coming into this and looking at this as a collectible, you need to reassess.
If you are looking at this as an 'Amazing 15 Year Anniversary Modular', it's not. This is a model that holds out on its own and stands up on its own. This has a small reference to other modulars, but so did the Police Station. This is just another Modular building. This is a good modular, and not without its faults (*cough* lower level foyer *cough*), but it's still quite a pretty and lovely modular. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this please leave a comment below.
This article was written by Tim & Dannii.
Find them on Instagram at @legobuildingwithtimanddannii
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