LEGO ushered in the 2018 new year with the release of the Creator Modular Building, Downtown Diner (10260)! Below is our review of the latest entry into the modular series as well as a lighting journal that gives insights into our design process of lighting up the Downtown Diner.
Depending on how you're counting, this set is the 13th in the series and marks a departure from the tonality of its predecessors. The vivid colours and design is a throwback to the 50s American jukebox era, and personally, we love it!
The set was released on the 1st of January, 2018 and has a piece count of 2,480 pieces. The set also includes six minifigures and is the first in the series to have expressive faces (no more default smiley faces)! We'll let you decide whether that's a good decision or a breakaway from tradition.
The minifigure lineup consists of a Rockstar, Bodybuilder, Boxer, Diner Manager, Chef and Waitress. That's certainly an eclectic group!
Apart from the obvious architectural differences from earlier Modular Buildings, the Downtown Diner is a joy to behold. While not the largest modular in the series, this is more than made up with its eye-catching design and abundance of features. The teal archway that mimics the jukebox shape is easily a signature look (much like the Palace Cinema's signage), and the curved window on the bottom floor facade was a really cool building technique that we thoroughly enjoyed putting together (some ideas for MOCs were learnt!).
Much like the Detective's Office, the building is multipurpose giving an opportunity to pack a lot of unique details and points of interest. The bottom floor consists of a 1950s American Diner with a burger grill, jukebox and table settings. The second floor is a gym area, with a boxing ring and punching bag. Finally, the top floor is a music recording studio. Talk about variety!
The Downtown Diner also includes a classic pink automobile, styled like a convertible Cadillac, meaning your townfolk can pull up to the local eatery in retro-style.
Another great aspect of the Downtown Diner is its depth. Despite all the interesting internals designs and features, there is still ample space inside the building allowing for a wide variety of poseable options for minifigures!
Overall, the Downtown Diner was one of our more favourite builds and the new building aesthetics is quite refreshing. It's also going to be exciting to see where they take his more modern direction and we're eagerly anticipating the next release!
Adding lights to Downtown Diner
One of our favourite things about getting new LEGO sets is the challenge of including our LED lights to the builds. It's always a fun challenge balancing lighting components while trying to minimise the visual impact to the set itself.
Additionally, Modular Buildings look great side by side or in a cityscape arrangement and adding lights enhance the overall realism to the series.
Moving forward, we'll be including a blog post detailing the journey and process of developing our LEGO lighting kits. We hope you enjoy the read.
Lighting the car
The first aspect of the Downtown Diner that we lit up was the classic Cadillac style car. Our design team typically like to approach the smaller/external components of Modular Buildings first before they tackle the main course.
The obvious place to start was the car headlights. We began by swapping out the original flat round tiles with trans-coloured plates. Unfortunately, tiles don't have enough space for anything but a connector stud. But don't worry, we've included some in our light kit for you!
We started with the front headlights by and threading our Bit Lights underneath chassis, using the front grill to secure the wires in place. The added benefit of this technique was the ability to conceal the wiring as well.
However, the real challenge was how to power the lights. Typically, we use a Flat Battery Pack to conceal inside a car, either in the rear storage or underneath the chassis. We soon discovered that the Downtown Diner car was far too low to the ground to place the Flat Battery Pack underneath and the rear of the car provided little space without making things obvious.
The design team experimented with the idea of adding pieces to lift the car higher off the floor, but it deviated far too much from the original design and wasn't aesthetically right.
In the end, we opted for powering the car via a 50cm Connecting Cable and tethering off the main building as the source.
Lighting the diner sign
One of the main features of the Downtown Diner is the large pink "Diner" sign that sits on top of the first floor.
The moment we saw the first pictures of the set, we knew we had to light it up. However, unlike the Cafe Corner or the Palace Cinema sets, the Diner sign does not contain any transparent components.
With this in mind, rather than embedding lights into the sign, we thought of projecting light on to it instead, much like the billboard effect we did on the Grand Emporium.
But we also soon realised that the sign itself was positioned right to the edge of the roof, meaning there was no space to put lights in front of the sign.
This required us to apply a bit of repositioning of the sign by placing it back by a single row of studs. Fortunately, there was enough space to implement this change and it didn't impact the integrity and the design of the building.
The extra row gave us the space required to insert a couple of light strips and the railing of the roof provided great concealment of the components.
Overall, we were quite pleased with the end result and the illumination added some depth to the signage.
Lighting the transmission tower
With a recording studio on the top floor, there needs to be an aerial to transmit those funky tunes over the airwaves! Because of this, we felt there was a need to bring a bit more dynamism to this feature and showcase that music was being broadcasted.
The original transmission tower came with solid round plates, but we replaced these with transparent pieces and hooked these up with our flashing bit lights to bring the tower to life.
We felt the slight deviation from the original design helped enhance the overall look of the LEGO modular building.
The process of adding the flashing bit lights was simple and required very little tinkering with the set, but the final result added a lot more visual depth to the overall building.
With a lot of the exterior emphasis being placed on the "Diner" sign, the transmission tower lighting effect helped draw the eye to other areas of the buildings and helped balance the design.
Downtown Diner lit up
One of our most favourite internal design features was the classic jukebox. No diner is complete without one! With LEGO patrons dining in, a bit of music can never go astray to help set the mood.
With the jukebox looking so realistic (great job LEGO!) and being a key feature of the bottom floor, we knew we had to get the music box lit up!
We opted for flashing bit lights like the transmission tower to generate the effect of jamming sounds and classic hits being played to the hungry crowd. It ended up being quite a simple addition but made a tremendous effect on the overall ambience of the scene.
There are plenty more features that come with our Downtown Diner Light Kit. However, we'd rather you take the journey yourself and discover some of the other great features and details we put into this addition to the LEGO Modular Building series.
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