The 1st of January, 2019 saw the release of the 14th LEGO Modular Building Series set, the Corner Garage (10264). Much like its predecessor, Downtown Diner, the Corner Garage continues on with the 1950s USA building theme - a breakaway from the European architecture of earlier models.
With what's fast becoming a yearly tradition, LEGO fans, and in particular, those of the LEGO Modular Building Series, will spend most of the year just after a release trying to guess what the next release is going to be.
Many thought a police station or a hospital would be the next logical step, considering we have a fire station already. But these themes are often covered in the LEGO City range.
So when the Corner Garage was announced, there were a few question marks surrounding its addition to the series ranks.
But before we dive into our initial thoughts on Corner Garage, let's take a look at some of its product features.
The Corner Garage is built upon a standard 32x32 baseplate - so similar in size compared to most of the Modular Building sets. The Corner Garage also weighs in at 2,569 pieces, making it the 3rd largest LEGO Modular Building Series set, just behind Town Hall and Assembly Square respectively.
In terms of orientation, the Corner Garage is designed to be a corner piece building, much like the Palace Cinema and Cafe Corner before it.
So what's the theme?
If it's not immediately obvious, the Corner Garage is a three-storey building that comprises of a car garage and gas station situated on the bottom floor. On the next level up is a veterinarian's office and finally, the top floor consists of an apartment with access to the rooftop.
All of this is accented with a 1950s type feel, though some would say the two top floors carry a bit of the European old-world feel to it, and doesn't break away too much from previous Modular Building designs, unlike the Downtown Diner.
In terms of contents, the trimmings are consistent with what Modular Building fans would expect. Inside are twenty bags numbered from one to six. Additionally, there is a single instruction booklet that outlines the full build. And for those wondering, yes, there is no sticker sheet - which means unique printed blocks! Hurrah!
From a minifigure perspective, Corner Garage included 6 human minifigs as well as a dog minifig. Carrying on with recent releases, the human minifigs come with detailed faces, unlike the traditional plain faces found in older sets.
So initial thoughts.
We'll be honest, upon the initial look of Corner Garage, the exterior seemed somewhat underwhelming. It just didn't have the personality of Downtown Diner or the grandness of something like Town Hall. The reviews on the internet shared a somewhat mixed reception as well.
As Modular Building fans, it was a given that we'd collect the set (as well as light it up) - but for those just starting their collection and not fussed about being completionists, the Corner Garage has reason to give pause on the "purchase button".
But before we dive into that, let's talk about the build process.
Like all LEGO Modular Building, the start involves a lot of placement of tiles. Corner Garage, being a corner set, makes things a little more interesting at the start compared to other builds. Apart from laying down tiles, we also set the foundation of the building as well as the construction of a lift mechanism for the garage workshop.
After the first couple of bags, you start to notice that the actual building footprint is quite small as a large majority of the baseplate space is used as "u-shaped" drive-thru for cars to fuel up at the gas pump. This makes you start wondering how this set ends up with such a high piece count.
In regards to the bottom floor, some of the more fun building features include the roller door for the garage. Using a Technic axle, builders can rotate this axle to roll up the garage doors up into the ceiling without obscuring the open interior. This makes for quite an interesting and realistic build.
Another neat feature is the workshop sign, which read's "Jo's Garage - By accident we meet", which is a clever little slogan. We should also mention the gas pump with the Octan sign built upon rounded plates - this helps complete the gas station feel and gives the townsfolk of your Modular Building collection a place to top up their cars.
Another added feature to the Corner Garage is the pickup truck, presumably used for unfortunate townsfolk that got into a vehicular accident. The truck has a rear towing winch that includes a functional mechanism to raise and lower the hook. Very cool!
The second floor of the Corner Garage is where things get a little weird. LEGO's choice for an upstairs neighbour turns out to be a veterinarian. We felt that this was a somewhat odd choice considering the location. We're not entirely sure a noisy mechanic's shop is the best place to be around for unwell animals... But that's what's there.
The vet is called Dr Jones Animal Care, where he vehemently states, "No Snakes!". Although we can understand the aversion to the slithering kind, it seems a bit unfair the legless reptiles can't get treated. What does Dr Jones have against snakes?!
The vet clinic has a few nice features including a waiting room and an examination area for patients, but overall, it does lack some of the inner detailings like the Detective's Office. Overall the interior is quite small and plain.
The final floor consists of an apartment that's designed with an open plan layout. Inside the place is decorated with a bright red sofa, kitchenette, sink, bed and bathroom. Overall, pretty stock standard stuff for what seems like a bachelor pad.
Overall, the Corner Garage is a fun build, with some interesting build techniques. The lower portion of the building is definitely where the main points of interest occur, and as we move up in the levels, it starts becoming a little plain. Corner buildings also tend to have less space to work with and it shows with the sparse detailing and room for minifigures to manoeuvre around in. Fortunately, the pickup truck can fit inside the garage itself - so there is a place for cars to be serviced in during their repair phase.
The Corner Garage fills an interesting role within the Modular Building Series. It's true that cars need fixing and fuel to function, but one can't help but feel that this particular set is a bit lacklustre compared to other releases in the past. Still, for those that have all the buildings to date, it would feel weird to stop now, but for those just starting out on their collection or aren't phased by having the full collection - the Corner Garage might be one of those sets that you feel you could wait a bit on.
The start of the year is always an exciting time, with the release of a new LEGO Modular Building set, comes the challenge (and fun) of lighting it up so that it becomes a complementary part of the series.
Adding lights to LEGO Modular Buildings was one of the main reasons we started Light My Bricks and the Corner Garage was definitely going to get the same lighting treatment.
Lighting the pickup truck
The addition of vehicles isn't a new concept to the Modular Building Series, but adding lights to them has always been a bit of a challenge due to their compact nature.
However, ever since the release of our Roller Coaster Light Kit and the development of our Micro Battery Pack, adding and concealing a tiny power source has opened up the possibilities of illuminating (independently) smaller builds.
This allowed us to power up the pickup truck and put the power source in the rear compartment underneath the pickup hook.
Lighting up the bottom floor
The bottom floor of Corner Garage boasts the most amount of detail for this Modular Building set. This also means ample opportunities for lighting applications.
On top of our signature LEGO street light (lamp post), other lighting features included Jo's Garage sign. Using some LEGO parts, we created a makeshift spotlight to shine onto the sign. This really helps add character to the Corner Garage in a nighttime setting. This was a simple, yet effective technique that turned out great.
Another bottom floor feature was the gas pump. With the blue transparent 2x2 round brick, we felt that would be a good place to add one of our bit lights. Although gas pumps aren't normally known for their illumination, we felt there was a certain pleasant aesthetic having it there. In the dark, the light blue glow helps accentuate the gas pump feature and make it clear that this is a gas station.
Interior wise, our Light My Bricks Strip Lights work well to illuminate a room and just like past Modular Buildings, having them suspended from the ceiling makes for an effective room light. Each room on each floor was affixed with a Strip Light to generate this effect.
Lighting the exterior
As mentioned in our review, the majority of the visual features are positioned at the bottom, therefore we felt that the upper two-thirds felt a little bare, especially from a lighting perspective.
Therefore, we felt compelled to balance things out by adding exterior lighting to the beautiful facades the LEGO designers had created.
Again, features like this wouldn't normally command lighting, but on top of realism is the need to make aesthetically pleasing light kits that bring out the best of the LEGO designs.
This is one of those occasions where we broke away from practicality and opted more towards visual enhancement. Above each window, we added bit lights to shine downwards. It was at that moment, we experimented with adding pink lights to the flowers. Although it seems like a weird design choice, the end result is quite captivating and we decided through consensus among the design team to keep this feature.
We think you'll love it too!
Overall, despite being a somewhat divisive LEGO release, we felt that with the addition of our lighting kit, the Corner Garage can make a great addition to the rest of your illuminated town.
Want to add lights to your Corner Garage set? The Light My Bricks Corner Garage Light Kit is now available on our online store here.