With a new modular system introduced in this year’s LEGO Creator houses, is 31069 Modular Family Villa a shining example of this new format?
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The Creator line is known for using mostly standard System parts, and for keeping things fairly straightforward. With 31069 Modular Family Villa, the series strays into new territory. This time around, the designers have taken modularity to a new level. Has this deviation proven itself a successful experiment? Let’s take a look.
The first thing that struck me upon opening the box for 31069 was the instruction book. Typically, Creator sets come with three stapled instruction books, one for each of the models available in the set. In this case, there is a single perfect bound instruction book, which was actually a nice surprise. Flipping through it however, I began to develop feelings of suspicion about the impending build. While there are three “distinct” models here, they don’t do a lot to differentiate themselves. The reason for this being that each of the three models is built around the same three box shaped structures. Partially for this reason, the instructions jump around quite a bit, and it can be a bit difficult to get a handle on exactly what’s going on when just glancing through the book.
The build process begins with the three main boxes, which are basically just framed rooms with no windows, doors, or roofs. They are as basic as basic gets. This is so each other element can be built separately, and attached later, theoretically in any location. Each window, doorway, staircase – and even the yard – are their own mini build, and attach to the main frames only at their base via two studs. While I understand the purpose of such a tentative connection, the overall result is an exercise in frustration. It’s nearly impossible to move the structure, even when incomplete, without some part of it coming loose or falling off. That said, the windows are fairly secure, as they use curved slopes on top to help slide them into place.
Once the Modular Family Villa is finished, you are able to move the locations of the windows, doors, and pretty much everything else to wherever you would like. Of course, this can often lead to nonsensical configurations, with a staircase that leads to nowhere, and a fireplace that abuts the sink. This can be somewhat mitigated by rearranging the interior furnishings – which are sparse to begin with.
It’s hard to figure out who this set is exactly for. Its simplistic, and not particularly attractive aesthetics will likely leave most adult builders cold, and the flimsy construction means that children will likely find the play experience more frustrating than fun. Aside from some decent minifigures – with the mother sporting an interesting alternative expression – perhaps the most alluring thing about this set is its inclusion of dark tan window frames and door casings. These parts come in an especially narrow assortment of colours, so it’s really nice to see a new addition, particularly in a pleasant and neutral color.
Overall, I can’t possibly recommend 31069 Modular Family Villa for any reason other than as a parts pack. I would like to note though that even if this expansion on the idea of modularity isn’t a success, I don’t want the designers to give up on the idea altogether. I would love to see this type of thinking applied to something like a space theme. Imagine space ship cores, with all kinds of interchangeable thrusters, armor, or armaments. Pair that with a more substantial means of connection, like Technic pins or clips, and you could have a pretty amazing theme. Unfortunately though, this set does not execute the concept well enough.