Into its 14th year, the Creator Expert modular building line well and truly knows its strengths, and perhaps, as it faces a transition into new market territory, where its opportunities for growth are. Nowhere are both things more keenly felt than in the latest – and perhaps officially last – addition to the expansive and expensive line-up, 10270 Bookshop.
This is a modular building that brings new colour and architecture to the theme, and even an extra level of modularity. It’s also a reflection of a design team so confident and knowledgeable about the subtheme’s strengths, for how much they lean into those, even if at the expense of the rest of the set.
— Set details —
Price: £149.99 / $179.99 / €159.99 Pieces: 2,504 Minifigures: 5
— Build —
Moving forward, from this year, Creator Expert as a theme is morphing into the range of sets that will be labelled 18+ and packaged in sleeker black boxes. May’s ‘Fairground Collection’ 10273 Haunted House was one of the first sets to make the age jump from junior adult to full grown-up and, for better and worse, reflects the different expectations that a new, older audience can and should place on what is apparently definitely for them. Released a few months before that then, January’s 10270 Bookshop sits as likely one of the last entries into the current theme, and with that, its subtheme of modular buildings.
So, on the cusp of taking Creator Expert into 18+ territory, what does 10270 Bookshop reflect, both in what works so well for modular buildings as they currently are, and where they may need to improve?
As mentioned at the top, this is the 14th year of modular buildings from the Creator Expert team, and at this stage they not only know what they are doing, but they fully embrace the strengths of the theme. It’s why 10270 Bookshop’s strongest assets are most immediately apparent, placed all across what is another busy front exterior. This is where the Creator Expert team has really honed its skills and techniques across the modular buildings, and has always looked to innovate most cleverly in achieving the effects that it does.
As with increasing focus through the theme’s modular buildings, this equates to focus on anything and everything on the front exterior of the buildings – doorframes, windows, roof tiling and general shaping of brickwork, stairs and everything between. The front side to 10270 Bookshop is just as its photos suggest – vibrant in colour and in detail, with twists and turns in its construction that give the model character and charm. The autumnal tree is the most obvious – but certainly not only – point of interest across the model’s frontage that once more shows off the Creator Expert team’s ability to teach simple, smart build techniques even at a more advanced level.
There is also novelty to the fact that the two buildings within 10270 Bookshop are constructed entirely separately and, in effect are modular within a larger modular. At the same time, though, they sit perfectly well when paired together, reflective of how good design can change clashes of colour into complementary eye candy.
For everything that comes together in those busy front exteriors, they immediately create the feeling of the start of a busy American sidewalk (with colour and architecture that could just as easily be from New York or San Francisco) and really sing to the potential for more apartment style additions to come, particularly for the modular-within-a-modular flexibility that is offered here.
Indeed, this front side to 10270 Bookshop stirs the imagination and ignites the creativity, just as the very best modular buildings from the past years of Creator Expert have done so. What you build and how you build it are treated as importantly as each other, reflective of the higher age range this line has been aimed at, and, the even higher age range it will be geared towards in the move to 18+ territory.
When that happens, though, will such modular building sets advance their interior design and improve the blindside exteriors? Because, for everything that works at the front end of 10270 Bookshop – the point of focus to the set – there’s quite a drop-off when it comes to the back side of the building and, to an extent, the interiors too. Just as with a few other Creator Expert modular buildings of the past, where there is intricacy and genuine fascination to be had in everything at the front exterior(s) to the set, the same approach is only sometimes translated to the interior, captured in far less of the fixtures, fittings and furniture that you put together. Where the outside to 10270 Bookshop is expressive and creative, the interior feels like a shift in style to something more practical and mathematical. Small pieces put together the exterior, big pieces put together the interior.
It’s not a criticism per se, but a reflection on how the LEGO Group understands its audience and prioritises. Even for the size of the modular buildings and the potential that this can unlock, it does seem apparent that a majority of the design focus and piece count has gone into the front exterior of the model. There’s nothing wrong with this, and is as much a sign of the LEGO Group’s intricate understanding of their fans as anything else – 10270 Bookshop is primarily going to be built to sit on display for long stretches of time, so it makes sense to place the artistry where it’ll be most appreciated.
It ultimately gives you an understanding as to what level of brick mastery in design a budget of £149.99 gets you. For that relatively lower price, you do not always also get the same level of involved detail and story-telling around the back of the building or within it. There are examples where it has been achieved, but, where there’s a trade-off to be made, it’ll be at the expense of the interior and out-of-view rear. There’s certainly a lot packed into each room of 10270 Bookshop, and nothing to really fault, but, you can feel and see what £149.99 buys, compared with, say, the more unlimited budgets required for 75978 Diagon Alley, or 75290 Mos Eisley.
10270 Bookshop’s interiors offer a quaint two-story apartment building with crawlable access to a basement of sorts underneath, and in the other building a ground floor bookstore with as many stairs as books, leading up to a second-floor sitting room and an additional bedroom on a third floor, complete with a chameleon and matching bedsheets… Both buildings also have small balconies on the second floor, with the teal apartment also having a nice skylight at the back too.
There’s enough interest and story inside the two buildings within 10270 Bookshop for those times you may open up the different levels, but up to a point that reflects the increasing infrequency that you’ll likely do so.
This is a model designed to be shown off on display, and so all its best assets are front and centre. Importantly too, such is the shift in architectural focus and use of colour, 10270 Bookshop feels like the fresh upgrade that the Creator Expert modular building series needs each year, heading into its 14th.
— Characters —
There are five LEGO minifigures included with 10270 Bookshop, which offer up any potential line-up of characters, from a book clerk and customer(s), to a kid with parents or grandparents. Each combination of minifigure is unique to this set and, whilst Creator Expert is a line that rarely offers exclusive minifigures or minifigure elements, the large black hair piece is currently only available in this set, just as the lime green scarf is, and somewhat related, the teal coloured chameleon.
The printed Moby Brick front to the opening book accessory is also exclusive to the set. It’s also the only physical book in the bookstore, where the rest are cleverly placed tiles and plates. A ‘book’ store, for sure.
The five minifigures work nicely as an ensemble and serve their purpose skilfully, which is almost as background/foreground props to the splendour of design that they are set to play out a scene in front of.
— Price —
10270 Bookshop comes in, at its point of release, as the fourth most expensive set in the Creator Expert modular building series. It has a piece count to match that, and it is immediately clear where that piece count, and most of the design team’s time, has gone – across a busy, detailed and eye-catching front exterior.
Captured within the model’s front-facing side is character and charm, fresh to the Creator Expert modular building series, and a favourite for display. Whilst others in this series of models have also suffered from lighter interiors and bland blindside in comparison to their feature exteriors, such is the strength of 10270 Bookshop’s frontage, the drop-off to everything else across the set is more notable than is perhaps fair.
It’s a clear reflection of what £149.99 buys you and, for everything that is great about this set, it’s not something to really complain about either. This is a LEGO set that gives value across the build and final model, even if unusually it is primarily focused on one aspect in particular. Just as well it’s the most important aspect.
— Pictures —
— Summary —
10270 Bookshop could be the last modular building set from the LEGO Group to come under the Creator Expert theme name, before it is absorbed by the 18+ direction that the company are heading in. With consideration to what placing ‘18+’ on a box could and perhaps should mean for such sets, 10270 Bookshop could also represent the last in what has been a long line of moderately scaled, picturesque and architecturally explorative models, primarily priced below £150.
A move to 18+ branding may change nothing at all (except the level of scrutiny for what is being labelled now as ‘for adults’), but, it may also signify the start of a transition in design, price and quite possibly anything else.
Either way, 10270 Bookshop serves as a nice bookend to this run of models under the Creator Expert name. It’s not the most complete build within the series, nor as immersive in play as some that have come before, but it brings innovation and interest to the world of LEGO building, and that’s the most important thing to expect of any addition to the Creator Expert modular building line.
It’s a set that for its strengths filters in and out of Brick Fanatics’ Top 20 LEGO Sets List, depending on stock availability across the LEGO Group’s various product lines. These modular buildings tend to shoot up in value on the aftermarket, so if you’re tempted by 10270 Bookshop, particularly as a strong and eye-catching display model, don’t wait too long and miss out.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.