Offering two separate squared-off buildings across the full width of a 32×32 baseplate, 10312 Jazz Club’s pitch could apply to plenty of previous modular buildings – and at face value, nothing about this 2,899-piece set suggests it’s reinventing the wheel. But the question is… does it need to?
What have we as consumers come to expect from the Modular Buildings Collection – now in its 17th year on shelves – and between its music venue and pizzeria, does 10312 Jazz Club do enough to fulfil those expectations?
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club set details —
Price: £199.99 / $229.99 / €229.99 Pieces: 2,899 Minifigures: 7
— Where to buy LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club —
10312 Jazz Club is available to buy directly from LEGO.com and in LEGO Stores. It’s likely to remain a timed exclusive there for a few months after release, before showing up through at least one third-party retailer.
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club build —
In our review of last year’s 10297 Boutique Hotel, we suggested that the LEGO modular buildings face an unenviable task: each set needs to fit with the rest while still offering something new, and satisfy veteran fans while enticing newcomers to the subtheme. It’s those expectations that were once again on the table approaching 10312 Jazz Club, and while it isn’t quite as revolutionary as the unorthodox hotel – which redefined the footprint of these buildings with an angled wall – it does introduce a third aspect that we’d never really even considered: nostalgia.
10312 Jazz Club doesn’t necessarily build on the classic formula in the same way as 10278 Police Station or 10297 Boutique Hotel, but instead acts as a kind of throwback to the likes of 10246 Detective’s Office and 10251 Brick Bank. Your opinion of the new set is mostly going to rest on your opinion of those older buildings – if you share our nostalgia for them as some of the strongest in the Modular Buildings Collection, you’ll hopefully feel the same affinity for 10312 Jazz Club’s back-to-basics design.
That’s inasmuch as any modular building can be basic, because while 10312 Jazz Club doesn’t rewrite the rulebook, it’s still packed with fun and imaginative building techniques, uses an intriguing (perhaps to the point of being divisive) colour palette that clearly distinguishes it from its contemporaries, and achieves clever use of space even within its familiar, squared-off footprint.
In fact, arguably the biggest challenge for the modular buildings – beyond those already outlined – is finding creative and interesting ways to use the space available to them. 10312 Jazz Club does that in spades, from the club’s angled entrance – which is almost infuriatingly simple, when you see how it’s done – to the toilet nestled under the stairs.
Even the greenhouse situated on the roof of the pizzeria serves a dual purpose, adding to the narrative of the set (another nod to 10246 Detective’s Office and 10251 Brick Bank, the modular buildings that first introduced a sense of story to this subtheme) while closing some of the visual gap left by the difference in height between the club and pizzeria. Thoughtful (but perhaps easily missed) touches like this are spread throughout 10312 Jazz Club, demonstrating that while this set may not redefine what’s possible for the modular buildings, plenty of care has still gone into its design.
Much of that comes through the detailed façade, which is reminiscent of some of the best buildings – 10255 Assembly Square, 10185 Green Grocer, 10243 Parisian Restaurant – in its use of texture. The jazz club obviously draws the eye first, but the pizzeria actually offers the more interesting build, finding clever ways to add depth and visual interest across three different dimensions. It’s much more satisfying than the relatively flat façades of, say, 10270 Bookshop and 10260 Downtown Diner.
10312 Jazz Club also gets points for its strong colour blocking: the set looks great from any angle, which can’t always be said of the modular buildings, with a clear distinction between its dark red/dark orange and cool yellow bricks. That doesn’t necessarily matter much if you’re popping this on a shelf, but it’s crucial for placing it in a city – where it’s viewed from 360 degrees – and perhaps most importantly, makes for a better building experience regardless of where you’ll keep it afterwards.
That’s because the split is achieved by 1×1 bricks with holes, connected together using Technic pins, to ensure both buildings are still locked in place across the 32×32 baseplate. And it means you’ll actually construct both halves of the first floor separately – a process we’ve never really seen in a modular building before (obviously not counting 10218 Pet Shop or 10270 Bookshop’s double buildings). Maybe 10312 Jazz Club is rewriting the rulebook after all, if only in small ways.
Or, with its colour scheme, in one pretty significant way. Since its reveal, the use of all three primary colours – if in particular shades – across a single set has drawn polarising reactions. The combination of red, blue and yellow is not revolutionary – in colour theory, it’s known as a triadic colour scheme, which is to say that its hues are equally spaced along the colour wheel. But the particular shades used here feel like they clash just a little too much.
Designer Anderson Grubb has revealed that all the dark red elements you can see on the jazz club’s upper floors were originally dark blue (jazz, the blues, get it?), but that colour combo was ultimately considered too cold. We’ve mocked up what the original colour scheme might have looked like, and while this is clearly the most subjective element of 10312 Jazz Club’s design, the alternative hues again recall 10246 Detective’s Office, which employs two shades of blue for its barbershop.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to swap out the dark azure elements for a different colour – say, dark orange or nougat – as they’re pretty common and not massively plentiful. It might be a bit trickier (and certainly more expensive) replacing all the dark red, though.
Beyond its colours, 10312 Jazz Club does conceal a couple of strange design decisions: leaving an open, internal entranceway between the club and pizzeria allows more light into both spaces when you’re peeking inside (with the upper storeys removed), but is so comically large that it only gives the impression those pieces are missing for budgetary reasons.
The pizzeria’s outdoor seating would also have made more sense thematically in the space created by setting the building back from the street, although it’s such a tight fit that you can see why the seats are out on the street. What’s less logical is the combination of pieces used for the table and chairs, which make it very difficult to squeeze a minifigure into the seats – a 2×2 table might have been better in the circumstances.
These are very minor niggles, though, and still offset further by more welcome design touches: the moped in bright green for the first time, or the printed signage (no stickers, even if the general approach jars with the traditionally brick-built signs in previous modular buildings). You’re also left with a building that has more volume to it than 10297 Boutique Hotel, by dint of being built across the entire width of the baseplate, and as the price of these sets climbs ever higher, that’s nothing to sniff at.
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club characters —
It’s rare that a modular building demands so many characters to occupy the roles created by its businesses or residences, and rarer still that it requires even more than that to properly fill it. That’s probably why 10312 Jazz Club includes the most minifigures of any modular building (save for the super-sized 10255 Assembly Square) – and why its eight characters really still aren’t enough if this is your one and only LEGO set.
Expectations are probably not that anyone buying this will be doing so as their one and only set, of course, so it’s not too unreasonable for us to have to fill in the blanks. Generic citizens to attend the jazz club or buy pizza are missing, but easily remedied; a ticket seller for the club is a little trickier to fashion.
The eight characters that are here, though, are among the strongest of any LEGO modular building since the move away from classic smiley faces with 10260 Downtown Diner. There’s a healthy mix of styles, prints, genders and interesting hairpieces, while those minifigures without specific outfits – the delivery driver, the club manager – have rare and interesting torsos, including a repurposed sweater from 21335 Motorised Lighthouse.
It’s a collection of characters that serves the story in the set if not entirely, then at least to a degree in line with what we’ve come to expect from the Modular Buildings Collection (and sets at this price point). The need for more is really only specific to the opportunities 10312 Jazz Club presents narratively, and that speaks more to the qualities of the build than the imbalance in minifigures.
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club price —
LEGO modular buildings have been steadily increasing in price for the past few years, to the point 10312 Jazz Club now retails for twice the RRP of 2008’s 10185 Green Grocer. Inflation puts that set’s price at around £150 in 2023, but that isn’t the whole picture: 10312 Jazz Club also includes 547 more pieces than 10185 Green Grocer, and there are obviously more factors than just inflation at work here.
All this is to say that the value proposition for 10312 Jazz Club shouldn’t necessarily be weighed against previous sets in this series, but against the rest of the current LEGO portfolio: can £199.99 / $229.99 / €229.99 buy you a better build right now? That’s a tricky to question to answer (there’s a lot out there!), but next to similarly-priced builds like 21332 The Globe, 75341 Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder and 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1, 10312 Jazz Club’s RRP starts to feel much fairer.
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club pictures —
— LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club pros and cons —
10312 Jazz Club doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but does it meet our expectations for a modular building anyway? Mostly, yes – while also invoking nostalgia for relatively recent LEGO sets in the process, which we didn’t really know was possible.
Besides, the important bit is that even while 10312 Jazz Club isn’t exactly revolutionary, there’s still plenty to enjoy here – and in all the particular ways we expect from any new modular building. It’s another engaging construction process in one of the best LEGO subthemes for building experiences, offering that distinct blend of basic elements, clever techniques and ‘aha’ moments.
And – a couple of slightly puzzling design choices aside – the finished model slides very neatly into any modular street or LEGO city, which is no mean feat some 18 buildings in. That’s where its more traditional aesthetic comes to the fore, and allows 10312 Jazz Club to play to its strengths, which is another way of saying that like the best modular buildings, this is another slippery slope towards buying them all.
|10312 Jazz Club pros||10312 Jazz Club cons|
|Plenty of fun building techniques||Not quite as revolutionary as more recent buildings|
|Imaginative use of space||Potentially divisive colour scheme|
|Invokes nostalgia for older modular buildings||A couple of puzzling design decisions|
— Alternatives to LEGO Icons 10312 Jazz Club —
If this latest addition to the Modular Buildings Collection isn’t quite doing it for you, there are plenty of alternatives to 10312 Jazz Club available right now. Top of the list for us is 10255 Assembly Square, but you can’t go wrong with 10297 Boutique Hotel or 10278 Police Station, either. All three of those sets offer potentially more interesting builds, but aesthetic preferences are of course entirely subjective…