LEGO responds to requests to bring back retired modular buildings

The LEGO Group has responded to requests to resurrect retired modular buildings as part of its new pilot program, which is currently trialling variants of existing sets.

Unveiled yesterday, the new program involves five recoloured or resized versions of current sets, including 77940 Mighty Dinosaurs, 77941 Mighty Dinosaurs, 77942 Fiat 500, 77943 Fire Station Starter Set and 77944 Fire Station Headquarters, almost all of which are available exclusively in the UK. (The Fiat is the sole exception, thanks to third-party retailer Zavvi.)

At this stage, it’s basically impossible to mention revisiting retired products without also raising the possibility of resurrecting long-retired sets, including the earliest modular buildings. 10182 Café Corner, 10185 Green Grocer and 10197 Fire Brigade all command eye-watering sums on the aftermarket, and many fans would jump at the chance of buying them at retail again.

For myriad reasons – part availability, production capacity or simply dated techniques – the LEGO Group has so far resisted bringing back those late-2000s sets, in favour of launching brand new additions to the long-running LEGO for Adults (formerly Creator Expert) series.

But during a recent roundtable session with Brick Fanatics and other LEGO Fan Media, designer Mike Psiaki revealed that the LEGO Group actually has contemplated resurrecting the oldest modular buildings, potentially in new colours or with slightly tweaked designs.

“We’ve considered what that would look like, to take the Café Corner, and re-colour it and bring it back,” Mike says. “There are issues in that model, like the main door is an element that we don’t make any more, so then you need to start to redesign the door.

“Okay, now you’ve done that. What about the fact that that set doesn’t have any interior? Should we do something about that or not? So it opens up a huge discussion, which is something that we would be very interested in having, but I don’t know whether there will be the right time to do something like that or not.”

Because those structural and design changes would be necessary in the first place, however, those sets were effectively ruled out for the new pilot program. Beyond their colour palette swaps, 77940 and 77941 Mighty Dinosaurs and 77942 Fiat 500 are carbon copies of 31058 Mighty Dinosaurs and 10271 Fiat 500, reducing the resource cost in bringing them to market.

“In a pilot project like this, we’re looking for something that requires no design changes,” Mike explains. “Even in something like the Fiat 500, as soon as we want to change a 1×8 tile to two 1×4 tiles, we need to start going through all of these review processes again. And it may be less stressful to me as a designer, because I’m fairly confident, but we still need to go through all of the development of the model. In the end, we’re not really gaining anything by doing that.

“In this pilot, we really wanted something where we could just go in the computer, change the colour on this one thing and be 100% sure that we’re not messing up the build flow; we’re not messing up the volume of bricks; we’re not messing up our packing stations in our factories. So we need to be really, really careful.”

Thankfully, that doesn’t mean the LEGO Group will never return to 10182 Café Corner, 10197 Fire Brigade and so on – it just means those sets don’t fit into this particular project.

“Even looking at something like the Green Grocer, there’s things in there that we would need to change,” Mike adds. “Even just the name – [if we’re] changing it from a green building, is it now called the Green Grocer or not? It opened up so many discussions that we were immediately just like, ‘No, this is not the point of what we’re doing right now.’

“It’s a really interesting thing to think about, and there’s definitely potential for something like that in the future, but it’s not quite as clear cut as something like this.”

If you still need to catch up on current modular buildings before contemplating backtracking to earlier ones, make 10264 Corner Garage a priority: it’s due to leave shelves this year, and if the rest of the sets discussed here are any indication, it’s pretty much guaranteed to rise in price once it retires.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

12 thoughts on “LEGO responds to requests to bring back retired modular buildings

  • 11/09/2021 at 12:04

    I think most people will agree that the Lego group should simply bring the first three modulars they released back into production, no colour changes, no alterations, nothing added or taken away and the box and instructions kept to the original design. Then Lego, watch them sell like hot cakes! I cannot understand their illogical ‘head buried in the sand’ mindset to stubbornly refuse to re-release the old modulars and answer the calls of one of its biggest fan bases -AFOLs!

    • 13/09/2021 at 21:03

      They are bad sets by modern standards. No one outside of some AFOL’s would buy them. And that’s just too few people to make a set for given the cost (amount of retired parts you need to bring back). Cost is the reason the AFOL program only uses current parts in current colors.

      • 17/09/2021 at 19:48

        I disagree Ben, the AFOL community is huge and not by any means small in number. There are many AFOLs out there around the globe and not just AFOLs but people of all ages are coming back into the Lego building hobby all of the time as well as newcomers adults and children alike. Remember children and young adults especially are the future of the hobby and people from all groups will want to back track to sets and more so those who missed out on long retired sets.and that’s just about everyone!
        Regarding a huge gaping gap in the lego hobby.

        • 31/12/2021 at 18:15

          I know I would love it if they would resale the set as is no changes just make one or two million more they would sale fast I don’t want a changed cafe corner or town hall I want them just like The original. What’s funny is ppl think it would be hard to make them agin haha it can’t be any harder then marking a all new set come on I know it will crash the resale collection market but it’s a toy it should not be held hostage by a bunch of greedy ppl That had enough money to buy more then one set 12 years ago just my opinion

  • 04/09/2021 at 21:47

    In every single product feedback survey where they say what would you like to see (and I’ve done maybe 12 surveys this year) I ask them to bring back the modulars because I only got started on them this year and the secondary market is way out of my price range on some of the earlier ones that are retired. I do hope they bring them back. Love doing them.

    • 29/11/2021 at 19:13

      Ditto, I’ve asked for the modulars to be reproduced multiple times. And I disagree with the “not great sets” comment. I loved the early sets that I have got, but there are 6 I’ve missed out on over the years which I’d still desperately love to get my hands on. The amounts on eBay though price out a lot of us. Lego should consider the AFOLs. They would sell a stack load guaranteed. And please making them with as few a modifications as possible.

  • 04/09/2021 at 01:45

    Please bring back Market Street! That’s the only one I’m missing (not including this year’s)

  • 03/09/2021 at 06:13

    I rather have new stuff. Then an old set rereleased. If it’s just extra I can accept.

  • 02/09/2021 at 17:42

    Can’t see the recolored sets because your links take me the the US SaH instead of the UK version.

  • 02/09/2021 at 16:32

    “Even just the name – [if we’re] changing it from a green building, is it now called the Green Grocer or not? “ Ummmm

    • 13/08/2022 at 06:31

      The answer is a resounding “no”. Green grocers were a legit thing before the introduction of supermarkets. It does not refer to the color of the building AT ALL.

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