With the release of 10260 Downtown Diner in January 2018, the design aesthetic of LEGO’s Creator Expert modular buildings series shifted from pre-war architecture to the chrome and neon of the 1950s. This trend continues with the 2019 modular building, 10264 Corner Garage. The set includes 2,569 pieces and retails for $200 in the US ($269.99 in Canada and £159.99 in the UK).
Like the recent LEGO Star Wars set 75251 Darth Vader’s Castle, the initial reaction from LEGO fans and collectors has been mixed. But how does the set hold up when we look beyond the box photos and actually start building?
The packaging & instructions
The Corner Garage comes in a standard Creator Expert box, showcasing the building’s multiple levels on the front and how it fits with the other current modular buildings on the back. The back provides important clues about which modular buildings will continue to be produced for the next couple of years, with 10255 Assembly Square on the far left and 10260 Downtown Diner in the middle. It remains to be seen when earlier modulars like 10243 Parisian Restaurant that are still available from the LEGO Shop will be retired.
The stuffed box contains six sets of numbered bags, along with the tan baseplate, two large gray plates, and the single instruction booklet in its own wrapper. As with all previous modulars, the Corner Garage does not include a sticker sheet — all unique designs are printed.
The build & new parts
To be clear, when we say that there are six sets of bags, each group of bags contains far more parts than the bag groups even in LEGO Star Wars UCS sets like 75181 Y-wing Starfighter — I use a tray from Ikea when building large sets, and one group of bags (including the smaller interior bags with tiny parts) generally used all eight compartments in my tray. The first bag includes the parts for the heavily tiled baseplate, along with part of the back wall of the garage and most of the ground floor interior detail.
The garage includes a lift mechanism that’s activated by a long, brick-built bar that extends to the usual open space at the back of the building. We’ll take a closer look at this mechanism later in this review.
At the end of the first bag, the ground floor is still only partially complete, though it includes all of its interior detail. The LEGO designers have made extensive use of the relatively new rounded 1×2 plate throughout the building, starting with the columns on either side of the door on the left side of the structure.
The tire changer machine inside the garage includes a wand accessory first introduced with the Harry Potter collectible minifigs a few months ago. However, it’s interesting that the black wand accessory in this modular building set comes on a completely different sprue from the sprue used throughout the Wizarding World minifigs and sets, pictured here in brown (likely revealing different manufacturing locations that use different molds, or a problem with the original mold).
The area in front of the garage where the island will sit incorporates a new turntable part — the hole in the center of the modified tile fits the outer ring of the clip in the middle of the underside of 4×4 round plates, accommodating any Technic pins or axles inserted through the hole in the middle of the plate. (The black old-style 2×2 turntable base is simply there to accommodate the base of the other column holding up the awning, without actually being attached.)
The second and third bags include the parts for the rest of the ground floor, including the gas station island and awning. One of the 4×4 plates in the island’s base clips into the white turntable base described above.
A sign on top of the island is printed with the lettering “Jo’s Garage: By Accident We Meet”.
The gasoline pump has a sign on top with the requisite Octan branding on 2×2 round tiles. The tile on the reverse side is also printed with the same design.
The most noteworthy aspect of the whole building is that the entire front wall is built at an angle across the base, using those rounded 1×2 plates we mentioned earlier to connect the front wall to each side.
The wall turns the corner by having a 1×1 round column as the corner, with the 1×2 rounded plates extending from the column into each connecting wall.
This off-grid construction results in a number of odd little projections from the wall, including the checkout stand with the cash register, which sits on several 2×2 triangle tiles.
In previous LEGO sets that have included a garage door, the flexible garage door has generally slid up under the ceiling on 1×14 bricks with a groove, including previous modulars like 10197 Fire Brigade (although 10197 was released nearly 10 years ago in 2009, the 1×14 bricks are still the “normal” way of handling garage doors as recently as LEGO City and LEGO Friends sets in 2018). We’ll return to this garage door mechanism again later in this review.
The third set of bags also includes the parts for the mechanic shop’s blue tow truck, which includes an interesting Technic mechanism for the rear crane.
The crane mechanism includes a new bracket piece, with the 1×2 studs-up portion of the bracket in the middle of the piece rather than the top or bottom, and a 2×2 plate bottom rather than studs.
The fourth set of bags provides the parts for the second floor with the veterinarian’s office. The vet’s office has a large front window with a printed design that reads “Dr. Jones Animal Care: No Snakes!” a sly little Indiana Jones Easter egg.
This front window is built on its side, with 1×1 brackets holding the window in place.
Like the front wall on the ground floor, this next floor follows the same off-grid angle, using 1×2 rounded plates to connect the wall on each side. To fill in gaps on either side of the angled wall, there are columns with a row of 1×1 “double-cheese” (or “tent”) pieces in light gray. The walls look flat as a result, with a column of 1×1 pieces providing an accent — a remarkably clever way of filling what would otherwise be an unsightly gap.
The white interior wall perpendicular to the front wall also requires 1×1 rounded plates for its connections to the back wall.
Both the second and third floors include a bay window on the right side, above the garage door. The bay windows are built from pairs of boat bridge windows on their sides, with a central 1×2 column of windows to fill the gap.
The sideways ship windows are attached to plates with clips, which in turn attach to columns of telescope pieces (as shown in this photo from the next floor up, which has less clutter in front of the window).
When complete, the second floor has a waiting area for animal patients and their owners, as well as an examination room with a variety of equipment. Notice how the LEGO designers have used 1×1 round tiles as well as corner wedge tiles to accommodate the off-grid construction of the walls.
The overall floor plan of the top story (bag group 5) is essentially identical to the middle story with the vet’s office, minus the central dividing wall perpendicular to the front wall. This makes the top floor fairly wide open, focused more on the interior details to which we’ll return later in this review.
The sixth and final set of bags includes the parts for the roof, which is a fairly simple construction with details largely focused on the studs-out cornice.
Each story includes studs-out details built on brackets featuring a repeated, leaf-like motif of 1×1 rounded corner tiles. This motif comes together in the cornice with curved arches at the top of each column, and a decorative boss in the center of the cornice. The motif also makes extensive use of 1×1 “double-cheese” slopes — the set includes a whopping 80 of this relatively new piece, thanks to the gap-filling columns on the angled walls and the motif between each floor and in the cornice.
The finished model
When fully complete, the corner garage is a substantial building that evokes mid-century architecture in the International or Bauhaus styles, with gridded windows and rounded corners. Many of the most iconic buildings in this style date back as early as the 1920’s and 1930’s, so LEGO builders complaining about LEGO’s shift to a “post-war” design aesthetic may want to read up on architectural trends leading up to World War II.
One of the more remarkable aspects of the set is how the 1940’s style corner gas station fits with the upper stories of the building. I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the United States where some of these corner gas stations have been preserved and converted to other purposes (such as coffee shops or micro-breweries — this is Seattle, after all), and I see buildings very much like this one around the city every day.
Nevertheless, I do share the opinion of LEGO builders who’ve expressed confusion about the juxtaposition of a vet’s office above a mechanic’s shop. As much fun as a vet’s office may be within the world of Creator Expert modular buildings (after all, where will pet owners take their pets after adopting them at 10218 Pet Shop way back in 2011?), I can’t help sharing the pain and confusion that the animals listening to constant banging and clanging must feel.
LEGO’s modular buildings have always been remarkable for their logical consistency — something that builders and collectors may not have noticed until the logic is broken. Personally, my all-time favorite modular building is 10246 Detective’s Office, with its pool hall, barber shop, and so on. Similarly, 10243 Parisian Restaurant features an artist’s loft on the top floor. The logic of a vet’s office above a mechanic’s garage with a bachelor pad above the vet just doesn’t hold up to the unstated logic of past modular buildings.
Corner modules are notorious for their lack of detail on the back — designed as they are to abut against two other modular buildings, with only a small notch in the back for the alleyway. The Corner Garage is no different, with a variety of oddly colored stripes and bricks that reflect floor levels and interior details rather than a focus on the rear exterior.
Despite my qualms about the logic of the interior spaces, the ground floor gas station and mechanic’s shop are very well executed. The gas pump island even includes a water bucket with a squeegee.
The garage door features yellow bollards on either side, and the garage door itself rolls up.
The Technic mechanism we saw earlier connects to the top segment of the garage door, with a tire attached to the central Technic axle. Turning this rolls the garage door up into the ceiling without obscuring the open interior with a large beam the way using 1×14 bricks with a groove would.
The tow truck fits comfortably through the garage door, though if your tow truck needs work your garage business may be in trouble.
When a car drives through the garage doors, it can fit over a lift built into the floor.
Pressing the bar built into the wall raises the lift.
The lift itself only raises the vehicle by about one brick high, and the Technic arms are floppy and slippery enough that the vehicle tends to slide off and crash into the front wall. However, it’s a fun little mechanism that adds a bit of play value.
A doorway on the left side of the garage leads up to the vet’s office. The door handle has a lovely piece printed with a pawprint, and there’s a great brick-built tree next to the door as well.
The vet’s office waiting area has two couches, with a resident parrot on a perch and a large fish in a small aquarium. The orange fish in the aquarium is attached to the wall with a Technic pin, and as we saw in the official product photos, tends to want to “float” upside down — perhaps the vet should look into getting a larger tank that doesn’t kill his fish…
The far side of the exam room features a desk with cluttered papers and a lamp along with another desk with a frog under a heating lamp and some medicine bottles.
The front of the exam room has the exam table, where the vet can check up on the little girl’s rabbit. There’s also a third desk with more medical equipment, including scissors and a syringe.
The top floor has a bachelor pad for the man in the cableknit sweater. His apartment has a lovely kitchenette with a stove, prep area, and sink. The stove even has a tray of cookies inside. However, the poor dude’s bathroom may be the smallest toilet in the LEGO world. I also suspect he may have mechanics and vets traipsing through his home throughout the day to use the building’s only facilities…
His bed is a bit odd as well — an azure pillow on white sheets with a metal bedstead evokes a hospital rather than a comfortable home. I’ve dubbed this fellow “the bachelor” because he has decorated his apartment with a “Rock & Roll” poster (a printed 2×2 tile) and a toy truck or train engine on a shelf.
The bachelor can sit in his studio apartment’s living area and watch shows about bridges (another 2×2 printed tile) on his old-school television with a rabbit-ear antenna.
The roof is a fairly spartan affair, though it does have a deck chair and umbrella (a printed 4×4 radar dish) and planter box.
Reinforcing our point about the “logic” of LEGO Creator Expert modular buildings earlier, every floor is connected by staircases, including the roof, which has an angled set of doors leading downstairs.
The mechanics’ tow truck is worth a closer look. It has a two-tone color scheme in bright blue and dark blue, reminding us a bit of the Bugatti Chiron.
The front hood pops off to reveal an engine, so that the mechanics have something to work on in their garage.
The crane on the back has a Technic gear for a knob, which turns a crank that raises and lowers the crane arm with a hook on the end.
One of our favorite details built into the garage is this rolling tool cabinet, which uses 1×2 plates with rails to evoke the drawers.
The crane mechanism is sturdy enough to haul the pink Cadillac that came in Downtown Diner. (The lady from Downtown Diner seems rather upset that her car is being hauled away. Perhaps she shouldn’t have double parked.)
The Corner Garage includes six minifigs — two garage mechanics, a biker, veterinarian, young girl, and bachelor. With the vet’s office on the second floor, the set also includes several animal figures, including a dog, frog, rabbit, and fish.
The two mechanics wear identical overalls with tools tucked into the front pocket. The female mechanic wears a baseball cap with a ponytail, while the male mechanic wears an old-style train engineer/police officer hat. Their customer is a woman who brought in her scooter. She wears a zip-up jacket and has both wavy hair and a black helmet.
The woman mechanic’s baseball cap looks particularly great from the back, with her ponytail threaded through the hole at the back of the hat. Neither mechanic’s torso is printed, but the biker’s jacket has stitching details.
The biker is accompanied by her trusty scooter, looking gorgeous in medium azure (a new color for the scooter piece).
The little girl has a long braid and wears a striped pink shirt printed with a cat design. The man who lives above the vet’s shop wears the cableknit sweater first introduced in 21310 Old Fishing Store, while the vet wears a doctor’s coat.
All three of these minifigs have detailed printing on their backs — the sweater is particularly lovely.
Only two of the minifigs have alternate expressions. The female mechanic has a smiling face with smudges of oil or grease as well as an alternate face that looks determined. The young girl also has a two-sided head, with a small smile on one side and a sad face on the other (since she’s taking one of her animals to the vet).
Conclusions & recommendation
10264 Corner Garage is by no means a perfect LEGO Creator Expert modular building. The building doesn’t quite “flow” the way previous modular buildings have, with a vet’s office sandwiched between a mechanic’s shop and a bachelor pad (one simple solution: invert the order of the top-floor apartment and the second-floor veterinarian’s office). Nevertheless, it has a great “Bauhaus” sort of design, with some truly lovely details in the columns on the first floor and in the cornice at the roof line. The excellent tow truck along with the car lift add some fun play features to a building that would otherwise consist mainly of static detail.
When placed between two recent modular buildings, Corner Garage almost seems to work as a transition between the early 20th-century building styles (like the Brick Bank here) that characterized previous modulars and the neon glitz of Downtown Diner.
The rounded corners of the awnings on both buildings tie them together wonderfully, while also maintaining a connection with the detailed brick-work on the upper stories of both these two newest additions and earlier modular buildings.
Looking beyond what we see as logical or “flow” flaws in the selection of interior spaces, the Corner Garage is still a worthy addition to the LEGO Creator Expert modular building series, with some interesting new techniques for off-the-grid walls, sideways window construction, great printed pieces, and several completely new parts all contributing to an aesthetically pleasing whole with lovely exterior detail and a huge variety of interior features. While some may balk at the $200 price tag, the set does include over 2,500 pieces (though many are small 1×1 pieces), and the actual cost of modular buildings has in fact varied considerably over the years based on the size of the completed building.
Ultimately then, whether you choose to incorporate this latest building into your modular collection becomes a matter of taste and aesthetic preferences rather than anything that is objectively better or worse about 10264 Corner Garage. Is it my personal favorite? No, not necessarily. But I do think it fits well with the new, fresh direction that LEGO began taking with Downtown Diner, and I’ll be interested to see where the theme heads in the years to come.
10264 Corner Garage includes 2,569 pieces and 6 minifigures. The set will be available January 1st, 2019 from the LEGO Shop (US $199.99 | CA $269.99 | UK £159.99), Amazon.com, eBay, BrickLink, and elsewhere.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.