At the beginning of my LEGO career only a few years ago I was deeply entrenched in Technic and didn’t care much for the traditional System based sets. Only when things took a turn for the worse and the Technic models began to get less interesting did I expand my horizon and it was at that time that with much regret I realized what I had missed out on.
In particular the buildings in the Creator 3in1 series (Bike Shop & Café , Toy & Grocery Shop , Corner Deli  and Park Street Town House ) piqued my interest and only through sheer luck was I able to pick up the last item during a clearance sale way back then. The others are still on my dream wishlist, but since prices have exploded for those sets, it will likely remain an an affordable pipe dream.
All that being the case, and finally getting near a point, I’m of course extremely happy that LEGO decided to pick up where they left off and include buildings again in the 3in1 series that had been missing so noticeably. Last year’s Pet Shop & Café (31097) perhaps wasn’t the greatest example, but the new Toy Shop Town House (31105) is pretty excellent.
I’m not revealing any secrets by pointing out the brilliance of this little set, as it is actually quite apparent just by looking at the box art. It has exactly that lovely vibe that made the older sets so endearing and desirable. It’s oozing with charme, one could say. in addition to the main building the set comes with a little side build in the form of a kids’ rocket ride and two minifigures.
The figures are pretty much standard and represent a kid and a female toy store employee. Notice how I made a mess by not plugging in the kid’s legs tightly enough. The employee is interesting in that it uses the relatively rare yellow torso with the LEGO logo artwork on the back. Such figures are often only included in limited promotional sets, but even then not always, so if you ever wanted to build a genuine LEGO branded store as a model here’s your chance to get matching outfits for your mini people in a relatively straightforward and cost-efficient way that doesn’t involve buying overpriced collector’s items on Bricklink.
The rocket ride no doubt represents a reminiscence to the quite similar and only slightly larger Space Rocket Ride (40335) that was available as a Gift with Purchase (GWP) promotional item some time last year. Its rocking function even works thanks to a small crank mechanism. The only issue with it is that the model has no actual provision for nicely fixing it in place somewhere owing to the building being to small to permanently put it inside and at the same time the pavement not being fully extended. If you are thinking of integrating the building into your existing town you may have to create your own solution to that admittedly small problem.
The main building itself just looks nice from pretty much every angle. this being a corner building with consistently butted-off side walls could indicate that the next building in this series might be one to go left and right of this to form an actual street layout.
Of particular note is of course the second floor due to its use of the Medium Azure color. This especially means that a few of the elements like for instance the 2×2 round brick become available in this color for the first time ever, which is always a bonus. It’s funny, though, that an element that basically existed since the dawn of LEGO time never was never produced in a specific color in 40 or so years.
In addition to the Medium Azure pieces the other interesting new entry in the parts department are the 3×3 windows in Tan. I still haven’t gotten around to starting my project with the Dark Purple versions from the Harry Potter Knight Bus set (75957), but it’s good to see that this wasn’t just a one-off and the part is proliferating across the portfolio in colors that will be more palatable to most users.
Other than that the build uses pretty much only standard parts as is typical for most Creator 3in1 sets. That being the case, the one thing I’m not happy with is the buildable bird. I know it’s tradition in the series, but in this case I really feel that for reasons of scale and overall cuteness this set would have benefited from the inclusion of a few of the small bird minifigure add-on. The model just screams to me that there should be a bunch of sparrows perched on the edges of the roof, before the main door and even on the balcony. doing the little birdy in a color like Medium Nougat or Dark Orange would then have provided even more incentive and made this super awesome.
While it’s not an actual Modular Building, of course the set borrows a bunch of building techniques and overall takes a similar approach. This is not only sensible in terms of building things step by step without having to worry too much about handling large chunks at once, but it also is the only way to be able to fully access the interior, especially on the ground floor.
Said bottom level features the eponymous toy shop from which the set derives its name and its stuffed wit ha few mini builds of assembled models and also comes with a number of printed tiles representing LEGO set packages. If it were up to me, they could have included even more of those to plaster the entire wall and give the impression of a seriously crammed, but cosy small toy shop like they still exist in many smaller cities.
The second floor contains a small bedroom and while it doesn’t introduce anything revolutionary, it benefits from the Medium Azure color and the small bay. One can almost see oneself snuggling up in the bed while looking out of the bay windows on a day with perhaps not such great weather.
All things considered, this is an almost perfect set. There are a few minor structural issues that can be annoying during the build (that old thing of some walls being flimsy until you shim them over with plates at the top for instance), but it never gets in the way of your enjoyment. Many people seem to feel similarly and there’s already lots of larger builds based on two or more instances of this set. I’m eventually planning to do the same and might build something matching the size of a genuine Modular Building.
On that note of course we have to talk price. While I have no objections over the original 50 Euro retail price given the merits and quality of the set, by sheer volume it still doesn’t feel justified. After all, the building is still pretty tiny. Therefore to me the average 40 to 35 Euro street price feels a lot more realistic, even more so if you plan on buying more than one of these boxes. You can’t defeat the arithmetic and in a bad scenario this would then be more expensive than a genuine Modular Building while still having less pieces. It definitely won’t hurt to keep an eye out for sales and promotions…