Yellow Emma? – LEGO Friends, Emma’s Fashion Shop (41427)

As much as I don’t like how LEGO keep screwing around with some of the aspects of Friends, I’ll likely always have a soft spot for the series for as long as it’s going to exist. Where others are turned off by the colors, I see lots of opportunities and crazy ideas almost immediately zap through my head. Emma’s Fashion Shop (41427) from this year’s second wave of sets is perhaps not that exactly, but I sure have long-term plans for something involving all those vanilla pudding/ custard yellow elements.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Box

Unlike in the past years, actually getting your hands on current sets is a bit of an exercise. LEGO‘s logistics are very apparently still impaired by (partial) factory shutdowns, shorter work shifts with less personnel and additional freight checks and quarantine procedures. That’s why ultimately I had to go with this set for the time being because my preferred choice, one of the new animal-based sets, wasn’t available anywhere. That’s quite different from other years where the June releases were sometimes already on sale or available for pre-order late April and then you had them on the first day even if you weren’t one of the privileged outlets that get free review samples directly from LEGO.

What thankfully hasn’t changed is the discounts you get even immediately after release, so I was able to pick this up for 20 Euro instead of 30 Euro. That in and of itself is of course getting weirder every year, too. Despite LEGO generally ramping up prices, sometimes to ridiculous heights, retailers just know that a lot of set won’t sell for the MSRP, firing them out for a lot less and barely making a revenue on them. Say what you will, this is certainly crooked and barely healthy and sustainable in the long run. anyway, for 20 Euro this set is certainly okay, but for reasons I’m going to explain a bit further down I don’t think the full 30 Euro would hold up.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Overview

Aside from the main build, the actual house, there isn’t an abundance of extras. the figures are ones already found in other sets and the kick scooter is the same as the one in Andrea’s Accessories Store (41344). It would have been nice to at least get that one in a new color, but I guess LEGO were playing it cheap and only used stuff and pieces that they already had in stock. This by the way seems to be the prevalent theme here, anyway: Keep it simple. It’s a very straightforward “no frills” affair. Not bad, just a bit unoriginal.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Building, Front Right View

Personally I don’t associate the Bright Yellow with Emma at all. This color is typically related to Olivia or more generalized building like the Heartlake Highschool, so it takes some getting used to. On the other hand there is enough of the Lavender, so on some level it’s still easy enough to draw the connection.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Building, Front Left View

The interesting thing about a lot of the Friends buildings is that they often contain interesting ideas, but suffer from those concepts being implemented poorly, incompletely or inconsequently. sometimes it’s the sheer lack of space due to the smallness of the sets, sometimes the designers just get carried away with cramming too much stuff in and yes, sometimes you just smell that evil corporate-mandated budget dictating how a set turns out. as far as all of that goes, this model is one of the better ones.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Building, Back Left View

As can be seen, the building is reasonably wide and deep and doesn’t look all too cluttered up on the inside. It nicely conveys both the ideas of a small neighborhood shop and a cosy living/ relaxation/ work area/ custom fitting room on the second floor. that is to say it is totally imaginable you might wanna live there and the building could fit into a small suburban/ rural street layout.

This is also helped by its simple build style and overall structure, which should make it relatively simple to expand the building and convert it into a larger one, be that adding an extra floor, making it deeper or wider or even changing it into a corner building with two facades. Buying multiple of these sets and putting them to use certainly isn’t that far flung an idea.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Building, Back Right View

However, the way it’s constructed is perhaps also a hindrance to that and perhaps the model’s biggest shortcoming. Instead of being built up from more regular smaller bricks it uses large 1 x 2 x 6 “column” bricks and equally large panels. This always is the point where I feel that these perfectly understandable simplifications for kids get in the way of broader acceptance and adaptation of Friends by more seriously-minded builders. That’s also the reason why I wouldn’t buy these sets at full price, as in order to make the most of them with customizations you still have to figure in the extra spending on Bricklink.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Ground Floor, Back Right View with separated Details

There are a few easily removable items like the sewing machine and a “mix & match your styles” column. The function of the latter only becomes clear when you apply the stickers, which of course I never do. The highlight of the sewing machine, if you will, is the use of a black lipstick minifigure utensil for the needle head, but other than that it’s just the same standard build you’ve seen in a ton of other sets. The same goes for the test fitting booth, which for all intents and purposes is just the same basic build also used everywhere else. At the very least I would have hoped they’d include the half-cylinder element in an opaque color so it works without a sticker.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Ground Floor, Back Right View

The mannequins are creepy and more than just a bit uninspired. This is one of those “If you can’t be bothered…” things that just upset and enrage me. Can it really be that hard to at least produce monochromatic mini dolls without any prints and minus the arms and legs or even better yet come up with a custom mold based on existing ones? I mean if such a mold existed, it would in fact even look good in City sets next to regular minifigures. Definitely time for LEGO to do it!

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Ground Floor, Back Left View

On a small, anecdotal note one of the things that stood out to me was the Flame Yellowish Orange bow. Yupp, it’s once again of those odd inconsistencies in the Friends universe that, while it should be easy enough to produce this item in all colors of the rainbow, it only exists in five colors and the yellow version is the rarest one only featured in a few sets that I never bought. Go, figure!

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Top Floor, Back Right View

The upper floor is dominated by the couch and that’s another thing I take some small issue with. It essentially blocks the door to the balcony. The kids won’t mind it, but it’s not exactly the most plausible placement. I also feel like the curved balcony only exists to provide the railing onto which the signage is clipped. They could have added a potted plant at least or included a minifigure bird or cat to perch on the railing as a gag. Regrettably, the ruler on the signage also isn’t printed. It would make so much sense to have such a 1 x 4 tile and it could be used for anything from school scenes to being an accessory in a handyman’s toolbox…

LEGO Friends, Emma's Fashion Shop (41427), Top Floor, Back Left View

All things considered, this is a good enough set to be worth your money – at a reasonably reduced price. While utterly unexciting, it still looks pretty decent or even nice and provides a solid basis on which you can expand and improve upon. Of course it would be nice if LEGO would put in a bit of effort and also worked on the typical issues that plague these sets like flimsily piecing together plates with barely any overlapping elements to hold them, but I guess that is too much to hope for and I guess for the rating we have to settle on a “perfectly acceptable” rather than “great” or “outstanding”…

Medium Azure Joy – Toy Shop Town House (31105)

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 [31026], Toy & Grocery Shop [31036], Corner Deli [31050] and Park Street Town House [31065]) 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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Box

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Overview

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Minifigures, Front View LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Minifigures, Backside View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Rocket Ride, Left View LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Rocket Ride, Right View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Front Left View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Front Right View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Back Right View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Back Left View

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Modules

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Module, Ground Floor

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.

LEGO Creator, Toy Shop Town House (31105), Module, Second Floor

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…

Honesty Reward!

Sometimes things work out in a weird way and so despite not really having an intention to buy one of the Jurrassic World sets, I still ended up with one of the promotional Velociraptor Play Pen (30382) bags that you would otherwise get if you were to buy products from that range of a certain value. How did I do that? That’s an anecdote so odd, it’s definitely worth telling.

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Bag

I was on the road yesterday in the next big city close to where I live, Leipzig, and for a few years now (three or four, I believe), we have our own LEGO store, so I always make it a point to at least stop by and sneak in, looking if I can get something that fits my limited budget, ideally at reduced prices. There wasn’t much in the way of actual sets, but I picked up a bunch of minifigures and shovelled a few hands of loose bricks into a small Pick a Brick cup since it doesn’t happen that often that you get Sand Green 2 x 1 bricks en masse.

I paid my stuff and then left the premises to check out some other shops in the mall and all the while I had this nagging feeling that something was off and I didn’t pay what it should have cost. So when reorganizing the contents of my backpack I took the chance to check the receipts whether I had missed some discount or something like that and there it was – they young lady operating the cash register had missed on checking in my PaB cup and the bill was 10 Euros short.

Since I’d like to think I’m an honest guy, after all, I returned to the LEGO store and in slightly theatrical fashion dug out the unpaid cup and asked, whether I could still keep it even if I hadn’t paid for it. Imagine the stunned looks! After the first moment of surprise had settled, I jokingly said that I would only pay it if I got one of those dino bags. Of course I would have paid either way, but the guys played along and as a reward for my honesty I really got one of the bags, which is great! Now little baby T-Rex from the magazine set has a friend to play with! 😉

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Overview

The set itself is simple enough, but what of course stands out are the Dark Blue elements, which LEGO uses throughout the entire Jurassic World series. They also match the little Velociraptor‘s colors since he goes by the name of Blue due to his dark side stripes. Personally I just love those toned down, soothing colors. For my taste the set could have been a bit wider/ have had more depth, but at least judging from photos it seems that even the commercial sets are more built like narrow facades, so this would fit the theme.

In any case, I’m a happy camper and such little funny incidents show that “Life finds a way!”, as Dr. Malcolm always says in the movies. Thanks again to the staff of the store for being game and indulging me!