Creator 3-in-1 sets offer great builds for great value for money. This week I'm building the Townhouse, Pet Shop, & Cafe set. The city builder that I am, I couldn't resist getting my hands on this set.
Recent years LEGO have given us sort of small-scale modular sets within the Creator 3-in-1 theme. Piggy-backing off the huge success of the Creator Expert Modular Buildings, these smaller sets may not offer the wow factor of Modulars but what they lack in techniques the make up in versatility and value for money.
They started offering modular shops and houses around 2014 with sets like 31026-1 Bike Shop Cafe, and growing to a large selection. The Corner Deli (set 31050-1) and Modular Skate House (set 31081-1) are great examples of the potential these sets have.
Set 31097-1 - Townhouse Pet Shop & Café owes some of it's design to an earlier 3-in-1 set, 2017's 31068-1 Modular Modern Home. It shows the evolution of this theme and how much LEGO have recognised the audience for affordable modulars. 31097-1 is the largest of this type of 3-in-1 set and offers another great aspect of these types of sets. The ability to rearrange each room into whatever suits your needs.
Kids can enjoy creative play with the LEGO® Creator 3in1 31097 Townhouse Pet Shop and Café, featuring a 2-level building with café, upper-level kitchen and rooftop terrace, plus a 3-level building with pet shop, apartment and rooftop terrace. This colorful townhouse includes an array of interior details that inspire creative building and comes with brick-built animal toys, including a dog, toucan and mouse. With Creator 3in1 playsets kids get 3 different build and play experiences. Build the Townhouse Pet Shop and Café and then rebuild it into a multi-story Bank or Market Street with tram. Includes 3 minifigures, all ready for downtown adventures.
The box measures 475 x 375 x 65 mm. Inside are 6 bags numbered 1 to 6, and an instruction manual.
The instruction manual measures 260 x 205 mm. With 354 pages and:
- A Model: 253 total build steps.
- B Model: 156 total build steps.
- C Model: 138 total build steps.
The pdf can be downloaded here.
The set contains 969 parts and 46 spares, in 34 colors, and 33 part categories, with a total of 290 unique parts/color combinations.
Main colors are:
- White:51 parts, 192 quantity.
- Light Bluish Gray:45 parts, 148 quantity.
- Black:37 parts, 153 quantity.
Main categories are:
No new parts, but two parts in new colors, and a handful of rare parts
Parts in new colors:-
Introduced in 2009. This window has become an extremely popular choice, appearing in 120 sets since it's introduction. This is the third new color of the part in 2019 and we've already had another new color in 2020.
More popular than the window. This quater tile has appeared in 285 sets and was only introduced in 2016! We now get it in 29 colors. That's around 6 new colors per year.
New to 2019 but also seen in LEGO Ideas set 21318-1 Tree House.
Rare Parts (appearing in 3 or less sets):
This set comes with 3 minifigs, all generic townspeople (one looks a lot like Stan Lee).
Bag 1: Opening with a great looking Hot Dog Stand, my hopes for a great set are soaring. Bag 1 also builds the first 'box' room. The cafe is small, and light on interesting details, but it serves its purpose just fine.
Bag 2: Moving upwards we next build an apartment. It has a nice balcony and detailed kitchen. I really love the Bright Light Yellow color scheme here.
Bag 3: We finish the first tower with an ornate roof with garden. Nothing particularly interesting. We also build the park/cafe's patio. This is the crutial link between the buildings and actually contains some nice micro-built animals. I love these birds common to sets these days, and there's a great dog too.
Bag 4: The base of tower two is the Pet Shop. I just love the micro-toucan, only in Bricksburg would you find a toucan in a pet shop!
Bag 5: Here we start the modern apartment. The sliding shutters are fantastic. And I don't need to tell you how great the cup sign looks. I don't need to but I will, it looks AWESOME! This is the first floor of the apartment, but due to size limitations we don't actually get any stairs to the second floor.
Bag 6: The second floor and roof are completed, finishing off the model. The modern apartment has a balcony. The roof has a solar panel and a roof section over the balcony. I've heard many people argue that building with the technique that has been used for that roof is an 'illegal' technique. Well I guess they can't say that anymore.
The completed model looks great, I couldn't be happier.
The B Model consists of a Barbers, Dentists, Tram Stop, and Tram. These rooms are actually far more detailed than the A Model. And the signs are just fantasic. In fact this B model is good enough to be it's own set. The Tram just blew me away, this is a great example of why I love 3-in-1 sets. If I was forced to pick a part that was the disappointment it would be the station. And little hidden secrets underneath really do little for me outside of moderate confusion. I'll just never get why I put something in a set that will never be seen until the set is dismantled, but hey, that's no reason to be put off. This B model is great.
The C Model consists of a single tower with a bank on the ground floor, and an apartment with rooftop greenhouse on top. The bank looks great, but I can't say as much for the apartment. From the outside there's really not much to say. Inside is a hodge-podge of odd furniture and mis-scaled furnishings. I'm not sure what that Star Trek Kirk chair is suppose to resemble, and the lamp looks kinda ridiculous. But these things are common in C-models. The roof redeems some of the apartments flaws by giving us a great rooftop garden and greenhouse (and more of those awesome birds). Lastly, we build what I think is a juice cart. It looks great even if I'm not really sure what it is.
C-Model syndrome is a very serious LEGO illness. On the whole this C model manages to avoid it. Yes alot of parts are left over, like usual, but the completed set doesn't feel lacking. In fact the opposite, you get a perfectly good, full of play potential, final model.
Here's some variations of this set, you can easily swap around sections to create whatever set up you want.
I loved this set alot, 10/10! All 3 models were great and honestly, if I had the money, I'd buy a few copies of this set and incorporate all 3 models into my cityscape. I've said it in another 3-in-1 set review, but it bears repeating here, I also love the fact that 3-in-1 sets don't swamp you with Minifigures. Three actually feels light for the A-Model but I have many from other sets that can make it up.
These small-scale modulars must never die, they give us an accessible version of the hugely popular Modular sets at a price that doesn't re-mortgage the house.
I highly recommend this set. And for those of you who have it, please design some awesome Alt builds for me, I can't wait to put this set to good use.