Every LEGO Modular Building Ranked From Worst to First
16th July 2023
The Modular Building Collection has become one of LEGO's most popular subthemes and the arrival of the new modular at the beginning of each year is always surrounded with much excitement. Each has their own unique character and each is a celebration of different architectural styles.
LEGO has given us so many fantastic buildings, which made choosing our favourites extremely difficult. Nonetheless, we persevered, and below is our list of every modular ranked from worst to first.
18. Market Street (10190)
Market Street was the second modular to hit shelves, following just a few months after the Cafe Corner. Unlike all the other sets on this list, it was released under LEGO Factory, which was a fan-designed theme that acted as a precursor to LEGO Ideas. Nevertheless, its status as a modular has been confirmed by LEGO themselves.
However, because of its alternative origins, some may argue it's not a “proper” modular. And who can blame them, as the detail on the exterior lacks the polish of the rest. The same would probably be true of the interior, if LEGO had included one. All in all, it feels more like an oversized City set, than a modular building.
17. Cafe Corner (10182)
The very first modular, released in 2007, comes in next on the list. LEGO has evolved significantly in that time, such that the age of this set is apparent. While it's still nice to look at, and includes some ingenious part usage, the set design is a little primitive compared to today's standards. Like the Market Street, it also lacks an interior, which is a big negative.
However, despite its shortcomings, the Cafe Corner will always have a special place in our hearts for being the cornerstone of a much loved subtheme.
16. Pet Shop (10218)
The Pet Shop came out in 2011 and broke the modular mould by being the first to consist of two separate buildings. The narrow townhouse looks very cute and the pet shop also has an attractive frontage, thanks to its sand blue colour scheme.
While this is a nice addition to any modular lineup, the set fails to capture the eye in the same way many of the modern buildings do. For that reason it sits low on our list, but animal lovers feel free to disagree.
15. Green Grocer (10185)
The Green Grocer is one of the most expensive LEGO sets out there, largely due to extensive use of very rare 1x2 and 1x8 sand green bricks. If you really want a complete collection, you're going to have to bite the bullet and buy it, but we would suggest letting common sense prevail and giving your bank balance a rest. Sure, the colour scheme makes this a pretty looking thing, but architecturally it's a little dated. There are plenty of more interesting modulars, which is why we've placed this one at number 15.
14. Detectives Office (10246)
This was the first modular I ever purchased, and was the first time I took the plunge and bought a "big" LEGO set. Sentimental value aside, it ranks low on the list. The main reason being that, similarly to the Pet Shop, it lacks the striking visual appeal of other modulars and is easy to forget. In fact, I sometimes get the Pet Shop and Detective's Office mixed up, as they just kind of merge into one. However, take a look on the inside and you'll see where this set delivers, with the pool table being the best of a series of great features.
Many people are likely to disagree with the position of this set, but it depends on how much importance you place on the interior details. Personally, the exterior has to pack a punch and this set fails to do that.
13. Bookshop (10270)
The Bookshop was another modular offering two buildings for the price of one. The townhouse has one of the coolest and most distinctive colour palettes of any modular set, and being a book lover, I also appreciate having a cosy local bookshop for my minifigures. But that's where the catch lies, as the interior doesn't pack in enough literature. This is partly a consequence of the shop sharing its modular footprint with a neighbouring building and being only 16 studs wide. This limits what you can place inside, but LEGO could have used the space much better. We're also not sold on the birch tree outside the shop as the lack of foliage makes it look odd.
12. Grand Emporium (10211)
The Grand Emporium adds a bit of class to a modular street and gives your upmarket minifigures a place to splash the cash. If LEGO had given the emporium concept the modular treatment a few years later, we suspect this would be near the top of the list. But being only the fifth modular to come out, it lacks a bit of polish. Regardless, it's a great looking set with some magical touches, such as the chandeliers, flagpoles, large shop sign, dark green awnings, and escaliers. The window cleaner is also a clever addition.
11. Assembly Square (10255)
Assembly Square marked 10 years of the Modular Buildings Collection and LEGO commemorated the occasion by delivering by far the biggest modular to date. However, this is a case of bigger not always being better. While having a square that minifigures can hang out is cool, the three adjacent premises are quite forgettable. They have great detail, both inside and out, and make good use of the available space, but they don't have the impact of a single large building.
10. Jazz Club (10312)
The Jazz Club filled a void by finally giving minifigures a place to go after hours. As this set followed on from the Boutique Hotel, I was expecting a more adventurous design, but LEGO took it a bit safe in our opinion. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it's been executed very well.
The main jazz club looks true to life and the colours complement each other nicely. However, the pizzeria next door feels tacked on, like it was an afterthought, which is what lets this set down. Also, personally, a jazz club is not the most exciting subject matter. However, we would still highly recommend buying this set (if you need any encouragement) as the finish inside and out is top notch.
9. Corner Garage (10264)
Corner modulars have always been my preferred type, as we think they offer up more opportunities for creativity. The Corner Garage delivers on this front as it's markedly different from the rest. Like sets ranked higher up the list, this modular has a distinct role in a LEGO city.
While there are some more visually interesting modulars, the Corner Garage is by no means ugly. The interior detail doesn't match the level of others, but the high play value of the petrol station makes up for this in our opinion. Octan also makes us nostalgic for our childhood building years, so we may be biased, but seeing the logo here gives this set bonus points.
8. Fire Brigade (10197)
Fire stations have been done to death by the LEGO City theme, but this modular gives us the fire station we've all been wanting. It's more refined and complete than any station before (and likely after) and looks fantastic too. The decorative firefighter helmet motifs on either side of the facade are inspired, as is the bell tower at the top. The firetruck entrance in the middle also offers good playability. Considering this was the fourth modular to be released, it's stood the test of time rather well.
7. Town Hall (10224)
The Town Hall has one of the simplest facades, but it makes up for this with some fantastic features, such as the columned entrance, coat of arms, and bell tower. The inside space is also used well and features a working elevator! Having one of the largest piece counts in the modular range, the town hall has impressive proportions and scores highly because of the importance of the building it represents. No city can call itself complete without a town hall, so it's a must have for any collection.
6. Downtown Diner (10260)
The Downtown Diner is a set that's likely to divide opinion. It went for something different with its 1950s style architecture and in-your-face colour scheme. Some may say it jars with the classic and contemporary architecture of other modulars, but we love its boldness. It's a real statement building and one that certainly catches the eye on your shelf or in your LEGO street. The vintage pink car that's included is also a nice bonus.
5. Boutique Hotel (10297)
When the Boutique Hotel was first announced, I was bowled over with the design. The shape of the building is stunning and it's clear LEGO's designers pushed the limits of the modular mould. However that shape comes at a cost, with the biggest criticism being that it's hard to align seamlessly with many other modulars.
>The interior crams in a lot of detail, but still feels spacious. The small neighbouring building could easily have been overshadowed by the hotel, but its use as a modern art gallery suits the chic vibe well and has its own merits. We also really like the nougat and sand green colour combination, although it might not be to everyone's taste. This avant garde modular thoroughly deserves its place in the top five.
4. Palace Cinema (10232)
Many people might be surprised to see this so high up the list. We've placed it here mainly because of how unusual and impressive it is architecturally. It takes its inspiration from Grauman's Chinese Theatre, which sits on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Another nod to this real-world location are the stars incorporated into the pavement, which add some further glamour.
This is definitely a statement modular and one that certainly doesn't blend into the background. The billboard and movie posters in the windows look cool and contain some whimsical brick-based humour. The interior needs some modernisation, but that's our only criticism of a set that needs to take centre stage in your LEGO city.
3. Parisian Restaurant (10243)
The Parisian Restaurant is a modular that can easily be overlooked. It's not bold or brash, but look a little closer and you'll see its beauty lies in its refined elegance. Everything is well thought out and it makes excellent use of parts to give us details like the clamshell motifs on the roof. The olive green colour palette also feels like a perfect choice for a French restaurant.
While the back of some modular buildings are bare, blocky affairs, this set uses the rear space brilliantly to give us a charming outdoor seating area and practical walkway to the artist's loft. Surprisingly, its value hasn't soared to the point that it's completely unobtainable, so we recommend buying this set now if you don't have it already.
2. Police Station (10278)
The Police Station was another modular that gave us something new - three building styles on one regular 32x32 baseplate. Despite the buildings on either side of the station taking up very little space, they both work well. The green exterior is actually part of the station and houses a detention cell, but it's clever how LEGO used a different colour to keep the build interesting. Most of all, we love the frontage of the main building, as the architecture, colour, and textures work perfectly together.
Inside you'll find everything your LEGO police force needs, and while they could have packed more furniture and equipment in, what's there is done well. There are also a lot of fun references to the set's great narrative of a donut thief on the loose. This modular is a joy to build and look at and could easily be placed on the top spot.
1. Brick Bank (10251)
This might not be at the top of everyone's list, but let's be honest, isn't it every AFOL's dream to have complete control over their city's money supply? This set allows us to live out that fantasy and for that reason alone, this is must-have modular.
Although it doesn't have the same architectural panache of other modulars, nor the same impressive height, it looks exactly how a bank should look. The columns, bulky friezes, and arched windows convey the strength and stability needed to give minifigures confidence their money is safe, not to mention the sophisticated vault door.
Like the Police Station, the Brick Bank also has a fantastic story to it, with the laundrette being a comical reference to a money laundering operation. To support this narrative, there are lots of cool play features built into the design, which might not be important for everyone, but it certainly increases the fun element and elevates it to pole position in our opinion.
While we wait for the dust to settle from our very subjective list, it's important to note that there are no bad modular buildings. Each one has its merits and each is worth collecting. What other subtheme or theme can boast such an impressive line up?
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