Review: 10251 Brick Bank

I fell in love with the Brick Bank (10251) when LEGO released the high resolution images back in October.  And it doesn’t disappoint in real life.

Let’s take a closer look at this stunning modular building designed by Jamie Berard!

Before I go any further, I would just like to say a very big thank you to TLG’s AFOL Relations & Programs team for providing a copy of the Brick Bank for me to review!

The starting point is the box – it is big and heavy, as you would expect for a 2,380 piece set.  On the front of the box is an image of the set itself, including the five minifigures (more on them later).

I was going to say that the  size and modular nature of the building is highlighted on the right hand side, right under a new logo for Creator Expert.  However, the logo is not new and was first used for the Ferrari F40 (10248) some six months ago.  I must start paying more attention!

The rear of the box follows the familiar format, showing the Brick Bank with the last two modulars, and highlighting the main play features and internal details.

I don’t have an image of the full contents of the box, but I can tell you that there are 21 bags (including the one that the instructions are in) and a Tan 32×32 baseplate (yippee!).  I’m a little surprised though that there are no loose large (8×16 or 16×16) plates anywhere to be seen.  I actually double checked the box just to make sure it was empty.

I included the count for the bag that the instructions came in because you can see from this image below that it is actually numbered like a parts bag.  I don’t remember seeing that before.

What was similar to the last modular building though was that there was no cardboard backing and that the booklet was a single thick one, thermal bound.  I understand that the jury is out on that design because it doesn’t allow for splitting the build between friends or family members.  I like the single booklet as it feels a little more robust and is easier to store.

Another pleasant surprise was that there was no sticker sheet, not even inside the instructions.

As shown in the random page below, the instructions include the guide lines around the area where the bricks are placed, this time in yellow.  Thanks TLG!

The final few pages of the instructions booklet show the parts required (page 165, page 166, page 167 and page 168), advertisements for the latest three modulars (similar to the front cover of the box) and the Creator range, and invites you to join the LEGO VIP loyalty program.

I’m just going to showcase the Creator one, as I think its quite clever:

The back cover of the instruction booklet looks very familiar.  I think I could probably have used the image from the review of the Detective’s Office, unless someone was diligent enough to check the copyright year and reference number at the bottom.

The top of the box shows all the parts that are found in the set:

There are five Number 1 bags, with the larger one having two smaller inner baggies.  Can you spot the odd one out below?

Here are the parts from those Number 1 bags:

The highlights in the number 1 bags are:

  • New arrow-shaped tiles in Sand Blue and Light Bluish Grey
  • 2×2 jumper plates (87580) in Sand Blue, which are new in this colour
  • A door frame in Sand Blue (60596), which is unique to this set in that colour
  • A nice amount of other Sand Blue parts, including 1×1 bricks, 1×2 bricks with groove (4216), 1×4 bricks and 1×6 bricks
  • Corner tiles (14719) in Dark Blue and Light Bluish Grey
  • Three 1×2 bricks with two extra knobs (11211) in Dark Blue, which are only found in that colour in the recent Doctor Who (21304) set
  • Two printed 2×2 tiles, being the suspension bridge (also in The Big Bang Theory (21302) set) and the “The Babbler” paper (also in the Mystery Machine (75902) set)
  • Loads of 1×2 and 2×2 tiles in Dark Bluish Grey, which are a must have for any modular builder.

The brick separator virus continues.  If you’re cleverer than I am, there are actually some really good uses for them (other than separating bricks). Check this out!

One of the first things I notice is that the 2×2 corner tile piece is used for the pavement edging. It may just be the traditionalist in me, but I want to change the edging to 1x6s and 1x1s.

There is a lot of tiling on the ground floor, including the use of the new arrow-shaped tiles on the inside.  I’m not convinced yet about the new tiles – there is a noticeable gap that you don’t get when doing a normal tiled floor and the pattern, while interesting, isn’t sufficiently special to make it worth going out of your way to source these new tiles.

I like the way that the vault door has been done so that it can be “locked” by turning the wheel on the front, just like in the movies.

I also like how the lower part of the stairs were done with the use of the Pearl Gold telescopes to hold the steps.

The main part of the stairs were done in the same way as the Pet Shop (10218), hinging from the base to provide space to access the play features.

The front counter looks fantastic and cleverly uses the studs for the door handles to hold the glass “panels” in place.

The continuation of the tiling from the laundromat into the vault, broken only by a couple of 2×2 jumper plates, suggests that the wall between the two spaces will be removable.

The Number 1 bags complete only about half of the ground floor, which brings us to the Number 2 parts bags, of which there were five:

Here are the parts from the Number 2 bags:

The largest one also had the different numbering style and a separate baggie inside.  The highlights for me were:

  • Five new printed 1x4x6 window glass pieces, including four with stained glass for the bank and one for the laundromat
  • New 1x2x1.67 (i.e. 5 plates high) bricks with four knobs!
  • New 2×4 printed tile in the style of an oversized winner’s cheque
  • A couple more unique door frames in Sand Blue (60596)
  • Two small half arches (6091) in Bright Light yellow, which are unique to this set
  • Two 1x1x6 supports (43888) in White, which were only in the Trevi Fountain (21020) previously

Here’s a closer look at the highlights in the Number 2 bags.  The signature on the over-sized cheque looks like “M. Bags” to me, presumably for “Money Bags”.  There was some early speculation that the signature was that of Marcos Bessa, meaning that he had a hand in the design of the Brick Bank.  He set the record straight on Twitter.

My images of the stained glass windows don’t do them just.  They really are quite gorgeous!

Also, why are the gold pieces in a little baggie?  I don’t think I’ve ever seem them provided like that before.  A few more gold ingots would have been nice.

The outside columns on the ground floor use the new 1x2x1.67 brick with the four knobs on one side.  This is going to be a very useful piece for SNOT work on facades.  For the corner column, the solution was a combination of 1×1 bricks with extra knobs and 1×1 headlight bricks.

This is a clever solution for allowing the Light Bluish Grey ingots to butt up against each other on the corner.  However, I don’t understand why it uses 1×1 bricks with knobs on two opposite sides.  Using 1×1 bricks with a knob on one side would have done the trick.

I really like how the windows on either side of the bank entrance have been done.

The glass doors are added in step 105 (page 66) after the door frames have been well and truly embedded in the build.  I don’t know about you, but I find it nearly impossible to add doors (or windows) inside the frames after the frames have been built in.  I had to undo the feature above the doors, pull out the door frames, add the doors and then rebuilt it all back.  There doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason why the glass doors were not added at the same time as the door frames.

The space between the vault and the laundromat is filled by the safety deposit boxes and washing machines.  This sub-assembly also comes with what I thought at first was a weird looking cash register.  It is in fact a coin counting machine, which makes a lot more sense given we are building a bank (d’oh)!

The sub-assumably also includes one of the main play features – money laundering (which is just the thing we want to teach our kids to do).  The money or gold ingot (or whatever takes your fancy) goes in the top right washing machine and comes out through the lower safety deposit boxes in the bank vault.

The Number 2 bags complete the ground floor:

I should actually say “almost completes the ground floor”, as there is still a sizeable gap above the washing machines.

There is a small bench with a letter tile and quill.  I didn’t understand what the purpose of this was, but then I remembered that we used to have to complete withdrawal or deposit slips every time we wanted to take money out or put money into our savings accounts.

The shopfront for the laundromat is quite cute.  I noticed that the window sign suggests there is a 24 hour service, but there is no counter or minifigure for the laundromat.  I guess there is technically a 24-hour laundering service if it is money that you need to have cleaned.

There are six Number 3 bags, the larger one with its own smaller baggy inside it:

Here’s what those bags hold:

The Number 3 bags contain quite a few parts that are either new or in a new colour for that part:

  • Loads and loads of Sand Green 1x2x3 windows (60593), which are unique to this set in that colour
  • Reddish Brown cupboard (4532) with two Medium Dark Flesh cupboards (4536), both of which are unique to this set in those colours
  • Printed 2×2 tile with a picture of a grumpy old banker, which appears to be new
  • Two of the new 1×1 round tiles with pin (20482) in Pearl Gold, which is a new colour for this part
  • Two of the new style ornamental fences in Black (19121), which are new in that colour.

The other interesting parts were:

  • Four of the 1×1 scroll bricks (20310) in Pearl Gold, which are relatively new, although not unique to this set
  • Lots of White 1×2 and round 2×2 grill bricks
  • Two Black 1x4x6 window frames with three panes (57894), which were only in one set previously – the 2005 Fire Station (7240).

It was interesting to see how the string was presented, with the masking tape holding it together.  I haven’t seen it like this before.  Here’s a close up.

The first build from the Number 3 bags fills the gap above the washing machines.  It looks like an air conditioner vent, but is built with the grate (i.e. the lattice fence) hinged so that it can open up to let the pesky robber into the bank vault.

The Number 3 bags also build the first floor, which houses the offices for the bank manager and secretary.

While I’m not convinced about the design of the espresso machine, I really like how the fireplace in the secretary’s office and the bank manager’s desk and chair have been done.

The outside of the first floor is relatively simple, but looks great.  Love the Sand Green windows!

There are two noticeable marks on the ornamental fences.  They are on both fences on either side on the lower part (on the side that doesn’t have the molding pip thingie).  I tried to take a shot of it, but just couldn’t capture it, so you’ll just have to trust me that they are there.

I really like the colours and textures in the part of the facade above the laundromat:

It is interesting how the facade looks like there is a separate building for the laundromat, but the interior of the first floor is all bank.

The clock that hangs on the corner of the ground floor is the final build from the Number 3 bags:

The build of the clock is quite neat, with the 3L bars on either side allowing for the reversal of the section that makes up the bottom end of the clock.

This brings us to the final parts bags, of which there are five (plus a couple of inner baggies):

And the parts from those bags:

The parts that caught my eye in this lot were:

  • Four of the new arched window piece (20309) in Sand Green
  • Two of the new ornamental keys (19118) in Light Bluish Grey
  • Lots and lots of arches
  • More Sand Green 1x2x3 windows (60593), with 34 of those in total including the ones from the Number 3 bags
  • Round 1×1 plates with holes (85861) in Black and Dark Red

These parts are used to build the roof and the sub-models for the pavement area outside the bank.

I would never have thought to use the flying fox / pulley pieces to add detail to a building facade.  Jamie Berard = design genius.

The roof also includes an elaborate chandelier, which is attached using technic pieces to allow the chandelier to be put on its side when the roof is not on top of the building.

The final builds include a small tree, public bench, lamp post and ladder.

I really don’t understand the significance of the ladder, broom and bucket.  It just doesn’t seem to fit in with the overall story for the Brick Bank.

This brings us to the five minifigures:

Each of the minifigures has the standard grin pattern and pants in plain colours that we have seen before, so I’ll focus the discussion on the torsos and hair pieces.

First up is the bank teller, who I initially thought was a man, but a closer look at the clothing suggests otherwise.  She is wearing a long-sleeved Green jacket over a light blue top and necklace, with Red pants.

The torso pattern was released in 2015 and can be found on the female mechanic from the Dune Buggy Trailer (60082) and on Claire in the Temple of Airjitzu (70751).  The bank teller’s Tan hair is a relatively new pattern (15500), which has previously only been seen in Dark Brown on Larry the Barista (coltlm).   That explains my confusion I guess – girlie top with boyish haircut.

Next up is the little girl with the oversized winner’s cheque:

This little girl is wearing a Red blazer with medal ribbon (previously found only in the Pony Farm (10674)), a common Dark Brown ponytail (87990) and Medium Lavender short legs / pants.

According to TLG’s description for this set, the photographer is a mum (presumably of the little girl with the cheque).

The mom is wearing a pretty tank top in Bright Pink with Lime pants.  The torso design was released in 2015 and has been in only one set, the Family House (10686).  The swept bob hair style (20877) has previously only been seen on the Black Widow from the Avengers Quintet City Chase (76032) and the SHIELD Helicarrier (76042).

We find out later in the build that the mum / photographer is also a bank robber!  I wonder how that got past TLG’s ethics department? I was going to suggest that maybe the little girl wasn’t actually a girl, but rather an accomplice, but the set description clearly says “mom and child”.

There is also the bank manager, who is so enamoured with the beauty of the mum / photographer / bank robber that he is completely blind to the money laundering and bank robbing that is going on.  (I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m allowed to make these things up given there is no designer video out yet for the Brick Bank – edit: video now released).

The pinstripe vest with pocket watch pattern has been in quite a few sets, as has the Black hair piece.

The other guy in a suit is the bank secretary.  He sits in the office with the coffee machine and is the “inside guy” for the bank robber.

The secretary also wears commonly found Black jacket and tie, Light Bluish Grey trousers and Medium Dark Flesh hair piece.

That means that, while the minifigures are technically unique to this set, the parts that comprise the minifigures have all been seen previously in other sets.

This brings us to the spare parts, of which there are quite a few:

There’s plenty there for some additional details.  For example, there’s at least one lantern, a few flowers and another inkwell and quill.  BTW, the 1×1 round tile that is upside down is one those with the candy swirl on it.

A final look at the building overall:

The above image shows that it is quite a patchwork of colour on back sides of the Brick Bank.  Also, there’s no back entrance (or room for one), with the building going right up to the corner of the baseplate.

Overall, it’s a gorgeous building that is packed with interesting details, building techniques and play features.  A definite must have!

It does feel a little on the small side and, while it is comparable to the two most recent modular buildings, it would be dwarfed by the Town Hall (10224), Palace Cinema (10232) and Grand Emporium (10211), just to name a few.  I think it would look great with an extra floor based on the current first floor, but without the arch windows.  This would sit between the current ground and first floor.

Also, as a parts pack, you can’t go past it for the all the Sand Green 1x2x3 windows, including four of the new arch design; the Sand Blue bricks, including 21 of the 1×2 bricks with groove; plenty of the new 1x2x1.67 bricks with 4 studs on one side, which will be in demand for SNOT facades; and a truck load of Dark Bluish Grey 2×2 tiles!

Thanks for reading!  C&Cs always welcome!

Head over to the Flickr album for the high resolution versions of the above images and also for the images that didn’t make it into the review.

Note: Information regarding parts and colours based on information in the BrickLink and Brickset databases at the time of writing and may be subject to change.