The set contains 2032 pieces including a bunch of unique/interesting pieces. Since it's a pet shop, you do get a fish, cat, and dog along with a pair of parrots. There is also a small vegetable garden on the balcony of one of the buildings so you get a few carrot tops. However, I'm jumping the gun a bit by talking about the special pieces. Let's go through the set from the beginning.
I ordered the set online (you can get a good price on Amazon.com which is why I've included the link to the left). The first thing I noticed when the box arrived in hand was how big the box actually was! If I were a kid, I would have had a heart attack right then and there - I still remember how awesome it was to get a set that was big enough to have a "flip up" cover on the front. That reference only makes sense to those who are roughly my age, but so be it.
Anyhow, the box:
And if you wanted to see the entire set piece checklist:
Once you get over the sheer size of the box, you've got to open the thing up!
As you can see, you get a bunch of different bags. Sixteen of them to be precise. The first building (the townhouse) uses the eight bags numbered either 1 or 2 while the second building (the pet shop) uses the eight bags marked with a 3 or 4. You also get two large green plates, one per building.
Finally, there is a single unnumbered bag full of larger flat plates and a final bag holding the two instruction manuals (which are packaged nicely with a hard cardboard backing). As I first opened up the box, it was a lot of fun just looking at the various pieces in the bags and seeing if I could figure out what they'd be used for. Sure, some of the pieces are simple to figure out (such as the bricks for the walls) but there were some unique pieces that were used for some smaller builds within the larger structure (as you'll see).
I followed the instructions in order which meant the first building to be constructed was the townhouse.
Each of the two buildings are constructed one floor at a time. The first floor of the townhouse also includes a smaller crawlspace (complete with a trap door on the inside of the building. There is also a nice set of curved stairs (though as the model progresses building the stairs is by far the least fun thing to do over and over)!
You might be able to make out a pair of skis... If you look at the decorative element above the front doorway, you should be able to see the skis. That was a fun use of building elements that I would never have even considered using if I were trying to build my own townhouse. The red box on the building represents a mailbox - and it comes complete with a LEGO letter. I also like the little garden underneath the main window - and the sidewalk is fantastic as well.
Moving on to the second floor, we find that the designers at LEGO got a bit lazy. There's absolutely nothing on the second floor (except for a single white brick to represent paint). There is a window box with flowers in the front but that alone doesn't make up for the lazy design.
As you can see, each floor of the building is built separately and then combined at the end. It makes for easier building - but more importantly, it allows the building to actually be played with if one desired.
Although the second floor disappointed me, I have to admit that the two floors stacked on top of each other look tremendous!
Moving on to the top floor, there's still not much exciting in the interior. At least here you get a couple of bricks meant to represent boxes. I guess the idea is that the new homeowners are just now moving in...hence no furniture. If that's the case, why is there furniture downstairs? And, perhaps more important, why are there flowers and a veggie garden if they are just now moving in?
Once you've built the three stories, all you need to do is add the roof. There is a small amount of detail on the roof (including a chimney) but it's a simple enough of a built that I didn't take a specific photo for the final step. You can see the roof in the next couple of photos.
I mentioned the veggie garden a few times - you can only see it from the back view of the building.
The doors at the bottom open up into the crawl space. The trashcan was a nice touch as well! As for the front of the building...
Once the townhouse is done, you get to move on to instruction book number two and create the set's namesake: the pet shop!
Like before, the floors are each constructed one at a time. The first floor of the pet shop is by far the funnest floor to build in the set. You get to a neat build to create the "pets" sign and there is a lot of fun tiling to be done for the interior. You also get a few microbuilds including a bird house and a goldfish tank.
I like the light pole and the little stand with dog bones and a ball. I think it adds to the look of the set immensely. As for the pet shop interior, here's an aerial shot of the interior of the first floor.
It's a bit hard to make everything out, but you should be able to see the parakeets, the shelf of toys (including the bird house), a cash register (in the middle), a dog pen, and a cat pen (complete with a hole and a mouse). The object at the top right corner is the fish tank, a fun little build!
The upper floors of the pet shop are actually used for a second residence. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only set in the LEGO Creator line that includes multiple living residences for your LEGO townsfolk.
The back of the pet shop (seen above) shows a wash bin, plus the mouse and a crate. You also get a townsfolk with a green bicycle which is a nice inclusion.
After creating the first floor, the remaining two floors are simply more residences and not overly exciting. There was a neat build for a bathroom but otherwise it was kind of "meh".
However, the real beauty of the set is the two buildings side-by-side! When you have the set totally built, it's an amazing piece of LEGO beauty!
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Play Value: 7
Kid Value: 6
Adult Value: 10
The set was quite a bit of fun to build, though the stairs got annoying after a bit. I would have liked to have seen some other microbuilds for the first townhouse, the emptiness of the upper two floors was a bit of a letdown. However, those are only small quibbles given how great the rest of the set is. In fact, the first floor of the Pet Shop by itself is almost enough to justify purchase!
I did dock the set for kid value because it's probably a bit too difficult (and time consuming) for kids to actually piece together the set on their own. I do think there are enough play elements though to make it worthwhile for kids, after all, who doesn't love a pet shop as a kid?
Overall, I give the set a 9 out of 10. Only the emptiness of the first house keeps this set from reaching a full 10 out of 10. It's still a "must own" for any LEGO fan!