The Palace Cinema contains 2194 pieces which means it slots in right between the Pet Shop (2032 pieces) and the Fire Brigade (2231 pieces). As you'll see from the full review, the Palace Cinema's piece count is inflated a bit because of all the small pieces included. In fact, I found the build processes of the Pet Shop and the Fire Brigade to both be more satisfying for the most part (though some of my favorite individual builds occurred in this set).
|I think I need a bigger surface to use for spreading out pieces when building a set of this size!|
The set's directions begin with instructions for building the included limousine car.
Presumably, this car is for the young child actor who is arriving at the theater for her movie premier. The car also comes with a driver which is a nice touch! I found the build of this car to be interesting - and it's much nicer than the fire truck that was included in the Fire Brigade set.
After building the car (which is a fairly simple build), it's time to begin the actual Palace Cinema. The first step? Lots and lots of tiling.
The "Hollywood Star" pieces are printed tiles which is nice (though this set does use a fair number of stickers as you'll see a bit later). The rest of the tiling serves to build the sidewalk along with the requisite drainage system that all LEGO Modular Building sidewalks have. Unlike the previous two models that I built, this one took a lot longer to complete the sidewalk because this is a corner building for the street.
After laying out all the tiles for the sidewalk, the set ramps up in interesting builds quite quickly. First up, the main lobby of the theater.
The main floor contains two major components. There is a snack stand (complete with drinks, popcorn, and snacks) and a ticket booth with two windows facing the sidewalk. As you can see from the above photo, there is also a small plant which adds a bit more "class" to the theater!
Once the first floor is complete, the building instantly looks exactly like a large theater. The front doors are a particularly nice touch - both are solid and "feel" right when you open them. From the above photo, you can also see a few black spotlights that are on the outside of the building. The designers at LEGO are famous for using "weird" pieces in the modular building in unexpected ways - can you tell what the lights are made out of?
Did you guess underwater spear guns?
Yep! A few extra pieces (including a Technic pin) will turn your average underwater spear gun into a great looking spotlight for a building. Very cool! The LEGO modular buildings are great for learning new techniques and for learning new, unexpected ways to create various items!
After building the light pole for the sidewalk (something that is included for all LEGO Modular buildings), you can see that the ground floor of the Palace Cinema is basically perfect! The brick accents, the lights, the sidewalk accents...the entire thing works for me. From the above photo, you can also now clearly see the two ticket windows (complete with slots for sliding cash in and ticket stubs out)! Once again, LEGO has mastered all the little touches.
After buying your ticket, it's time to head inside the double doors and get some snacks. Unfortunately, it wasn't easy to get great photographs of the inside - so I did the next best thing. Here are a shot looking through the Cinema's windows - think of them as LEGO-eyed view of the set!
From this view, you can see the drink and popcorn machine along the far back wall. You might also be able to make out the cotton candy on the left side of the snack stand. The stairs (visible to the right) lead up to the second floor which is where the actual movies are shown.
Before moving on to the second level, here's one last look at the ground floor - here we see the various window advertisements for fake LEGO movies. Each of the ads are actually stickers - and you get two copies of each sticker since you have to stick them on both sides of the window. In my case, I have the middle window empty because when I took this photo I hadn't yet applied the special "LEGO Movie" sticker which I was lucky enough to acquire!
As I mentioned above, the second floor is where the movie screen resides. The build begins with a basic assembly of the floor and then two rows of chairs. As you can see, the theater will hold six guests each of whom gets their own reclining chair.
The theater also contains a movie projector - and the video on the "screen" is actually a very large sticker. I like the curtains around the screen though, it makes for an old-timey theater look.
The final bit for the second floor is to add a stairway up to the roof. In a real theater, I'm not sure the stairs would be quite so easy to access but otherwise I like the second floor enough. Unfortunately, as with the Pet Shop, the second floor definitely pales in comparison to the first floor.
Once you finish the first two floors, you have basically completed the interior of the building. However, unlike the other two modular buildings that I own, the real attraction of the Palace Cinema is the outside. The third and final step is to build the roof - and the large marquee and Palace sign (two of my favorite builds in any LEGO set that I've ever completed)!
Before we get to the fun builds, we have to do some boring and extremely tedious builds. The roof of the theater may look really nice when it is done - but having to piece together that many 1x1 round bricks was annoying - and it was even more annoying since they weren't all the same color.
Despite my complaints about the process of building the pair of roof pieces, the final result looks amazing (and it's worth building in order to come up with that particular look for the roof). This is an example of "padding the piece count" that I talked about earlier - but at the same time the final appearance is quite nice. I also like the "Asian" type decorations - you can tell this particular theater was modeled after the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
At this point, the building is complete - all that's left to do is build the large Palace sign and the theater marquee. These two mini builds ended up being my favorites in the entire set - what a fun thing to have saved the best for last by LEGO designers!
The marquee looks absolutely perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I'll overlook the fact that all those letters are actually stickers (one on each side and two sticker on the front). Notice the gold cheese slopes all along the top of the marque - it's perfect for a fancy theater!
Moving to the final major build of the set - the Palace Theater sign. The sign is completely brick built (which continues the tradition of having something spelled out in bricks on each modular building - the Pet Shop had "Pets" spelled out while the Fire Brigade set had it's year of construction spelled out "1932"). The Palace sign looks the same on both the front and back - which meant there was some symmetric building to be done to get the colors just right. I also like the long string of yellow lights down the front (more piece padding to be sure - but it also looks great in the finished product)!
Speaking of the finished product - how about that: The Palace Cinema complete!
Woah! The sign and marquee simply snap into place once you have them built which transforms the final structure into something truly magnificent. Here are a couple more "action shots" just for fun - and to give you the full flavor of the set.
|Ordering a ticket for the movie premier!|
|The movie's young heroine arrives (with paparazzi of course)!|
As you can probably tell from my review, I'm mostly satisfied with the Palace Cinema. In fact, I would say that I'm much more than simply satisfied...I love this set!
My modular town now consists of three different sets - and together they look amazing. Since the obvious question is how does the Palace Cinema compare to the other two, I'll attempt to explain. I would say the single best building is the Pet Shop - but only the first floor of the actual pet shop. The rest of that set looks nice but is almost totally lacking in the interior (the upper two floors of the pet shop are almost totally empty) which is disappointing. Furthermore, the additional apartment building is nice (in the sense that you don't get a lot of LEGO homes but ultimately it's not nearly as interesting as the other two builds).
The Fire Brigade has the most play value for kids - but that doesn't really affect my view on things. It also has the most fun mini-builds - including a fully stocked upper floor complete with kitchen area, a sofa, and a ping-pong table.
The Palace Cinema has a nice first floor, a perfectly suitable second floor, and an amazing outside design. Thus, looking at each set from top to bottom, inside and out, I would say the Palace Cinema is the most complete package. It might not have the play value of the Fire Brigade, it might not have the "every nook and cranny full of detail" of the first floor of the Pet Shop, but it is consistently solid (and occasionally excellent) from top to bottom both inside and out.
Therefore, I have to give the nod to the Palace Cinema for my favorite of the three sets (though honestly you can't go wrong with any of the three - they are all excellent)!
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Play Value: 7
Kid Value: 7
Adult Value: 10
The Palace Cinema may not boast quite the same play value as some of the other modular sets - but it does boast one of the most impressive anterior designs of any LEGO building ever built! When you first see the model, there's no mistaking what it is - and it never fails to draw an "ooh" the first time someone lays eyes on it (even if they generally don't care for LEGO or other toys). This is a must have in my book and comes highly recommended!