It is December, and with the new year only a couple of weeks away, it is time to officially reveal the LEGO Icons (the theme formerly known as Creator Expert) Modular Building for 2023. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek at the new set. Along with my Extra Pieces Podcast Collaborator, Jay From Jay’s Brick Blog, we had the chance to sit down and be guided through the new set by LEGO Icons Design Manager, Andy Grubb.
The set will be released on January 1 and has 2899 pieces, along with 8 minifigures. It will be available from LEGO Branded Stores, and LEGO.com, priced at $/€229.99/£ 199.99/ 349.99 AUD/ 299.99 CAD.
Featuring a decorative interior and exterior, the set can be built in five pieces and includes a Jazz Club, a Pizzeria, a Managerial office, a Tailor’s workshop, a Dressing Room and a Rooftop Green House on the lower roof.
In addition, the set comes with eight minifigures including a Jazz Singer, Bassist, Drummer, Pizza Chef, Pizza Delivery Driver, Club Manager, Tailor, and a Magician.
Want to learn more? Read on
But why a jazz club?
“… a jazz club felt just like the right scale for the Modular Street. There’s something just about a jazz club that’s not too big, not too small, suggests a certain intimacy and a mood and really puts you back in that time and place of that we want the Modular Street to always invite you back“
There seem to have been a lot of music themed sets released in recent times: the Jazz Quartet, the Fender Stratocaster, VIDIYO (which was the source for the double bass element), the Ideas Grand Piano.
“I guess music is in the air for us right now. Yeah. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say that there was a distinct attempt to coordinate or develop music as a theme. Sometimes we just see these things emerge in the portfolio in a given timeframe. You could probably look back historically and say, what was going on that everybody was thinking about this…”
In my head, you were piping Jazz into the Innovation House.
“Was there just something going on? I have to go think about that. I couldn’t consciously tell you what it was. For us, at least the idea of the era of jazz fit straight away into a modular building: ’20s ’30s ’40s Jazz was proliferating throughout the United States, from New Orleans to Chicago in New York. So it was something that just just made sense. And sometimes, when you have those ideas that just make sense, you just double down and don’t think too hard about it: It’s working and see where it goes.“
Can you tell us about the Minifigures you have going on here? There are some great looking prints
I think this is a bit more than usual for a modular set which I’m quite happy about [Edit: the record is with Assembly square – 9 figures. The Town Hall is the only other to have 8 minifigures included]. They all have new prints.
“From left to right, We’ve got the tailor. We have a bassist who’s got the new bass instrument printed and then a brick-built case that he’s wearing on his back. The drummer – we love the vest- that’s a new printed torso there on our drummer. Our magician is the late night act, following up on the Jazz band. Our lead singer and saxophonist to their new torso printing front and back there and printing on the on the front and back. That hair mold is from Monica Rambeau.
Next ,we have our pizza delivery guy. He’s got a helmet in his scooter. The pizza chef was holding one of our four pizza pieces. Finally, the club manager,“
Can you talk us through the color decisions? These are very unusual, but also familiar, colours being used.
We definitely do a lot of thinking to make sure that the colour palette is, of course, appealing to a wide range of people: that it’s different from what’s come before, or at least what you’ll see on the shelf or at the same time in the store. And then the composition comes together in a nice way. And for me, it was really nice to see this finish out with this sort of variation on a primary colour, colour combination of a vibrant blue or dark red, and a light yellow. I can tell you, and you can imagine in your mind’s eye what this would look like, and you decide for yourself if you would like to or not. But in the early stages of this, to really emphasize the connection to the blues, everything you see in dark red was a dark blue, which was a very interesting choice that was not universal in its appeal.
Put it that way. And we showed it to people around the building: it was cool, but cool in a way that didn’t feel inviting. And of course, inviting you to the Modular Street and wanting you to take that imaginative journey is really, really important.
So we played around a little bit and even just say, Okay, there’s something nice about suggesting, with the colours, more of a nighttime feel. What if we change the dark blue to a dark red, now it’s a warmer tone. And then that’s just a facade here that picks up the blue in a way that cleverer than you might just paint their own facade to stand up. And then you can even see on the sides here, it’s the blue is on the front, we have a dark orange as the colour on the inside, because a dark blue club would have been a little as your club would have been an exciting choice as a wall colour. This felt a lot more natural.
Can you show us around?
So if we look at the roof, we’ve got a squirrel, Mr. Squirrel who might have gotten their leaves from the the tree on the bookshop and a little access there in case someone needs to go track down the squirrel if they’ve been stealing the pizza. So there’s a ladder down into there. Particularly a lot of thieving of baked goods on the modular street, yeah.
We have a dressing room here with the makeup desk, make a table. music stand for practicing ,couch in there. And this little bit of brick built artwork.
Is that ub the Gallery at the Boutique Hotel?
It not the same, probably a different one. So, in the Jamie Berard canon of the Modular Street, everything that’s happening on the larger Street is happening at the same time. So if a character is at one place, they they’re not somewhere else at the same time doing something else. So a piece of art. We could say it was sold there, but it might have been there one time but not right now.
And of course, across the way we have, we have a staircase here that accesses both sides of the buildings. And then we have the greenhouse growing vegetables, beautiful tomatoes. Actually, I think this build idea came from Wes Talbot, who designed the bookshop. So sometimes we see something good that someone else is doing and say “Can we have that?”
We’ve got the tailor workspace in here with some fabric on rolls you might be using. And then a vintage sewing table, I believe is the proper term with the machine built into the table and they’ve got a Gold Cloth, even though a little bit of gold thread on the spindle there to connect with their singer’s dress.
And then on this side, we have the manager’s office. And of course they’ve got a balcony where they can listen to the band rehearsing or performing. And I’m really looking forward to people building this desk. There’s a funny bit of SNOT work going on in there to make that work.
Down on the lower level here, of course, we have the club performance on the stage there. So, there’s a bit of motif with the 45 degree angles in this building. We’ve got this removable lighting rig and curtains. So if you want to change what’s happening on the stage to the point, you can, pretty easily,
And then we’ve got the pizzeria over here with the counter, ingredients to making the pizza cash register and woodfire oven over there.
What’s your favourite part about the whole thing?
Well, I really love the minifigures. I really love our graphic designer Ashwin(Visser) did an incredible job. And there’s something about these for me, maybe it’s just because we had the chance to do a few more new prints than usual, but just really exciting to have these. Particularly the band members, right? They’re so specific to this purpose, right. And they just stood out to me, we got eight figures in the set, which is, I think, on the higher end for a modular, so really happy about that.
And then building technique-wise, there’s just a couple of things that I’ve been highlighting to folks that are out there think subtle, but they were really fun to work out. This, this window sill piece, really subtle, but the Classic Space handles. I think we’ve had this piece since the late 70s. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used in a step as a window sill. So I might be wrong, but haven’t seen them before.
And the signage there? Is it Printed?
No stickers. It’s a modular building. We don’t do stickers in modular buildings. We know the fans love it. That is a rule for the Modular buildings. I think Jamie broke that rule one time in the Palace Cinema with some movie posters, and he heard loud and clear that people wanted only prints. So that is how the Modulars go.
The umbrella has a new print there too – there was something similar that was retired a few years ago.
Why a pizza shop?
Yeah, why a pizza shop? In a funny way, at least as a creative, pizza shops are so iconic in their colour scheme and their function. They’re so easily communicable. And very appropriate to a modular street like we have, we have some food venues. And it’s also just kind of a classic late-night food. That if you’re out of out of the music venue, or you’re taking in the show late at night, you might go get some food, but there is just something for me about you know, we want to communicate very easily with a modular, what is it? You know, our beautiful architecture is really important. But of course, modulars have distinct signs, whether it’s a brick built sign or printed sign or lettering, we want you to know exactly what it is right away. And the great thing for me about a pizza restaurant is with those colors, and just a few accessories. And the characters, right, you know exactly what it is. So that just made a lot of sense.
Andy, thanks for your time, and providing these insights into the model.
I’ll have to admit, I find this set looks pretty appealing, and having seen it put together back in September, I cant wait to have the chance to see it again.
What do you think of this latest modular? why not leave your comments below, and until next time,