60380 City Centre: Hands-on Review

There are over 2000 plastic souls in the City of Bricks. Each of them has a story to tell, and some are yet to be written. Here are 14 such stories, playing out against a backdrop of colour, lights, pizza shops and a colour scheme to challenge Heartlake city for its sheer variety.

This year, we have seen some changes in LEGO® City. In the past, when we have built a city centre, we have had a variety of shop fronts, occasionally with a business upstairs, a public transport hub, and very little tying the shops together. In fact, an undisciplined builder could occupy the entire room, with individual components disconnected from each other.

Things have started to feel like they were stepping up over the past couple of years: particularly with the introduction of the new road plates – no longer requiring a set with a footprint of 1024 studs to earn a road in the box.

After years of being at the mercy of rising crime and incendiary rates, LEGO City has been razed to the ground and rebuilt: easy to fill with new stories, new faces and new dining options. The end of LEGO City Adventures has provided the opportunity for the designers to bring in new designs, locations and colours across the range. A reinvigorated police force is in training (60372 – Police training Academy)

This brings us to 60380 City Centre: the flagship set of the second half year. It brings us an environment almost unlike any other seen in. This is the largest LEGO City set (by part count) to date, with 2010 pieces and 14 minifigures. We see a couple of familiar looking characters, but many are new. There are new occupations for minifigures, and the part count is achieved without public transport, or indeed more vehicles than one scooter and a juice van. And, to be honest, they aren’t needed because all of the action is pretty densely packed.

This set might not provide much accommodation for minifigures, but the 60385 Apartment Building (seen under construction in 60391 Demolition Site), along with the 60398 Family Home ensures that we now have residential buildings in LEGO City that are not on fire or being used as hideouts be the denizens of LEGO City’s sleazy underbelly.

So, where does this set leave us today? In this set, we have 14 minifigures: 7 male, 7 female; One with grey hair and 2 children.

The city centre is utilizing a new modular format, based on new 8×8 and 8x16x2/3 plates, a similar size to the road plates, but with studs. We have eleven brick-built modules, 32 studs of roadway, a park and mall. While I will be descibing the modules in the order of building, there is no obligation to stack them in any particular order.

Before we move on, take a look at our citizens. Some might be innocent, some might be guilty. They all have a story. [Note: All names are my own, and you can name these figures ANYTHING YOU LIKE!]

The build starts by setting up some roadway, as well as a juice truck with a box of fruit and blender on the back. Jo’s a quiet type, and they just love to ensure fresh juice is being delivered, wherever they go. We add a brightly-coloured street crossing, using a variety of triangular tiles. Nothing like arrows on the path to show you which way to walk.

Peter and Lucy are huge Ninjago fans, and Lucy is really excited for Dragons Rising because of the character of Sora.MostlyThe shop has remarkably few comics on the shelves but does feature a couple of Ninjago trading cards along with a Lloyd action figure. A large gauntlet, as well as a Green mask are on display, while a copy of City Tales #5 sits in the display rack outside the store.

The shop has light azure walls – with a yellow layer of bricks at the ground level, and navy at the top. The top surface is tiled, save for a few 1×4 plates with 2 studs, allowing enough clutch to hold floors together, but not so much that gravity won’t make a good solid attempt to pull them apart. This is a common feature across the top layer of all the modules we have in this set, even allowing the roofs to be lifted off with relative ease.

The mall is around 16×16 studs in size, and tiled over – except for the demonstration noodle bar, possibly chefless, possibly also managed by Shelby, the primary pizza-smith from the shop next door. A rubber ‘rope’ runs across the plaza, with lights hanging from it. I was surprised at the lack of obvious staff, but Jeff, who runs the comic store, is happily eating there. Perhaps it is Do It Yourself!

Shelby has spent 7 years travelling the world, and learning the art of Pizza smithing, with a side interest in Noodle Making. Now she has come home and is bringing the world’s best toppings back to LEGO City. She has elected to not have Spaghetti Bolognese available as a Pizza topping in her store. If you know, you know. She is currently wondering what happened to the nice boy that was jumping around on the roof just half an hour ago.

LEGO City has been seeing more and more hipsters of late, with baristas appearing in the past years, and appearing to lend his work uniform to the ground floor barber: no longer in a white jacket, maintaining a clinical appearance,but rather in a leather apron, sporting a troll patch and moustache – possibly with just a little too much product. The door is on a 45º angle to the studs grid and the interior features a chair at a mirror, with a brush and scissors nearby. A bust in the corner models an alternative hairdo for a customer who has had just a little too much taken off the top. The barber’s building is predominantly dark orange and tan, with columns at each corner, while a creeper grows up the wall.

Jack is a particular type of barber. He will cut your hair any way you like, so long as it is for a short back and sides. His personal specialty is bespoke shaping of handlebar moustaches.

Moving along, we come to a village green, with a park bench and wizened tree. This gave me vibes of the trees in the LEGO Ideas Medieval Blacksmith. A rubbish bin sits in the corner, while chains are tied over the top of the wall, which seems to lead to a river. A bird’s nest with an egg, and some flowers in a raised garden bed complete the scene. Just perfect for our young busker, Barbara, playing her violin. I was surprised that she had not been given a hat or violin case to collect some coins in as she ekes out a living as a struggling artist.

We move up above the barber shop to find aEnoch, the local vet – an older member of the Community, with his light grey tightly curled hair, he is wearing his scrubs, while a golden retriever puppy and parrot look on, wondering whether to bark, squawk or make a mess. I love the fact that instead of the inevitable City Window Panels, the Vet has a number of old school window frames, filling the wall under the arched brick facade. A small corner balcony provides an opportunity to hang veteranarian’s signage. Enoch appears to be totally committed to the animals living in LEGO City, having been widowed years ago, during the time when there were no doctors here. I suspect he will keep turning up to work until he is forced to stop, either by his children, severe illness or the regulatory authorities.

We have a small shed for Bruce, the maintenance man. Keeping the city clean, for some reason Bruce has been given a cupboard on the upper levels in which he keeps all that is necessary to keep the town tidy:: broom, rake, spade, broad brimmed cap and chainsaw. On one wall, there are rows of light azure semicircular tiles, reminding us that LEGO DOTS aren’t dead, they just don’t have their own sets coming out anymore. The rest of the building is framed elegantly in bright yellowish orange. With a a small air conditioner attached to one wall, it’s a cool place to be. Bruce continues to petition City Hall to install an elevator, as citizens get upset when he jumps down to the street wielding a chainsaw..

What kind of a guy rides an electric scooter to work?? And why is he working in avant gard shop selling phones and computers? Because this is Patrick.

Today, Patrick is helping out local Influencer and content creator Dreamstreamer, whose phone has broken, and he has a live unboxing video to present in 30 minutes.

I loved the angled wall here, stretching out over the garden. In the mean time, Patrick dreams of visiting the City Skate Park after work, and pulling some gnarly moves.

Next, tricked out in white and teal is a hotel reception. Here you will be greeted with a cheery smile by Yvette, who has been tossing up pursuing a full time career in hospitality, or trying to put that degree in fine arts to work. There are a number of brochures for local dining and entertainment venues, including the pizza shop, and 60366 Winter Sports Park. Anthea has just arrived from out of town, and iskeen to get checked in.

Before we go further up, we go across. There is no one here, in particular, but possibly everyone at some time and another. this upper level walkway allows people to go from one side of the street to the other without touching the pavement. Bringing back the transparent arches that were a highlight of LEGO Town back in the 90s, the roof opens up to allow you to get people moving. The tribute to the LEGO Brick at the darker end

A small apartment with a bay window looking over the city is home to content creator Dreamstreamer: making an unboxing video, with his phone mounted on a tripod, complete with ring light. The outside of the apartment – has a sleek magenta facade sweeping around the window sill, and around the semicircular window. Is he waiting for his big break? Or has it arrived? I was surprised not to see a microscale LEGO set on his bench. Perhaps he is reviewing different parcel delivery services? Today, Ramblingbrick had the chance to drop in and get on his hobby-horse!

It’s one thing to have a hotel reception, but without a suite to let out, what is the point? So we add an 8×16 suite with a single bed and expansive bathroom. Our weary traveller, Anthea, wheels her green roller bag into the suite, before preparing for a night out on the town. The bathroom features a shower, mirror and …toilet. These appear to be getting more ad more frequent in LEGO models – with kids craving to see real life reflected in their LEGO sets. I am glad there is a sink for her to wash her hands. this penthouse suite also features a small balcony with a palm tree, deck chair and pink drink.

With an increasing number of people looking for places to go and things to do, I am glad to see there is a rooftop disco with huge speakers, a twin-disk workstation, and a multi-coloured dance floor. Is this the first time we have seen transparent 2×2 offset plates? Another string of lights stretches out over the top. Young Aaron has skipped school today in order to master his big brother’s DJ kit, playing the best of the 80s, 90s and today. Almost everyone is there, living their best lives.

It’s a good thing everyone is enjoying it, because it is getting harder to find a policeman to ask them to turn the noise down!

Finally, we get to the City Centre’s carbon offset alternative: a series of turbines, as well as a couple of printed solar panels. So, unless it is dark and still, the lights will keep burning through the town.

Now, each of these Modules can be stacked o top or beside each other, and I suspect this set can be combined with other city sets this year, such as the apartment block to allow mixed retail/industrial/residential zoning.

Unlike other LEGO City omnibus sets this one feels short of vehicles: no trams, no helicopters, no emergency services and no traffic. Virtually none of the mainstays of LEGO City. But plenty of what we need for a real city to thrive: food, hospitality, maintenance, content creators, comic shops, ad places to stay. Every building has its own design language, and vibe, bringing a fresh look to the city. I love the shoutouts to other LEGO Themes and other sets in this one.

I am particularly fond of the modular nature, allowing you to set the city centre up in your own way. It is not a particularly complex build, as you would expect of a city set. And there are plenty of simple, effective building techniques used. I particularly appreciated the fact that large window panels were not the sole form of glazing in use. It was a little fiddly in a few parts, in particular the lighting over the plaza and the dance floor, but not so much as to detract from the build experience.

I give this set 4 Arbitrary praise units out of 5. At $USD199.99/AUD319.99 it’s a big set, with a great colour selection and some delightful characters.

Under new design-lead Simon Lucas, the City theme has received a long-awaited shot in the arm and is, I think, heading in an immensely positive direction. Fire and Police are still there, but so is a hospital, and more and more other shops, and even residences. Something virtually unknown in LEGO City until a year or two ago.

Each of these characters has hopes, dreams, and stories. Just how they pan out is up to those who literally have their lives in their hands!

The set will be available in June in Europe, UK and Australia, and August in the USA.

What do you think of this set? Is this a set for you? What do you think of the new look and feel of LEGO City?Why not leave your feedback in the comments below, and until next time…

Play Well!

We have entered the mid-year review season, with many great sets across multiple themes coming out soon. Follow the Ramblingbrick on Instagram, Twitter and indeed WordPress (or sign up to our mailing list) for updates.

This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

3 thoughts on “60380 City Centre: Hands-on Review

  1. […] With the short back and sides, red chequered flannel shirt and the improbably large macro lens. we have seen all these elements before. The tourist, in her tan safari suit sports a dual face print – smile on one side, and a little bit sad on the other – the kind of expression you have after you have been told that your flight will be another two hours late in departing… after the plane doors have been closed. This tourist was previously seen checking into a hotel room in LEGO City, with the new Downtown complex. […]

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