Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cafe Corner complete! Some final thoughts

I finally managed to sit down over the last few nights and put together my Cafe Corner. Of course, before I could assemble this beauty, I had to sift through the roughly two dozen orders of parts to get some organization going. Fortunately, I had just picked up a few extra plastic shoe boxes for storage, so I had plenty of tubs on hand to get a handle on the 2,056 pieces that make up this set.

A few suggestion for sorting if you decide to tackle the sourcing route, since you no longer have the benefit of numbered bags on your side:
  • Have some smaller tubs on hand for the little bits, as there are quite a few of them and it helps to have stuff like 1x1 plates and the 1x1 modified bricks with headlights on their own.
  • If it came packaged individually, don't remove the glass from baggies until its time to use them. This prevents scratches.
  • For sets this size, it helps to sort elements first by type and then color. So, putting bricks-plates-tiles-unique/specialty pieces on their own is my usual approach.
  • Much of the color scheme in Cafe Corner is by floor. First floor bricks are dark blue and light bley, second floor is mostly reddish brown and tan arches, with some medium blue, and the third floor is where the dark red slopes and a lot of tan bricks get used.
For instructions, I just used the PDF copy that's available on Brickset. Color issues in scanned form are not a huge problem for me, although it is sometimes hard to tell what numbers are printed in the inventory box that's given with each step on the model.

One thing to watch out for with the PDF instructions is a page sequencing error in the second file. Pages 26 and 27 skip from step 31 to 33. Step 32 ends up popping up on page 45. It happens right near the end of building the second floor, so it's not like you miss a major step right at the beginning of a floor that requires going back quite a bit to fix. Of the three floors, the second is probably the hardest to read off of the PDF. Something about the reddish brown just seems to hide the break lines in the bricks when shown in digital form.

Construction is pretty straightforward and very similar to the other modulars I have built so far. It's obviously closest to the Grand Emporium, the other corner that's been made so far. Most of your details are on the two street-facing walls of the building and the sides are just about stacking bricks of the same color in interlocking patterns.

Past the first floor, you are looking at a lot of repetition, especially when it some to assembling the window areas. Each step pretty much covers a layer of the current floor. The corner effect is made possible through the use of turntable plates on the top and bottom of each section.

One of my favorite techniques used during construction was how the red slopes on the third floor are staggered to give the building more of a shingled look. It's amazing how you can get such a great effect by just using a few plates to slightly change the height difference on each section.

As I've said in previous posts, the parts in my building are not 100 percent accurate. There are a few sacrifices I made in the name of cost and availability, but I can honestly say they don't detract too much from a finished product that is purely for display purposes. I have no intention of getting rid of this building any time in the near future.

With that in mind, one major suggestion I will make if you are sourcing this set is to consider switching out the two 16x32 base plates for a full 32x32 version, especially if you can get one in a grey color. The two 16x32 plates lack some stability and there's some give on the bottom when you pick up the finished model. This also helps when you consider the interior of the building is completely unfinished. I'm already working on designing my own indoor area, but I will need to make a heavy used of tiles inside to cover up the green floor the building currently has. With a gray plate, you can keep more studs on the floor available for standing up minifigures.

I have a very rough interior inside for now. I basically threw together a quick counter and some shelves on the first floor using spare pieces. I eventually want to get something a little more complex in there, but I'm still deciding if I want to keep this a cafe or go with another type of restaurant-like option. Either way, I want to add a few more tables and a decent-sized service counter for my little customers.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how this project turned out. Obtaining some parts was a bit aggravating, but I'm satisfied that I was able to stay true to the majority of the official inventory. The finished product looks great and it's a relief to add this building to my modular collection without having to pay upwards of $600 for the set.

Bottom line: if you have the time, the patience, and don't care about 100 percent accuracy, then I would highly recommend going this route to obtain a "cheaper" copy of Cafe Corner.

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