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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cafe Corner - built from bricklink

Cafe Corner has LONG been on my list of most coveted LEGO sets - lets face it - its beautiful ! The one thing about it thats down right ugly though is the price tag. It rarely sells complete for under $700 second hand and fetches around $1300 BNIB. Lesson 1 - always keep $ aside to buy modulars when they are first released !
I'm not quite sure what started me in the direction of collecting pieces to build it from scratch but I'm glad I did. Pictured is my complete version (took around 6 months to muster the bits). I can't say exactly how much it ended up costing because I collected pieces for other sets at the same time but as an estimate it wouldn't have been any more than $300. BARGAIN. Now I've included a pic of my version ... and a pic of the original so you can play spot the difference if you want ...or you can just read on to hear about the differences and it might just inspire you to build one of your own !!
Starting from the ground floor up: 
  1. I added flower urns (yellow minifig goblets) and flowers to emphasise the appearance of yellow in the rest of the building (and because i ran out of Dark Bluish grey 1x2 tiles to finish the pavement)
  2. the front entry door - a little black gridded number averages around $7.00 plus to buy so i used a white door (which i think looks pretty good anyway at around $1.70 to buy - mine came from my collection)
  3. the side entry door - this is one of the most expensive pieces to buy in original colour of light bluish grey - $17.00  is the cheapest ... its average price =$35.00 used (I could get a real door from Bunnings for $24.00 !!) so being the thrifty little miss that I am, I used a black door from my collection (these average around 64 cents for a used one in decent condition)
  4. Any dark blue pieces were replaced with alternate colours - the columns either side of the door are black and square instead of round, the arch above the side door also black, the bricks that were supposed to be dark blue are mostly internal so I used good old medium blue at a fraction of the cost instead 
  5. The black hose that is used to create the curved decorative feature at the front of the building proved a little elusive in a lot of stores that had parts i needed, so I found it in yellow in one store and figured it would fit well, given the appearance of yellow elsewhere. 
The second floor ... looks pretty darn close to the original... no mods I hear you ask  ? Just 1 - those hideously expensive 1x2x3 white panels that are used twice for every window, average around $4.83 per item - to find someone who had enough and at a low price was impossible, so I figured I could use a plain old 1x2x3 window pane with flat front x2 for each window space and it would work just as well at 17 cents a pop !!

The 3rd floor:
  1. $1.27 vs 8 cents ... hmm easy enough to justify when you need just one piece... try multiplying that by 36 pieces and and I can give you around $42 worth of good reason to consider a colour change for the roof tiles !! Add into that the fact that no-one had that many tiles at a decent rate so you'd be paying  for multiple lots of postage, and you quickly begin to imagine how good a cafe corner with a reddish brown roof will look ! While it's different to the original I think its easy enough to get your head around and doesn't look abnormal !
  2. once the decision to change colours of tiles occurred the need to change the other dark red pieces emerged and fortunately I was able to scavenge these bits in reddish brown from my own collection (all except the 1x1 plates around the tops of the roof which i didn't have in brown and the modified 1x2x1 1/3 brick with curved top which I had already ordered in a dark red
  3. i ordered white shutters for the windows but for some reason the ones i got didn't fit so again i raided my own collection rather than face a wait for the pieces from the other side of the world so close to the end of the project. Fortunately because of the yellow that appears elsewhere i don't think my version seems too out of place
The Roof Top
Those little stubby dark bluish fences from the original CC were not easy to find in lots of 6 at a justifiable expense and by that stage I'd made so many substitutions that the lure of six little black fences sitting in a tub downstairs not somewhere in Alaska meant that I could live with the colour variation. I may eventually stumble across the fences in a store i'm buying something else from but until then they stay black !

So thats it.. my cafe corner... here is a pic of the original to compare with. For those who are purists I've probably just committed some kind of terrible sacrilege but for those who have always wanted this set but could never afford it hopefully this has helped. Cheers to all my fellow Bricklink buddies all over the globe who unknowingly contributed to this little puppy coming to fruition !

Watch this space for my cheapy versions of the green grocer modular (which is currently under construction and looking like a very white grocer !!) and market street which is 80% collected!


  1. I am thinking about building a Café Corner with variations to save on money, too, so you gave quite a few useful hints. I'd really love to see how your whitish Green Grocer turned out. I just finished my bricklinked Green Grocer in Sandblue from the PetShop, which appears unexpectedly grayish to me.

    1. Sand Blue is such a nice colour for architecture ... shame it turned out grayish ... i had contemplated sand blue for the green grocer as well but the price for the 1x2 bricks with the ridge down the middle (second floor) in sand blue were still a bit much for me so i went with white.
      It's looking ok so far - one floor to go - hopefully should get some time to finish it this week. I'm tossing around ideas for signage where the 1x4 reddish brown tile with the snake pattern is on either side of the front door ... thinking a milk or bread and and open sign? Did you use the the reddish brown tile or something else in yours?

  2. I used regular dark-brown tiles for that. It works fine for the ones on the side, but the top one seemed bleak, so I bricklinked the snake-patterned tile for that (I haven't received the order yet though). The 2x4 "Ollivanders" sign from the Lego 10217 set also works, maybe even better.

  3. First off, I want to say thanks for the blog!
    I am in the Process of brickinking Both the Cafe Corner and Green Grocer myself and am using your hints and substitutions. If it is any consolation I made many of the same changes prior to reading this Post. The Hint about the 2nd Floor Windows was a great money saver.
    Purists - If you want a complete set, Don't Bricklink it. The moment you substitute 1 item, it is no longer genuine, I am doing this to have a complete modular row, It looks the same and the kids will play with it so - O.K.
    Extra Hints I picked up elsewhere:
    3rd floor Slopes - Use 2x2x3 @ 8c ea instead. Requires miner instruction change
    Doors are troublesome, Considering Red (6 pane) but I fear it will mess up the colour scheme
    I am also colour shifting the back walls to save some coin - 1x8's in fancy colours are pricey.
    Green Grocer - Cheap Pet stores are flooding the market - Sand Blue Pieces are becoming affordable.