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Brick Breakdown: LEGO Old Fishing Store

(Written by William)

The LEGO Ideas platform is a unique and innovative initiative where LEGO fans can work together with the company to release fan-suggested models under the LEGO brand. LEGO’s own designers go over the accepted models to make sure they are in line with their quality standards. This may result in a number of alterations, but in general, LEGO designers try to remain as faithful to the original submission as possible. Thus, the LEGO Ideas line doesn’t just provide unique sets, but also gives us an opportunity to get an in-depth sample of how other LEGO fans think. 🙂

The #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store is a particularly good example, as LEGO designers stayed very close to the original fan-created model. This is why I want to devote this entire Brick Breakdown to looking at some of the most common differences between fan-created models and typical LEGO sets. Again, the #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store did go through the screening process by LEGO designers, but it is still the closest to a fan-created model in an official LEGO set we can all examine together. So let’s take a look.


In no way are any LEGO sets lacking in color. In fact, LEGO often goes out of its way to give us truly vibrant and different colors in a single set. This way of mixing color groups make official LEGO sets more appropriate and friendly for younger builders. The contrast is also appreciated by those who have issues with differentiating colors that are too similar. This is especially helpful while following the building instructions.

LEGO fans also like to use colors, but they usually stay within a single color group to create models that are more realistic and lifelike. These sophisticated creations often don’t even look like LEGO. In the #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store, we see an abundance of grays, browns, tans, and the more earthy greens. All these colors give a weathered look that looks very realistic, but could also be considered a bit dull.


A fairly obvious difference between fan-created models compared to official LEGO sets is their density. LEGO fans want to make their models as perfect and realistic as possible without skimping on pieces or cutting cost. This makes fan models look and feel quite dense.

For official LEGO sets, price, size, playability, and the age-group the set is marketed for have to be taken into consideration. For younger fans, sets shouldn’t take too long to build, they should be stable, and they should also be fully accessible for play. In addition, the price should be reasonable and in line with other higher quality toys.

There are denser official LEGO sets that are similar to fan-created models, and are marketed to adult hobbyists with more patience and deeper pockets. They include significantly more parts, take much longer to build, and are more expensive than LEGO sets aimed at children. The #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store is an excellent example of such a set, so are the LEGO Modular Buildings, and the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series.

It is worth noting that building denser does not always mean the model is going to be more stable. In fact, the opposite could be true. Having more pieces means more weight. And more weight means more strain is placed on connection points. This could lead to stability issues. The #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store gets around this by being a fairly simple building. Buildings don’t typically get moved around much. Also, the various levels of the building are closely interlocked for stability.


LEGO fans aren’t really interested in providing a pleasant or unique building experience for others. They are building their own models with the end goal of presenting something amazing. Because the focus is on the end result, LEGO fans tend to stick with techniques they already know and have had plenty of practice with. Sure, they may include some clever or unusual details here and there, but as a whole, fan-models are actually fairly limited when it comes to building techniques.

Official LEGO sets, on the other hand, aren’t just focusing on the final model, but also endeavor to make the building experience interesting, educational, and age-appropriate. Even for people who usually build their own models, it can be very beneficial to at least occasionally pick up an official LEGO set. LEGO designers are masters at presenting new building techniques, and new ways of using parts. This is why I run this Brick Breakdown series; there is almost always something new to learn from official LEGO sets.

The #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store didn’t surprise me with anything particularly unique when it comes to techniques. This is understandable, as it was a fan-submitted model to begin with. I did find it interesting that the roof just rests on the building, and that it uses clips and bars for its peak. I also like how the door/wall opens up for accessibility, but this can be seen in other toy buildings as well. While the #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store may not be a source of unique techniques, it utilizes existing techniques to their full potential. In this regard, it is closer to fan-created models compared to official LEGO sets.


Reading over this review, you may get the impression that official LEGO sets are always better than fan-created models. Official LEGO sets provide more vivid colors, they grasp structural integrity so well, and they provide not just a great model, but also a memorable building experience. But, there is at least one area where official sets often lack compared to fan-models; intimate and detailed understanding of the subject.

LEGO designers obviously have their own interests and expertise in various subject matters outside of LEGO. They may be fanatic Star Wars fans, knowing every little detail of the saga, or they may know a lot about marine life. If LEGO designers luck out, they can work on projects they have an intimate connection with. But, designing LEGO sets is also their job, and thus they sometimes have to work on projects which may not be their interest. Designing official LEGO sets also means following certain parameters, like budget, building for the target age group, deadlines, etc.

In the designer-video for the #10260 LEGO Creator Downtown Diner, LEGO Senior Designer Mike Psiaki advises those who want like to join the LEGO design team, to practice building models they normally wouldn’t want to work on (watch the video here). This is an extremely insightful statement that points out the profound difference between those who’s job is to design LEGO sets, and LEGO fans who can build whatever they really love and have an interest in.

As LEGO fans, we never have to separate the building toy we love from the subject matter we would like to build. If we want to build Star Wars, we can build the most amazing Star Wars creations, including every single authentic detail from the films that may have taken us years to learn and absorb. Or, we can build the most realistic and detailed marine life creation if we are into studying fish, corals and whatever magic the great oceans and seas hold.

It’s not that LEGO designers aren’t putting their full effort into a project they are tasked to work on, but it is a very different experience compared to building something where you have intimate knowledge and love of the subject, and you have full reign over how much time, money, and effort you put into it. This makes fan-creations often appear significantly more authentic and closer to the real thing than what LEGO can typically produce themselves.

The #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store really stands out in this regard as a beautifully detailed fan-model that just happened to become an official LEGO set. It is very obvious that the original fan designer has great love and intimate knowledge of the subject. This is evidenced by the little details all over the set. As an example, it struck me how the display of the flippers came together. I would not have considered that particular solution, but it feels like the real thing. Little touches like that are what you can expect from a fan who can’t help but demonstrate his expertise of the subject.


I normally write about all the news and exciting ways you can utilize LEGO elements by studying the building techniques in official LEGO sets. This blog post is quite different in this regard, as none of the building techniques used in the #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store are unique. However, we can study the areas in which LEGO fans tend to lack, and learn how to improve ourselves. Improvements usually come after self-analysis. After all, we can’t change, if we don’t recognize how we do things in the first place. That’s why I wanted to dedicate this article to point out the ways LEGO fans tend to differ from official LEGO designers. This is not so much to say one way is better than the other, but rather, the goals we have can create very different results.

If you are a novice builder, for instance, you can benefit from the techniques I mentioned here; exploring the use of a focused color-palette to achieve realistic results, or doing extensive research on the subject matter you would like to build. More advanced builders can focus on studying their own creations with a more critical eye. After analyzing a creation, you can ask yourself things like, “What was my goal in building this like that?” and “Did my creation fully achieve the goal I had in mind?” You can even ask yourself in smaller ways like, “What do I really want this element to do?” or “Is there another way to make this?” By asking these questions, you can not only learn about techniques you prefer, but also find ways to incorporate techniques you may have learned and had trouble using in the past. Because there may be no wrong way to build, there is always a way to do better!

What do you think? How do you like the #21310 LEGO Ideas Old Fishing Store? Is this a set you already have and built? What were your own impressions of it? Are there any other differences you noticed between official LEGO sets and custom models? Feel free to share your thought and own review in the comment section below! 😉

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Legostuff71 January 31, 2018, 12:07 PM

    Very Interesting. I see your point on the levels of difficulty or difference in various building technics. When I first started building Lego sets , I remember getting the first Star Wars Sand- crawler and this was before the bags were numbered. It was a Challenge! The color of the bricks were mostly dark brown. After the first dozen of the same dark brown bricks . I wanted to cry . But, I did finally get it finished and I said to myself ” never again”. That was a long time ago and my build skills have improved. So, my next challenge was the Monster Fighters hunted house set. I went through a moment of ” Sand- crawler flash back ” but it wasn’t that bad considering the bags were numbered. I went through a couple more large builds like that to this day when I did NINJAGO city set. I two things one: Building large Lego sets teaches you to have patients and two: once you complete the build it becomes very rewarding , in the fact that you challenged your self and proved to your self that you can do it . No matter how difficult things can be. Yes, I also did the Fishimg shop and love it. In fact , I love it more than the NINJAGO city set. ( call me crazy).

    • PrashBricks III January 31, 2018, 12:24 PM

      You are right, I build the MTT, and I build the AT-AP, but they are both numbered, when I was like 9 years old I build a creator set [I think it was a lighthouse maybe] and if I recalled correctly, it didn’t had numbers on the bag…

    • admin January 31, 2018, 2:18 PM

      Oh, you built the Sandcrawler? I don’t thin you ever shared that! I’m not a fan of huge sets like that either. Especially in bags that are not numbered. I just don’t have the patience. After building a lot of sets, you start to notice what is it that you prefer. Big sets, small sets, technically challenging sets, colorful sets, etc. Fortunately, LEGO gives us plenty of choices. 🙂

  • Legostuff71 January 31, 2018, 2:39 PM

    I am now at a place where I can slow down my collecting and use what I have . That and it gets to be a bit overwhelming when you have a lot of sets.I still have the Sand- crawler and started to use it more now that I can get more Jawas. I am now trying to combine various themes. Like the Milano ship is a space pirate ship with the G. G . Characters in it and team up with Star Wars .

  • brickmaster January 31, 2018, 4:07 PM

    These are very interesting observations. And I see in my own mocs that I’m guilty as charged. I tend to stick with techniques I already know, I use colors from the same color group, and I don’t pay attention to how others might find the building experience, as I built for myself. I suppose I would put more thought into these things if I would be working on an Ideas project. Being a designer must be pretty tough at times.

  • Håkan January 31, 2018, 4:43 PM

    Concerning “variety of techniques”, an important difference can be the ‘objective’ of the construction. Fan models are built mainly for looks and appearance, while official sets often are built explicitly as playsets, hence a bigger emphasis on techniques such as exploding walls, hidden compartments, easy access to different areas and levels, etc.

  • Legostuff71 January 31, 2018, 5:33 PM

    Agreed, when I make mocs I make them as play sets as supposed to a creation that I would put on display for others to look at. Like a few topics ago I was deciding to make a Jawa base or a moisture farm. I made a Jawa base which will probably wind up as a Rebel Desert bass. But, so goes with various things as we create . We try and make one thing and turns out to be something else. I think thats the fun part of a build sometimes . Remember, when you’re in school you learn a technique (also called learning tools) but, first we learn the technique we are taught by a teacher until we figure out our own technic later in life. Just like building sets we pick up techniques here and there . Sometimes we use them and sometimes we figure out a different technic altogether.

    • admin February 1, 2018, 12:19 PM

      Good points about the process of learning and assimilating new skills and techniques! You first learn how someone else is doing something, then, as you become proficient at it, you will naturally make it your own. This is true for simple things like washing dishes, all the way to complex things like playing musical instruments… and building with LEGO! 🙂

  • Laurie January 31, 2018, 5:58 PM

    This set is Awesome… Granted we do not have it yet. However it is on the way.. Can not Wait to watch my kids open it up and build, granted they want me around for the sticker and help when they get stuck… They are going to love to fishing store… My daughter loves the animals and creatures, she asked me if we had more lobsters, this ones comes with 2 and there is sea gulls crab fish and a cat they are going to love this one… We just got a package in the mail. My spouse had to go pick it up today so tomorrow my oldest Austic daughter is going to have a ton of fun building this set.. She loves Lego the friend sets and elf sets are her favorite, she loved the Lego 30 aneversy set it is her favorite set of the Expert ones out there..

    • admin February 1, 2018, 12:17 PM

      Laurie, yeah, the Fishing Store is a great set for people of all ages who love decorative details! And yes, your daughter can definitely add more lobsters, fish, cats, and seagulls! There is plenty of space in this set! 😀

  • Silvia January 31, 2018, 9:45 PM

    What an interesting insight between designers and fan builds. I never had access to Lego as a kid so started at 40+ when I had my own kid. I’ve built many large sets and I always look for the big and complicated (often the Technics) but the Fishing Store is just awesome and rustic and it’s sitting there waiting for me to open up and build. I admit to be an instructions kinda gal so haven’t morphed into building MOCs. I find it overwhelming but I hope after many more builds I’ll slowly get into it because I know there are limitations to sets being issued versus my interests.

    • admin February 1, 2018, 12:14 PM

      Silvia, the best way to ease yourself into MOC building is by starting to do little modifications to official sets. So, for example, built some extra furniture for the Fishing Store, or modify/rearrange/move around some of the settings inside and outside the building.

      This way, you don’t have to build an entire MOC from scratch, but you can build your own thing by morphing an official set to your own liking. In fact, many MOC-ers shop for sets not for the set itself, but because they see the potential of using that set as a seed for what they want to build.

      The fact that you are a Technic builder puts you way ahead in the MOC-ing game already. A lot of people are intimidated by the complexity of Technic, and going back to building with regular LEGO elements is a piece of cake after working on Technic sets! 😀

  • Legostuff71 February 1, 2018, 9:14 AM

    I also discovered, that after building a large set and go back to building the small/ medium sets. It’s like going back a few grades in school . Here you are in 12 grade and then you go back to ninth grade ( or lower). It doesn’t take as long to build and it’s a simple build. Of course , in some cases I look forward to the simpler builds because it simple and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to build. ( a Brain break). Lol.

    • brickmaster February 1, 2018, 12:32 PM

      Oh, yes, I noticed that too! Something that was hard earlier, seems easy after building a big set

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