I was browsing through all the LEGO sets that were released in 2020 and noticed that this year had a particularly good selection of city-type buildings. Adult LEGO fans are usually drawn to the LEGO Modular Building series because of the realistic details and intricate building techniques, but there are buildings in other LEGO themes that make a great addition to a LEGO city layout. Below, we will discuss some of the medium to large LEGO sets with nice buildings that were released this year and you might consider adding to your city.
#10270 LEGO CREATOR BOOKSHOP: LEGO only releases one set per year in the LEGO Modular Building series, and this year we got the #10270 LEGO Creator Bookshop. It’s a lovely set we talked about several times (see links at the end of this post) that includes two buildings on separate baseplates and adds a splash of color to the LEGO Modular Building street view. The bookshop side of the building is a bit sparse (we discussed how to make this better in a previous post), but the apartment is very nicely furnished and decorated inside. The set comes with 2,504 pieces and retails for $180. Totally worth it in my opinion. Available at the LEGO Creator section of the Online LEGO Shop.
#21324 LEGO IDEAS 123 SESAME STREET: This set is similar in size to the LEGO Modular Buildings, but with an open back for play. It’s pretty easy to turn it into a full Modular by adding back walls, or just use as is. The interior is packed with nice furniture pieces and other decorations, and the exterior – although simple – is very nicely detailed as well. It’s one of my favorite buildings of the year. The set comes with 1,367 pieces, retails for $120, and is available at the LEGO Ideas section of the Online LEGO Shop.
#31105 LEGO CREATOR TOWNHOUSE TOY STORE: LEGO has been releasing one 3-in-1 LEGO Creator set each year with three alternate building options. These are smaller buildings than the LEGO Modulars and have open backs. However, because their designs tend to be similar to the LEGO Modular Buildings, many LEGO fans turn them into Modulars. Other LEGO fans purchase three copies of each set, so they can display all three alternate designs, or combine them into their own custom building. These sets are inexpensive, so they are also great for just getting useful parts in large quantities. This particular set comes with 554 pieces, retails for $40, and available at the LEGO Creator section of the Online LEGO Shop.
LEGO FRIENDS BUILDINGS: LEGO released three nice LEGO Friends buildings this year. The #41398 LEGO Friends Stephanie’s House is a good basic two-story home with many useful pieces for $40. This is a LEGO Juniors set, so all the decorated pieces you see (including those nice window panes) are printed. The #41428 LEGO Friends Beach House is another one of my favorite sets of the year. We talked about this set in detail previously (see links at the end of this post), but to summarize, it has a beautiful color-scheme with rare colors and pieces and it only costs $50. Another LEGO Friends sets that looks great as is and could also be turned into a Modular is the #41427 LEGO Friends Emma’s Fashion Shop. It already has the tall and narrow façade of the Modular Buildings, and the light-yellow main color is very nice. This set comes with 343 pieces and only costs $30, so it’s also great for getting extra parts. All three sets are available at the LEGO Friends section of the Online LEGO Shop.
LEGO MONKIE KID BUILDINGS: If you would like to add an Asian neighborhood to your city, the little shop from the #80011 LEGO Monkie Kid Red Son’s Inferno Truck set, and the two-story shop/apartment combo from the #80012 LEGO Monkie Kid Monkey King Warrior Mech are both awesome little buildings with really nice color-schemes and details. Unfortunately, both of these buildings are just small parts of otherwise large and expensive sets, so you will have to consider if the rest of the parts are worth to you. Another option is to just download the building instructions and build the structures from the parts you already have. Both sets are available at the LEGO Monkie Kid section of the Online LEGO Shop.
LEGO CHINESE NEW YEAR BUILDINGS: Two other sets that are perfect for adding an Asian flair to your city are the #80104 LEGO Chinese New Year Lion Dance for $80, and the #80105 LEGO Chinese New Year Temple Fair for $120. Although both of these sets are a bit more expensive, every piece is useful, the colors are beautiful, and the minifigs and the various rare and exclusive accessories are excellent as well. I used these two sets to build my own Chinese Modular Building which you can see here: Designing & Building a LEGO Modular Chinatown. Both sets are available at the seasonal items section of the Online LEGO Shop.
#75968 LEGO HARRY POTTER 4 PRIVET DRIVE: A surprisingly good-looking building that was released this year is the #75968 LEGO Harry Potter 4 Privet Drive. It’s a medium size set with 797 pieces that retails for $70. It’s full of nice detailing both inside and outside. I especially like the exterior colors, the roof placements, and the furniture inside. And the minifigs come with awesome torso prints (some exclusive to this set) that are perfect for generic city minifigs as well. So, even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, this set is an excellent choice to expand your city. It’s available at the LEGO Harry Potter section of the Online LEGO Shop.
#75978 LEGO HARRY POTTER DIAGON ALLEY: I kept this set for last on our list because it’s the largest (5,544 pieces) and most expensive ($400) and not everyone will be able to afford to add it to their city. And even for those who can afford it, it will take some thinking about how to use it. The original layout with four buildings is a meter long, so it needs a lot of space. The buildings are open at the back, so if you want to turn them into traditional Modulars, you will need a significant quantity of extra pieces. Another option is to place two of the buildings back to back with the other two (this is actually an official configuration, so they fit seamlessly), but this only works well when your city layout is visible from both front and back. Having said all of that, this is a fantastic set for expanding a city, or as a starter template for custom Modulars, or as a resource for an enormous amount of useful parts, rare parts, and nice colors. It’s available at the LEGO Harry Potter section of the Online LEGO Shop.
It’s interesting to note that although we are talking about building and expanding LEGO cities, I haven’t added a single 2020 LEGO City set to the above list. Although the LEGO City theme does have buildings, they tend to be very basic – just large enough and detailed enough to allow action and play. They are great for kids, but adult LEGO fans tend to gravitate towards buildings with nicer facades and interiors.
The bottom line is that if you’re working on building a city, don’t just look at the obviously city-centered themes. There are many gems in other themes as well that could be used as is, or could be modified to fit your layout. I’m looking forward to next year and the pretty buildings we might get!
What do you think? Do you agree with our list of the best buildings in 2020 sets? Which one is your favorite? Do you mix buildings from different LEGO themes? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below!
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
- Customizing the LEGO Creator Bookshop
- LEGO Ideas 123 Sesame Street Review & Thoughts
- LEGO Friends Beach House – Pretty Set, Rare Parts!
- LEGO Monkie Kid Sets Video-Reviews & Thoughts
- Can Monkie Kid Give Us Sets as Great as Ninjago City?
- 2021 Chinese New Year & Monkie Kid Sets
- Designing and Building a LEGO Modular Chinatown
- LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley Review – Part 1
- LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley Review – Part 2
Nice to see them all together like this. Thanks for the list. I just wish they sold the Diagon Alley in two buildings each so it’s not so expensive at once.
It’s not an expensive set for what you get, but I know what you mean. Handing over $400 at once for toys is hard to justify.
They did a great job with Privet Drive. I hope they will make other buildings like that. I don’t like the Creator 3-in-1 set as much but at least the pieces are useful.
Looking at the friends houses together like that, hm….. they are not bad at all. And are you saying that those big arched windows are printed?
There are a couple of great looking friends sets coming up next year too. I’m glad that the colors are not so crazy as they were a few years back. It doesn’t take much to convert them into city buildings.
Yes, they are printed. Check the set inventory on Bricklink or Brickset.
There is a tag called mini modulars at brickset that lets you pull up similar sets from previous years. I agree, this year has been fantastic for buildings!
Privet Drive and Sesame Street are my two favorites. They both look fantastic. I also like Diagon Alley, but like others said, Lego should have sold them individually or in pairs. Do they think we’re made of money?
I suppose that’s a rhetorical question that doesn’t require an answer, but yes, LEGO indeed thinks we are made of money. They have the sales numbers to prove it. 😀
One thing I noticed with next year’s sets is that city and friends are getting very similar color schemes. This means it will be much easier to blend the buildings. Lego is really in love with teal and its various shades since they brought it back! 😀
I noticed that too! I like the direction city is going with the colors and the new road plates. Admin, can we have a review on those road plates, please?
I think she said she will review them soon. She is also a City builder.
Yes, working on it. 🙂
Good observation. Both City and Friends are using quite a bit of teal next year.
The city builds that has the opening in the back make it much easier for people with less Nimble fingers like some little kid,has to move characters and pieces in the set easier. Now sometimes there isn’t enough space because the set has put in so much or so little space to make the set. ( like the Creator modular buildings ) So sometimes with the city sets (building) I use a bigger base plate to make the back a little bit longer. However like the one ,1-2-3 Sesame Street set it works just fine. I have yet to build the diagon alley set, because it is wrapped and underneath the Christmas tree. LOL! I hear it’s a fun build.😎.
Good point about the accessibility of sets. I especially like when both the top and a side are removable. We have seen this in Assembly Square, and it’s also used in the 2021 City sets.
Diagon Alley is an enormous set. Pace yourself. I think It took me a week to build it. 😀
Sets I’m looking forward to next year is Ninjago City Gardens, and there is also hope that there will be more shops added to Diagon Alley. Those should also be good for cities. And I like the direction city is going next year.
From this year, I liked all the sets you talked about with Sesame Street as my favorite.
Thank you for the article! I had not considered putting the Diagon Alley buildings back to back on a street that is visible from both sides! I have such a street and I am always trying to “dress up” the backs. I now have Diagon Alley on my wish list!
Melanie, yeah, Diagon Alley is made that way, and they fit seamlessly when you put them back to back. It’s demonstrated in the instructions, which I shared here: http://thebrickblogger.com/2020/10/lego-harry-potter-diagon-alley-review-part-3/