LEGO fans often talk about the most exciting new sets, but from time to time, it’s worth looking at older sets that have become fan favorites. Some of these sets are popular because they are fun to build, or because they look great on display, or they may offer a great selection of useful parts, or they are excellent starters for larger projects.
One such set is the #31097 LEGO Creator Townhouse Pet Shop & Café. It is part of the well-liked LEGO Creator 3-in-1 series, where a single set comes with three alternate building instructions. Commonly used themes for these sets are vehicles, brick-built creatures, and buildings. The #31097 LEGO Creator Townhouse Pet Shop & Café was introduced in 2019, and is still sold at various retailers, official LEGO stores, and the Online LEGO Shop.
The LEGO Creator 3-in-1 sets featuring buildings are especially popular with LEGO city builders and fans of the LEGO Modular Buildings series. In fact, the LEGO Creator 3-in-1 buildings are also referred to as Mini Modulars. They can be used as-is for building up an attractive street (this is especially useful when you have a smaller budget or less available space). And if you want a larger layout, you can purchase three of any of the Mini Modulars and display all possible configurations at the same time.
Another popular way to use the Mini Modulars is to turn them into larger buildings to match the full size Modular Buildings. This requires purchasing extra parts (or multiples of each set), but other than that, the modification is fairly easy and usually involves stacking on more of the same floors, and closing up any openings and gaps.
The first set in the Mini Modular collection was the #31026 LEGO Creator Bike Shop & Café from 2014 (see above). It was a very attractive model that looked great as-is, and it was also easy to turn into a full size Modular. The #31036 LEGO Creator Toy & Grocery Shop from 2015 wasn’t as well developed (much smaller than the first set), but still had a good parts selection. The #31050 LEGO Creator Corner Deli from 2016 was another hit with attractive features and great customization options. The #31065 LEGO Creator Park Street Townhouse from 2017 was again a weaker and smaller design, but then it was followed up with two better looking sets; the #31097 LEGO Townhouse Pet Shop & Café in 2019, and the #31105 LEGO Creator Townhouse Toy Store in 2020. From these two, the #31097 LEGO Creator Townhouse Pet Shop & Café is considered one of the best sets in the entire collection.
The #31097 LEGO Townhouse Pet Shop & Café is quite large with 969 elements, three minifigures, and some add-on accessories. Of course, the set can be rebuilt in three different ways, but from what I have seen, the main model remains the most popular. This is especially true for those who want to turn the set into a full size Modular. (I wouldn’t neglect the alternate models though. The little streetcar in the second model is especially cute.)
Looking at the main model, the combination of modern and classic architectural elements, as well as the tasteful mixing of colors is particularly attractive. The angles are also more interesting than usual with the two buildings hugging an empty corner lot that also serves as outdoor seating for the café. And the brick-built signs (coffee cup and pets) are very well done.
Both the taller modern building and the smaller ornate building are giving us a template for more floors, so, if you want to make this set into a skyscraper – or at least match the height of the standard Modular Buildings – you can just stack on more of the same floors.
The floors are removable just like on the regular size Modular Buildings, but the backs are open for play. You could but building additional walls to close them up, and even add staircases, or an elevator (there is a great example of a working elevator in the #10224 LEGO Modular Town Hall). If you would like inspiration on turning this set into a full-fledged Modular Building, there are several examples on LEGO forums and fan sites. You can even find downloadable instructions on Rebrickable.com, like some of the examples featured below. You can find them on this page. And if you don’t have the set already but you’re interested, you can get it at the LEGO Creator section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you have any of the LEGO Creator 3-in-1 buildings? Do you have a favorite? And how do you like the #31097 LEGO Creator Townhouse Pet Shop & Café? If you have it already, have you modified it in any way? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below!
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