10260 Downtown Diner is an enormous set and is worthy of considerable discussion so we have decided to divide our review into two sections.
The first part was focused upon the minifigures as well as the building experience but now we are turning our attention to the completed model and I will also be summarising my opinions of the entire set.
The Completed Model
The Downtown Diner's distinctive Streamline Moderne architecture is immediately striking. I love the rounded window shapes and the bright splashes of teal and pink look magnificent, particularly against the relatively muted tan walls of the first and second floors. Teal returns in 2018 but appears to be used sparingly when the model is viewed from the front, being limited to the frame of the glazed curtain wall on the right hand side. In fact, almost the whole of the ground floor features teal walls which become more visible from other angles.
Modular Buildings have varied quite dramatically in size over the last eleven years. 10260 Downtown Diner lies somewhere in the middle of the range, measuring 35cm in height to the tip of the antenna and matching the roof height of 10251 Brick Bank very closely. Some have expressed concern that this model will not fit beside others in the range given its unique architecture. I would be inclined to agree, although it makes a welcome change from past designs. Personally, I think the model looks most impressive alongside 10246 Detective's Office as both buildings are very colourful and they are scaled together nicely.
The pavement outside features dark bluish grey tiles with a light bluish grey kerb so matches the other Modular Buildings perfectly. A white lamp post is also included along with some flower pots, a parking meter and a red mailbox. The flowers now feature five petals and are placed on new stalks with a pin underneath rather than the standard stud receptacle which should prove much more versatile. I also appreciate the inclusion of some exposed studs for posing minifigures as they walk past the diner.
Stacks of trans-clear 1x1 bricks surround the entrance to the diner, representing frosted glass or tiny window panes. The door is printed with a sign reading 'open' on one side and 'closed' on the other as well as the name of the diner and an attractive metallic silver border. I like the pink door handle that matches the lettering on the roof and the teal frame looks marvellous, complementing the curved window and the white fascia that extends around the entire building at first floor level.
The interior is absolutely packed with traditional features, including a black and white tiled floor, a long counter with a curved edge and even a candy machine! I think the limited space has been used quite efficiently as it contains many details, although the room does not look cluttered and there is plenty of space to place the minifigures inside. However, actually playing with the figures could prove difficult as the walls are fairly high.
Perhaps the most iconic aspect of any American diner is the booth seating. That is recreated here using curved slopes and the red upholstery looks fantastic against the walls and floor, also coordinating with the colours of the bar stools. I like the curved light bluish grey and white table which matches the main counter and the booth includes a few condiments as well as a superb napkin dispenser. The pink stripe running around the walls is also very pleasing and four printed tiles, introduced for 10232 Palace Cinema, are fitted above.
The serving area is equally detailed, featuring a large stove, a coffee machine and a counter with foot rails underneath. A couple of utensils are clipped to the rear wall over a small table for preparing food and there are two slices of bacon and a pancake already on the grille. It might have been nice to see the printed waffle tile make a return here but the plain 2x2 elements look good too. Soda fountains are also fitted to the bar counter and there is a delightful jukebox next to the stove which makes perfect use of curved tubes on top.
An angled door allows access from the servery to the yard at the back of the diner. The lamp hanging above the doorway looks great and there are a couple of bins, one of which contains some yellow 1x1 round tiles, on either side of the door. Otherwise, this area is surprisingly plain at ground level but for the unsightly light bluish grey panels that form the back of the cooker. The cooker hood also extends to the rear which a bit awkward, although this is not visible from most angles and it looks brilliant inside.
The first floor is accessed via a staircase to the left of the diner. This recessed area almost gives the model the appearance of a corner building when viewed from the front but Technic pins for attaching other sets are located on the side walls. I love the decorative fascia which continues around the side and onto the back of the structure, with beautiful teal and pink stripes lying between two white bands.
An enormous sign advertises the diner from the roof of the ground floor. The pink lettering is much simpler than the designs seen in previous Modular Buildings but it looks wonderful, featuring a suitably bold colour scheme as well as a stylish font. Even the flat roof beneath the sign has been properly finished with some light bluish grey tiles and I like the brickwork texture on the first and second floors. Tan is an ideal choice for the walls as it looks fairly muted beside pink and teal so really draws attention to those brighter colours.
A boxing gym is situated on the first floor and this includes a large boxing ring, a suspended punching bag and a weightlifting bench. I like the water cooler by the door but there are no cups stacked beside the machine which is a shame. The punching bag is attached to the wall using a ball joint with little friction so it will swing back and forth as a minifigure practices their boxing before entering the ring.
The boxing ring features a red canvas and has plenty of room for two minifigures, although only one is included wearing gloves. The reddish brown ropes look splendid and a clock hangs from the wall for timing the length of each round, showing excellent attention to detail. A couple of dumbbell weights are held on a blue rack in the corner of the gym while the main barbell weight is supported by a frame above the bench.
Wrought iron staircases are a consistent feature of the Modular Buildings range but this spiral design is perhaps the most impressive yet. I love the textured 1x4 panels which form the treads and the curved railing around the edge is absolutely fantastic, although an angled handrail would be more realistic. I do not think it would be possible to include such a feature using legal building techniques at this scale so the stepped railing is perfect.
The tan brickwork continues up to the second floor on the front of the building but its uniform colour is broken up by reddish brown railings and a small balcony. I like the plants which add a splash of colour to this area of the model and the light bluish grey arches over the windows and door look superb, as do the tiny round windows set into the wall beside the balcony. A glazed curtain wall stretches across both of the upper levels and includes some decorative moulding near the top, resembling a jukebox.
This is appropriate as removing the roof reveals a recording studio inside. The shape of these rooms is very unusual but there is still space for some furniture, including a red armchair and a table by the door. I like the rugs on the floor and a second door opens inward to access the balcony at the front. Another trans-clear door links the recording booth to the waiting area, giving the singer a good view of a golden record hanging on the opposite wall.
The recording booth is quite small, as one would expect, but includes all the vital features. I appreciate the traditional design of the microphone and the acoustic insulation foam on the wall looks magnificent, making ingenious use of black 1x4 gear racks which are appropriately textured. However, the wall to the right of the microphone looks very plain so it is a shame that the foam does not continue on here.
There is just enough room to seat a sound engineer on the other side of the wall and they can peer into the booth through a trans-clear window. The sound mixing board looks good and I like the enormous tape machine standing against the wall. A printed album cover is attached to the rear wall alongside a drinks cabinet that might be for celebrating the production of another hit or for calming the nerves of a brand new performer!
A ladder allows access to the roof and features handrails which are cleverly represented by black handlebar components. The curved roof over the recording booth looks splendid too, especially in combination with the teal and pink stripes along the front of the building. A red and white antenna is fitted on top so the studio could double as a radio station if you wish and decorative parapets are situated along the edge of the roof, presenting an attractive facade to minifigures walking below.
Skylights are a common feature of Modular Buildings and this one is comparatively simple, consisting of a black 1x4x6 frame on two hinges. The hinges alone are sufficient to support the weight of the skylight when it is open but a folding strut is also included. This is a great feature as you could imagine that a rival producer is eavesdropping on the recording studio or hold a party on the roof with music blaring from the floor below.
A couple of the previous Modular Buildings have included vehicles. These are a fun addition for play but usually feel like the weakest aspect of the sets as they lack detail in relation to the main structure. However, official images of 10260 Downtown Diner gave the impression that this pink car, based loosely upon the 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood driven by Elvis Presley, would be more impressive than most and I think it looks even better now that I have actually built it!
The proportions of the car feel reasonably realistic and I love the curvature of the bodywork. A single line seems to flow from the rounded headlights at the front all the way to the classic tail fins at the rear. The light bluish grey radiator grille also looks good and matches the style of a Cadillac quite closely but the white wheel arches over the rear axle are not ideal as the bodywork should extend downwards to cover the top half of each tyre.
Nevertheless, I think the white accents are rather nice in the context of this model and the stacked tail lights look magnificent, as do the twin exhausts fitted beside the bumper. Directly comparing this model to a real Cadillac is perhaps unfair as I think it is simply intended to evoke the style of the manufacturer and in that respect I am very satisfied with it.
The car is remarkably spacious so there is room to place three minifigures inside and you can even slot a couple of accessories next to the figure in the back seat. I like the tan upholstery which feels suitably luxurious and am impressed that the designer has found space for a handbrake next to the driver as well as a steering wheel in front. This is definitely my favourite of the vehicles found in Modular Building sets so far.
Modular Buildings range have maintained a consistently high standard for over a decade and a great deal of expectation is therefore placed upon each new set. I am delighted to report that 10260 Downtown Diner does not disappoint in the slightest, offering a thoroughly enjoyable building experience as well as a spectacular final model and a superb selection of minifigures. The innovation we have come to expect of these models is undoubtedly present and it includes tremendous detail both inside and out.
The diner's distinctive appearance has proven to be rather divisive which is understandable as Streamline Moderne architecture does not appeal to everyone. Personally, I appreciate the change and rather enjoy this style of architecture, although there is no doubt that displaying the model beside others may be difficult. Nevertheless, this is an excellent set and I think it offers good value at a price of £129.99 or $169.99 so I have no hesitation in recommending 10260 Downtown Diner.
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