I am always on the lookout for new buildings to line my LEGO® city streets. While my favorites come from Creator Expert, Creator 3-in-1 produces the occasional gem. I was intrigued by the Townhouse Pet Shop and Café (31097). It combines both classic and modern style architecture to good effect based on the box art. Consequently, it made my wish list. This week, we take a closer look at actual built product.
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of sets does not guarantee a favorable assessment. I will use my usual rating system (click here to learn more) and provide my honest opinion.
Pet Shop and Café Summary
- NAME: Townhouse Pet Shop and Café
- SET #: 31097
- THEME: Creator 3-in-1
- COST: $99.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 969
- MINIFIGURES: 3
- RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2019
Pet Shop and Café Quick Review
- VALUE: 96% (Excellent value, even at full price.)
- BUILD: 90% (The shops lack detail, but the rest is great.)
- MINIFIGURES: 69% (Generic characters, bad brick-fig-ratio, but lots of accessories.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 95% (A fun set all around.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 88%
Pet Shop and Café Review
At full price, the Pet Shop & Café set costs $99.99 in Canada. With 969 pieces, the cost-per-brick is $0.10. Comparatively, my average cost-per-brick currently sits at $0.14. Therefore, you get a good deal in buying this set, even at full price. I rate the value-per-brick at 94%.
The Pet Shop & Café took three hours and 14 minutes to assemble. However, this is a 3-in-1 set. I only built one iteration of the kit, the main one pictured on the front of the box. You get considerably more build time by disassembling and re-building the other two variations. However, I wanted this kit for the main depiction on the box. Therefore, I am stopping there. With that in mind, each minute of build-time costs $0.52. By comparison, my average cost-per-minute is $0.84. Consequently, even just building one variation of this set, you are getting an amazing build-time value. I rate that at 97%. Averaging this score with the value-per-brick gives an overall value grade of 96%.
Aspects of this build surprised me. I was expecting this kit to be like the Park Street Townhouse, or the Corner Deli. These sets featured hinged designs that allowed each to swing open for interior access. However, Pet Shop & Café is an L-shaped build with no hinge. There are two buildings with open backs. A small terrace forms the corner between them. Additionally, you assemble a small hot dog cart. I have a few hot dog carts from other sets at this point. I even have a hot dog food truck that I modified from the Friends theme. Likely, I will recycle one of the smaller carts in favor of this one. The hot dog shaped canopy is a lot of fun.
The café building is reminiscent of the Bike Shop and Café (31026) from 2014. However, the café was nicer in 2014. This newer version does not actually have any coffee machines or food displays to speak of. It contains a small cash register in addition to both interior and exterior seating. That is a bit of a disappointment to me. Granted, there have been several LEGO® café sets in the past, and I do not need another one. However, sitting space alone does not make a café.
The ground floor interiors lack detail.
Similarly, the pet shop is a little bland. It has a little more detail than the café, but not much. The store has one fish tank, a brick-built toucan in the window, and a brick-built rodent on the floor. I am not keen on brick-built animals. Especially when similar molded LEGO® animals exist. This set tries to be too many things in my opinion. If the ground floor focused on only the pet shop or the café, the set would have achieved better results.
The upper floors work much better. Though seemingly two different buildings from the outside, the townhouse on the second and third floors appears to span both. A kitchen with a small balcony is located above the café. Next door to it, above the pet shop, is a living room with a couch and a TV. I love that the TV is showing a race car that is also a previous 3-in-1 set, the Rocket Rally Car. Continuity between sets and themes adds fun stories to sets. Additionally, the table it sits on is a clever design that looks realistic. It is not hard to imagine these second-floor rooms linked by the missing corner piece in the back.
Moving up a floor, you find a bedroom. The bedroom has a balcony. Again, through imagining the missing corner piece, it also has roof access above the café building. I wish that the ground floor had this same coherence. I am also a fan of the modern style living room and bedroom with their wall-to-wall windows and exterior décor.
The detail on the upper floors is great.
Finally, I really like that the floors of this building are modular. This makes customization much easier since you don’t have to redesign the floors much to complete the rear wall of the building. Overall, the main drawback of this build is the lack of detail in the two shops on the ground floor. One shop with more detail would have worked better. However, I like the townhouse and the interior details that went into it. Additionally, the exterior looks great and is equally detailed. I rate this build at 9/10 (90%).
Sadly, like many other Creator sets, the Pet Shop & Café suffers in the Minifigure department. There are three included in the kit. Unfortunately, one of them is a stubby-legged child. The other two come with all the standard Minifigure parts. While each has front and back torso printing, none have doubled-sided faces nor any leg printing. Based those criteria, I rate the Minifigure design at 62% (28/45).
With that said, the kit contains a fair number of accessories. There are two white parrots (used as stone roof décor). Additionally, there is a hot dog, a printed menu tile, a croissant, a mug, two printed pin pad bricks, one printed computer screen tile, a printed pin pad tile, one printed TV screen tile, a cell phone, scissors, and a pan. The number of accessories brings the design score up to 93% (42/45).
Three Minifigures in a kit containing 969 pieces translates into a brick-to-fig ratio of 323:1. That is bad. Comparatively, my average brick-to-fig ratio is 146:1 currently. Therefore, this set does not earn a passing ratio score. In fact, it does not even come close at 44%. You do not get a good number of Minifigures for a kit of this size. Averaging the ratio and design scores gives an overall Minifigure rating of 69%.
As an adult collector, I like this set. The buildings look nice from the outside. Additionally, the townhouse interiors are great. However, it is not ready to simply drop into my LEGO® city. The ground floor needs a redesign in order to be more coherent and more detailed. Additionally, the back of the building needs finishing before insertion anywhere in my city. I only use modular buildings with all four sides sealed off. While modification is a fun project, this set loses points for not being ready out of the box. I give this kit an AFOL score of 90% (4.5/5).
With play as the main goal, this set fares better. The open back design makes play easier inside the building. Additionally, the interior of the townhouse is more detailed than older 3-in-1 sets. I think it provides a more complete play experience for kids. As a child, my LEGO® town was only one street, so the open-back design did not bother me back then. I rate the KFOL score here at 5/5 (100%). Averaging the AFOL and KFOL scores yields an overall entertainment score of 95%.
OVERALL SCORE: 88%
The Townhouse Pet Shop and Café (31097) intrigued me from the early pictures. The set looks nice. I enjoyed building it and will preserve many of the original details when I make it modular for my city. Additionally, if you are buying this set, it is a great deal even at full price. The only downside is really the small number of lack-luster Minifigures. I enjoyed this set and I recommend it for all LEGO® city builders out there.
Until next time,
What do others think?
Brick Insights is an awesome site that aggregates LEGO® set review scores from around the web. Based on their statistics, you can see what other reviewers think of the Townhouse Pet Shop and Café (31097) below.
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