REVIEW: Diagon Alley – Part 3 (Flourish & Blotts and the Ice Cream Parlour)

Here is part three of my four part review of the new LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley set. This is in many ways an amazing set, but is it all good? If you are still on the fence, read on to see what you get…

The huge Diagon Alley (set 75978) has been the centre of attention of LEGO Harry Potter fans since revealed a couple of months ago. Having been overseas, I’m only just now building the set, and it is hard not to love.

This is the third part of my four-part review of the set.

  • Part 1 covered the first submodel, which had the Ollivanders and Scribbulus shops, as well as a discussion on the box and its content in general.
  • Part 2 covered the second submodel, which had the Quality Quidditch Supplies shop and Daily Prophet.

In this third part, I will review the third submodel. This features two more well known wizarding shops, Flourish & Blotts (book store) and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

For those interested in alternatives I designed my own versions of both earlier in the year for own custom Diagon Alley display, with my designs reflecting the appearance of the buildings from the later movies (as seen in Harry Potter Studios in London).

My custom buildings, with Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to the far left (pink building) and Flourish and Blotts (grey building in the centre)

The minifigures will be discussed in detail as part of part 4 of the review, when all 14 figures have been built. So the discussion in this post covers the buidings only.

But without further ado, let’s have a look at the third submodel.

The build

As mentioned above, this submodel covers Florence Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and the book store Flourish & Blotts. It is built from the pieces in bags numbered 10-14.

Bags numbered 10

The build starts in the usual way, laying the cobbled stones and dark tan pavement. Rather than giving you the foundation of both buildings, you are instead focusing on building up the walls of the book store, leaving the ice cream shop for later. I like that they have done it this way, as you more quickly can see something close to its completed form.

Following the end of these bags, this is what the front looked like.

There is not a lot to look at from the back yet. A couple of books and a pillar is all what is visible so far in the shop.

A couple of details to comment on is the Gilderoy Lockhart autobiography “Magical Me” book cover displayed in the store window, and the ice cream glasses on the wall facing the Ice Cream Parlour. The latter is the only thing progressed at this point of the ice cream store.

Bags numbered 11

While the previous step had mainly given us structure, this time we got a bit more detail, though a lot of the bricks were used to start on the ice cream shop, and add the floor to the upper level of the book store. Here is a look at the front of the building after this step.

Looking at it from the back, the interior of the ground level of the book store is now complete. This include a bookshelf, more books in the pile, and a staircase leading to the upper floor. I’ll discuss this staircase in more detail later. The ice cream store still need interior added, but the walls are all up, and a nice looking tiled floor added.

Here are a few close-up photos of interesting details, including in particular of the bookshelf and the tall pile of books on the floor. I really love the latter, but looking at the bookshelf I wish they had been able to keep the side of it in one colour, rather than a mix of black, brown, grey and dark tan.

Bags numbered 12

The buildings start to look a lot more finished after this stage, with the facades all complete up to the upper level. Detail include a couple of book boxes in front of Flourish & Blotts, adding colour to the display.

Looking from the back, you can see the desk in the ice cream store is now complete, as is the floor to the upper level there.

Here are a few of the usual close-ups of various detail or interesting scenes.

Bags numbered 13

In both parts 1 and 2 of my review, I would long before this step have praised the window design. In the roundtable interview with the lead designer Marcos Bessa, he mentioned that one of the things he is most proud of with this set, is the very different window designs used in the various buildings. And I fully agree this is one of the things that amazes me. But with this submodel windows up to this point had been quite ordinary. The angles used on the upper floor of Flourish & Blotts lifts it up though, helped by some clever geometry set up in the previous step.

Here is what the front looks like with just one step to go.

Looking from the back, you can see the interior of the upper level of Flourish & Blott is completed, including both a bookshelf and a smaller pile of books.

And again, here are some close-ups of various details from the model so far. The facade really looks great, with the sand green and dark green colours complementing each other well.

Bags numbered 14

This fifth step completes the third submodel, adding the upper level to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour as well as the roof of both buildings.

This photo from the front shows the finished build. Compared with the previous submodels, we have two new roof designs, giving diversity when looking at all submodels together. In particular I like the brown roof of the ice cream store, with its profiled look. Two white chairs in front of the building allow guests to sit down while enjoying some of the magical flavoured ice cream.

Turning the model around, you notice the interior to upper level of the ice cream shop. I really like the armchair. For some reason, it makes me think of Professor Slughorn.

At this point, there are so many cool details, it is difficult to select what to provide close-ups of. One of the items worth mentioning is the table where Lockhart can sit and sign books. It looks great and comes with another pile of books next to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really fit naturally inside, but is a model to display either in front of the building or behind (if room).

A few observations

Moving staircase – kind off

The staircase leading up to the upper level of Flourish & Blotts extends out from the building. But you can swing it up, so it becomes level with the back.

This is quite clever if you have them on display against a wall or similar, where you don’t have room for it extending out. Similarly, we saw that the staircase in Ollivanders (part 1 of the review) could swing to the side to have a level back.

The photos also shown an example of the use of a 1x6x5 panel between the buildings. That is really something that shouldn’t be used in expensive sets like this.

The book stacks

I remember from the movie how the bookstore was packed with both bookshelves and piles of books looking as they were just about tipping over (probably held in place with magic). There are a few such book stacks in the bookstore, and they work well to capture the atmosphere. I may add another couple to make it even more jam-packed.

I really like the book stacks

Signing books

I will finish with mentioning the book signing scene (again). It may not fit within the bookstore, but it is well executed and with all relevant figures included.

Nice big smile, Harry, together, you and I are worth the front page.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Big smile, Harry!

Conclusions

In conclusion, the two buildings look great next to each other, with a nice range of colours and variety in design. It is probably my favourite so far (knowing what is coming up in Part 4, it may not be for long).

The interior is also (again) very well executed, with lots of detail.

A couple of minor detractions are the multi-coloured sides of the bookshelves and then – as mentioned – I don’t really like the use of the 1x6x5 panels. It detracts from the sides of the buildings. I may rebuild where possible with normal bricks, so it won’t show up regardless of which submodel I decide to put on the end.

But once again, a really great build experience full of stunning details and interesting build techniques.

I can’t wait to get part 4 done. Check back soon on the Reviews page for the final part of this review.

Till then, Build the Magic!

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