Design ID 6079
For me, this part has long languished in my mental category of "parts that can only be used for one thing, and a rather dreary thing at that". But recently I noticed the amazing geometry of this part makes it far more flexible than I had imagined. It cropped up on some Pick A Brick Walls in UK Brand Stores last year, and after I employed that useful self-justification "why, I'm sure I'll need to make a big long fence one day", plus some egging-on from
As is often the case with Friends today, I suspect we have a girls' theme to thank for the introduction of this part. It appeared in the initial year of Paradisa; a really lovely 'girls' theme which ran from 1992-7. (I should add it also appeared in one 'non-girly' set that year.) Back then the fences were available in Pink and in White. Through the '90s and first half of the '00s it then came out in Black, in Yellow [BL] / Bright Yellow [TLG], and then one set in the Adventurers theme finally had it in Brown [BL] / Earth Orange [TLG]. The part took a break after 2005, not appearing again until 2009, since when it has featured mostly in White but also in the appropriate hue of Reddish Brown.
For starters, tiles or other parts can be added on top. Additionally adding tiles at ground level to fill in the gaps between fence posts creates a more modern-looking fence, as seen below in this detail from my 'Life Store' MOC. I've spaced the rear fences irregularly, but if you want a less random appearance just space them at equal intervals.
The key aspect of the part's appearance are those large horizontal slats. The height of each of these is the same as two plates, and critically the spaces between them are also the height of two plates. This has several implications, and I'll start discussing these at the legal end of building with the way I imagine the original designer intended this be used. Firstly, you can stack the fences and still retain regular spacing between slats which looks great for tall fences - or gates when attached sideways. That aspect may seem too simple to mention, but parts don't always have this symmetry included. (Oh how I'd adore a new part that could sit between Radiator Grille 1X2 tiles to create even spacing of grilles.) I wonder if the designer ever considered making this part a 1X8X1 1/3 fence instead - i.e. by stacking two of them, you'd have a fence the same size as the existing part. It would have made the part so much more useful! But I guess it would look a little less fencey with the extra bases halfway up.
In what must just be a happy accident of the geometry, there's another way to connect these fence elements. The difference in width between a post and its base, in combination with the equal one-plate height of the base and the gap above it, allows fence elements to grip together. In the example below (which now I look at again, reminds me of a robot monkey face) two sit back-to-back and the third is placed at 180°. This attachment is a little fiddly to engineer, but the resulting connection is a tad more solid than you may imagine.
You can't stick this onto studs... all the base holes are obscured... but a fourth fence can be added by the same method, and the structure is enlargeable using the other methods I've described above. We're not so much off-piste now as roaming the enchanted forest with no likelihood of pausing for hot chocolate with marshmallow. With a bunch of fences and the above techniques you'll find you will quickly be creating sprawling modernist latticework that could look pretty cool in a large model. Admittedly uses for random fencing are clearly limited, but I know what you're thinking, I used it in the Life Store didn't I? Hell yeah. One goal in creating my pretentious store for pretentious minifigs was to include a lot of pretentious usage of elements.
A little game to finish; you can't have missed the 1960s vintage letter bricks in the kiosk above and maybe you spotted the baby bows too. Can you see another recent new part (i.e. a new shape) and also a new element (i.e. an existing shape in a new colour)?
I've only shown details of the rooftop bar of the Life Store in this post - I'll post complete pictures after I rework it this month. I'm always fiddling. Never finishing.