10 August 2013

Lip synch

August has seen the release of many new sets, several of which I have mentioned in previous posts as the sources of new elements and even new parts. Discussion of more new elements is to come, but today I'm devoting a post to a wonderful new part that I mentioned back in 'the early days' of this blog. (I'm surprised to realise I've been doing this for two months already!) This time around, let's see it in action and get lost in the minutiae of its geometry. Oooooo.

Brick 1x4x1 Inverted Bow

Element ID 6034043 | Design ID 13547 | Colour Olive Green
Element ID 6039869 | Design ID 13547 | Colour Black

To begin, I have hidden a Black 13547 behind existing similar inverted bow 42023 Brick 1X6 W/Bow, Rev. ("Rev."? Not "Inv."? Holy nomenclature nightmare, Batman) whose bow stretches over four studs and not three. This difference is sufficient enough to make for some interesting potential use of this combination, but taken individually I suppose 13547 wins in the usability stakes by virtue of being smaller.

But the first thing that I, and I'm sure most of you, wanted to do was to stick 13547 and 50950 Brick W/Bow 1/3 together. You can see that combination in the bottom left of this picture. The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that I placed it upside down in this layout - my degrading eyesight is surely to blame but to be fair to myself, the curves on these two are near to identical... more on this in a bit.

The other combinations in that picture are other Black bows I had to hand. Many gorgeous new small shapes are waiting to play with you. Notably absent from that picture however is the example of combining it with the 'telephone bow', part 93273 Plate W. Bow 1X4X2/3, which is much more fun to show you in Olive Green as it makes a shape reminiscent of a leaf. In fact there are a multitude of small leaf-like shapes you can make using 13547, but below shows the one most pleasing to my eye. I also included more 13547s with the aim of making virtue of the studs. Feed me, Seymour!

13547 offers massive potential for combined curves, with far more variants than I have the sanity to cover today. Potential goes exponential once you bring SNOT into the equation as you can see from this basic example using 11477 Plate W. Bow 1X2X2/3, my beloved 'baby bow'. Of course once we involve SNOT, you could actually have achieved a near-identical effect by just using that matching part 50960 mentioned earlier. But before I discuss the similarities between these two parts, let's think about more of the differences.

Like connecting the studs of 13547 to the steep inverted slope 2449 Roof Tile 1X2X3/74° Inv. which has that quirky design inclusion of additional holes on the vertical edge. The combination creates an unusual diagonal that led me to make this little silhouette of those 1960s Siamese cat ornaments. Kitschy kitty.

Making a silhouette was a natural consequence of only being able to use Black, but clearly I've also been influenced by seeing the evocative work of David Alexander Smith recently! I find his deceptively child-like creations a creepy treat.

Another difference to 50950 is the plate that juts out the back of 13547, which I'll make a mildly educated guess is included for strength when building with a small cantilever element. But let's move onto the curved face itself, which looks quite different from 50950 because of the indentation and hole for studs. I'm sure many of you will make use of this 'texture' by inverting the inverted; this canopy is a very quick example of what I mean.

Here, a quick '180° reversal' technique ably shows 13547's near-perfect mirroring of 50950. It's only "near" perfect because of the difference in the small rectangular facets at the front, which I call the 'lips'. This difference is most probably a standardisation measure to 'keep it in System', i.e. all regular slopes and bows should have the larger lip and all inverted ones the smaller lip. I was surprised however to realise this wasn't always the case with inverted slopes, specifically the 25° ones (although you probably call them 33°, which is the BrickLink name. Holy nomenclature nightmare etc etc).

In the centre of this picture you can see three 4287 Roof Tile 1X3/25° Inv., the close brother of 13547, and I may well be wrong but all three 4287s shown here seem to have differently sized lips. The White one is the modern mould and you can see it is standardised to the same size as our new inverted bow. I cannot precisely date the (Old) Dark Grey one but it is obviously between 1984 (when this part was introduced) and 2004 (when this colour was discontinued). Here the lip is larger; the same size as that of current regular i.e. non-inverted bows, with 50950 being the example shown (once again reversed by 180°).

The 2x version, 3747 Roof Tile 2X3/25° Inv., was introduced earlier (1980) and it seems the same inconsistency plagued it as well. I call it an inconsistency as investigating all my 45° inverted slopes including examples as far back as the original mould from 1976 shows these always had the small lip now consistently used today.

Now what of that Yellow [BL]/Bright Yellow [TLG] one in the middle? Seems I need to add digital calipers to my growing list of hardware requirements to run the New Elementary, as to me its lip looks microscopically larger still. In this extreme close-up I've pumped up the contrast to highlight the apparent difference - the bases are aligned, but the tops of the lips are different heights.

But neither of these two old ones have the part number embossed in them which was a practice commenced with new moulds from around 1985. With this part having arrived in 1984 it would makes sense that the initial mould had no part number, but the unlikelihood of the next mould having its part number omitted suggests I'm wrong thinking these two are in fact different. Anyone know? If I'm right, I'm also keen to know which mould came first, and whether this happened with the 2x version as well.

But does it matter? Does it reeeeeally matter? No, not at all, judging by the facts that a) I for one never noticed before b) BrickLink and Peeron don't bother to distinguish the moulds c) we're talking a difference of micrometres. But these mysteries are fun to uncover and highlight the tiny details that form part of the work of the Design Lab at TLG. And ignoring the possible two variants of the old version, the existence of large and small lipped versions of inverted 25° slopes strikes me as a trick worth knowing for microscale builds.

To end, a reminder of the sets you'll find this new part in. Two Olive Green elements come in set 70010 The Lion CHI Temple; having now built it I can confirm this is an impressive castle stacked with hilarious play features and details - plus other new elements and parts! Some I've mentioned previously, others will hopefully find a place in future posts. 60026 Town Square contains a healthy eight elements in Black, used in the crane vehicle. The only other newbie I've spotted in Town Square is element 6020206, the minifig bike helmet in Dark Azur. I'm disappointed not to have had time yet to build this huge set, as it's a classic LEGO® concept and I can tell it will be fun just from rummaging through the bags to steal my Black 13547s! There are individual instruction books for each building/vehicle, which enables building as a family or indeed as any other sort of group. So if you choose that route make sure you bags book 5, the crane!

Both sets are available from The Official LEGO Shop.


  1. The huge square hole at the top (bottom?) of the slope really kills this piece for me. The stud indent I can live with, but the hole really kills the continuity. Good in a pinch but a snotted 50950 is still first preference.

  2. I think the conclusion about strength of cantilevers built with this part is dead-on. I welcome it to the toolbox!

    But (scratches head) why did they enlarge the hole that so irritates @pinioncorp? No doubt there was some reasoning behind it, but I'm at a loss at the moment to understand it.

    1. This is consistent with similar elements - it seems when the sweep of the side walls create a situation where there would not be full contact on all 4 sides with the stud below, the space is opened up so no connection can be made. It's similar to the double space on the underside of 42023 the inverted 1x6 slope.

  3. Nice cat man. -goldninja101

  4. I'm guessing cost savings by using less plastic. LEGO has done "subtle" things like this to cut down on plastic use.

  5. ^This explanation would also probably apply to the thinner "lip" on the newer 4287, as well as on the 13547.

  6. Hay, Tim! goldninja101 here! (Sorry about the 15 comments or so I've done so far, I have so many ideas and they seem to pile up.) I've got another idea for a new piece to post about! You can find this piece in the City Coast guard Helicopter 60013 instructions page 33, step 17. It's the orange piece under the 1. This piece is odd because I searched the Brickset database I could not find it in the parts inventory. This suggests that is a new piece, and a particularly interesting piece it is. That's all for now! By guys!

    1. Thanks, great spot Sherlock! That is indeed an interesting new part, it looks like the front is a perfect semicircle. The instructions reveal it is element 6031895 and yes you're correct, Brickset don't list it which means LEGO haven't added it to their Replacement Parts database. It is a mystery why some parts don't get added - it's not always just because the element is new.

      Searching BrickLink (which you might not know, you can do with an element number as well as a 'part number' or 'Design ID') reveals it is part 11295 and also comes in Dark Bluish Grey [BL] / Dark Stone Grey [TLG], in set 60021 Cargo Heliplane.