I'm such a tease. I promised to post the first Skærbæk builds today but this post about an exciting new 2018 LEGO® part just came through! It's written by Simon Liu (Si-MOCs), a Canadian builder who is well known for his diverse builds, his enthusiastic participation in conventions and his pivotal role in the popular Flickr LEGO building contests SHIPtember and FebRovery. Welcome, Si!
Fresh for 2018 we have an interesting new piece, shown below left, with Design ID 35480. BrickLink calls it Technic, Plate 1 x 2 with Smooth Ends and 2 Studs. But that's kind of long, and I don't think it's overly accurate so I'm just going to call it a Rounded Plate 1x2 with Through Holes, or 1x2 Rounded Plate for short - as currently there is no other 1x2 rounded plate. [Ed: since this article was published, BrickLink have changed its name to 'Plate, Modified 1 x 2 Rounded with 2 Open Studs'.] Rumour has it this piece was introduced by the Super Heroes team, and some people have lovingly dubbed this piece the "Super Heroes Plate".
The new 1x2 Rounded Plate shares the same shape as the Technic Lift Arm 1x2 Thin (Design ID 41677) shown above right, except the Technic Axle Holes are replaced by Studs with Through Holes. Because this piece shares similar characteristics with Technic Plates I suspect this why BrickLink decided to add it to this category. [Ed: BrickLink have also moved it to the 'Plate, Modified' category.] But in my mind, one commonality that is shared among all the Technic Plates is that there is a Technic connection to them, be it an Axle hole or Technic Pin hole, but this new Rounded Plate piece has neither. Also it's not exactly a Round Plate as they're all effectively circles, or semi circles. This piece is probably best categorized as a Modified Plate as the rounded edge of the plate shares commonalities with Modified 1x1 Rounded with Handle (Design ID 26047). So sadly this piece will likely end up being categorized in a non-obvious category for your average BrickLink user, just like Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 1/3 with Curved Top (6091) (or as I like to call it, an 'r' brick).
It should be noted that the this piece is exactly 1 plate thick. Because what you may or may not realize is the Technic Lift Arm 1x2 Thin (Design ID 41677) is actually a bit thicker than a regular plate, as you can see below where I have put a bracket over the 1x2 Rounded Plate.
So for builders such as those drone/tiny mecha builders it’s important to note this piece would be marginally thinner than using the traditional Technic Lift Arm for joints.
Currently this piece exists in Tan [BL]/Brick Yellow[TLG] (Element ID 6212758) in the new LEGO Architecture set 21039 Shanghai, you can get a single one in Red [BL]/Bright Red [TLG] (Element ID 6210269) in 76097 Lex Luthor™ Mech Takedown, and there are several sets that you can get it in Black (Element ID 6210270): 76099 Rhino Face-Off by the Mine, 76098 Speed Force Freeze Pursuit and 21144 The Farm Cottage.
Anyways let's take a look at what we can do with this new 1x2 Rounded Plate!
Building with LEGO® part 35480I really appreciate the fact this studs are Through Holes which really opens up the possibilities, effectively allowing for a anti-jumper via the hole for a really nice half stud offset.
But of course there are many pieces that can achieve a half stud offset; what makes this piece so interesting is the ROUNDED edges! These allow you to change the orientation away from the standard 90 degree right angles. Using just four you can create a little 45 degree angle change in a really simple and compact solution. If only I had more than four!
While a lot of castle builders have long used 1x1 round plates or tiles in between two regular plates to create curves, with the new 1x2 Rounded Plate there's now a seamless way to do more subtle angles.
But where this 1x2 Rounded Plate really starts to show its utility is when it's stacked and seen from the side. Due to the 1-plate height, it can create a curved surface - if you have enough. By stacking and offsetting 1x2 Round Plates over each other, various curves can be achieved while maintaining a much smoother surface than the traditional 1x1 round plate technique.
Of course, the radius of a round plate matches the interior curve of the 1x3 Arch Brick (Design ID 4490) which you can use to make a nice little well, to put several stacked 1x2 Rounded Plates into.
So those are the more obvious standard applications, but what are some other fun things you can do? Well, because the plates are rounded there are few tricks you can pull that you couldn't easily do otherwise. One is that you can use the 1x2 Round Plate and the tolerances of LEGO parts to stagger several plates.
Another fun technique is to make a perfect triangle by stacking one stud and rotating each plate till you get a triangular shape. Using some rods you can actually lock the triangle shape in place, so if you've ever wanted to build some three barrelled guns, guess what, now you can.
I feel like I'm just scratching the surface and there other interesting techniques that can be developed using this new piece but I leave that to you, dear reader, to investigate and explore. I'll leave you with this one little build.
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