11 February 2021

LEGO® Xtra review & MOCs: 854048 Road Tape & 854065 Water Tape

French concept artist and architect Pierre-E Fieschi (@pierreefieschi) returns today but this time with one of our strangest briefs ever: we sent him rolls of LEGO® Xtra 854048 Road Tape & 854065 Water Tape. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this. Thanks to Adeel Zubair for product photography.


I was tasked by New Elementary to review and test out the decorated adhesives released in 2020 as part of the LEGO® Xtra line of accessories, before trying to include these very particular 'forbidden elements' in MOCs. A completely unusual LEGO experience for me; challenging but fun. There are 2 variants of this 15m long (49ft) roll of tape: a road print and a water print. 


Both rolls are accompanied by a small selection of LEGO parts appropriate to the purpose of the tape. Unsurprisingly, there are no new elements here but 854048 Road Tape contains a Scooter Body in Medium Azure (6253483 | 15396) which is only in 4 other sets currently, while 854065 Water Tape has an Equipment Net in Medium Nougat (6182225 | 24086) which is in 5 other sets.

Before we go into any consideration regarding usability, here are some raw specs.

Specifications of LEGO Xtra tape

The adhesive rolls both have the same width which is theoretically 80mm. I say theoretically because I believe this is what was intended by the designer as it equals 10 LEGO modules (e.g. the length of a 1x10 brick). However, the width is slightly larger than that and varies, slightly above 81mm. I suspect this value might be a bit random as rolls of adhesive are usually printed on very wide machines and cut afterwards with a margin of imprecision.

Click/tap to enlarge image of LEGO Xtra 854065 Water Tape & 854048 Road Tape.

The printed pattern is repeated every 84.75cm (once again I suspect this should be 84.8cm to equal 106 modules, and that the missing .05cm is due to printing imprecisions). Technicality aside, that is a reasonable length for the pattern not to be seen to be repeating too much, unless used in larger MOCs.


The size of the road pattern is surprising to me. It is too narrow to accommodate even the smallest of modern LEGO cars but will work perfectly as a side cycle lane – which is what the included scooter suggests. However, I can't help but notice the size of the tyre marks, which actually suggests to me that these are the perfect scale for… MICRO MACHINES. (yay!)


Aside from that, I wish the road pattern did not have the green outline and bush pattern, as that prevents it from being used in other contexts. My initial idea for a MOC was to make a micro aircraft carrier using the adhesive as a take-off lane but the green looked odd, and cutting it out wasn't great either. While I'm at it, I guess the tyre marks are not really useful either; they throw off the scale and are a bit too noticeable.

The print quality is a bit grainy, as is the paper itself. Do not expect a glossy plastic-looking effect. The adhesive doesn't seem to curl once placed and does not leave any glue marks when repositioned. It keeps sticking after being repositioned once or twice. I'm actually surprised at how well its sticks, while also being so easy to peel off!

MOCs by Pierre-E Fieschi using LEGO road and water tape

Now we get to the more interesting MOC applications. Purists be warned – it is clear that this LEGO product was intended to be cut, and not used as a single element. And by cut I mean not only cut in length but cut however you like, making these Xtra elements potentially very interesting for making MOCs; even finding uses for them that are not what they were intended for. 

I decided to focus on the water adhesive for my MOCs as it offers creative options that the road pattern doesn't.

Submarine Life

I wanted to make an underwater scene using touches of the cut adhesive as background, giving a sense of depth and life (with the occasional fish and bubbles). 


It was also an excuse to use the teal coral element (6262134 | 49577) from 2019 and to mix DUPLO with Clikits, while lighting the whole thing from underneath! The entire thing was wildly out of my comfort zone, and a nightmare to shoot, but really fun to put together and a great experience.

Stealth Interceptor Bomber


Talking about comfort zones, this was much easier for me. I cropped out all of the fish and bubbles to just use the two-tone blue print of the water adhesive as camouflage on a stealth plane.

Now, that's probably a bit redundant but we rarely get the chance to make purist, organic looking camouflage!

 Conclusion

To sum up, these are very nice options for kids to easily create scenery, or for the wilder creatives out there that are not afraid to use scissors. The ability to re-apply the tape a couple of times is impressive but some things could be improved on, especially with the road print. A (precisely) 8-module wide single lane would have had wider applications. 

If you're looking for proper sized roads (that can do sci-fi as well), I strongly recommend the new 60304 Road Plates instead. But if you are buying the LEGO tape rolls, consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission.

READ MORE: More MOCs: Kev Levell gets inspired by new parts in the 2020 LEGO® NINJAGO® set 71720 Fire Stone Mech

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5 comments:

  1. Micro Machines! I love seeing two hobbies come together! I'm posting this to the MM groups I'm part of, they'll love it.

    (PS the shell tanker semi is Funrise, not Micro Machines brand.)

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    1. Ha! Great. Hey do you know any MM accounts on insta or twitter? I'll tag.

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  2. Whoa! That under water scene is just epic.

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  3. I love it! This is the kind of out-of-the-box analysis I love finding here on New E.

    The lane width for this road tape is baffling considering considering the current Lego product lines, barely fitting even the smallest 4 stud wide cars. Bike paths are indeed a more fitting usage.

    That said, I am embracing an unlikely but highly amusing alternative: Perhaps the Road Tape is actually the backdoor reboot of the 51-year-old HO Scale vehicles theme. Vehicles at 1:87 scale, such as those in the Four Car Auto Transport, set #157 (157-3 on BrickLink) would be quite comfortable on these 80mm wide roads. That scale translates these lanes to a width of 3.5 meters. This is the modern standard in Europe, although older and slower roads trend narrower. The current highway standard in the U.S. is slightly bigger at 12 foot wide (3.7 meters), and the Autobahn is similar at 3.75 meters.

    And I don't think camouflage on a stealth plane is too redundant. Who wants to spend a billion dollars on fancy radar-invisible technology only to be foiled by some bored sentry with binoculars?

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    1. Ah, but _what_ do you camouflage it for? Sitting on the ground? Flying at low altitude? Flying at high altitude? During the middle of the day, the middle of the night, or at dusk/dawn? Against cloud cover or a high sky?

      A good general rule of thumb is that if a military plane is not intended to stand out and be obvious (airshow units like the Blue Angels, or the planes that serve as Air Force One), it's camouflaged _somehow_.

      Planes are most vulnerable when they're parked on the ground. Leading into WWII, bombing runs were often conducted by flying a small plane over an airfield and dropping bombs by hand over the side of the cockpit. What you can't see, you can't bomb, so groundcover camo ruled the day (and our minds ever since). But, the British had some recon Spitfires that were painted a really muted shade of pink...as camouflage. And it actually worked! Flying high below cloud cover at dusk or dawn, they blended in perfectly, as the clouds reflected more red light than anything else at those times of day.

      By the end of WWII, they'd stopped painting planes at the factory, giving them just a protective clear sealer coat, and they'd stripped the paint off any planes that were in the field. As the Axis forces were rocked back on their heels, and Allied airbases were better defended, there was less worry about keeping them safe on the ground, and more concern that the paint was a liability. Paint has weight. A few dozen pounds of paint on a fighter jet impinges its max speed, climb rate, and range. On a bomber, you're talking a few hundred pounds of paint that reduces the payload you can carry. Shucking the fancy paintjobs boosted performance on everything, and made it easier to bring the war to a close.

      Now, most fighter jets are just grey. This is also camouflage. At very high altitudes, light reflected off the ground has so much atmosphere to travel through to get back up to you that it sucks all the color out of everything, and the ground looks pretty grey. Any other color against that background will stand out like a sore thumb, so a plain grey plane might be harder to spot by someone flying at an even higher altitude.

      The latest generations of fighter jets use fancy surface materials to reduce their radar profile. All the eyes in the world on you won't spell certain doom if nobody can get a target lock on you. Painting over that material would render those expensive materials useless, so for the first time they're really kinda stuck with factory colors.

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