A few days ago I was painstakingly stacking 1x2's to fill a holiday PaB box and started thinking about board-feet ... probably many of you know the (U.S.) construction and woodworking term "board-feet," which is a generalized method of determining the amount of wood needed for a project, regardless of type and size of board. Is there, or could there be, a comparable unit for Lego?
Let's use a 1x1 brick as the basic unit, and call it a "nominal brick" (or Nob?). Then a 1x2 brick is 2 Nobs, a 2x4 brick is 8 nobs, etc. A 1x1 plate is 1/3 Nob, a 1x3 plate is 1 Nob, a 2x6 plate is 4 Nobs. Get it?
So a wall that is 16 studs long, 1 stud wide, and 10 layers high is 160 Nobs. In theory, you could make that wall with (80) 1x2's, or (40) 1x4's, or (20) 1x8's (ignoring requirements of stability, aesthetics, windows, etc). Obviously, a lot of pieces would be difficult (or impossible) to categorize this way - minifigures & accessories, a lot of detail parts, some wings and slopes. But while Part Count ignores sizes of pieces, "Nobs" could give an idea of ... mass, maybe?
For example, 10197 Fire Brigade has 2,231 pieces, and 21010 Robie House has 2,276. FB is obviously better on overall cost and cost per piece, using RRP - but I'm sure it's far better if you compared "Nobs" since Robie is virtually all plates.
So ... does this make any kind of sense? Has anyone tried anything like this? And, most importantly, does anyone care? Feel free to just nod and smile, and ignore my rambling.
(By the way, most of you know that the holiday PaB box is 11 studs x 11 studs x 9 layers - which comes out to 1,089 Nobs. Meaning you could fit 1,089 1x1 bricks into that box, if you cared to spend an hour stacking them perfectly).