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Cool Baseplates - why does Lego no longer make / include them in sets?

Hello, I'm fairly new to Lego (1 year plus) but I have a friend who has collected for decades. She has lots of sets that have molded baseplates included that really add to the look and playability of sets. Why doesn't Lego include these in sets anymore? Or offer them for sale separately? I'd rather pay an extra $5 and get something like this, than to have them just exclude the baseplates, all in the name of profit I assume? Thoughts? Does anyone have any insight into this topic? Thanks!

Comments

  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,252
    Typically baseplates cost more for LEGO to produce and quite frankly the molded plates are often flimsy and do not stand up to abuse of putting parts on and taking them off, at least in my experience.
    So you are pretty much lucky if you see any new LEGO sets with anything greater than a 16x32 base plate, which is also why they are rising in price on sites like eBay, BL and brickowl.
    Pitfall69dougts
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,356
    edited March 2014
    You are so right. The baseplate that came with the Kingdoms II castle snapped right in the middle. A lot of the baseplates with ramps often "tore" and cracked in places. The studs would lose their clutch very easily over time.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    Given the cost of flat ones, and the ease of storing and transporting them, the molded one is likely to cost significantly more than $5.
  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 504
    I am something of an elevated baseplate aficionado, but even I realize their time has come and gone. They are indeed fragile, and I own a couple that are forever marred by chipped corners and cracks. Never witnessed any of them losing clutch power. I take very good care of the ones I own, particularly those in King's Royal Castle from 1995 and the one in the Imperial Trading Post from 1992.

    Basically, I'm certain cost to produce these suckers outweighed the positives for Lego. They were not used in many sets, and it seems that by the end of the last decade, they have finally gone extinct.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,356
    I think that both the Imperial Trading Post and Eldorado's Fortress used the same baseplate. The one for my Fortress has lost some clutch power. I don't know if the studs wore down from many times of putting it together and taking it apart.
  • Russell844Russell844 California, USAMember Posts: 1,784
    edited March 2014
    I believe something like this came up in the Ambassador forum, and the answer was that baseplates are not going anywhere. The set designers were just having a lot of fun with the new 8x16 and 16x16 plates.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,938
    I like the little one that came in the pirate island set 6241. I wish they at least offered something like that. It really has been great quality and really add to an island look.
    bricktuary
  • bricktuarybricktuary EuropeMember Posts: 470
    The space (moon) ones are my favourite. By some distance.
    FollowsCloselykrklintbrickedinchuckp
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,252

    I believe something like this came up in the Ambassador forum, and the answer was that baseplates are not going anywhere. The set designers were just having a lot of fun with the new 8x16 and 16x16 plates.

    While baseplates are not likely not going anywhere, they are increasingly rare in sets now. Many sets also do not use baseplates per se, but 6x12 or larger regular plates.
    You also do not see Baseplates like having two 32x32 in a big enough city set anymore. Oh sure you can buy green and blue 32x32, but they do not sell them in many other colors, nor do they sell those other colors in a store. And road plates are obnoxiously expensive for plates that seem to use less plastic than a 32x32 plate covered in studs IMO. Only Mods seem to have 32x32 plates anymore.

    I can understand why (baseplates can be a bit flimsy and easily bend when enough pressure is applied), but I do not buy that they are doing this because designers have more fun with the smaller baseplates. They are likely doing it to try to keep the cost and footprint of the set down. The problem is that when you do not have a 32x32 baseplate under a set it loses its stability IMO, especially if you are not on a hard surface.
    I would much rather have a city set built on a street baseplate like in the 80s than having to go buy plates to use for my city to attach the set to the city, but that is just me.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,111
    I find sets like the Spiderman Daily Bugle showdown annoying, the base was just big enough for the building but not for the street light and other little side bits that came with it, it'd be nice if everything could be put together to stay together, even on these play focus sets I'm sure a lot of parents would prefer if all the bits could easier be kept together.
    DanGPYodalicious
  • cody6268cody6268 Member Posts: 251
    My stock of baseplates is mostly from the Games series. The games really didn't last too long built.

    I'm assuming that it's the height of the baseplate. Baseplates are not as tall as a regular plate, and aren't compatible, except for other baseplates.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 500
    I just want them to produce the classic space crater plate again. I own four of them, and I'd love to own about 10 or more. As a kid, that plate's angles on the craters were driving ramps and places for space aliens to hide. Far and away, a joy of my childhood. I do believe that some of the aftermarket companies could make a small profit off of such models, but not enough for them to attempt it :(
    TXLegoguyTheLoneTensorYodalicious
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,252
    krklint said:

    I just want them to produce the classic space crater plate again. I own four of them, and I'd love to own about 10 or more. As a kid, that plate's angles on the craters were driving ramps and places for space aliens to hide. Far and away, a joy of my childhood. I do believe that some of the aftermarket companies could make a small profit off of such models, but not enough for them to attempt it :(

    That's why I have been hiding away Baseplates like a squirrel with nuts before winter... I know that they are only going up in price so when I find them in part lots or cheap enough via eBay or other then I hold onto them. I have many classic crater plates in case I decide to move back to classic space just like I have many old city and castle plates, in case i need them to either rebuild a set or to use for MOCs.
    TheLoneTensor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,356
    Many of the ramp baseplates are $35-40 a piece.
  • hoyatableshoyatables Northern Virginia, USAMember Posts: 861
    I also think part of the reason for the decline in elevated baseplates is that LEGO is trying to put a greater emphasis on brick-built structures. Essentially, an elevated baseplate could be seen as one giant BURP.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited March 2014
    krklint said:

    I just want them to produce the classic space crater plate again. I own four of them, and I'd love to own about 10 or more. As a kid, that plate's angles on the craters were driving ramps and places for space aliens to hide. Far and away, a joy of my childhood. I do believe that some of the aftermarket companies could make a small profit off of such models, but not enough for them to attempt it :(

    I remember buying about 20 off another kid way back when for $1 each. That is among the greatest purchases I have ever made, because they make for some killer moon bases. Like @madforLEGO though, alas, I'm not really into Classic Space these days more than just thinking of it fondly.

    As for raised plates, is the PQ Scorpion Pyramid the last official set to have one?
    krklint
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,096
    The raised baseplates did make sets seem more substantial. For example there are some classic space sets that are barely overly 200 pcs. By adding a baseplate it added to the experience and value.
    krklintYodalicious
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,252
    edited March 2014
    I think we also have to remember that crater plates were much more sturdy than the elevated baseplates of the late 80' through now. Thinner plastic makes those very flimsy and prone to damage. But Crater plates were the same plastic molded into baseplates and were pretty stern stuff. I guess LEGO would have to actually bring back classic space to have the classic crater plates come back.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,356
    They might. I know The LEGO Movie has sparked interest in the Classic Space Theme.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,118
    I think the sales on Benny's spaceship are going to be a huge factor in any thought of bringing back classic space. Even them I don't see them doing it as a single faction theme. They will add aliens or something

    Another thing I forgot to mention from Bricks Cascade is that Cuusoo and the CEE team is really looking at the Exo Suit as the first true test of the viability of a non IP model.

    My read on that is that if the set doesn't sell well that could be bad news for future original content on Cuusoo
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,096
    If they bring back Classic Space then I think it would be safest under the City theme. The reason I say this is because the Classic Space sets were not about factions, aliens, violence etc. They were about exploration. The upcoming Arctic theme somewhat resembles what Classic Space was about.
    krklint
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited March 2014
    dougts said:

    Another thing I forgot to mention from Bricks Cascade is that Cuusoo and the CEE team is really looking at the Exo Suit as the first true test of the viability of a non IP model.

    Doesn't this stand to reason simply because it is indeed the first non-IP Cuusoo model?

  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,118
    Yes it does. But I thought repeating on here what Keith said directly was worthwhile to some extent. He went out of his way to make a point about it
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    Ok, did he happen to say anthing about them carefully looking at the Ghostbusters set as a true test of the viability of a Ghostbusters line?
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,118
    nope. I was really trying to get out of him an understanding of what the mission statement of Cuusoo is. Didn't really get much. In fact, I'm not quite sure they even know exactly what their goals are.

    What he did say - not just in the context of Cuusoo - is that everything they do has to be self-sustainable. Not any real revelation there either, but he really hammered the point that if a division or initiative didn't turn a profit, it was ultimately not going to last.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,791
    Personally, I don't miss the big molded baseplates. I'd much rather have smaller, brick-built bases like in Hillside House (elevated example) or Mountain Hut (flat example).

    These sets' bases are made of smaller parts that can be rearranged, and they are "in system", so that they can be used just as easily as any ordinary building element. They are rigid instead of thin and flexible, meaning that they are easier to pick up and carry than traditional baseplates, which could lose parts due to their flexibility (and in the case of elevated baseplates, could crack). Also, bases can be sized according to the model. When I compare the modular bases of Fort Legoredo with the King's Castle, I feel like the base of King's Castle is much tidier and more efficient.

    I'd love if the LEGO Group would now take the next step and create a modular system of road plates based on parts like this, only with printing. It would allow for new possibilities — for instance, if one was printed with a crosswalk pattern, you could place a crosswalk any place along a block instead of just at intersections. Of course, you'd still be limited to grid streets, one of the biggest flaws of road plates in general.

    Really, with how much AFOLs tend to bash modern-day sets and parts for being "juniorized" (large and overspecialized), it's surprising how much nostalgia I tend to hear for baseplates (particularly elevated baseplates), which are some of the largest and most overspecialized parts ever released.
    Matthew
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    I think the appeal for "large and overspecialized" baseplates stems from the fact it's nice to have a solid base from which to work. You can brick build most anything, but when it comes to foundational stuff, the more solid support, the better.
    madforLEGO
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,111
    ^very much agree. I find the worst thing with any new build is that starting point of working out how big I want it and then constructing an appropriate base. I only have a couple of the larger baseplates and they are currently used for stopping minifigs falling over.
    TheLoneTensor
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited March 2014
    ^ Agreed, I have way too many baseplates dedicated to that mission as well, but hey, they do a great job at keeping those troops in line.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,111
    If I could have any lego piece made I'd want a flat 3x60(or so) and get a dozen of them for easy minifig arrangement, but in the mean time, yup baseplates at least stop them falling over!
  • IckelpeteIckelpete Member Posts: 15
    I had heard that Lego no longer manufacture the base plates in house they buy them in and as the cost was increasing they were trying to reduce there use in the cheaper sets.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 470
    I've got to be honest, I've never like the raised baseplates and am glad Lego has stopped using them. They're pretty single purpose and single use element. The only sets I think really work well with a raised baseplate are 6276 Eldorado Fortress and 6086 Dungeon Masters Castle. Nearly ever other set would be better off with a standard 32x32.

    I've never had a problem with any of these cracking, chipping or breaking. Maybe I just wasn't as hard on my toys as I thought. In fact this only baseplate I have, that was originally mine, that is damaged is 8x16 I accidentally snapped in half as a very young kid.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561

    The only sets I think really work well with a raised baseplate are 6276 Eldorado Fortress and 6086 Dungeon Masters Castle. Nearly ever other set would be better off with a standard 32x32.

    Well, that particular raised baseplate was first created for the former (and a castle set that year). There are a few other sets that utilize a raised baseplate quite effectively.

    #6416 Poolside Paradise (elevating the building surface slightly gave character to the terrain, allowed the pool, and avoided using lots of bricks to achieve something that wouldn't have been as elegant if they had been used).

    #5978 Sphinx Secret Surprise (the reuse of the plate from #6416 was an ingenious way of creating a Giza-like plateau and the conversion of the swimming pool area into an excavation site was brilliant, again creating something that a pile of bricks could do no better).

    #5986 Ancient Amazon Ruins (though the bridge isn't suspended high enough, it at least creates a "canyon" between two larges sections of raised terrain that would otherwise take a lot of bricks to create areas with no more real playability than the raised baseplate offered).

    #7419 Dragon Fortress (again, creating an elevated building with a subterranean section smaller than the structure above, this couldn't be done without an absurd number of bricks).

    #6584 Extreme Team Challenge (reusing a raised plate first seen years before in the Pirates and Castle lines, it created the kind of terrain that this set absolutely required. The mountain itself is formed out of BURPs anyway so the canyon would have been more of the same without any better results).
    BumblepantsbinaryeyeYellowcastle
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,356
    Ha. I have all of those sets. They are great sets. I really like #6416 Poolside Paradise.
  • LegoLover2029LegoLover2029 Member Posts: 5
    Yes, that's one that I have, provided by my friend who has all of the other old school base plates. She gave me all of her Paradisa sets. That's a good one!
  • DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 613
    My favorite was always the tan flagstone version of the original #6416 baseplate. I was a townie when I was a kid, so this was perfect for many different houses over the years. Great playability.
    bp.gif 71.7K
    Pitfall69
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,252
    ^--Yeah, I have grabbed those up when I have seen them for future MOCs, that and this one: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=4478px2
    I also have a few of these http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=6092pb02
    but not sure what I want to use them for.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    DadsAFOL said:

    My favorite was always the tan flagstone version of the original #6416 baseplate. I was a townie when I was a kid, so this was perfect for many different houses over the years. Great playability.

    That one is from #5978 Sphinx Secret Surprise. The printing on the edge of the plate looks a bit off if used in a town setting though. ;-)
  • BumblepantsBumblepants Sofia BG/Dallas TXMember Posts: 5,652
    I saved up to get the #6090 Royal Knight's Castle as a kid primarily for what I thought was the coolest baseplate ever. I loved MOCing castles on it and coming up with ways to integrate the secret stair case built in the right-hand side.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 470
    prof1515 said:

    There are a few other sets that utilize a raised baseplate quite effectively.

    If I may offer my opinion on these sets. I agree a that these are mostly good examples of better uses of raised baseplates, I disagree with they couldn't have been on standard baseplates.

    #6416 Poolside Paradise. The only set I won’t comment on as I never owned it or played with and don't fell I can fairly comment on.

    #5978 Sphinx Surprise. Personally is this my favorite of the Adventure sets. While I agree the use of the “pool” area for buried treasure is a brilliant and wonderful use of the space. And I did go back and forth on the use of a raised baseplate with the set. But in the end the buried treasure a minor feature and a gimmick. I don’t see this feature missing as having a huge impact on the over set. And given the fact that the hollow space under the sphinx isn’t used as standard baseplate would work just as well. Buried treasure is a difficult problem with Lego bricks. While this is one the best done attempts, I have yet to see anyone build something that works for me.

    #5986 Ancient Amazon Ruins. Quite frankly an awful set. Who ever designed this set was watching Indiana Jones too much. The set is basically a series of poorly executed gimmicks with very little playability. Take the quad pit baseplate away and you’re left with a pretty small set, it’s only about 490 pieces to begin with. A larger set of ruins with a standard baseplate would have been better.

    #7419 Dragon Fortress. A good example of a good set forced into a bad baseplate. Support columns and angled large plates would have done a better job. While this is likely my favorite on the quad pit baseplate, and one my favorites of that year, there was never any need for the it here.

    #6584 Extreme Team Challenge. I’m not a fan of this theme and already don’t like the set, so my opinion is already pretty bias. I don’t this set, but have played with one before. It feels to me that this a cross between 6552 Rocky River Retreat and 6490 Amazing Crossing. I really do like the high rock outcropping (it’s a not a mountain). While it could be done with more BURPs, I’m not sure it would like as nice. The bridge could be better done with BURPs. As for the river canyon, it seems like this started out as the focus and than became an after thought, I guess why even bother at this point.

    Sorry of any typos or grammatically problems. This a longer than normal post and I can't always catch all of them.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,791

    I think the appeal for "large and overspecialized" baseplates stems from the fact it's nice to have a solid base from which to work. You can brick build most anything, but when it comes to foundational stuff, the more solid support, the better.

    I really like having a solid base as well, but this is part of why I like newer sets that eschew baseplates. Unlike traditional LEGO plates, baseplates are thin and flexible, and this means that when lifting or carrying a large set it is easy for structures like trees, minifigures, signs, mailboxes fences, etc. that are secured by just a few studs each to pop off. And there tended to be many such features with a lot of sets, because in many cases so much space on the baseplates would otherwise go unused. Rocky River Retreat is just one example that comes to mind.

    For this reason I much prefer smaller but sturdier 8x16 and 16x16 plates when given the chance. Even if you need to use multiples, the same thickness that makes them sturdier also makes them less likely to come apart at the junction point, and allows you to use additional parts on the underside to reinforce them if necessary.

    The flexibility of baseplates was probably not unintentional — it makes it easy to remove parts from a baseplate without a brick separator. But I think at this point anyone buying modern sets has at least one brick separator, unless you avoid buying larger sets entirely.

    Back in the 90s (my childhood) we started to see a transition away from baseplates for certain sets, and towards "base bricks" in sizes like 8x16 and 12x24. Specifically, these sets tended to be used for sets with a modular construction like #6097 Night Lord's Castle and #6093 Flying Ninja Fortress. However, these were far from a perfect solution. Like a lot of parts of the late 90s, these parts were bulky, expensive, and difficult to use for an entire layout. The recent 8x16 and 16x16 plates seem to perform the same task a lot more efficiently. The 16x16 plates are even reinforced underneath with a cross pattern that makes them more rigid than they would be otherwise.
  • TheLegoKidTheLegoKid Member Posts: 16
    The 80's and early 90's were all about raised and unique base-plates. A lot of the forestmen and castle themes had these awesome base-plates. The last raised base-plate might have been in an Indian Jones set about 5 years back. It costs Lego extra to make these because of there molds. I wish they would bring them back. I know brinklink.com has a huge selection of raised and unique base-plates. Right now Lego is mainly producing 16x32, 32x32, 16x16. Lego has the road base-plates for city. (2 32x32 road base-plates for 14.99) I believe the Sydney Opera house is a 48x48 stud base-plate. (I'm not sure so don't quote me on that.)
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561

    The 80's and early 90's were all about raised and unique base-plates. A lot of the forestmen and castle themes had these awesome base-plates. The last raised base-plate might have been in an Indian Jones set about 5 years back.

    Both released in 2008, #7739 Coast Guard Patrol and in #7627 Temple of the Crystal Skull would appear to be the last two sets to feature raised baseplates (though I haven't checked non-System sets like Duplo, etc).
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    ^ As someone said above #7327 Scorpion Pyramid from 2011 also had a raised baseplate.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    Matthew said:

    ^ As someone said above #7327 Scorpion Pyramid from 2011 also had a raised baseplate.

    Funny enough, I went to check that very set and for some reason in my mind I transformed it into Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins and said, "No, that's on two 16x32 baseplates" and let it drop. My bad.


  • scrumperscrumper UKMember Posts: 323
    Did you break the # set no. link?
    Matthew said:

    ^ As someone said above #7327 Scorpion Pyramid from 2011 also had a raised baseplate.

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