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What happened to Crater Plates?

sonsofscevasonsofsceva 1904 World's FairMember Posts: 539
I was just looking at old sets for nostalgia and wondered why TLG stopped making crater plates and never replaced them with anything else. Does anyone know?
TXLegoguy

Comments

  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,433
  • matticus_bricksmatticus_bricks Member Posts: 648
    They seem to have stopped making raised baseplates in general. Maybe they started to cost too much to make? Or it could have something to do with criticism against big specialized pieces. I've noticed a trend towards more intricate, detailed sets with smaller parts since the disappearance of raised plates. 
    Aanchir
  • dragon114dragon114 United StatesMember Posts: 635
    I miss baseplates like that
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,497
    Galactussonsofsceva
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,859
    I know some of the larger raised baseplates were also criticized for how fragile they were. I haven't had that much firsthand experience with the crater plates (outside of that one Aquasharks set linked above), so I don't know if they were quite so fragile, but I can think of a lot of reasons why raised baseplates in general might have been discontinued.
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,433

    maybe they were too hard to re-use. crater plates have been seen in many sets, but most raised base plates, I think, appear in less than 5 sets (and usually with different prints in each). sometimes only 1.

  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,497
    There are 55 different baseplates according to BL, the crater plate is used in 13 sets.
    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemIn.asp?P=3947a&in=S
    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catID=243

  • nexandernexander Glasgow Member Posts: 897
    The crater plates were pretty sturdy if I remember. I really should ask my mum where my old ones are but I'm afraid of the answer!
  • prevereprevere North of Bellville, East of Heartlake, South of Bricksburg, West of Ninjago City Member Posts: 2,892
    I was just looking at old sets for nostalgia and wondered why TLG stopped making crater plates and never replaced them with anything else. Does anyone know?
    How about using raised or road base plates in ANY sets?
    sonsofsceva
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 810
    For crater baseplates in particular, I expect one issue is re-usability.  The Ramp-And-Pit baseplates were used in Space, Pirates, and Castle.  The "quad" 48x48 design was used in Adventurers, Castle, Rock Raiders, and Alpha Team.  But the crater baseplate only ever appeared in Space and Aquazone (which, I have to admit, was a little odd).  So, it was limited in terms of use.

    Also, the design of the crater baseplate was essentially made to look like the moon's surface, which was cool, but was purely aesthetic.  You couldn't really build anything structurally on it-- it was just there to look nice.  The primary reason (as I understand it) to make raised baseplates was to give kids an "instant landscape" that they could build on, without having to make them go through a lot of building.  But the crater baseplate didn't really offer that.

    In that same respect, the crater plate essentially prevents you from building in certain locations on the baseplate, making it a less useful element.  It only works when the structure doesn't extend all the way to the edge.

    So, I'd wager they stopped finding it as useful, and gradually moved over to the other raised baseplate designs in the 1990s.

    As for raised baseplates themselves, they've been appearing less and less-- I believe for cost reasons.  I remember being told that if you include a baseplate in a set, you have to sacrifice a lot of building elements, which means making your set a lot less cool.
    brickupdate
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,497
    @davee123 I understand your point but if you look at the sets that were released with that base late you will see that half of them use a built structure OVER the raised portion of the plate.
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva 1904 World's FairMember Posts: 539
    Thanks for the thoughts!
    One of the more recent specialized plates I recall is in the Scorpion Pyramid, and that was specialized enough to not be very modular. But my brother and I played with the crater sets a lot with Space sets (and Kenner Star Wars figures, and anything that needed a space backdrop). They were pretty versatile but still had lots of character.

    I get that for a price point the sets can have more pieces, but it was a rare 'environment' piece that was a LEGO place to play on. Maybe I just miss that. It would be hard to make LEGO brick built craters, but I suppose it is doable. Anyone tried that before?
  • matticus_bricksmatticus_bricks Member Posts: 648
    ^ You can see some examples of brick built craters in larger space MOCs. There's a really good one in Blake Foster's phenomenal M:Tron Magnet Factory:

    http://www.mocpages.com/moc.php/393882
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,433
    maybe lego could just print regular plates so as to give them the texture of a natural terrain. megabloks seems to have a lot of bricks which have textures instead of being monochrome.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 810
    oldtodd33 said:
    @davee123 I understand your point but if you look at the sets that were released with that base late you will see that half of them use a built structure OVER the raised portion of the plate.
    Yeah, I owned 2 space bases as a kid that each built over the craters, so I'm familiar with how they're used-- my point was more that it's a restriction on set design.  Not that you can't work with it, but working without them is a bit easier building-wise, and can allow for more possibilities.

    DaveE
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,131
    edited July 2015
    This discussion has morphed into two separate discussions.... one on the OPs questions about LEGO crater plates, and then all raised baseplates.

    But getting back to the original discussion, the crater plates were a part of the original LEGO Space System introduced in 1979 (late 1978 for a few sets), and then continued on for over a dozen years.

    The first crater plates started with the beginning of the Space System as twin pack #305 ( #453 in USA).  These were introduced at the same time as the #306 / #454 twin pack road plates (a "T" plate and "circular" plate) with yellow/orange traffic lines.   These were sold for quite some time as part of the classic Space System.  (Ironically the USA version of the crater plates... the #453 was soon replace by the European number #305, so #453 packs are much rarer.... and the USA numbered #454 space road plates continued production however).

    So these #305 / #453 crater plates were the very first raised plates, and were quite strong and sturdy.  These later were adapted to the Aquazone underwater crater plates, but with studs in the craters, something the earlier space plates did not have.  And then we have all the other raised plates of an endless variety for Space, Castle and other themes that are now exctinct, for whatever reasons TLG decided, cost being an important one.

    But the early crater plates and their associated space road plates were part of "a System".... that added playability to the childs experience.... "System" being the key word... something that TLG seems to have gotten away from (not in the "theme" sense, but in the interrelated parts sense) in the last 20 years or so....  Sadly...    :/

    Here's the very small Chapter 29 - Early LEGO Space Sets... from my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide that talks about the earliest LEGO space sets... and shows many examples of these road plates and their usefulness as part of a "greater" playscape for LEGO Space System for kids....

    http://www.youblisher.com/p/600118-LEGO-DVD-Download-Chapter-29-Early-Classic-Space/

    P.S.  I've since corrected the years for the Canadian Space minifigs.... and that very rare large Canadian Space poster #001 is pretty cool... as seen here (with crater plate).... :)



    TXLegoguymadforLEGOsonsofscevaGalactus
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,619
    Awesome as usual, thanks @Istokg !
    I remember getting the space 't Intersection and landing pad plate ' back as a kid. Never had the crater plates, but now thanks to various lots I have purchased over the years I have many of them. Maybe it is just me, but I always loved the crater plate look even without studs on them, just added more of a space element to me.
    oldtodd33
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,304
    Between #6970 & #6930 I got three of them, plus I got #305 for a xmas or birthday around '80, maybe '81... One of them is slightly damaged, but I didn't even realise until I started cleaning them. Still fun & useful for building space bases, I just wish the ones I have came with crater studs.

    @Istokg, I'm curious to know how common the #6970 was with grey track vs blue track? One of my friends' got grey track pieces with his, but mine came with blue track pieces.
    xiahna
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva 1904 World's FairMember Posts: 539
    @lstokg I did remember those crater plates being very solid compared to today's more flexible plates. I thought I was misremembering. Thanks for the information and the picture of the great poster!

    Istokg
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,131
    Thanks all!  

    @sonsofsceva .... were you the original owner of that set with blue track?

    This type of scenario has happened before, where early produced sets were made with older parts.

    I know a Dutch collector who's mother ordered him and his 2 brother the famous 1592 Town Square Set (Unilever Unox Soup promotion in the Netherlands in 1983).  When the 3 boxes arrived, there were 2 of the 1592 sets with the Dutch flag and sticker sheet, but one of the 3 was the earlier (1980) UK version of the set, with UK flag and sticker sheet.... and corresponding UK box.

    So weird anomalies such as these do occasionally happen with TLG.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    davee123 said:
    oldtodd33 said:
    @davee123 I understand your point but if you look at the sets that were released with that base late you will see that half of them use a built structure OVER the raised portion of the plate.
    Yeah, I owned 2 space bases as a kid that each built over the craters, so I'm familiar with how they're used-- my point was more that it's a restriction on set design.  Not that you can't work with it, but working without them is a bit easier building-wise, and can allow for more possibilities.

    DaveE
    Back in the day (and this really only applies to Space, of course), I found it to be just the opposite, in that I viewed the craters as things that needed to be creatively overcome with structures, bridges, etc., just as if you were building on the real moon.  I even remember poo'ing totally flat baseplates because no such landscape would exist on a the moon.
    madforLEGO
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva 1904 World's FairMember Posts: 539
    @Istokg No, the blue track wasn't mine.
  • ZeldaTheSwordsmanZeldaTheSwordsman Member Posts: 6
    Well, weight and shelf-space-jockeying might have something to do with it - the base determining factor for a set's price is its weight. Raised baseplates are also bulky, so sets including them end up needing bulky boxes, especially if they have other bulky parts in them.

    Regarding the crater baseplates specifically, it's entirely possible that the molds broke, got lost, or are just worn out.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 12,817
    I even remember poo'ing totally flat baseplates
    On the plus side they would hurt less than the non-totally flat baseplates but still jeez thats quite the party trick.
    Try that with a late '80's raised castle base.
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,433
    I don't think they exist?
  • ZeldaTheSwordsmanZeldaTheSwordsman Member Posts: 6
    Fauch said:
    I don't think they exist?
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!

    Seriously buddy, the first post in the thread shows that they do, as do several of the other posts.
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    Crater plates are pretty cool.  It may be nostalgia.  However, just having that little hill and crater adds a lot of dimension to the otherwise simple Classic Space bases.  It's sort of a shame that so many current sets focus strictly on minifigs and action elements and neglect atmosphere elements that create a total play experience.
    TXLegoguysonsofsceva
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 2,433
    I
    Fauch said:
    I don't think they exist?
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!

    Seriously buddy, the first post in the thread shows that they do, as do several of the other posts.

    I dunno of any castle raised base plate before 1990.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,131
    edited July 2015
    Fauch said:
    I
    Fauch said:
    I don't think they exist?
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!
    You're wrong!

    Seriously buddy, the first post in the thread shows that they do, as do several of the other posts.

    I dunno of any castle raised base plate before 1990.
    The first I can recall was the 6276 Eldorado Fortress of 1989.... a Pirate System set.... 

    But as you'll agree.... that's way different from a crater plate!  So your point is pretty much valid.



  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 12,817
    Factual accuracy is not required when making poop jokes.
    Bumblepantsmatticus_bricksPitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    I have the King's Mountain Fortress; that came out before 1990 I think???
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    Funny that you are talking about pooping Lego. To get my daughter's to smile for photos; I grab a handful of Lego pieces, stand behind the camera and pretend to poop Lego.
    matticus_bricksSumoLegopiratemania7
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 12,817
    My mother-in-law's dog could probably accomplish that task.  He recently ate three pairs of glasses...

    And a flipflop that came out in roughly the same shape as they went in.

    (He's a big dog.)
    xiahna
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