Thursday, 7 October 2010

Flavour of the Month

And the flavour of the month is.....cheese. Honestly, they say you can't get enough of a good thing, but I'm beginning to wonder whether that's actually true.

I can remember how excited I was when I first caught sight of them, and I wasn't the only one. Part number 50746, with the catchy name of "Slope 30 1 x 1 x 2/3" but thankfully nicknamed the "Cheese Slope" on account of it's wedge-like profile, first appeared in a couple of sets as early as 2004, but has really exploded onto the LEGO scene big-time over the past few years.

Cheese Slopes - coming to a set near you.....
I mean, what's not to like ? Thanks to the Cheese Slope, jagged edges are a thing of the past. The skilled builder can seemingly use them to smooth off literally any irregularity, and they have been an absolute God-send for those builders who crave realism and aesthetic beauty in their LEGO creations. Seldom can a piece have been taken to builders' hearts so quickly. It's gone from being available in just 3 colours (Orange, Dark Green and Trans-Orange, according to Bricklink) in 2004 to at least 27 colours including the mythical "Glow In Dark Trans" in just 6 years. I've never actually seen "Glow In Dark Trans", but just typing it has made me want a Cheese Slope in that colour so badly I can almost taste it.

Spot the Cheese Slope - one of the first sets to include them...

But in the midst of all this adulation, I'm wondering whether the first signs of a backlash have begun. These things seem to be turning up everywhere right now - I don't remember the last time I bought a set at retail which didn't have a whole bunch of them in different colours cheerfully rattling about within. And I was frankly shocked to learn that the much anticipated Set 10214 Tower Bridge contains 585 of them. Yep, you read that right - there are five hundred and eighty five Cheese Slopes in the Tower Bridge set, including a mind-boggling 556 Tan Cheese Slopes. This is not only remarkable due to the sheer number, but also because prior to the launch of this set, Tan Cheese Slopes had never appeared in any set at all. Talk about going from one extreme to another. At this rate, the world will soon be taken over by Cheese Slopes - we'll be picking them out of our breakfast cereal and from between our toes, finding them blocking up the plughole when we've taken a shower, and tossing and turning awkwardly in our beds as we inadvertently lie on top of them - if left unchecked it's potentially a recipe for global misery and disaster.

I also suspect that the LEGO purist, that dying breed for whom use of pretty much anything other than 2 x 4 bricks is blasphemy, might also have something to say about the overuse of the Cheese Slope in modern day models, be they official sets or MOCs. There's certainly an argument that the combination of SNOT building techniques (which hide the studs), together with liberal use of Cheese Slopes to smooth off all the rough edges, means that LEGO models look increasingly sanitised and un-LEGO-like in appearance. I'm actually not sure that this particularly bothers me, but I guess there is some truth to it.

So, Cheese Slopes - a blessing or a curse ? Well, right now I'm a fan, but I might have a change of heart if they start appearing in my beer.


  1. I had no idea cheese slopes were such a big deal until I read this. I have to say... LEGO has been introducing all kinds of prefabricated pieces for decades now, further corrupting the LEGO-ness of their brand and creations. Personally, I find the HUGE pre-formed shapes to be much more offensive than tiny little pieces like this. Slopes in general have been part of LEGO sets for decades, but they were just a bit bigger than the cheese slopes. I remember the big rock formations and castle walls that clearly could have been made by combining smaller pieces. And now with the Star Wars sets, Boba Fett's Slave 1 feels like its just filled with molded pieces made for just that set. I know I'm exaggerating, but I believe you mentioned it with the Indiana Jones airplane whose entire wingspan was one custom piece.

    Bring on the cheese slopes!
    Thanks for the backstory on this ting piece!

  2. Considering I barely have any, I can't say they are "turning up everywhere". Regarding those 585 cheese slopes, this is one time I think they could've doneit better.

    @Dan: yeah, I remember always wanting a western set, because I thought the walls were made up of 100's of 1x1 rounds ... what a disappointment.

  3. Probably my favorite element. I used thousands of black ones to create a floor texture on my cave.

  4. Cheers, Guys. I don't doubt that the cheese slopes are very useful, just that they're turning up everywhere in ever greater numbers. That in itself isn't a bad thing, only an observation.

    @Alex, if you barely have any of these, you can't have bought many new sets over the past few years..... I honestly can't remember the last new set I bought that DIDN'T contain a number of cheese slopes, even the very smallest of sets.

    @Dan, you're right - I moaned about the large, unnecessary, prefab pieces in a blog posting last month ("Proper LEGO" I think the post was called). I fully agree with you that these big monstrosities are offensive. I don't find the cheese slope offensive at all, just ubiquitous.

  5. I wonder if LEGO is using more cheese slopes in order to up the piece count of sets, but at a lower price. Clearly, it is one of the pieces that requires the least amount of plastic. Just wondering!

  6. Never leave a box filled with Lego near a cat, in a high place. I came down the next morning to find 1016 chesse slopes all over the floor with plants, guns, axes, bricks, hats a manta ray and my custom made Borg. But the bad news is that I had not turned the light on, and walked over this pile of sharp Lego bricks at six O'Clock in the morning. I am still removing chesse slopes out of my foot thanks to my cat...