Me and my sons had a discussion the other day about what Lego pieces are the most useful ones in building projects. They had a couple of interesting suggestions, but it got me thinking about what my Top 10 would be. I thought about the parts I use most regularly, the ones you couldn’t do without. For Lego Architecture projects these are often the pieces that help make a build look distinctive and which add structure and texture. So here we go…
1. The one by one with stud
I think I’ve used this brick in every model I’ve made. It’s the mainstay of Studs Not on Top (SNOT) techniques. It allows you to add tiles (or other pieces) on the front or sides of buildings. Combined with their near-relatives, the one by four brick with studs, this brick supports the tiled frontages of the Rogano and the Queens Cafe, among others.
2. The Profile brick
This guy is two bricks rolled into one. On one side it has horizontal ridges and on the other vertical ridges. These bricks are great for adding variety to the texture of building frontages. I use them in black, white and light grey, they work well as backdrops or to contrast against smooth tiled areas. You’ll find them on the Rogano frontage and also as the backing on the Queens and University Cafes.
3. The base plate
This dark grey 4 x 6 base plate is one I use a lot as the starting point for my models. It’s cheap and widely available, and the dark grey colour is a good match for pavement or tarmac. This plate and the 4×4 and 4×8 make up the bases for much of my work. Not very glamorous but an essential part of any build.
4. The plate with rail
This one is another that’s an essential for adding texture and variety to building frontages. It provides ridges and edges that can protrude slightly from an otherwise flat surface. In pale grey it provides the chrome ridges on the Rogano frontage and in darker grey it is the ridge along the sides of the Duke of Wellington’s plinth. In black it provides the top ridge of the University Cafe.
Like the 1×1 brick with studs, I think I’ve probably used this one (or the 1×8 version) in every model I’ve made. The only drawback is that it only comes in even numbers. There is no 1×1 or 1×3 version, meaning that if you need to cover an odd number you’re goosed.
5. The Inverted Slope
The inverted slope I use most frequently is the 2×2 whcih has a 45 degree angle. This is the one that tops off both the Rogano and the Celtic Park doorway model. I also use the 1×2 version in the Celtic one. The inverted slope in the University cafe model is a trickier 1x2x4 which has a 60 degree slope; these ones are a bit harder to come by (and more expensive!).
Like some of the others, they are useful for variety and more specifically, for use in finishing off the top parts of building frontages.
6. The dark red plate
For me, this is the highest volume piece I use. In combination with reddish-brown and red plates it provides the best possible proxy for brickwork. There are nearly a thousand of these in my GFT model and I need a couple of hundred for every Celtic Park model I make. So I was very glad to see them appear on the Pick a Brick wall in the Glasgow Lego Shop; I’ve stocked up on a few tubs worth. To make the brickwork structurally and aesthetically right you’ll also need 1×3 and 1×1 plates to get the edges even and to keep the patterns lively.
7. The Jumper
The jumper comes in very handy for changing the spacing of bricks. They can add a ‘half-step’ either sideways or front-to-back. I use them to add a half-view into the Celtic model. This helps to provide more depth in a model and contributes to a more three dimensional impression. It can also provide a way of putting a mid-point into an even number frontage. I wrote a separate post about the ways you can use a jumper, here.
8. The curved brick
This curved brick comes in useful in several different models, including the Duke of Wellington’s plinth and the decorative mouldings on Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover. It allows for a sleek, curved finish to contrast with the traditional right angles of most Lego bricks. Look at the canopy of my GFT model and you’ll see what kind of impact the curved finish from this brick can have.
9. The one by three plate
This is possibly one of the most under-rated Lego bricks that there is. It’s important because Lego don’t make many parts in odd numbers (aside from one by ones) and the one by three is the part you need to span any uneven number. It’s essential in the University Cafe and Queens Cafe models to make the structure work. It’s also needed in the Celtic Park model, both in the brickwork (dark red and brown), to make the width span in the top bit (tan), and for the door itself (dark grey or whatever). The door has a width of five, meaning I need to use a three and a two plate.
10. The 1×2 hinge plate
While I don’t use this one as widely as some of the others, this plate opens up a wide range of options in terms of shape and angle. For my (in-progress) Battlefield Rest model, it allows for the octagonal shape, while I’ve also used it for ther bowed windows in the House for an Art Lover build.
The Battlefield Rest model also uses jumpers, base plates, bricks with studs and plates with rails featured in my top 10.