When I heard the rumours that LEGO were designing a new road system, I thought (hoped!) that they would be making something more cost-effective and customisable than the current road plates. It would have been a great opportunity for LEGO to re-think the current baseplate designs, and expand upon the four existing styles (straight, t-junction, curve, and crossroad). Creating something which is compatible with the existing road base plates, but offers more flexibility and a better price point, would’ve been very popular.
Instead, LEGO have completely re-invented the road plate system, creating what appears to be brick-built roads using new road pieces in Dark Stone Grey. The new Road Plates set (60304), pictured below, appears to come with a number of these new road pieces, plus tiles and accessories such as street lamps, traffic lights, and plants.
Unlike the current road plates, where you have to purchase the street style (straight, curve etc.) you need, which inevitably comes in a pack of 2 with a different style you may not want, it looks like the new road plates can be arranged however you like by simply connecting them to each other to create straight lengths of road and junctions.
I really like the way you can customise the road plates by sticking tiles, plates and even speed bumps to the surface of the road, and to the sides of it. This means you can make your roads your own, and customise them to fit in with your layout.
Perhaps my favourite part of the new road system is that accessories, such as street lamps, traffic lights and greenery, are included with the set. Previously, the only way to get accessories like these was to purchase the parts online and make them yourself, or buy mulitple packs of the LEGO Xtra Streetlamps. It’s great that LEGO have decided to include them in the road plate set.
4. Included In 2021 City Sets
If you thought £10 for a pack of 2 road plates was bad enough, the 60304 Road Plates set is a whopping £18! Granted, you get lots of parts for your money (but it still works out expensive at 16.1p per piece), and you can actually use all of the plates, as opposed to buying a crossroad and a curve when you only needed a curve, for example, but it is still super pricey.
2. Road Height
One major flaw with the new system is the road height, at 2 plates thick. Many LEGO sets, including the Modular Buildings, sit on a thin baseplate which is thinner than a LEGO plate, so the current road plates which are the same thickness works well. It means that the road is always lower than – or the same height as – everything around it, which is realistic. Whilst LEGO seem to be sitting many of the new sets, particularly City and Creator ones, on plates rather than thinner baseplates, this is still thinner than the new roads.
3. Road Width
Current LEGO road baseplates have a road which is 20 studs wide (10 studs per lane), and even that is a bit too small for some large vehicles such as the new Speed Champions. It is hard to tell from the photos how wide the new road plates are exactly, but they look like they’re 16 studs wide. This is a great space-saving option, similar to my range of 16-wide custom roads, but it’s too narrow for many vehicles.
4. No Curves
The good thing about the current road plates is that there’s a design for every occasion. Any layout can be catered for, and the curved road pieces play a large part in that. The new road plates seem to only allow for straight roads, connected with junctions. Curved roads will be a thing of the past.
5. No Pavements
Existing road plates include strips of studs on the sides for attaching pavements or greenery. The new ones don’t accommodate this, so you will either have to buy parts to make pavements at the sides, or rely on the pavements which are already built into some sets (Modular Buildings, in particular).
Overall I can see what LEGO had in mind with this idea. The new system has more playability and likely appeals more to children, but for collectors and those with LEGO Cities, the new road plates are much less useful than the existing ones.