Alternative Display Techniques II: Sticking with it or “Yes… I’ve heard about the LEGO compatible tape!”

In which I fall victim to an insidious viral marketing campaign back in February, and have it come back to visit me in August.  I test clutch power along multiple axes and find myself surprised at just what I discover.  Of course, a completely different question relates to the benefit that this knowledge may bring to human kind…

FullSizeRender 75There are perils with being an AFOL. One such peril is the response to your nonLEGO friends to viral videos for vaguely LEGO® related applications. At its peak in February, I suspect the marketing video for Nimuno Loops brand tape had crossed my screen several hundred times. It had a wide level of casual viewer reach, just judging by the number of non-AFOLS who tagged me on Facebook. I succumbed to the hype, and ordered 2 rolls (1 meter each, red and blue) through the Indigogo campaign.
This was in February. A fulfillment date of August was given at the time. My package arrived in the first week of the advertised month. So far, so good.

Claims  for the product on the box include:

  • binds to smooth surfaces
  • Reusable and washable
  • Compatible with popular building bricks.
  • ‘The Indiegogo smash hit!’

What follows is a review of the product I purchased.  I cannot speak for other brands or presentations of tape, including the Mayka Tape, which appears to be produced by the same company, and has hit local toy shop shelves recently. There may or may not have been changes in production processes – initial comments I have seen regarding this product seem to not be consistent with my personal experience.

 

I opened up the box and cut off an 8 stud length (I purchased the 2 stud wide version; 4 stud wide tape is also available). The tape is a rubber material and there is no doubt that it is extremely flexible. There are thin lines to identify the midpoints between studs, where cuts can be made to shorten or narrow the tape.

IMG_7560
Nimuno Loops building block tape, next to a 2×4 brick.  Note the guide marks for trimming the tape to length.

I attached it to the side of a wooden cabinet shelving unit, parallel to the ground. The backing paper was firmly attached, but once initially pried away, peeled off easily. The adhesive surface includes a layer or gel like adhesive. It is quite sticky, and showed no signs of slippage. The leaflet actively warns that I should keep my hair, and that of other people, away from the adhesive surface.

Minifigure Attachement

IMG_7547

I found that a minifigure could easily be stood up on the tape, and it would stay in place, regardless of direction that gravity was pushing, relative to the tape. If the figure was attached by one leg only however, it would not reliably stay in place.

Mini figures can also be attached by the holes in the back of their legs.  The bottom hole attaches easily, the upper one less reliably.  It was a little fiddly, but I was able to make it work..

In, other quick and nasty tests, there were no problems in supporting a Speed Champions Ford GT either upside down or vertically.

IMG_7527

Lets apply some quantitative measurement.

How about lateral shear due to gravity?  There are days that I wish I studied engineering, so that I would be confident in having the correct vocabulary to use in these applications.

max load horizontal shear
Testing the clutch power with a horizontal load. With the tape running horizontally, it was unable to bear much load – falling off with 13 bricks attached.  It could hold much more when running vertically, and appeared to be roughly proportional to the area binding the bricks to the tape.

To test the load bearing capacity of the tape, I tested it running horizontally, vertically and upside down. Two by four (2×4) bricks were stacked onto the tape until they fell off. I then removed a brick, and left it in place to see that the clutch was maintained.

If we rotate the tape 90º, so that the long side runs vertically, and start stacking the 2×4’s, then we can stack 17 before they fall off the tape.

However, using a  2×8 brick to bind to the tape, doubling the contact area, I was able to stack up to forty bricks to the tape.

IMG_7536
I successfully suspended 99 2×4 bricks from the tape before they fell.

Running the tape along the underside of a shelf, so that everything attached was inverted, I was able to suspend a total of ninety nine 2×4 bricks from the tape. It would not quite hold one hundred! Admittedly, with ninety nine suspended, I was a little dubious of the stability – I suspect a stiff breeze would have resulted in a rapid and spectacular crash of bricks over the floor. Again, attaching a 2×8 brick to the tape increased the binding area, and increased the maximal load, however I did not pursue this to is final value..

The Speed Champions GT2 was able to be suspended for a number of days, with no sign of gravity having its way with it.  I was also able to suspend a small house from the Magic Escape from the Goblin Village from the tape.  It showed no sign of slipping over a couple of days.

I have relocated the same piece of tape over fifteen times, with no specific preparation of the surface.  Note that each time it was either solid wood, painted plasterboard or laminate. The tape has always been easy to remove, and has stuck effectively every time. The packaging recommends against using the tape on painted surfaces, and I can see how in some circumstances this could be problematic.

IMG_7540
The Goblin House enters the Upside Down thanks to some LEGO Compatible tape.

This leaves me with a simple problem.

What am I actually going to use it for?

In reality, this tape works exactly as advertised: so long as you have a use for it.  It is a little more than a plate thick, and as such is good to keep the Speed Champions in place on a wall, shelf or baseplate. It could be used to bind a set of mini figures in place, however I am not convinced of its utility for a minifigure display in it’s own right, but if you have something on a plate you wish to adhere to the wall, this could do the job. especially if you own a series of LEGO Keyrings.

Given the amount of shelf space I no longer have at home, perhaps a wall display is what I need to be looking for? Excellent.  Given the existence of a solution, I was able to find a problem to use it for.  Thank heavens! Although, I can’t really see myself using this application.

In reality, I saw an issue at a display recently where the tape could actually be useful. In a town layout, a small hill was featured leading to a bridge.  The sloped road was devoid of all traffic, as no vehicle could easily stay in place. I suspect a judicious use of the tape could result in the road appearing evenly occupied.

FullSizeRender 74
An extra plate on the bottom of this Speed Champions Ford GT2 and some tape will prevent vehicle slippage on sloped baseplates.  And may also remind you where you intend the cars to go…

It is now time to move on from passing fads.  The viral marketing blitz served its purpose. I’m sure a ridiculous amount of the tape was sold because it looked interesting. I wonder how many other problems I will have to come up with to make it actually useful? In the mean time, I see various brands of tape filling up the shelves in our local toy departments, waiting for people to pick them up on impulse: ‘My word, that looks nifty…’ If only it a useful purpose can be identified.

In conclusion: this tape does what it says on the box.  I remain uncertain as to whether or not there is an actual useful need for such a product.  I give it one point five Arbitrary Praise Units. Out of five.  It is fit for purpose, but the exact nature of this purpose remains incredibly vague and unclear to me after some time playing with it.  But it’s not all about me: How would you use these tapes? Why not leave a comment below.

Until next time,

Play Well!

ps Don’t forget our Star Wars Raffle – win a copy of  ‘Escape the Space Slug’.  The first draw winner will be announced on 24/9/2017, and the next draw will take place on September 30th (midnight, Eastern Australian Time)

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