I can sort of understand why some people prefer baseplates to smaller regular plates (I prefer regular plates myself for most applications). However, in many ways I think road plates are an outdated relic that in many ways we're well rid of. People complain about many modern parts being large and overspecialized (hey look! There's now a filter on that word for oversized, overspecialized parts! Well done, EB staff!), but road plates are some of the largest parts around and they are usually designed to serve exactly one purpose: acting as a road. For TLG, there's always been the option of printing them differently for use as rivers, unpaved roads, etc, but the end user does not have those same options. They are forced to create grid streets with few options regarding the size of a city block, and beyond that, even many classic Town sets were not designed to function well in layouts based on these road plates (it is difficult to connect most "driveway plates" to a road plate without having to drive over a studded curb).
Buildings on individual plates or baseplates can be arranged in any layout, and a more versatile road can be custom-made using newsprint or cardboard and paint. Many AFOLs build their own custom roads using SNOT techniques. I personally believe a road design using parts like these
printed with patterns like road stripes and crosswalks would be ideal, as one could create modular 2-lane roadways that are much more customizable than the grid streets with fixed-size blocks that builders are forced to use with traditional baseplates. I even have some sketches on LDD demonstrating a simple design that would allow these smaller "road tiles" to be used with sets from the modular buildings series without having to transplant those sets from their original baseplates.
I'd definitely appreciate it if TLG would actually go to the effort to release a replacement for the old, outdated road plate concept for use with their existing sets. But even then, I think including this replacement in a lot of sets would be a waste-- a supplementary pack would be sufficient, IMO. It's easy enough for kids to imagine a road (they do it with most vehicle sets that don't include buildings anyway), and road plates (being large, printed parts) are without a doubt fairly expensive compared to the smaller, more versatile plates used as bases in many of today's sets. LEGO sets are already extremely expensive, and of all the things to drop from the sets to bring the prices down to more reasonable levels, I think road plates are one of the most expendable.
Edited by Aanchir, 14 March 2012 - 10:47 PM.