Advertisements for LEGO-compatible sticky tape have been everywhere - it seems there's one in my Facebook feed every day.
Brickset has been sent some samples of one of these tapes - Peel-N-Brick from The BRICK Cave, which is available at Amazon.com.
I've spent the last few weeks testing it. Does the tape hold up? Read on to find out…
Brickset received four samples of the tape, each 1 metre long - in red and blue in the 4 stud width, and in pink and green in the 2 stud width. The red tape is not included in the picture just because most of it is still adorning the top of my desk at work, where it is a source of marvel and conversation with my coworkers ("Is that really LEGO tape on your desk?"). I have found that combined with one of those little Creator creativity sets, it provides endless amusement for bosses and colleagues (none of whom will admit to liking LEGO, but somehow end up in my office regularly building with it).
The tape purports to be 100 percent compatible with all building blocks, including LEGO, and that you can used it on curved surfaces, around corners, other toys or upside down. It also claims to be bendable, flexible, cuttable and reusable, and the adhesive leaves little to no residue and allows the tape to be reused.
I solicited some ideas for tests for the tape from the forum; I tried most of them.
The tape comes coiled in a sealed plastic bag, affirming the bendable and flexible claims. I also found it very easy to cut with a standard pair of scissors, even down to portions that were quite small. It feels rubbery in nature and the adhesive is accessed by peeling off the paper on the back.
These are some of the tests I put to the tape:
- Sticking to a horizontal surface (right side up)
- Sticking to a horizontal surface (upside down)
- Sticking to a vertical surface (multiple surfaces)
- Building on the tape
- Placing the tape around a corner
- Placing existing builds on the tape (different orientations)
- Temperature and stickiness
- Sticking to a concave surface
- Reusing the same piece of tape
Unless otherwise noted, length of the tests were at least a few days, and in several cases a couple weeks or more. I used various builds of sets I've recently built as my test subjects.
Testing the tape
I tried the tape on a number of different surfaces, and also tried the same tape multiple times. Generally I found that the tape can be used many times over and still have a good level of stickiness to it. There were a couple instances where smaller pieces seem to lose their stickiness after five or six uses (and by "use" I mean leaving in place for at least 24 hours, and sometimes several days).
There was a question as to whether the tape will stick to human skin - that answer is not really. It is sticky to skin, but will not stick to skin like a Band-aid will. There was also a question on how the tape sticks to a car interior and left in the sun. I didn't try this on my own car, but we had the opportunity to travel to Arizona a couple weeks ago and I tried this in the rental car. The temperatures during our stay got up to 30-40C, and while at the end of the day in the hot sun the tape got a little gooey, when it cooled again it did stay in place. It also left no residue after use. That's consistent with what I found with any surface - no residue left behind.
For the purposes of this review I only used LEGO products, so I can't speak to any other construction building blocks. The clutch between bricks and the tape is quite good - especially if you're putting the tape on a flat surface in an upright manner (for example, a desk at work). As discussed later, there are different challenges when use the tape on a vertical surface or upside down. However, the tape doesn't connect with LEGO bricks quite the same way as bricks do to each other. I found you have to press down quite firmly to get the bricks (or plates) to connect with the tape. The good news is that once connected, the bond is pretty strong. Builds on vertical or horizontal upside down surfaces held quite well.
When using the tape, I would recommend either performing the build from scratch or trying to attach small builds to the tape. I had visions of trying to perform a test of placing the Venice Skyline to the tape and hanging it upside down. That didn't work out because there's no way I could line up the tape well enough to be able to affix the entire Venice Skyline build to it. Or rather, I didn't have the patience for it. I'm not saying it can't be done - just that it takes more perseverance than I had. I would suggest building it on the tape (without removing the paper exposing the adhesive if you want to hang it somewhere) and then sticking where you'd like. But would you be able to hang it? We'll cover that later.
Having given up on putting a larger build, I tried the tape with several smaller builds, both on vertical surfaces and upside down. I had mixed luck. I found that in general for smooth, flat surfaces, the tape works great. This is a picture of the four stud tape with multiple little builds on it. The surface is a glass table top in my living room and it's been like this for the last few weeks. (The Venice Skyline is not stuck on tape, I just didn't move it.)
However I found limiting on vertical or upside down builds was the size of the build itself - there is a point where the weight of the bricks will overwhelm the stickiness of the tape and the whole creation will come crashing down. I didn't take picture of those attempts. Ultimately, I think if you were to try building the Venice Skyline on the tape and then hanging it upside down, it wouldn't be intact for very long.
Another concept I had visions of was LEGO dragons climbing the walls, so I wanted to see if a LEGO dragon could stick. I used Merina the Water Dragon, of the smaller Elves dragons. I first tried with the four stud width tape, but I had trouble (read: ran out of patience) trying to get all her feet on one strip of tape. So I cut some smaller pieces and attached one to the bottom of each foot. Did that allow Merina the Water Dragon to climb the wall?
It did - for about about a minute - or about five seconds longer than it took to take this picture. But even then, it wasn't that the LEGO came away from the tape - it was the adhesive that came unstuck from the wall.
In general, I had great difficulty getting the tape to stick to walls. Even sticking a plain piece of tape (no bricks attached) to the wall would not stay in place for more than a few minutes. As you might have noticed in the first picture, the walls in my house have a bit of a texture, and I thought that might have been an issue. So I took some tape into work where the wall are just flat drywall, and had the same issue. A plain piece of tape would not stay in place for longer than about an hour.
However, when I stuck the tape to the outside of a refrigerator, it worked fine. These have been adorning my fridge for the last couple of weeks.
The only thing I've observed is that the tape with the builds on it has come away from the fridge surface in the middle. You may be able to see it in this picture.
I found that sticking the tape around corners also worked well on multiple surfaces. The only thing to watch is to make sure that each surface has at least four studs worth of tape on it. If there was a shorter end, then I found it had a tendency to come unstuck.
Finally, I tried the tape on a concave surface. The same living room table with the glass top also has stainless steel concave supports, so I decided to see if Merina could stick to that.
My dog Watson was quite unimpressed to have a dragon at eye level. Merina stayed stuck in place for several hours, but eventually fell off as well. Again, it was the adhesive that failed, and not the clutch between the tape and the brick. I tried this with the tape I'd used on the wall, and also brand new tape with the same result.
In general, the Peel-N-Brick tape does exactly what it says it does - stick to just about any surface (with the exception of walls) and provide a solid base for building. It will stick quite well to just about any clean, flat surface. It will support small builds vertically or upside down without any issues. Your experience may vary with respect to the weight it can hold.
I found the tape to be very easy to use, and easy to cut and customize. The adhesive sticks well, and only in a few cases degraded with continued use. The adhesive also did not leave any marks or residue on the multiple surfaces I tried (glass, wood, pressed board, drywall, etc.). If you're interested in hanging larger builds, you may want to consider supplementing the adhesive on the back of the tape with a stronger glue, though that would negate the reusability of the tape.
The tape costs $17.99 (US) for 1 metre of the four stud width (in red, blue, green and black) and $9.49 for 1 metre of the two stud width (in red, blue, green and pink). The BRICK Cave is offering a coupon code to Brickset readers. If you order from its store on Amazon you can receive 10% off your order by entering the code BRICKSET at checkout.
Thanks to Shantel Biangel at The Brick Cave for providing the samples of Peel-N-Brick; this review is a summary of my own experiences and opinions.