Cheese slopes have become one of the most prolific LEGO elements, to the extent that it is hard to recall how anyone survived without them. In the twelve years since their inception, they have gone from being in just three sets in their inaugural year to being included in over 1851 sets to date – a testament to how fundamentally useful they are. Strictly speaking, ‘cheese slope’ is not the LEGO Group’s name, the official designation is 54200 – Slope 30 1 x 1 x 2/3. That wordy moniker, along with its shape, quickly gave rise to the AFOL community’s more affectionate nickname. Today, these parts are everywhere, filling a variety of roles in diverse themes from Disney to NEXO KNIGHTS. In 2016 alone, 206 sets have already included cheese slopes – over 25% of the LEGO Group’s entire product portfolio consisting of 802 sets, and the year is not even over.
Cheese slopes have held that sort of prevalence for years. It takes a trip back to 2011 to find the last time they were included in fewer than 200 sets. However, as only 584 sets were produced in 2011, cheese slopes were actually in a greater percentage at just over one third. The last time they were in less than 10% of the LEGO Group’s product portfolio in a given year was 2004, which was also their inaugural year. No other piece has gone from non-existent to included in one tenth of all sets in just a year.
Statistics on the cheese slope are only slightly more impressive than what the part represents. It originated in three sets in 2004, one of which was 7239 Fire Truck. While this set may not look like something special now, it was an example of the sets that helped the LEGO Group find a way back from years of juniorisation and unrealistic models to genuinely high quality building sets. Realistic designs, composed of small pieces, helped fix the company’s significant financial woes and led to the explosive growth seen since. Cheese slopes are one of the primary components that made this new era of high quality sets possible. From its humble origin in 7239 Fire Truck, 10133 Burlington Northern Santa Fe and one parts bucket in 2004, this humble brick has gone on to do great things in thousands of sets.