Saturday, 30 April 2011

Lego Pirate Wave 5 2009 - 2010

The Pirate Sets of Wave Five
After twelve years with nothing but fond memories and the occasional melancholy sigh from many a Lego Pirate fan, we are finally blessed with a return to the theme that made many so happy.
The Pirates are back, and they have an old adversary to face off against, the redcoats, as you can see below the minifigs took some inspiration from the past, but also added some modern twists (the new wench is especially beautiful).
Old and New Pirates 


Old and New Redcoats


The redcoat differences should be addressed right now, as when you put the old and new fella’s side to side they don’t really go together well. The problem I have with them is the lack of backpack on the new trooper (they have a back printing instead but it’s not as good as an actual backpack), and the now outdated smiley face on the old trooper. If you have the patience and dedication to buy a whole load of new faces and backpacks then they don’t look too bad, but that’s a lot to ask the average collector. I tend to see them as the old and new guard, like the replacement with their shiny new uniforms whilst the old guys have the slightly duller ones (this works really well if you give all the bearded and old faces to the old Redcoats). I for one am happy with the opportunity to add to the imperial ranks but some people are less keen, it’s a matter of taste.
2009 reintroduced the Pirates and the Redcoats, but they also included a lot of new parts for any discerning Pirate fan, the green bandanna, golden hook, gem pieces, golden chest, printed shako, blue coloured rowing boat, a new pearly metal cannon and a brand new map piece being some of the most popular. Not to forget the return of the old classic animals (parrot, croc and monkey) with the inclusion of some interesting new ones like the crab, mermaid (great as a figure head) a new much bigger shark, fish (used as food), sword fish (another figure head) and snake, some of these pieces where brand new for this theme, whereas others had been used before but never in conjuntion with pirates.
So let’s look at the sets.
Sets from 2009
Impulse
Set Name = Pirates Survival 8397

Piece Count = 16

Impulse sets, man I love impulse sets, they’re like a beautiful little treat, sometimes I would skip a lunch when I was working and use the money I would have spent on that lunch, on an impulse set, with this set I did that more than once. Here we have what I believe to be another marooned pirate (if any of you can remember the other one, then well done), notice the nice touch of no sword but a pistol (loaded with one shoot), and a little fire for our pirate to roast his fish. Everything about this set is good, the gems, the box (a nice change from the millions barrels we all have), the pickaxe, the snake, the fish, all are parts that help build a Lego world. You could own 10 of these and not be disappointed, Impulse perfection.


Set Name = Soldier’s Arsenal 8396
Piece Count = 17
Like I said above, Impulse sets rock, and again this one is no exception. This set finally gives the redcoat collector a chance to even out the officer to trooper ration, it even comes with a backpack (the only one seen for the redcoats this wave). The only real problem I find with this set is the face as it’s fairly common, but that is a tiny problem again impulse perfection. 


Small
Set Name = Pirates Battle Pack 852747

Piece Count = 37

The basic battle pack as returned, this set I didn’t like as much as the older one, it gives the collector the opportunity to purchase the leader from both factions, but I liked the difficulty of getting the old blue and redcoat leader, it made them feel special, sets like this take that speciality away. But the new golden chest, redcoat flag, and monkey are nice so it’s an ok set. It should be noted now though that the pirate captain’s hat and the pirate flag have a horrible childish design (yes I know it’s meant to be for children, shhhh), and the pirate and redcoat faces are the same as from the impulse sets which is bad with relation to the modern age, oh and we only get four figs not five, I liked the oldest one better.


Set Name = Cannon Battle Pirates 6239

Piece Count = 45

The standard small set which includes a pirate and a redcoat, this set is not that great, it does have a cannon but it’s on wheels and as such doesn’t fit on any other set, and the rock formation breaks apart when you shoot it, but this goes back to my earlier rant about Lego, it’s not exciting to have Lego break apart, we can do that ourselves (check out wave 4 for more info on that particular chestnut). If they had removed the cannon and silly collapsible rock formation, instead made something interesting (maybe a small raft and tiny dock?) then the set would have been much better.


Set Name = Kraken Attackin 6240
Piece Count = 78
Urrg, this set is horrible, think back to the old large rafts, they where lovely, this set focuses on a stupid tiny octopus thing (ok, kraken)attacking the raft. I say get rid of the kraken and include an extra minifigs then the set would be better, the design of the raft is ok but not as nice as the older ones (it has no sail,) the mast is a technic piece (for shame Lego) and the figs have a very limited arsenal. One point in its favour is the gems in the box; it makes a nice change from a treasure chest and the large barrel is relatively rare. thats not to say i don't like this set but I think it is the worst of this wave, overall below average.



Set Name = Loot Island 6241
Piece Count = 142
The castaways finally have an island to whole up in, the biggest highlights of this set are a castaway fig and a beautiful blue boat (now owned by my bluecoats in my case), I like this set but it should be noted that it is not without its flaws. The biggest problem I have with this set is the fact that the island is not stuck down, it has an underdeveloped feel to it, it’s like the set company build this cool baseplate (only one we get in this wave, btw) and then said yes to the very first design they made, rather than work on more ideas. The dilapidated dock is cool but I broke up the silly catapult and use it as a cooking pot for the fire, the set is just an elaborate place to hide a chest rather than a small world for the castaway to live, and why do we have a pirate there? Make it a second redcoat or another castaway then we have a story (redcoat discovering an island), as it stand its some weird three way fight (I fail to see the castaway helping the guys who left him). It’s an ok set but not fantastic.



Medium
Set Name = Shipwreck Hideout 6253
Piece Count = 310
Now we come to some of the bigger sets, this one was a limited release and actually sold very quickly in England. The set lacks a baseplate (which is a real shame) but was very cheap for its size and included a lot of nice ideas. If you remember back to 1996 when they had the shipwreck set and I said how it just looked stupid, well here we have something similar, but the set is good. The tower on the right is perfect and the cabin though small is still really nice (the corroded ribs of the hull look good too), and the imperials also get an officer (they only came in the bigger sets). I am not such a fan of the traps they included (some skulls to drop down a hole and a scythe type thing) but then again the set is aimed at children so playability has to be included. Give this set a baseplate and I would rate it up there with the old Imperial Outpost or Lagoon Lock Up, a very nice set.



Set Name = Soldiers’ Fort 6242
Piece Count = 367
Lego I am going to get you a dictionary one day, maybe it’s me, but I remember hearing about this set before I saw the pictures and in my mind I conjured up an image of a mighty fort (with four walls, a front gate, bristling cannons, and everything). This set is not that, and initially I was totally disillusioned by that fact, but after I calmed down and in my mind called it a dock, I began to become much happier. This set gives you a lot for a reasonable price, and we actually see an officer (Lego got the officer ratio right with this wave), the whole set is beautiful, the jail, the crane and the awesome bridge. I’m not such a fan of the modular selling point (as it doesn’t work well with any other design) and the boat contains no seats (which is just lazy on Lego’s behalf), plus we get sicker instead of printing and no baseplate again, but the set is good and even goes well lined up next to my old trading post. So the Imperial fort again is rated up there with the old Lagoon Lock Up, in my opinion.



Large
Set Name = Brickbeard’s Bounty 6243
Piece Count = 592
Now we see the fourth large pirate ship (sixth pirate ship in total), I really like this ship because it actually brown (and hence made of wood) the cabin in the back can be lifted off and there is enough gold trimming to make even the royal family blush. It should also be noted that the ship is they only one to include opponents (in another blue rowing boat, yay) and a prisoner (the beautiful admiral’s daughter), which is why I can forgive the small number of actual pirate crew members. The set is severally let down by its sails though, they just look so childish with that big stupid skull and cross bones, my advice to make this set great, buy some old school sails (for bricklink) or make your own, the silly cannon at the back also isn’t great (I just removed it). This set is not as great as the classic Barracuda or Schooner but it far outshines the Runner and I feel it will have the nostalgic factor playing for it in about 10 years time. Change the sails and this set rocks.



Extras
One thing this year had which made it slightly special, was all the extra bonus sets they released, I would have preferred some more actual sets but some of these are very interesting.
Set Name = Lego Pirate Tic Tac Toe 852750
Piece Count = 90
Ok so it’s not really a set, but still it’s a great way to pick up figs, this set gives you ten figs for a very cheap price (mine cost £15). It should be noted that the figs are made from the cheaper Chinese plastic and a lot of people have a problem with that, personally I don’t mind.


Set Name = Brickmaster Pirates DK Pirates
Piece Count = 140
For those not familiar with this set it is actually a book and a small compartment to hold 140 bricks. The book is just six sets of instructions for what to do with the bricks. This set is quite novel and it has a nice range of designs but there’re all limited by the small brick count and the only set that feels complete is the one shown on the box. Interesting idea, but let down by it cost and piece limit.



Set Name = Pirate Advent Calendar 6299
Piece Count = 148
This set had some nice little extra and the price was not terrible, highlights include a cabins interior (to put into your ships), a nice castaway (we only had two overall) and a mermaid. The biggest problem I had with the set was the fact that the redcoat trooper did not have a printed shako (why?). This was a great treat to open one box every day over Christmas, so the novelty is nice but it’s more a collection of tiny impulse sets than one big set, though I still like it.



Set Name = Pirate Chess Set 852751
Piece Count =??? (Please tell me if you know)
This is the final non set in the wave; this one is not as good as tic tac toe because it doesn’t fit with the pirate theme quite as well. The biggest problem with this set is the fact that all the pawns for the redcoat have no shoulder braiding and the wrong hat, terrible, just terrible. If Lego had just got this one thing right then the set would have been an awesome and cheap army builder, as it stands only get this set if you want to play chess, it contains too much uselessness otherwise.



Overview of the Year
Because the next year (2010) only had one set I am going to review that and then make my final decision, I’m sorry but it just feels right.
Overview on 2009 = you will have to wait

Sets from 2010
This year brought us one set only, possibly the best set ever, now after over twenty years of being outclassed the redcoats finally get the upper hand.
Large
Set Name = Imperial Flagship 10210
Piece Count = 1664
What a set, just look at it, we get three masts, that’s incredible and it should be noted that the ship is something that will fight the pirates rather than make them more powerful. It should be noted that the set is rather expensive, but it contains such quality, it is the only ship to have two floors and a kitchen. We also receive a captains daughter, a cook and more redcoats than any other set ever (even from 1993-4), I am especially happy with the white boxes that hold the cannon balls (I know what your thinking, simple things). Most people know about the quality of this set, and if you’re a pirate fan and haven’t yet had the joy of building this set then I would say this, get it while you still can, because when Lego stops selling it, it’s going to cost so much.



Overview of the Wave
It’s a tough challenge for these sets, they are like the last guy at an awesome party that’s already finished, their late, everyone else has drunk all the good booze and fallen asleep, and now they have to sit in the corner drink the cheap beer and make the best of it.
These sets have to compete against our memories and in some cases our childhood joys, and now they are less special because we can afford lots (or all) of the sets, kids in the 90s are now adults with money for many things, my collection of 20 bluecoats was completely outnumbered by my third 2009 Lego splurge, and because I have lots of the modern figs they aren’t as exciting or special as my old classics. I love this wave as it brought me back from my dark ages. I bought my fist impulse set and then had to go back to my mum’s house and hunt in the attic for all my old sets, she gave all my old toys away, Action Man, GI Joes, Britons Soldiers, Manta Force, Micro Machines but not Lego, it was a special toy and it’s a special adult hobby, I often find when I chat to people they still have their old Lego sets in the attic (they rarely sell them to me either, they like to keep them).
Lego even acknowledged this adult following by releasing in 2010 the Imperial flagship (MK2), this set is jaw dropping I can’t describe how great it is, it contained everything I ever wanted when I was a small child with the original Imperial Flagship (MK1) in my hands. Sure the sets of this wave lack the beauty of the originals and yes the lack of baseplates and stupid pirate flag are annoying but come on, its pirates, there’re back and I could not be happier.
It’s just a real shame that Lego got the Pirates of the Caribbean deal with Disney as I would have loved to see where they would have gone with this range (though the new Caribbean sets are good too). But if the Pirate theme has to leave us for a few years (hopefully not another twelve) at least they went out with a bang.
Overview on Wave 5 = 8.5/10 (yeah the sets aren’t as great but the pirates are back, celebrate)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Lego Pirate Wave 4 1996-1997

The Pirate Sets of Wave 4
Wave four saw a completely new overhaul for the Lego pirates, this year saw a whole new pirate crew and another new faction, the Armada. The Armada were fashioned after the Conquistadors (Spaniards), the slightly odd thing about this wave is the fact that the Imperials are fashioned in a 1700’s style whilst the Spaniards style looks similar to the 1600’s, especially the Helmets know as Morion’s, (maybe in the Lego Universe time goes backwards?). Still the new crew are welcome because most people had lots of the previous pirate crew; sadly this wave is not as good as the previous three, so this post will be negative when called for, but before you read them please note I love all Lego and all these sets, but they are in my opinion not as good as those before.
Sets from 1996
Impulse
Set Name = Treasure Surprise 1747 or Tidy Treasure 1802
Piece Count = 21
This Impulse set came with a brand new minifig, now this fella might look very similar to his old predecessor but he is actually different, just look below. The nice thing about the similarities is the fact that the new pirate blends in perfectly well with the older pirates making all of them look alike. As for the set itself we see some interesting innovation with a hollowed out rock for hiding treasure. A nice little set.

Set Name = Skeleton Crew 6232
Piece Count = 27
In the next impulse set from wave four we see another new pirate and a skeleton. This guy looks completely different from those who have come before and the skeleton was only released in one set in the previous year, so figure wise the set is nice. But what I dislike is the fact that we have a skeleton figure with an armada helmet, and a live pirate figure, if we had instead an armada figure and a skeleton pirate then the set would be far more exciting. The box picture is weird because we see a pirate attacking the skeleton, why is he doing that the skeleton cannot harm him (violent pirates). I remember getting this set but not being nearly as excited on my ride home in the car (check Wave 2 to get this reference) but after you build the green pirate the set is pretty dull.

Small


Set Name = Imperial Cannon 1723 (US and Canada Only) Value Pack

Piece Count = 36

The Imperials final set, and again we recieve an officer (they loved those officers in the Red Army). This set came as part of a value pack and it does look quite nice, but its a shame this is the last Redcoats released, the yellow corner wall is a particular highlight.

Set Name = Armada Sentry 6244
Piece Count = 70
Now this is a set I loved as a child, we have before us now the only structure owned by the Armada, one small outpost. Despite this saddling news (an actual large base would have been wonderful, but it never happened) the set itself is really nice. The building looks like a small dock (which always fitted well at the front of my trading post), the biggest highlights of the set include the green doors (new at the time) and the cool looking armada soldier. That is not to say the set is perfect, the structure is great for so few bricks but the soldier cannot get into the building without getting his feet wet, I would have preferred to have removed the boat and use the saving there to make the actual structure bigger maybe even include a second fig as the guy must get lonely.

Set Name = Volcano Island 6248
Piece Count = 119
Another skull structure, last year (1995) the pirates received a new base which include a skull on the front of it, here we see the skull design used again. This island has no reason being part of the pirate collection because it sells itself on a gimmick, that gimmick is the ability to shoot small items over the floor. I might sound negative but this set is one of the worst available in the range (someone had to be) I want to imagine huge explosions and destruction not simply see a little spring fire a few red gems over the carpet. The design of the set looks ok but it serves no purpose, the island is too small to make the volcanic eruption scary, the skull might as well be a big neon sign saying “danger and treasure here” and as a final insult to all that is good, the barrels on the pirates raft don’t have lids, those holes will cause the raft to sink, not cool Lego. For all those who own and love this set I will say right now that I am sorry, I own one too but it is just not as good as other sets of its size.

Medium
Set Name = Armada Flagship 6280
Piece Count = 284
This set is the best release in Wave four; we see the second (and last) set devoted to the Armada. Whilst this ship might be far too small to be considered a “Flagship” I have always viewed it as a brilliant trading vessel, the ship is beautifully designed and the white hull, green cannon, front sail and flag are all unique to this set (I think), we even get an anchor again after so many years without one. My only complaint is the number of minifigs; this ship could have used a couple more of the basic soldiers (we only get one). That is a minor gripe though the set is a perfect example of how to make a perfect ship.

Set Name = Shipwreck Island 6296
Piece Count = 216
I remember a set released in 1989 which had the very same name as this, with all the words in the world I am surprised Lego couldn’t think of any other name for this set. Still if the worst part of the set was its name then everything would be ok, sadly that is not the case. The general design of the set looks sloppy; two of the biggest flaws are as follows. Firstly we have at the back a BURP (big ugly rock piece) which is linked to the ship, my question would be how? Did the ship sail around with a rock on the side or did the cabin and the rock form together after the ship sunk. My second problem is the small supply of sand in the set, for example the palm tree on the side is connected to the most pathetic piece of sand and then surrounded by water (roots being something that happens to other trees). The set would be good if we had a strong island structure (sand, rocks, a tree) and then a wrecked ship that had hit it, but the set looks like a small ship that has slowly dissolved into the ocean over a period of about 60 years, that makes no sense.

Large
Set Name = Red Beard Runner 6289
Piece Count = 698
Noooooo! Gimmicks no please not more gimmicks. Here we have the third large pirate ship of the series and again with the stupid gimmicks. The ship features a back that can fall off and a mast that can lean to the side, my question is why are these features needed, Lego in and of itself is a construction toy, why do we need to have a feature to show destruction when you can simply destroy it and make it up again, Lego you have missed the fundamental joy of what you are. What is the cost of having this magic feature? No Cabin, we have a large ship but no cabin for its mighty captain. To hammer the final nail home in the coffin that is the Red Beard Runner, we have the sails, a ship this large and we only get one sail per mast (it’s usually two) and it’s ripped, dreadful. On the plus side we get a nice variation of minifigs and two black bandanas, which I believe are very rare. But if the best thing I can say for a ship is that we have black bandanas then it does not look good. Compared to the previous two ships, this is a big letdown.

Overview of the Year
A bad year in terms of design, take out the two fabulous Armada sets and the new pirate figs and I feel this year would struggle to get above a 2. In terms of equality this year shows a huge weighting towards the pirates, in previous years the balance was good giving people a choice over who to favour, this year its pirates all the way, with a poor ship and a silly sunken wreck for a base. It should also be noted that two sets is the lowest number for any faction ever released (the castle theme had a couple of factions with three sets), the flagship is nice but Armada deserved better.
Overview on 1996 = 5/10 (This score is almost all dedicated to the Armada)

Sets from 1997
This was to be the final year for our beloved Pirates, no new sets until 2009 which believe me is a very long time to wait. We continue with Spaniards verse the Pirates from the previous year, but with only four sets released it’s a sad goodbye (I would have liked more).   
Small
Set Name = Buccaneers 6204
Piece Count = 31
Another battle pack, this time with Spaniards and Pirates. This set is very nice as we see some very rare figures in the form of both the Spaniards; they also come with beautiful white feathers (very rare now) and a silver chest plate for one of the men. I don’t even mind the pirates in this set, as we get a nice Tricorn fig and the old pirate captain, I like his inclusion because this set makes it so that the figure is one of only two survivors from the original sets (of 1989), to make it through to the last year. What I don’t like is the fact that we get a Skeleton; this set would be as good as the first, if we got five actual minifigs, if they made that fifth minifig a Spaniard then the set would win as best ever. But sadly it does not.

Medium
Set Name = Pirates Ambush 6249
Piece Count = 159
I don’t know what to say about this set, I like it but I don’t understand it, why are the pirates ambushing an Armada fig? The pirates have bigger ships and numbers, the lowly Armada have one ship and a tiny base, the pirates don’t need to be clever with ambushes they simply need to sail up and say “we want your stuff”, and the Armada would have to agree, also why capture a Spaniard when you could just kill him. Switch this set round and have two Armada figs in a medium base ambushing a pirate (for questioning) and you have a better set. I like this set, the structure is ok, and the net drops but it’s just another pirate base in a theme that boasts many. I would class this as very average or vanilla, nothing fancy, not bad not great.

Set Name = Cross Bone Clipper 6250
Piece Count = 151
The dreaded Cross Bone Clipper, the most hated of all pirate ships, put simply this set is very small, too small. Personally I like this set a lot (I have a thing about small ships) but I can see its flaws, the spacing is very cramped, Lego stupidly decided to design the rudder so that it would move from the inside of the ship, the problem with that, we lose even more space, the red sail looks a little childish and I don’t like the figurehead on the front. Our original Captain used to sail in mighty ships and to see him reduced to this is a little sad, but at least he has his wench back (I missed her), the biggest problem of the set was the price, I remember it being a very expensive set at the time, and when opened from the box, it’s no surprise to feel let down. I changed the sail and figure head and used it as a trading vessel, much more satisfying.  

Large
Set Name = Pirates Perilous Pitfalls 6281
Piece Count = 395
The final set for Lego Pirates, It’s a momentous occasion but what a sad way to go out. I urge you now to think back to the other large land set of the Pirate theme, Eldorado’s Fortress, Rock Island Refuge, Imperial Trading Post, The Enchanted Island and Skull Island. Think of the beauty, think of the design, think of the logic and use for the set. Now look at this, this thing. What’s with another wreaked ship that happened last year? What’s with the large round rock? This is not Indianan Jones; why is that mountain at the back a black, grey and Burp monstrosity? How is the bridge in the front being raised if it’s designed as a rope bridge? (something you cannot raise as that would untied the ropes and make it fall) and lastly what is the little brown tower to the side all about. I like the minifigs but that is not enough, this set is just lacking on so many levels. I understand the idea of a wrecked island but this is not done well, it all looks like a mass of other sets combined into some type of beast. I often keep big sets I like up for ages on a little shelf, The Trading Post for example had been on my shelf for years (it gets dusted every other month) but I have never left this set up, it is always dismantled and stored in my attic.

Overview of the Year
Well we have sadly reached the end of the initial pirate sets from 1989 to 1997; if you have read all of them I must say congratulations and I am sorry if this writing was difficult to follow. These last two years showed us a few brilliant sets, I love the Armada Flagship and Sentry Post, but why if Lego still had the ability to make these great sets, did it rely on gimmicks and nice minifigs to sell the rest of their mediocre range. Now don’t get me wrong, I like change, in 1994 we saw the Islanders, a whole new faction which fitted in perfectly, these pirate sets feel lazy, simple designs that don’t look good it could have been a thing of beauty (the Armada Flagship was) , but overall it was not meant to be for this last year.

Overview on 1997= 4/10 (it’s not the best of years)

Overview on Wave 4= 5/10 (Only for the Armada sets and the new minifigs)


Friday, 8 April 2011

Lego Pirate Wave 3 1994 -1995

The Pirate Sets of Wave 3
1994 saw the introduction of another new faction to our beloved Pirates theme, this year saw the inclusion of an island tribe lead by King Kahuka. Sadly for those outside of the US there was to be no new Redcoats released this year, but everyone around the world received the opportunity to collect some beautiful new island minifigs and a crocodile to add to the wildlife of Pirate Lego. Without further procrastination let’s look at the sets.
Sets from 1994
Impulse
Set Name = Shipwreck Pirate 1713 Polly Bag and 1733 Boxed Set
Piece Count = 23
This set was released in both a polly bag and boxed set. I have to say I am a little disappointed with this one; it is simply the Renegade’s Raft from 1991 without the shark, pistol and a second oar, ohh and some nice extra bricks to make the raft better. This set also includes a bandana pirate rather than a tricorn pirate. Why didn’t Lego take this opportunity to create a whole new impulse set? Did they realise that they had loads of the old rafts not selling, why Lego? Tell me.

Set Name = King Kahuka 6236
Piece Count = 45
Now here we see innovation within the world of Lego, this set is very good, we see the king of the tribe (Kahuka) and a rather interesting throne for him to sit on. What I like most about this set is the fact that it comes with two very attractive shields, one on either side of his chair, they make the set feel complete. They best thing about this set is the fact that it fits so well with the Enchanted Island set (reviewed further down the page), not too sure about the staff the king carried though, looks a little weird.

Small
Set Name = Crocodile Cage 6246
Piece Count = 59
This is my favourite Islander set, it just feels so contained and perfect; this set was the first opportunity for many of us Pirate fans to add a crocodile to our collections (and the green bush which was only released in Cannon Cove previously). We also see the minifigs need for warmth for the first time ever with the little fire just to the left of the islander (lots of island sets have fire, I guess it was something to do with the skimpy clothing), the set also comes with a nice (and huge) selection of weapons (a Bow, Quiver, Musket, Cutlass, Staff, Shield and five Spears) so even a couple of these sets would be very welcome in anyone’s collection. The final crowning glory is the fact that the pirate even comes with a tricorn hat despite the fact that he doesn’t have a blue shirt, fantastic.


Set Name = Islander Catamaran
Piece Count = 63
This is an interesting set, with some good and bad parts, here we have a lovely boat (known as a catamaran), the design of the canoe is a beautiful as is the sail, but the printing on the side of the canoe is sadly made with stickers (a first for our pirate sets, sadly not the last). My favourite part of the set has got to be the drum, the island girl ranks a close second, but again we are let down with another King (I have too many in my collection), and this set only comes with a single shield. An ok set but it could have been better, not bad but not great.

Medium
Set Name = Barnacle Bay Value Pack 1729 (US and Canada only)
Piece Count = 89
All you lucky US citizens had the opportunity to purchase this set, for the rest of us we have to make do with pictures only, it was designed as a value pack with three small sets included in it. The three sets where named, Pirates Cannon (the set with the Cannon) Pirates Treasure (the set with the Treasure) and Soldiers Forge (the set with the Soldiers). At first glance the set looks exciting and It is nice to see that the Redcoats have not been completely abandoned, but it’s sad that they only appear in such a small set, the forge looks more like a small fire next to an old wall (not very good) and the cannon set makes no real sense either (it doesn’t even have wheels to move it, useless), the only set that looks ok is the pirate treasure, like a small cave or shack. Overall though the sets look like something you design when your about ten year old, with a few spare parts.


Set Name = King Kahuka’s Throne 6262
Piece Count = 146
Yay, another drum, and yay, more shields, and biggest YAY of all, a new pirate sail, here we have a set that gives you another rowing boat for your pirate hoard, but this boat comes with a sail as well, which is brilliant, variety offers enjoyment. As for the design of the set, sadly we see that most of the structure is made from a BURP but still the figurehead on top is interesting. Extras in the set include a throne that can be carried around by the islanders, but also placed ontop of a small table in the middle of the space, this is so that the King can hold court when he needs to, ohh and another camp fire. I understand why we have the king in this set so I don’t mind his inclusion and I like the way both the pirates have a problem with depth perception (they must struggle to sail the seas) , but I would have liked to change the crocodile to another Islander because the croc appears in every Island set except King Kahuka 6236, and in this set it feel unnecessary .

Set Name = Forbidden Cove 6264
Piece Count = 214

The statue face on the forbidden cove is one of the quaintest and most well thought out designs I have seen from Lego, it’s just so interesting to build and look at. The structure in this set looks nice but sadly offers little else, the roof is brilliant but then the top floor contains nothing and the bottom floor is simply a watery cave (shed/garage) to park the canoe (which only half fits in, terrible). We get another drum and canoe plus an extra palm tree is always nice (as are the vines) but the set contains less minifigs than King Kahuka’s Throne 6262 and the most minimal of weapon selections (a cutlass, musket, pistol, bow and arrow, spear, and two shields).Lego I just want to tell you, that new things (LIKE THE CROC) becomes less exciting when you put them in every set. Please don’t misunderstand me I like the set and the structure looks great next to the Enchanted Island (which has an even worse structure) I just feel the set could have achieved more, get rid of the croc and add a camp fire and a pot, place a barrel here and there rather than the obligatory treasure chest, make things more interesting. 

It should be mentioned that the islander figure with the all white face is exclusive to this set and has been seen by many as the Kings own son (due to having the same body and face as the King but no mask), he is exculsive to this set so he can be seen as something special.

Large
Set Name = Enchanted Island
Piece Count = 428
Here we have the flagship for the Islander theme, the Enchanted Island. This set is somewhat reminiscent of The Imperial Trading post, as they both come on two 32 x 32 stud Baseplates, they both contain two boats, they both have a number of structures rather than one and they are both the main sets of that faction. I am lucky enough to have both here in front of me whilst I write, and I have to say I love them both. The problem I have is that I can see the flaws with this set far easier than I can with its counterpart, for example, the bridge is placement. We have a beautiful printed river but the design of the set is such that the bridge just goes next to it rather than over (that’s just stupid). Another problem I have is with the structure that the bridge is connected to, it seems to be there for no reason, it’s not a hut, or a storehouse or a lookout post, or anything, it’s just a building that’s sole purpose is to have the bridge connected to it. Despite these flaws I still love the set, we see a beautiful fireplace and pot (for the island girl to use obviously) I nice statue (which also doubles as a jail) a cool small canoe and a brilliant pirate jolly boat with two sails (the one at the front is exclusive to this set). The set is interesting and original and just like the trading post is somewhere for a pirate ships to attack and loot (though the islanders armed spears and bows would probably struggle against cannons and muskets), though I feel that the pirates would attack this place for the croc meat and Island girl (that’s where the Wenches come from) rather than the gold.


Overview of the Year

A lot of people dislike the islanders, but for me that has never been the case, they are a nice original faction included within the Pirate theme and they had a great number of uses over my childhood. When I was young I used them as mercenaries, they would sell themselves to the highest bidder (usually my outnumbered imperials), or I used them as innocent civilians for my otherwise non civilian collection, they would trawl the trading post and trade with my imperials. The islander also featured the second (and last) female from the original Pirate theme (1989 -1997), I had two of the figures and they always needed rescuing. Overall the sets are quite nice, but they needed a bigger ship or a fortress to really compete against the other factions (not sure if that could have been created) but they miss the structural logic of the original year (1989), plus they repeat the Croc and King way too much but that is not the worst thing that has ever happened to Lego Pirates.

Captain Rodger (a member of Eurobricks) made such a good point as to why the Islanders are not as well recieved, so I had to quote him.

" The problem, in my opinion was the story that The Lego Company told us was incoherent: they said pirates were interested in steal islanders treasure. Islanders treasure is a coffer full of golden coins like you may notice in some sets (for example: enchanted island). It's an absurd story because an island tribe doesn't use money, so why they have a coffer with gold coins? adding an island tribe to pirate theme wasn't a mistake...the mistake was the official lego story about that. That's the reason i don't like islander sub-theme"

It should also be noted that this year saw the pirate captian Ironhook as the main protagonist which is a nice change (this year contained no Red Beard Captains in any sets). Sadly this year saw no new sets for any other faction (excluding that stupid raft and the US only set) which was a shame, but not as bad as one would think. This is due to the fact that when these sets where released, the pervious few years sets were still mostly available, so variety was an option.

Overview on 1994 = 7.5/10 (not everyone cup of tea, but still very nice)

Sets from 1995

1995 saw only three sets released (four in the US), despite only including three (four) sets this year, I am experiencing trouble explaining the theme, if I was pushed I would say it was a vanilla return to 1992 or 1993, this year focused on the Imperials and Pirates once again, we where sadly to see no new Islanders (except in the US).

Medium

Set Name = Treasure Chest 1788 (US and Canada only)
Piece Count = 159

This set is not one I posses; in fact I was never aware of its existence until I started researching (building my old sets) for this guide. Looking at the picture the set feels a little bit of a mess, but that is mostly due to the chest sticking out of the side of the building. Good news, that little part of the set actually slides inside the structure, once this is done the set looks much nicer. We have a small outpost, with a camp fire, pot and cup, and a very nice old style lantern, the raft looks weird but I appreciate Lego’s attempt at making a different one from the many that have come before. The pirate captain has even attempted to change by stealing a Redcoats shoulder braiding. Their opposition in this set comes from the Islanders (with the return of the canoe and drum) the islanders get some nice items but why give the regular warrior a black spear, silly. Overall an interesting set, but not great.


Set Name = Rocky Reef 6254
Piece Count = 103

Hooray an island made of Lego bricks, I love this set because the pirates actually get to bury their treasure. For once we have somewhere to put the treasure chests, the island is not great but I love the idea behind the set, we also see a skeleton for the first time, I used to take him out of his rock and place him over the sand (this way I could put more chests into the rock making the island even richer). The problem with the set is the tiny supply of yellow bricks received, I was lucky as I had plenty of spare yellow bricks to build up the island some more but for most people the set is just lacking, why is there no spade to dig with, why is the palm tree in on one 2x2 stud yellow brick surrounded by water, it looks terrible.  I like this set because of the changes I made to it, not because of the set itself, shame.

Set Name = Imperial Outpost 6263
Piece Count = 216

I loved this set, back in 1995 I received this set along with the Enchanted Island and the Renegade’s Runner for Christmas (All I ever asked for was Lego so I got a lot of it). As I got older I began to compare it to the Bluecoats version (Lagoon Lock Up 6267) sadly it’s not quite as good. The base of the set is the best part as it contains a dock for the boat a beautiful little kitchen space (with a table, two cups and a small oven), a trapdoor to hide loot (sadly going into water) and a jail. But the set is let down by its flaws with the general layout, the jail door is at the back and cannot be reach without a boat (the jail floor itself is also in the water) and the middle and top floors contain nothing other than a cannon. I love the set but it’s not as well designed, we do receive a good minifig number in the form of another admiral for our Redcoats, two soldiers (a very large number for the Redcoat faction) and a pirate, which is a bonus, it’s a good basic set, but not faultless.


Large

Set Name = Skull Island 6279
Piece Count =378

The flagship of 1995 came in the form of another pirate base, at this point in the theme we have seen a total of three pirate bases, but because the other two were released in 1989 and 1991 respectively we can forgive Lego for the repetition, (we get the old Captain back as well which is great). This set is nice in the way that the structure relies less on being an island and more on being a base in its own right, the skull at the front looks good and I like the way it can be moved to store the boat but I am reminded of the Forbidden Cove 6264, because the idea is exactly the same. The crane and top floor of this set is probably the nicest part (I love the railings), the whole structure of the set looks good because it is well thought out. The set is interesting, but I am not sure which pirate base is my favourite, this set doesn’t have the beautiful classic vibe of the original set, and Redcoats are not quite as good as the Bluecoats (and we don’t get a sail this time), but the structure is more interesting and its nice to have a strong pirate structure for the Imperials to attack rather than the other way round.


Overview of the Year
This year is really just a review of three sets; of those three we only really get some very nice sets. A new pirate base to rival the old, a new smaller base for the Imperials (yay imperials are back) and a rather odd island for the pirates to hide their gold in. The year is ok and reminds me of 1993 again with a few new filler sets to keep the collectors happy, I can't really fault the sets I just wish there was more. Ohh and we have now been two years without a ship, which is a little sad.

Overview on 1995= 6/10 (nice sets but very few)
Overview on Wave 3 = 7.5/10 (Islander's are great, and 1995 offered variety but we needed more sets.)

Click on the Links below to see past and future atricles on LEGO Pirates

The History of LEGO Pirates 

Wave 1

Wave 2 

Wave 4 

Wave 5 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Lego Pirate Wave 2 1992 -1993


The Pirate Sets of Wave 2

In 1992 Lego Pirates underwent a change, new pirates where added to the crew (a total of three) and the foes (which our beloved pirates had to face) changed completely. The Bluecoats sadly left us (never to return) and where replaced with a new (though strangly similar) warrior, below is a picture of the two, take a look and see if you can spot the differences.


At this point you could argue that Lego has been rather lazy because it is obvious that the only change made was to switch blue for red and vice versa, but if you consider it logically, during this period in time all European military organisations they had a similar uniform, the only real change between armies would be the colour not the style. Lego adopted this idea and created a whole new faction, my only real gripe with the Redcoats is the fact that Lego did not make any effort to give anyone a new face design, the simply inverted the colours again swapping black for brown and vice versa.

The new faction is often seen as the British (with the blue being French) this decision is only due to the fact that in the 18th and 19th century the British where famous for their Redcoats (that even being their nickname at the time).

So 1992 saw the British military take to the seas and challenge the pirates for dominance over the waves (and our hearts).

Sets from 1992

Impulse

Set Name = Pirate Lookout (Polly Bag 1464) (1696 Boxed Set)

Piece Count = 17

This set was released as both a polly bag and a boxed set, the idea behind this set is a lone pirate looking out for any Imperials so that his crew mates can get an early warning (hence the title lookout). The highlight of the set includes a blue pirate (the favourite at the time) and a barrel (storing his supplies, maybe). Overall it’s a simple little set and I like the leaves but the one thing I don’t get is why the flag, surly the pirate would not want to advertise his presence to others. The set is ok but lacks the forethought of its predecessor Buried Treasure 6235.


Set Name = Battle Cove 1494 (US and Canada Only)

Piece Count = 26

Why Lego? Why? Another US only set, how can I buy this set if it’s not released in my country, and look at it, so much better than the set above. This set comes with great building possibilities, if you owned one of the large pirate bases from 1991 or 1989 then this set could be used at add to the structure and make it bigger. The large black corner wall is very rare now and to also include a cannon and shark, pure brilliance. This set lives up to the Lego expectation, my only minor gripe is the cannon looks locked into its place, meaning it can’t turn, how can you fight a ship if you cannot turn your cannon, a tad foolish I feel (if I am wrong about this please correct me and I will take this complain off )
Set Name = Pirate Treasure Hold 1889 (US and Canada Only)
Piece Count = 34

What US only again, this is getting silly. Still nice set, small, cheep, include a monkey and palm tree, great landscape and wildlife builder. It is part of a multipack but that just means you get good value for money, If only I could have bought some.

Set Name = Pirate Plunder 6237
Piece Count = 21
Ahhh, a set I recognise. I remember being very excited by this small set, it was the type you could buy with your pocket money and then open up on the car ride home. This was one of the intended army builder for this period, my question is why include an officer, don’t get me wrong I love the whole Imperial forced labour idea (possibly seen later in the flagship set), with the officer holding the pistol forcing the pirate to uncover (or bury) his treasure. Another stange element of this set is that it does not come with instructions, I know they are not really needed, but still all the other impulse sets came with instructions so why not this one?. The set is nice and intelligent it is a logical improvement on the original (Buried Treasure 6235) but why an officer why not a soldier, this is a problem throughout this whole wave, the Redcoats simply had far too many officers (promotion being more encouraged in the British Army/Navy). Also that pistol on the floor looks far too close to the pirate, what if he tried something? Still despite my musings it was one of the best car journeys home when I bought this set.
 
Small

Set Name = Bounty Boat 6247

Piece Count = 36

Another nice set from this wave, I love the idea of the Imperials forcing the pirate to row to his island hideout, uncover his treasure, and the row them all back to the mainland (all of this under gunpoint). The beauty of this set is that it includes a redcoat soldier not just an officer, the pickaxe, spade and flag are nice touch’s too, also the pirate though hard to see in this picture is also a new design. I feel that Lego sets work best when they have a logical story behind the bricks, in this set you can clearly see what is happening this is why it is so good, later on Lego lost this focus somewhat, which is a shame.

Set Name = Smuggler’s Shanty 6258

Piece Count = 70

An interesting idea with this set, here we see an actual pirate shanty. The idea is nice but sadly it misses the mark with relation to design, why for example is the set on a yellow base rather than the brilliant island baseplates from Sabre and Shipwreck Island 6265 and 6260. Also what is the officer doing in this set, he is outnumbered in a rowboat (where our his soldiers) did Lego simply have an abundance of officer minifigs and needed a reason to use them, so far if you owned the three small sets containing imperials released this year you would have owned Three Officers and only one Soldier, these number make no sense. Still if you were lucky enough to own the large island baseplate from Forbidden Island 6270 and about three of these sets, you could make a brilliant pirate village as the actual shanty in this set looks very nice. Still I say remove the Imperial, boat and shark and replace with a small island baseplate, an extra pirate and some landscape bricks (for stones and such) then you would have a much better set.

Set Name = Raft Raiders 6261

Piece Count = 81

Remember the raft from 1989 (Castaway’s Raft 6257) well here we have its replacement, now I prefer the original but this is probably due to the fact that I owned that one first. This set has a new pirate (the one with the hook known as Ironhook) and we see one of the regular pirates sporting a fashionable peg leg. I remember thinking at the time, wow I can swap the multiple captains legs with some of the regular crew and as such create variety. The raft itself doesn’t feel quite as solid as it predecessor but the inclusion of a sail and rigging makes it look much better, a nice improvement on the old style. I like to believe that the two pirates with moustaches where from the original set and have found themselves unlucky again (especially the one who lost a leg between 1989 and 1992).

Medium
Set Name = Imperial Flagship 6271

Piece Count = 317

Now we come on to the bigger sets of the year. Here we have the Imperial Flagship (the first one that is), something for the Redcoats to sail around in. This is the one place where I feel that the Redcoats have the edge over there blue counterparts, this ship looks much better than the Clipper, it features a better placement of sails with respect to the ship as a whole, the rigging for this ship is placed at the side (rather than in the middle like the clipper) and the small number of blue pieces varies well with the red sails. Where this set falls down is in the minifig department, whilst the old clipper had a perfect complement of three sailors and one commander, this ship features one pirate (or is it a sailor I can’t tell) one soldier (to shot pirates) one officer (to boss around the soldier) and one commander (to command).Why did Lego not just add three sailors like before, there cannot be much of a difference cost wise and it’s a shame because there is not actually anyone to sail the ship. Bad move Lego you where so close, still due to this fact the clipper has the edge.

Large

Set Name = Imperial Trading Post 6277

Piece Count = 608

Now we have the large set released this year, it comes on two (yes two) full sized (32 x32) baseplates, one of which is raised. The idea behind this set is very good; we finally get a set for the large pirate ships to actually attack, a trading post must contain worthy booty for a pirate to plunder. Many have compared this to the Eldorado Fortress and said that this set is found lacking, I have never understood this, why are people comparing a Fortress with a trading post, one fortifies and one trades, they are supposed to be different. The structures in this set are not the greatest, but the overall design of the set is, there is plenty of room for barrels and boxes, the set features a hidden storage compartment inside the base (which is very large), it includes a crane which feels like it has an important purpose being there, and best of all an actual trading vessel. The trading vessel in this set is the only one every released by Lego, before this set (and after) pirates had no one to plunder and steal from (possible Islander exceptions here, to be reviewed later), only soldier to fight against, this set adds some much needed realism to the series. The biggest problem with this set is one seen throughout the whole wave, too few redcoat soldiers, for the entire base we only get two, in the fortress we received double that, I like the pirates standing in as dock workers and normal sailors (the men on the right of the picture with axes are assumed to be dockworkers not pirates) and I like the commander of the base and brown vested sailor in the ship (known as Steve), but why another officer, change this to three soldiers instead. Overall though a great and original set from Lego, seen by many as one of its best.

Overview of the Year

This year saw the inclusion of a brand new faction, for that faction we received a ship and large base for them to operate out of, I view the pirate themed sets released this year as simply placeholder something to keep the public happy while you released the impressive sets later, but for the imperials this year saw a great couple of sets, ok the officer to soldier ration was way off, but still at this point in time we see three evenly strengthen factions squaring off against each other. If looked at alone this year is great (though for those pure pirate fans it is lacking somewhat) if compared with what came before it is even better.

Overview on 1992 = 8.0/10 (great for imperials, sad for the pirates)

Overview with Wave 1 included = 10/10 (own every set from these 3 years and you have most of the best sets released by Lego, evenly matched and varied enough to be exciting)

Sets from 1993
1993 saw fewer sets released than 1992, this was the style of Lego at the time, release lots of sets in the first year and then release a smaller number of sets the second year, to keep the theme alive but let them focus on other themes. For example in 1989, ten sets where released (and one comic) in 1991 four sets where released (and one US only set), in 1992 seven sets where released (and two US only sets), this year saw four new sets (and one US only set)

Impulse
Set Name = Pirate Gun Cart 1970 (US amd Canada Only)
Piece Count = 31
Another US only set, looking at it, it seems ok, a nice idea rather than all the cannons we see in every other set, but my question is, why is it here? It resembles a mini Gatling gun or WW1 gun cart, this type weapon was never used in the Caribbean so what is it used for, also this set came as part of a multipack so you could not buy this without buy some non pirate Lego (always a problem for me when I was younger). Overall one of the poorest sets so far.

Small
Set Name = Sea Mates 6252
Piece Count = 32
Another battle pack, the type of set you buy to build up your collection, this set is not as good as the original from the previous year, why are there only four minifigs that just seems silly, like an obvious downgrade from the previous year and this time no Wench (NOOOOO) and another boring Officer for the Redcoats, and another boring Captain for the Pirates, there are less weapons in this set as well. On the Plus side you do receive another precious Redcoat Soldier to add to your collection, and the basic pirate in the set is relatively interesting because his print was only released last year, ohh and you get another monkey (yay Monkey).


Set Name = Cannon Cove 6266
Piece Count = 106
The cannon cove seems to have passed a lot of collectors by, it never seems to be mentioned, everyone knows what Sabre Island is but few people know about the Cove. This is a shame because the set is very nice, it is presented on a green baseplate (which is hard to integrate into your collection) but the design is very solid and attractive, you cannot see it in the picture but there is also a jail behind the grey rock on the left, we also see the little green bush for the first time within the Pirate Line, which was exciting at the time as I recall. The downside of this set is the tiny flag (like the imperials are ashamed of being there) and the fact that again the ration of Officer to soldier is way off. Still I judge this just as good as it’s blue counterpart, it’s just different.

Medium
Set Name = Renegade Runner 6268
Piece Count = 178
The Renegade runner, seen by many as one of the worst ships, looking at the old ships they included important things, like a ships wheel and an anchor, the runner sadly misses these finer points in sailing (though they have a compass, so they will know if there going in the wrong direction they just cannot do anything about it). The mix of blue bricks on the bottom and red on the top also doesn’t quite work. But I remember this ship being a lot cheaper than its counterparts and also though small it is quite complete, there is space on deck and the cannon rotates fully which is a nice touch. It must be noted that the cost worked out as three of these ships compared to one Black Sea Barracuda or Skull Eye’s Schooner, and a fleet of three of these looks really nice (especially if you have a Schooner or Barracuda following behind). In honesty I hated it when I first got it, but it grew on me, it’s nice to have a smaller ship and it should be noted that this is the only pirate ship that was commanded by someone other the Redbeard, that someone was Ironhook(its a shame that the second attempt at this really failed).

Large
Set Name = Skull’s Eye Schooner 6286
Piece Count = 912
Now we see another reason why these years are looked back with such fondness, this ship has been argued by many as the better of the two pirate ships, It contains all that the previous ship contained, but also came with a nicer colour scheme (the red and white works really well) there is also the inclusion of an extra sail at the back and the pirate figure head at the front looks better (in my opinion). It has to noted that the set also contained a greater variety of minifigs (including the Wench and Brownshirt Steve). In honesty both the sets are of a very high-class, and it is nice to have the luxury of choice over a favourite rather than there being only one good set, more of this say’s I arrrg.


Overview of the Year
This year gave the pirates great variety on the waves, they now had the choice to sail in three ships, and at this point the balance of favour has tipped towards the pirates. Most collectors (kids with bricks) made the Bluecoats and Redcoats team up at this point due to the fact that most of them where greatly outnumbered. Still there is always the option of making the pirates fight amongst themselves (something I never thought about at the time). Now the theme is feeling slightly less thought-out, the sets are still nice but the theme itself feels like its losing focus, the love of the pirate is overtaking all. Still a very nice year but it would need a year balanced towards the imperial (or a new faction) to make the theme feel better.
Overview on 1993 = 7/10 (an ok placeholder year the two ships really save it)

Overview of Wave 2 = 8.5/10 (a good couple of years but not as good as the first two)

Overview of Wave 1 and 2 = 9.5/10 (three factions one with a few too many pirates in it, still very nice so far)

Click on the links below to view the past and future waves

Overview of Waves
Overiew of Waves

Wave 1 

Wave 3

Wave 4

Wave 5