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backpack on the new trooper (they have a back printing instead but it’s not as good as an actual backpack), and the now outdated smiley face on the old trooper.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
Set Name = Pirates Survival 8397
Piece Count = 16
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.
Set Name = Pirates Battle Pack 852747
Piece Count = 37
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)