Build Time: ½ hour
Pirates was the theme that really made me fall in love with Lego as a child. I don’t remember who bought me my first batch of it – probably Mum and Dad – but it would go on to cast a long shadow over my childhood. So when word began to leak of a new Pirates set in 2015 (which we now know to be the Brick Bounty) my hopes were high that other sets might be announced to accompany it.
My wishes were granted only a few months later when a range of additional regular sets (and one Juniors set) were announced. I was excited that the theme was returning, but a little underwhelmed with the sets themselves at first glance. However, now that they’ve shown up instore and I’m seeing them in person, I’m much more pleased with them. They’re not perfect, but today we look at the first of the
3 minifigures and two animals are included in this set – a Pirate Princess, a male Pirate, a Bluecoat, a crocodile and a parrot.
The Pirate Princess is one of the best minifigures I’ve seen in a long time. Decked out in an eyepatch, and bearing a spyglass and cutlass, she’ll take on any man fool enough to challenge her leadership – and feed them to the crocodile that keeps lurking around her hideout. She’s also got two faces – happy and angry – and is a really cool addition to the Pirates range.
The male pirate on the other hand, is a little disconcerting. Traditionally the Pirates have looked rowdy and raucous, while the Imperials (or Bluecoats as they’re now known) were stern, stuffy and staid. There was no clear good guy or bad guy; just your personal preference, though it would have been easy to assume the Pirates were actually the good guys (and certainly were in my own play). But this male pirate actually looks quite sinister. Liver rings hang under his eyes, and an unpleasant scowl crosses his visage. He’s an impressive minifigure, but I can’t help but think he pushes the line a little too overtly into villain territory.
The parrot looks to be the same mould as the 1980s/1990s Pirates parrot, and is similarly coloured. The red and green colouring is quite uneven, but this is a result of the moulding process – no two should ever be quite the same. I always loved the parrot and monkey figures from the Pirates sets, so I’m thrilled to see it return again. Hopefully we’ll see more monkeys soon too.
The Bluecoat is probably the least interesting of the three, but that’s not because he’s bad. His face is just a generic smirk, but he comes with some really cool accessories. His hat is a little fancier than the one I grew up with, but it’s been in use since at least the 2009 Pirates series. The feather on the top is a really nice touch. Also, the epaulettes and the backpack really mark the character out as distinguished – he’s clearly a cut above those ruffian pirates!
It seems that the crocodile is a completely new mould, though to me it doesn’t look drastically different to the original one that’s been around since 1994. He’s articulated at two points (a hinge at the jaw and a swivel at the tail). He’s also got holes in his mouth that will let him chomp on one of the oars, in one of two ways – sideways and front on.
Treasure Island itself is a fun playset, consisting of a skull-shaped cave and a small jetty which extends out over the water, supported by a pile of roughly-hewn rocks. If you have set 70409 (Shipwreck Defence) it actually connects up at the jetty, but I haven’t been able to find that set instore anywhere as yet.
The jetty features a small table with a bottle of grog (presumably rum), and a few different spots for you to perch the parrot. There’s a small half-barrel too, which seems to serve as an improvised boat for the pirates.
Mounted atop the skull cave is a cannon on a swivel. I was really pleased to see that it’s one of the old-style pullback cannons – you could do some serious damage with these back in the day, and I don’t doubt that it’s still the case.
Cleverly concealed within the skull is an action feature – pulling the tree down will raise up the skull face, revealing a hidden chest full of gems! It’s not a super-smooth process, as the tension on the chain varies wildly depending on the angle that you position the tree. You’ll notice that the box and the instructions position it slightly differently – the version outlined on the instructions is much more effective to get it open, but slightly less aesthetically pleasing. But it works nonetheless and is a fun addition.
The back of the set is pretty plain, but not completely – obviously the pirates (or Bluecoats) can access the treasure, but there’s also a hidden compartment where the treasure map can be stored. Not a feature that will make you run out and buy the set, but fun nonetheless.
The other major component is the Bluecoat rowboat. Though the mould is identical to the rowboat featured in the Lego Juniors Pirate set that I reviewed back in February, it’s been cast in blue this time and features a few additional accessories. This one has been kitted out with a rifle at the front of the boat, and features some kind of mortar too. The mortar is one of those new relatively new guns that fires off 1x1 round studs, and includes several spares – which is good, as it’s pretty easy to lose them!
Treasure Island was the set that impressed me most on release, and I think turned out the best overall of the non-ship sets. Though I’m very pleased with this new Pirates series, I’m hoping that the line is a success and we see more sets next year – and for many years going forward. Whether Pirates have the same pull now as they did in the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s remains to be seen, but here’s hoping they do!