Article by TheBrickster 11/27/08
Ahoy Maties! It’s been a great year for Lego with a number of outstanding City sets, Indiana Jones, and the highlight of the year, the early release of the new 2009 Pirates theme. For the Lego Pirate fans that live in the United States, many Toys R Us stores have the complete Pirate 2009 line-up, and what a great thought considering Christmas is just 27 days away.
The Pirates 2009 theme offers a nice collection of sets from Impulse to “Big Ship” providing buyers with a variety of different sets and price-points to choose from. Of course, if you’re any “die-hard” Lego Pirate fan, you will soon find yourself with the complete collection with even multiples of the smaller sets.
- 8396 Soldier’s Arsenal - 17 pieces (Impulse)
- 8397 Pirate Survival - 16 pieces (Impulse)
- 6239 Cannon Battle – 45 pieces
- 6240 Kraken Attackin’ – 78 pieces
- 6241 Loot Island – 142 pieces
- 6242 Soldier’s Fort – 367 pieces
- 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty – 592 pieces
- 6253 Shipwreck Hideout - 310 pieces
Lego really did an outstanding job with the new Pirate minifigs. This time around, what makes them extra special is the two-sided torsos. For this first wave of sets, there are two distinct opposing forces, the red-coated Imperial Guards, and marauding Pirates.
A total of six different Imperial Guards and variations are contained in the eight-set Pirate collection. Unfortunately, one minifig (third from left), makes itself into the majority of the sets creating a number of “clones”. A total of 11 Imperials are contained in all the sets. The Imperial minifigs have three different types of hats including the Bicorner, Tricorner, and Shako. This time around, the Shako is printed with a gold emblem and red top feather for added detail. All of the Imperials have blue Epaulettes, with the exception of the blue-coated Imperial commander found in 6242 Soldier’s Fort. His is red.
Imperial Guards & Backside of Torso
The Pirates outnumber the Imperials at a total of 15 for the eight-set collection. Out of these 15 Pirates, 13 are unique with only Brickbeard, the Pirate captain, duplicated in three of the sets. Three of the additional Pirates from 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty are not pictured. The highlight of the Pirates is the new female pirate with green torso and eye patch. She’s a real “beaut”. All of the new pirates, with the exception of Brickbeard, have sleeveless shirts and vests with yellow arms. Unfortunately, only dark green and blue hat rags (or scarves) are used, but this does allow one to create two factions of pirates. In addition, one of the minifigs that I’ve labeled a pirate is a castaway contained in 6241 Loot Island. He has a nice long grey beard and sad face expressing his discontent with the small island.
Two additional minifigs are included within the Pirate theme, both contained in 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty. These include the white dressed Imperial queen/princess and a mermaid used as part of the ship’s bow. These minifigs and the pirate wench bring a nice female element to the new Pirates theme.
Lego did an excellent job in offering a wide collection of different types of sets in this first wave. Pirates can hop aboard the flagship of the collection, 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty in search of lost treasure. If any of the pirates have to walk the plank, they may find themselves marooned on 6241 Loot Island; but they can cook a fish while they polish their gems from 8397 Pirate Survival. For additional adventure, they can build a makeshift raft and venture out to sea in 6240 Kraken Attackin’, but beware the “Little Kraken”. The pirates have the perfect place to hide on a nearby island in 6253 Shipwreck Hideout. During all of the pirate adventure, the Imperials can organize their assault from 6242 Soldier’s Fort, building up their army with 8396 Soldier’s Arsenal and 6239 Cannon Battle. With these numerous types of sets on land and sea, children (and AFOL) have an endless possibility of imaginary play.
Unique Pieces (Not Necessarily New)
The new Pirates theme offers an abundance of unique pieces including but not limited to the new metallic painted shooting cannon, a great piece for those of us from the U.S. that never had a shooting cannon. With the new “metallic grey pearl” color, the cannon look terrific. For those wanting to stock up on the cannon, 6239 Cannon Battle is the perfect set. The new theme also includes some great minifig accessories including a dynamite stick and banana contained in 6242 Soldier’s Fort. I also love the gold, blue, and red epaulettes, esp. the gold one used for Brickbeard. A new fish has been added to the theme, this one with an open mouth that allows it to be attached to a pole/stick, as contained in 8397 Pirate Survival. In addition, a new multi-colored parrot provides nice tropical colors for island scenes.
The new theme also introduces a new color for the classic 5x14 boat, dark blue. For those of you who dislike the new color, 6242 Soldier’s Fort does contain one in brown. The dark blue boats appear to be for the Imperials while the brown is for the Pirates, based upon boxart. Paddles for these boats are white and brown.
Imperial Blue Boat & Brown Pirate Boat
One of the nicest elements of Pirates 2009 is the new tan base plate found in 6241 Loot Island. The base plate serves as a sand mound representing an island. Its middle section is open allowing one to place an 8x8 vignette-sized plate in its center. The small pit inside makes a great place to store pirate loot. It will be interesting to see what new creations others will make utilizing this new piece.
Island Base Plate
Imperial and Pirate Flags
It’s great to see the use of the old classic cannon insignia on the Imperial flags, but the Pirate skull and crossbones is a bit different. The new skull and crossbones has a Jolly Roger that has a larger top skull section giving it a more cartoon-like appearance. I hope the clips of the smaller flags hold together better than the old ones from the Classic Pirate collection.
Set 6240 Kraken Attackin’ introduces a new dark red/maroon octopus that serves as a Kraken to attack pirates aboard the masted raft. The Kraken has been criticized for being too small to be a creature of formidable attack. Options could have been to create a larger sea creature like the dragon in the new Castle theme, or a brick-built creation similar to that of the Vikings theme. If one considers that the Kraken is “just a large octopus”, rather than a huge sea creature from the depths of the ocean, it isn’t too bad.
Pirates 2009 offer a nice selection of colors including many Earth-tone colors like browns, grays, tan, and white. Accent colors include a splash of gold and red. Unlike Imperial forts found in the Classic Pirate theme, 6242 Soldier’s Fort delivers a nice combination of white, tan, and brown, with no yellow (except for a single banana). The Earth-tone colors work exceptionally well for 6253 Shipwreck Hideout giving the set a “more natural” look. 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty is mostly brown, black, tan, and gold, with bright red and white striped sails, two bearing a large Jolly Roger. I’m surprised the new dark blue color was not used as “water plates”, but rather Lego stayed somewhat true to the classic color scheme in keeping regular blue. Dark blue is used for a sloped rooftop in 6242 Soldier’s Fort. Overall, the colors were nicely combined to create a more realistic palette to the theme.
Set 6242 Soldier’s Fort offers a nice modular construction design that allows one to attach sections of buildings and walls with two technic beams. It will certainly be great if Lego continues to expand this building method and offer additional add-ons to future pirate sets.
6242 Modular Construction
6192 Pirate Construction Set
Special mention must be made to a new Pirate set not included within the theme. Targeted for a younger audience, set 6192 Pirate Construction set is more along the “basic creator” variety and utilizes mostly standard bricks. The set does offer one exclusive blue-torso minifig not contained within any of the eight-set collection.
6192 Basic Pirates and Exclusive Pirate Minifig
With special thanks to all of the individuals who were kind enough to share early image reviews of Pirates 2009, Eurobricks has pictures of the complete line-up. The following reviews and comments can be found for each set:
8396 Soldier’s Arsenal & 8397 Pirate Survival: NewRight
6239 Cannon Battle, 6240 Kraken Attackin’: TheBrickster
6241 Loot Island & 6242 Soldier’s Fort: Lego12
6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty: Svelte_Corps
6253 Shipwreck Hideout: Moose and TheBrickster
6192 Basic Pirate Construction Set: TheBrickster
Note: If I've failed to mention/miss a review, please forgive the oversight.
With polls for each of the Eurobricks’ reviews, an analysis of the ratings based on the 1 to 5 point scale was performed. As of November 27, 2008, this is how Eurobricks’ pirate fans rank each of the sets. Based on the polls; surprisingly, no set scored in the 90 percentile category. The highest ranked set was 6243 Brickbeard’s Bounty at 89.7%, the “flagship” of the new theme. The small impulse set, 8396 Soldier’s Arsenal was the 2nd highest ranked set at 88.4%. 6253 Shipwreck Hideout was the second largest set ranked at 87.4%. The rest of the scores as well as the number of voters appear on the graph:
All things considered, if I were to go out today and buy just a few of the sets, I would start with 6242 Soldier’s Fort that surprisingly was only rated an 82.3% (my personal favorite of the collection), followed by 6253 Shipwreck Hideout (rated 87.4%). To help build my Imperial army, I would pick up a few of 6239 Cannon Battle sets because I really like the cannon. Between these three sets, they offer a great amount of diversity and play to really create some fun pirate adventures.
Opportunities for Improvement
I have only a few complaints over the new theme. 1) Although the gold chests contained in a few of the sets are a nice change, I still prefer brown over gold. I was surprised to find a brown chest in 6242 Soldier’s Fort. 2) When trying to attach the upper mouth/snout of the crocodile contained in 6241 Loot Island, the piece was so hard to fit into the main crocodile body piece, the mouth showed white stress marks once attached. This is poor quality on the part of Lego. 3) The multiple use of the face of the Imperial soldier contained in 8396 Soldier’s Arsenal is too redundant. I think a more standard face would have been a better option, esp. for 8396 which will most certainly be used as an army-builder. 4) As mentioned above, the Kraken is too small. Pirate fans like their Krakens big! 5) More palm trees are needed. With the entire collection of eight sets, only one palm tree is included in 6242 Soldier’s Fort. Surprisingly, 6253 Shipwreck Hideout has none. 6) The new Indiana Jones crate appears in the theme more than classic-style barrels. I prefer barrels, but would enjoy seeing a better balance of both.
Future of the Theme
I can’t wait to see what new sets will be added to the 2009 Pirates theme. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some sort of Imperial ship, and perhaps the expansion of the modular 6242 Soldier’s Fort. I’m really looking forward to adding more walls and buildings to the fort. Another faction of soldiers like Spanish Armada or Blue-Coat Soldiers would be nice, not to mention some adventure with a large Islanders set. Whatever the set, I’m sure the continuation of the new Pirates theme will be welcomed.
I’m a big Adventurers and Indiana Jones fan who also likes the historic themes like Castle and Pirates. Unfortunately, I really missed out during a long dark-age period when collecting Lego was not something that I would be proud to admit. I only received a few Pirate sets as a gift choosing not to buy any on the store shelves. Although I really missed out on the great Classic Pirate sets, I think Lego did a fantastic job at creating the new Pirates 2009 theme. Lego stayed true to its building style and pieces, while still introducing new colors and elements. The theme is close enough to the old classic collection that its sets might integrate well for those individuals with an older collection. With more Indiana Jones sets, the introduction of the Farm sub-theme, and potential for more Castle sets including 10193 (Medieval Market Village), Pirates 2009 is certainly an exciting theme that will appeal to AFOL and the kids who enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean. Good luck finding the sets at a store near you!
Wikipedia: Lego Pirates