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Review: 3817 The Flying Dutchman

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Not a brand new set, I know. But as it has not yet been reviewed in here and I happened to get one lately, I decided - why not, let's review it. And by the way - it's my first ever review of a LEGO set, so please don't be too harsh on me! :classic:


Here's the front of the box (I got a new and sealed one, but forgot to take a picture before opening the box, so here's one that's already been opened by me. :classic:

Please note that I am not a fan of SpongeBob, I barely know the characters present in the set. However, as a long-time fan of LEGO Pirates, I got this set because it's as close to LEGO Pirates as you can get without it actually being a Pirate set. So I will not focus much on the aspects related to the cartoon, its characters and so on - I am not a competent person to do so. Heck, I don't even know what this ship looked like in the cartoon. So please consider it as just a review of a LEGO set, made by a fan of LEGO in general and LEGO Pirates in particular, but not that much of a SpongeBob fan.

Alright, moving on...


The back of the box shows the ship from a different angle along with some additional features which this set has - I'll discuss them later. And there's a small image of another SpongeBob set - 3818.


There's a 1:1 image of SpongeBob on the side of the box.


The contents of the box are two numbered bags, the ship's bow which comes without a bag, and the instruction booklet. No stickers at all and that's good - especially condsidering how sticker-heavy some other SpongeBob sets tend to be.


The three minifigures. As mentioned earlier, not a SpongeBob fan, but I dig the cool pirate accessories which I definitely find very useful. The evil captain's green hat and coat are great additions to any Pirate LEGO fan's collection. As for the Patrick minifig - just switch the head, put on some hat or bandana and there you have it - a regular fleshtoned pirate. SpongeBob's hat is held by a 1x1 round brown plate and I must admit I like the hat a lot more than the ugly one which was introduced with captain Brickbeard a few years ago:


I think I will use SpongeBob's hat in pirate MOCs, while I've never used Brickbeard's hat and probably never will - just a matter of taste though.


The minifigs as seen from the back - apart from Patrick's stripped shirt, not much to see here.


Apart from the minifigs, the first thing that one builds is the cannon - just a standard shooting cannon we all Pirate fans know and love, except for two things - it shoots with bubbles rather than cannonballs, and the other thing which I actually really like is how the wheels are installed on this thing:


Instead of typical small wheels we have 1x1 round plates attached to grey half-pins which are inserted into these special black plates with round openings. I'm not entirely sure but I think that's the only LEGO set in which the cannons (or, in this case, the cannon) have wheels like these and I think I'll borrow that design for some future Pirate MOCs. :classic: By the way, the instructions show only two 'bullets', so the third one has to be considered an extra piece. On the other hand the box shows three of them, so who knows.

Let's proceed, shall we? The first 'real' thing which one is supposed to build is the small island.


Here's a random page from the instruction booklet. Note the subtle bubble pattern in the top part of the background.


Here's what the island looks like at step 12 of the building process...


...and here's the complete island. I like the planks made of brown 1x4 tiles and the pattern they form a lot.


The rock structure opens to reveal a treasure chest. This feature reminds me of this set which I got as a kid (although in that set the chest compartment was not covered from the front by any rocks):


Let's take a closer look at the treasure chest:


Instead of coins or gems we have some golden 1x1 plates, which is a bit weird but nothing I can't live with. Once again - the instructions show only 3 'coins', so the fourth one is an extra piece.


The island as seen from the back - from this side the treasure chest is always visible. I removed the cannon for this picture - note that it rests on brown plates, and in fact so does the treasure chest, so there's plenty of 1x4 brown plates in this set.

All bricks which are used to build the island are in bag 1. When we move to bag 2, we begin building what I consider the most appealing part of this set - the pirate ship!


Note that the instructions use white outlines for black bricks, a solution I like a lot and one which should be definitely used more often.


And here's the ship at step 12. By the way this was a very pleasant surprise for me, beacuse from all the images on the box you can only tell that the ship has 2 windows, when is fact it has 4. Cool!


And finally - the finished ship. I like the one-piece printed sail, a nice change from the cloth or paper sails we saw in past LEGO ships. At the very least, it will probably last much longer without being torn or bent or whatever.


The same ship from a different angle. I believe the grey cylindrical bricks are supposed to imitate smaller cannons, not a big fan of those but at least they add to the ovarall evil (in a cartoonish way) look of the vessel.


Back and front views...



Some close-ups...

The lanterns are in transparent lime green or whatever this colour is called, to give the ship a ghostly feeling, which looks good. I'm not a big fan of the ship's wheel though, I'd prefer something more classic.


The complete set with the minifigs. Definitely lots of playability in here - you have an island, a ship, a hidden treasure, a shooting cannon... No place for boredom.


The ship can easily dock with the island.


And finally - the extra pieces you're left with once the set is built.

All in all the ship looks really nice, as a pirate fan I must admit that for years I've been looking forward to seeing LEGO release a Pirate-themed ship similar in size to the one from the famous Imperial Trading Post set from back in 1992:


With this set LEGO has partially fulfilled my wish. Granted, the ship looks a bit cartoony, but in fact so do some of the ships from the Pirate theme. With some minor adjustments it could serve as an appropriate vessel to accompany the larger Pirate ships we've seen released over the years. Alternatively, one could modify it even more to make it slightly bigger, there's definitely room for that:


The ship does feel kind of short when measured from bow to stern. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when looking at this picture, I can easily imagine moving the mast a bit to the back and adding an additional section between the one-piece bow and the sterncastle. Perhaps even giving it two masts and adding even more space in the middle would be possible without making it look too long and out of proportion. This ship has a lot of potential for improvement, but I also like it the way it is just fine.

Overall, if you ever get a chance to buy this set, and you're a fan of LEGO Pirates and LEGO ships like me, I suggest you do so, even if you don't care much for the SpongeBob franchise. And if you do like SpongeBob, then I guess you will enjoy it even more. This set is now two years old or so, but I had no problem finding it.

Just replacing the original minifigs with some pirates and soldiers plus giving the cannon some real cannonballs would turn this into a decent Pirate set! Want a treasure island protected by soldiers and attacked by pirates? No problem! And once you become bored with it, the pieces in this set are simply perfect for using in a Pirate MOC.

I wouldn't call this set a masterpiece, but it's definitely a really really good one, and if you're into Pirates you'll enjoy it tremendously. If one day LEGO resurrects the Pirate theme and decides to release a similar set with a small island and a small ship, I'll be the first one to get it. They can even use the same one-piece bow and sail bricks - they're quite big but I like them.

And I guess that's all I have to say for now. Thanks for reading! :classic:

Edited by Dreamweb

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I adore this set :) I purchased 2 when it first came out, and combined them to make a really fun piratey ship. As I recall there were enough planks on the island to make a wooden deck for the enlarged ship, and enough grey cheese slopes to replace the slightly garish green ones!

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One of my favourites! I really love this set, and the Flying Dutchman figure is really quite something! :thumbup:

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