Avast, ye scurvy dogs! There be some new Pirate LEGO sets settin' sale this past week and it be time to spy upon the best salty sets of the past. Yar!
*cough* Sorry, I can't keep up the pirate talk. As mentioned above there is a whole slew of new Pirate LEGO sets available as of this week. After contacting my good friend POWERSTOMP, fellow Hoosier and LEGO enthusiast, we decided to make a list of our favorite Pirate sets from from yesteryear. We saved up for months and put these bad boys at the top of our Christmas lists. They're not the best selling, or the biggest (well some might be), but they're the sets we love and remember.
Keep in mind that these are legit Pirate themed sets and not themes like LotR, Pirates of the Caribbean or The LEGO Movie that have pirate-related playsets.
Forbidden Island - 1989
My father always loved to pick out big LEGO sets for my brothers and me. Since we were too young to really understand how following a manual worked he would normally present them to us prebuilt and we'd play with them. For about an hour. Then we would go Godzilla on those poor sets and tear them apart. Forbidden Island is one of the first I remember. I mean, who can forget the first time they armed a money with a gun?
Battle Cove - 1992
One of the smallest Pirate sets on record, Battle Cove is a perfect mishmash of all things that make the Pirate series so silly and fun. A shark, a pirate, a cannon, two guns, one pirate flag - it's like the essentials of my five year-old imagination. All I needed to add was a monkey with a sword and all was right with the world.
Enchanted Island - 1994
I'll admit that I was never too excited at the prospect of pitting pirates (the obvious winners) against snooty soldiers who had an obvious military advantage. I guess I just always rooted for the underdog. That's why Enchanted Island, and the other sets featuring indigenous island dwelling people, are at the top of the pirate world (in my own opinion). The tiki gods and kickass war masks were just too good to pass up. I felt like the islanders were the underdogs now, which meant they usually won out against the pirates in my mind. Or maybe they could both team up and take down those hoity toity soldiers...
Skull Island - 1995
Speaking of soldiers, here's a nice set where they're on a nice field trip... TO SKULL ISLAND! They'll chewing on a cannon balls soon enough. Wahaha. Those poor ignorant fools. Aside from the sweet rotating skull I always loved to have the captain throw down barrel, a la the original Donkey Kong, for his men to avoid. Then he'd hoist them back to his look out and bring the pain all over again. It was nice to have a full water base board as well, because it forced me to come up with some ideas for my own island shapes and builds. I sure do love those old palm trees.
Cross Bones Clipper - 1997
What's a list of pirate sets without a sturdy ship? While it's not one of the larger, fully equipped ships that have hit store shelves over the years, the Cross Bones Clipper is one solid little schooner. With the trademark skull and crossbones flying high and a treasure map in hand, it's not hard to see why this little ship became one of my favorites to customize. I always thought it was pretty badass that there was a human skull (human LEGO figure, that is) on the front. Fear my ships and all its skulls!
Raft Raiders - 1992
I envisioned these guys as a couple of clowns who were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yes, they were forced to cruise around on a raft ~ but at least they had a badass pet shark to keep them company. Usually I would have these guys get captured and locked up by the Imperials.
Overall this set saw a ton of playtime in my collection. It features three minifigs, one of which is actually the captain of the Renegade Runner (6268). The cloth sail with skull & crossbones is unique to this set, and the rigging added vertical placement options for the minifigs. It is a well designed set that allowed for a number of different unique configurations: A crane operation, pirate loot cart, or an island keg party!
Imperial Trading Post - 1992
This was the first pirate set I received as a birthday gift. It quickly became the centerpiece for all of my LEGO Pirate theme adventures. How cool is this setting?! It's a colonial trading post, fortified by the Imperials. It's a big set, with tons of space and different levels, greatly increasing it's playability. I remember heavily fortifying this outpost over time with the addition of more imperial cannons and walls, as well as extending the dock to accommodate the arrival of larger ships. Includes a custom raised baseplate, a merchant focused ship (unique to this set) and nine minifigs. The original build of this set is pretty basic. As an adult, I would love to see a more advanced build because the setting for this set is very cool.
Skull's Eye Schooner - 1993
I may have actually screamed when I got this set for Christmas as a kid. ZOMG. It became the heavy hitter of my Pirate collection, and this thing struck fear in the Imperial land defenses I constructed. As a kid, I remember being in awe at how huge the completed ship was ~ (Actual dimensions of 26Lx9Wx19H).
9 minifigs came with this set ~ including a rare merchant pirate, a female pirate, as well
as the iconic Captain Redbeard. The Merchant pirate is actually the rarest pirate of all time, appearing in only two large sets (6286 & 6277).
The ship itself had some fantastic features: cannons rotatable 360º from port to starboard, a handy cargo crane, and a lifeboat on the rear.
Pirates Gun Cart - 1993
I had multiples of this set. It was cheap and provided a ton of guns (I really love guns). What's not to love about a triple barrel musket cart? AWESOME.
Armada Flagship - 1996
I had a hiatus from Pirate theme for a time, but when this set hit the shelves my grandma gifted it to me. Rekindled my love for the pirate theme, unfortunately that run would be short lived with the end of Pirates in 1997. The "Spanish Armada" minifig designs were unique and added another narrative to my Pirate / Imperial heavy collection. I never really considered it a "flagship", and tended to use it more as an armed merchant vessel. The ship itself had several uniquely colored pieces that set it apart. Green railings and cannon bases, white & blue hulls. The main cloth sail featured the awesome armada crest. Overall, it was a fun set that added variety and many hours of additional play to my already large collection of Pirate LEGO.
Yuh-har! So there ye have it mateys. The best sets (in our humble opinions) that ever did sail the bricky blue ocean. Do ye have any fond memories of pirate or other LEGO? Yell about them in the comments!