LEGO’s latest Pirates theme offers the awesome experience of playing a scurvy, peg-legged, eyepatch-wearing, cutlass-wielding buccaneer! Pirates is one of the classic lines LEGO brings back every few years. It debuted in 1989 and featured the first minifigs with realistic expressions instead of the iconic blank smile. This year, Pirates returns with the lovable title characters along with their hapless opponents, the vaguely European colonial troops. The showpiece of the line is Brickbeard’s Bounty a magnificent pirate ship complete with cannons, sails and a mermaid figurehead. You also get a bunch of awesome pirate figs, each a little different than the next, plus a decent assortment of minifig gear, including five cutlasses as well as several pistols and rifles.
The ship’s cannons are great. Rather than building them with bricks, the cannons come pre-assembled and contain a spring mechanism that lets you launch 1×1 round bricks from them like cannon balls. The rope lines serve to secure the high masts, making for some much-needed stability. My favorite detail is the ornate captain’s cabin.
One minor disappointment: counting the swivel mount on the poop deck, there are five cannon ports, yet only 3 cannons came with the set, so you must leave two of the ports empty. My immediate thought was to buy a couple of cheaper sets that include the cannons just to make the ship complete. The ship also lacks an anchor and crow’s nest, though this is a relatively minor complaint.
Brickbeard’s Bounty is a lot of fun for the kids. I set all three down with the model and they had the best time playing with it, assuming the roles of pirates, of course. The oldest declared herself captain, with my middle kid the mermaid and my 3-year-old son content to be cabin boy. No one wanted to be a soldier.
Speaking of soldiers, like many LEGO sets, Brickbeard’s Bounty comes with a readymade conflict. The cartoon storyline depicted in the instructions shows a pair of hapless soldiers arriving in a rowboat with a chest full of gold and jewels, which they give to the pirates in exchange for the Admiral’s daughter. Any question who the real stars of the line are? (And does anyone else find it ironic that LEGO is selling a toy that shows authorities ransoming a hostage from a group of pirates?)
In addition to being fun, it’s a great set for a younger kid to build, because it’s a relatively simple build. Some sets, like the Exo-Force set I reviewed last year were distinctly more challenging. This set, on the other hand, seemed easier — not to mention offering some fantastic play opportunities, the ship itself is relatively solid and able to withstand a reasonable amount of rough handling.
Brickbeard’s Bounty: Good pirate fun, an awesome build with great accessories.
(Check out my Brickbeard’s Bounty Flickr set to see more views of this cool ship.)