LEGO Pirates: 30 Years of Buried Treasure

The first LEGO Pirates sets first appeared sometime in the second half of 1989. Maybe July; maybe August. Maybe September. It all depends on where you were standing. Join us as we present some of the Print Advertising Archive, as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of LEGO Pirates.

The Hunt for the Pirate Treasure: “To win great Prizes”

In 1989, a new series appeared in the LEGO Catalogs.

Until then, LEGO Minifigures had been living in Castle, Space and Town with their permanent, identical smiles always on show. At this time we saw minifigures move into the Caribbean Sea, with the new Pirates theme. With that first range of pirates minifigures, several things changed: Captain Redbeard has a… red beard and eye patch; a hook for a hand and a wooden leg. He has certainly been up against a few things over the years, and yet still has a small on his face. He is also the first minifigure to have an official name.

In fact, most of the figures released in this line featured facial hair, or stubble, except for the female pirate, the first figure’s face to feature lipstick; and the first torso to feature a printed waist.

Not only did we get our motley crew, but also the Imperial Faction – including the Governor and his guards – from the local colonial government; palm trees, parrot and a money.

Pirates originally ran from 1989 to 1997, followed up by a Re-release of some of the original sets in 2001. In 2009, the theme was relaunched with a range of 10 sets, as well as an Advent Calendar. A further selection appeared in 2015. In between, they appeared to have been occasionally supplanted by sets designed to tie-in with Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Of course, at the time, I missed the first round of Pirates: I was 20 years old, and well entrenched in my Dark Ages at the time. So…if I can’t share my memories of it…

Into the Advertising Archive

Last year, as part of the LEGO Minifigure 40th Birthday celebration, I was sent many advertisements from the print media over the years. While I presented the Castle, Town and Space advertisements last year, I ran out of energy to present the last big chapter. I realised the Anniversary was coming…and so I waited.

Please enjoy these Blasts from the Past, as we survey some of the Print Advertising (including catalogs) Archive from 1989-1996. Some of the translations might be a little dubious, allowing for local idiom and general usage (please forgive if I have inadvertantly committed crimes against linguistics.).

Prepare to board, men. In the Governor’s Castle, all hell is breaking loose: Sabres are rattling, cannons are firing. Will your deeds show you to be a man or a mouse? Will the Pirate Captain finally win the pot of gold.

Alarm! The pirates want to free the prisoners. In no time, they are attacking the governor’s fortress. With man and mouse is defended, even the shark takes part!

“Sure to board!”
Resolutely, the crew of the Pirate ship attacked the governor’s fortress. LEGOLand Pirates – with full sails into the adventure.

Pirates is a brand new LEGO series of pirates, guns, fortresses, hidden treasures and much more.
Choose from exciting new sets, and join the great pirate show

All sails and cannons, the pirate ship Black Shark is about to attack the Governor’s impenetrable fortress. Pirates will roar to conquer the terrible move! LEGOLAND to give 11 different packages to play pirates.

Let’s Go LEGO

1989: Brave Pirates Battle Quiz, Click the Brick to make a big Pirate’s Ship for the Summer Holidays. Win Prizes!


“Bring the treasure to safety.”
The captain is in a hurry. The pirate brigantine has set sail again … LEGO pirates – with full sails into the adventure.

A hot fight is raging in the Caribbean: Who will win the treasure?

Do not let the Captain escape!
The pirate captain wants to pile up with the treasure. But he was wrong …

Save the Treasure! Captain Roger runs over [the bridge] with the Governor and his men hot on his heels. Will he get away? And is there anything left of the Treasure?

Darn!: The pirates grabbed the gold from the governor’s treasure. The pirate brigantine has already set the sail. Raise the anchor, boys. Let’s see who owns the money.
LEGO Pirates – with full sails into the adventure. The ships can not swim, but are seaworthy on every level.

Now it’s around in Shark Bay!
With their new compass, the Pirates were quickly found out. Full broadside of the three-masted barque! And Captain Roger stews in the rock dungeon…

Quick in the skull cave! The Islanders are on the heels of Kap’n Roger and his men. Can the pirates take their treasure to the safe hiding place in time?

Hey, Captain, we did not have them on the map!
With rattling sabers Kapt’n Roger and his pirates conquered the Cape of the Islanders. But mysterious voodoo magic and dangerous crocodiles make it difficult to reach the legendary treasure…

I hope you have enjoyed this journey through the early Pirates sets. I think it is disappointing that we have not heard anything of a 30th Anniversary tribute. How good would it be to have a Creator Expert Pirate ship appear out of the blue in the next few months? (I don’t know of one, and have not heard any rumors: this is purely wishful thinking. But wouldn’t it be cool?)

However, I was fortunate to receive a copy of 6270 – Forbidden Island for my birthday a few months ago. I’ll be taking a look at it soon, here on the Rambling Brick.

If you have enjoyed this article, why not share it with your friends and don’t forget to follow the Rambling Brick on Facebook or Twitter (@ramblingbrick) for updates.

Were pirates an important part of your childhood? What was your favourite set? Why not comment below, and until next time,

Play Well!

I would like to thank to Miki Knight, and Benjamin Knights for help with translating the Japanese magazine cover..

7 thoughts on “LEGO Pirates: 30 Years of Buried Treasure

  1. Pirates was at the top of my list… The Islanders sub-theme was my favorite part. I collected every Islanders set just before my dark ages began. I was not fortunate enough to have any of the huge pirate ships, but I had two smaller ones.

  2. thanks I still have 2 big ships, castle, islands and smaller ones from 1990 1992 pirate theme, my kid is very happy with them as I opened the boxes now

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