Recently, I have found myself becoming nostalgic for a childhood I never had.
As I have previously mentioned, this year marks the 30th anniversary of LEGO Pirates. Now, thirty years ago, I had just turned 20 and was well established in my personal Dark Ages: So Pirates essentially passed my by. Or vice versa.
Earlier this year I came across a copy of 6270: Forbidden Island – available locally, for a reasonable price. Set sail with me now as I put the set together, and come to see just what made the Pirates sets so amazing back in their day!
As I started to say, I picked up a second hand copy of 6270 at a second had market, for a reasonable price. It had virtually all of the parts, a few substitutions, and, unfortunately, some of the clips on the flags were damaged. But all of the minifigures were intact. In fact, they looked pretty spectacular! I paid nothing like top dollar. In fact, I think I paid ‘about the right amount’ for a set in its condition.
So I set out to put the set together. Now, the set has a few years behind it. Much of it on display, I suspect. So, I washed the parts in some warm, soapy water, rinsed them, and left them out on the kitchen bench to dry overnight, before attempting to knoll the parts on the build bench.
Now, the young people reading this might not be surprised to discover that this 182 part set comes with instructions. However, the instructions only have 14 steps. Unfortunately my set did not come with the original instructions, but a scanned copy of the pdf from letsbuilditagain.com, that had been printed out some time ago.
The baseplate aids in starting the build, by providing white marks for all the starting elements. From there most of the build is straight forward enough, although the evil combination of parallax and fuzzy printing caused me some confusion early on – around step 4
Can you work out where that plate is supposed to go? I ended up referring to a 3D reconstruction sourced from brickset.com, rendered in Mecabricks.
From there it was simple enough, although I found that I needed to substitute in some small palm leaves, as larger ones had vanished over the previous 30 years. Another temporary greenery substitution involved using the sprue from some green leaves in place of a whip. Ultimately I found a green vine in my collection, so you might find evidence of both elements used in my photos.
Almost every aspect of these minifigures, with the exception of the white legs was first introduced in 1989: The 4 different sets of headgear, the epaulettes, the backpack, sword, pistol, wooden leg, hook for a hand, cutlass, rifle and pistol. To say nothing of the new face and torso prints. This was a theme designed to take our LEGO pieces someplace new, where we had never gone before.
And we get such a great range in this set: there certainly seems to be a hierarchy for the pirates – captain, first mate and general rapscallion – to say nothing of the new (at the time) Imperial Soldier.
Its Not Just Minifigures:
The parrot, monkey and shark all made their debut during the first wave of LEGO Pirates sets.
All of these animals have seen a little recolouring in recent years. Indeed, many of the colours in use in this set: Light grey, dark grey and brown have been relaunched over the years as medium and dark sone grey, and reddish brown. The parrot has experienced a number of new colour combinations over the years, while the Shark has a new mold, and now appears in a number of variations including sawtooth and zombie!
I really enjoy the final overall look of the set: By adding in the different levels that characters can be placed upon: ground, stairs, bridge, roof and crow’s nest, I found myself setting up little scenarios in my head, and subsequently on the model. Indeed, I found myself becoming nostalgic for a childhood I never knew.
This build has given me an understanding of why the pirates theme was so popular in its time, and why it remains a popular theme amongst builders and exhibitors alike.
What I liked:
I loved the minifigures, animals and greenery. Every figure had its own personality, including the soldier with the simple smiley face! There were 3 different types of greenery in this set: small leaves, palm fronds and the green whip. The shark, monkey and parrot provide an opportunity for the figures to be taking on more natural challenges, in the absence of human conflict!
What didn’t I like?
Very little. Some of the instructions were a little challenging to follow: most images were drawn using the same projection, and some hidden elements were hard to extrapolate.
Overall, I give they set 4.5/5 Arbitrary praise units: My copy of the set was not a prize specimen, but offered good value for money, and a bit of fun to boot. The new faces on the minifigures would have appeared revolutionary in their day. The build did not take too long, but the play value is incredible.
What do you think of this set from the Archives? I really enjoyed it: more than I was expecting to. Why not leave your comments of memories about LEGO Pirates below, and until Next Time,