Piratepalooza Continues: Meet the Islanders

This year, we saw the 30th anniversary of the arrival of LEGO Pirates on the scene. Featuring ships, factions and named characters, Pirates also introduced some interesting elements to the mixture. After five years, perhaps in an attempt to move away from the obligatory Pirates versus Governor conflict, a new group of characters was introduced: Islanders.

With printed grass skits, and wearing horns in their hair, I probably feel a bit uneasy about saying anything about how these characters might reflect any culture living at the times during which the Pirates theme was set. Suffice to say, they provided variation in characterisation. I imagine that Pirates might be seeking to hide out on an island in the South Seas, and seek a degree of cooperations from the indigenous population. I am glad there were no ‘soldier faction’ figures included with the Islanders subtheme.

I picked up an ageing copy of 6262: King Kahuka’s Throne at a recent swap meet, and set about tracking down some of the missing and broken elements on Bricklink. The set has 146 pieces, and comes with 5 mini figures. The set was not entirely complete: the mast was broken, and some smaller leaves had been substituted for the larger ones initially provided. That said, I felt the price I paid was very reasonable for the set in this condition.

The set is a quick and simple build, with three primary components:

We start with the minifigures: 2 Pirates, 2 Islander Warriors and King Kahuka.

The pirate figures now feature 3 color printing on their torsos. They come with an array of accessories: cutlass, pistol, oars and map. The faces are still the 1st generation pirate faces: simple smile, with an eyepatch, stubble and a fringe to poke out underneath the headwear. We have a tricorn hat and blue scarf as head wear.

We have 3 Islanders: 2 warriors, who are essentially identical, and King Kahuka. I love their torso printing – with decorated necklaces as well as the top of their grass skirts (printed onto the legs). The horns that connect to the hair piece, and the feathers for the King’s mask cone on a single sprue, and a few pristine examples can still be found on BrickLink.

The one other living creature, to be found in this set, is the crocodile. The crocodile appeared across a number of sets in 1984, all in the Pirates theme. Initially ‘Dark green’ – or just Green, as many will label it, it became available in earth green ( Bricklink’s dark green) around 14 years later.

Next, we put together a small, simple sedan chair, featuring the modified plate with 2 handles, in red.

Having provided King Kahuka with a means of transportation, perhaps we should do the same for our pirates: In the next phase, we give our pirates a method of transportation: a small boat – seating 2 with a sail. The mast element was damaged in the original set I purchased, but I was able to replace it easily enough.Crewed by two pirates, they have a map…perhaps guiding them towards treasure.

Next, we move onto the main part of the model: a cave, with a face carved in the rock above – perhaps it represents a god, or a totem, worshipped or respected by the islanders (curse my lack of anthropological knowledge.) Various statues and rock carvings of this type were featured across a number of sets in the Islanders sub-theme – and reusing the same design was quite above board. Meanwhile, in the back of the cave, some treasure is hidden, while in front, is a place to rest King Kahuka’s throne: carried by two warriors. To say nothing of a spectacular striped drum!

There are so many great little details here, from the cave, to the mechanism to lock the King’s Carrier into position.

With the combination of natives, and a couple of pirates in this set, I can see that it would have had great play value in the day – I imagine King Kahuka granting audience to the pirates, seeking permission to dig up their previously buried treasure, or seeking a place to hide their ill gotten gains.

The building was simplest the overall effectiveness of both the scene provides mystery, and a hint of Danger! Who is the man behind the mask? Will our Pirates negotiate a truce? Or be fed to the Crocodile? Only time will tell…

The Legacy of King Kahuka.

While the Islanders sub theme consists of releases in 1994, one set was reissued in 2001 (Forbidden Cove) as part of the Legends reissue series. Islanders have appeared in both LEGO Battles and LEGO Racers video games (“I am King Kahuka… I beat you like tribal drum”).

A Tribal Warrior appeared in series 11 of the Collectable Minifigures. He features a carved mask (this time as a neck attachment rather than a headpiece. Remove the mask, and we reveal markings, probably tattoos, that seem much more threatening than those worn by the original Islanders. this is of course in addition to the more contemporary art style used for Bothe the torso and face printing.

I won’t enter the topic of LEGO, and cultural stereotyping…today. But there is a lot that could be said. Perhaps I’ll get back to it in the future.

So…ignoring cultural appropriation, I really enjoy this set: so many scenarios are possible – for the Islanders, the Pirates, the crocodile, and any combination of the above. I give it 4 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units. The nostalgia rang true with this set for me – complete with faded and broken elements, a somewhat weatherbeaten sail, and minifigures with joints becoming so loose that they can barely withstand the force of gravity after all this time. A great marker of a set that was well loved in its day.

As an aside, I have tried to be a little less ‘straight down the line’ with my photography for this review. Less tripod, less exact angles, altered depth of field. Did this work for you as a reader? did it increase the appeal of the set, or the desire to read on? I’d actually love to know your thoughts on this. Leave your comments below, or through Rambling Brick Social media – on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

I have one more set left in my Piratepalooza series: one from the most recent wave of sets. I failed to build it when I bought it, and have had it sitting casually on my pile of shame. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I get that written up.

And until Next time…

Play Well!