Pirate MOCs

“Scarlett Viper” by Barbatos

Did you know that during The Age of Sail you could commit an act of high seas piracy and not get prosecuted or hanged for it? Quite on the contrary, you could get rich and famous, or even knighted like Francis Drake and Henry Morgan!

All you needed was a ship and authority issued commission, often referring to as a letter of marque, which empowered the holder (you) to carry out hostility permissible at sea by the usages of war against the hostile countries. In a nutshell, government sponsored pirates were known as privateers.

One such privateer ship which wreaked havoc to the Imperial Armada was the Scarlett Viper, a fast and nimble cutter ship constructed by the finest shipbuilder in Italy, Captain Barbatos.

Barbatos writes:

Very recently I finished the project of another ship: The Scarlett Viper.

This time we are talking about a cutter, a fast and stable ship used in the 1700s also by privateers for racing wars, as well as as smuggling boats or to communicate between fleets of larger ships.

The Scarlett Viper is captained by Roxanne, a privateer nicknamed Bloody Lady!

The Scarlet Viper crew

Authorised by Queen Elizabeth I with the letter of marque, Captain Roxanne sails the Caribbean seas and legally plunders any Spanish merchant ship she encounters

The Venomous Design

Broadside view at the cutter

The cutter has a single mast with 3 jibs (triangular sails at the bow), 2 cages (square sails on the master) and a auric sail between boom and peak (the stern rods)

Broadside close-up of the cutter

Unlike the other ships Barbatos created in the past, with Scarlett Viper he decided to remain true to the real ship as much as possible

Bow close-up of the cutter

That means, no figurehead at the bow, as he has never seen a cutter ship with one

The cutter bow view

Ironically however, initially he was creating a brig, which was supposed to be called Scarlett Lust because of the red curvy lady on the figurehead

The cutter stern close-up

After some torture back and forth questioning, Barbatos admitted that this ship was born from a hull experiment he was performing – and we might add that the experiment succeeded flawlessly

The cutter stern view

If ye were wondering, the sails are made out of 160g red cardboard – and they look great!

The cutter armament

She is armed to the teeth with eight light guns and fourteen revolving muzzles, even though she is sailing on the skeleton crew of only five – but who cares, this is LEGO!

The cutter removable deck

The deck is removable and inside there are two bunks for the crew and various containers. Not accessible (but visible) are the captain’s quarters and a couple of rooms used as a warehouse

The good life on the cutter

That piece is absolutely perfect for a hammock – steal this idea!


  • Parts: 1468 parts (without minifigures)
  • Dimensions: Width: 16cm (6.3″) | Length: 60cm (23.6″) | Height: 60cm (23.6″)
  • Instructions available at Rebrickable.com
Isometric left front view

The red colour scheme is quite striking, and Bandiera Rossa surely drives fear and terror into the enemy when they see her flying, as it signals – no quarter!

Pirate/Privateer – What’s the Difference?

So what actually distinguishes pirates and privateers?  The intro of this blog post said privateers are basically pirates commissioned by a government?

But what does that mean?

Pirates vs Privateers Infographic

This infographic will educate you!

If we research its etymology (that’s the study of the  origin of words), the word “pirate” originates from the Latin word “pirata” and from the Greek word “peirates”, both words referring to those who are enticed by wealth. Meanwhile, the word  “privateer” describes a privately commissioned errand-running seafarer… and by “errand-running” we mean encouraged by a government to prey upon another nation’s ships during times of war.

In other words; a pirate is an outlaw who steals from ships for their own personal gain, while, a privateer is commissioned or “hired” by a sovereign nation who legally exerts that pirate’s right to pillage and plunder. That also means the privateer’s crew don’t get to divide all the plunder among themselves – they must cut their sovereign into the booty!

If a pirate is captured and arrested they are usually condemned to the noose, while a privateer may attempt use their Letter of Marque (I.e. their mission orders from their sovereign) as a Get Out of Gaol Free Card. Whether it worked or not is another matter…

East Indiaman Kent (left) battling Confiance, a privateer vessel commanded by French corsair Robert Surcouf in October 1800

Historic photo painting by Ambroise Louis Garneray: East Indiaman Kent (left) battling Confiance, a privateer vessel commanded by French corsair Robert Surcouf

Privateers are usually hired during wartime, yer know, like mercenaries to attack enemies.  But eventually the war ends and their sovereign has no further use for them, thus rendering them unemployed. Since you can’t keep a good sea dog down, privateers often returned to pirating for their livelihood… and adventure!

A big thank ye to Escales Ponant magazine for the definition and stunning infographic.

About the Builder…

Captain Barbatos, creator of the widely known Terrifying Charon’s Chest, is an experienced builder whose main interest lies in ship builds (pirate-themed mind you), as they present a greater challenge than puny land-based builds.

He regularly shares images and insights of his finished builds, along with Work-In-Progress updates via his Instagram account. And on rare occasion, he also spoils us with MOC video demonstrations on his YouTube channel.

For building instructions plunder his Rebrickable account, as you might learn a thing (or twenty) on about how to build ships the Italian way.

What Do You Think?

When was the last time we have seen a cutter ship design in our waters – is this the first so far? Now that you have seen it, would you like to own one? What about Terrifying Charon’s Chest, is Scarlett Viper superior or we should avoid going too deep into comparative waters? Tell us what you think in the LEGO Pirates MOCs sub-forum by clicking the big red shiny button below.


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