This article is not intended to be wrought with cynicism but quite a few LEGO Pirate fans be wondering whether the LEGO Group still has their bearings navigating pirate-themed set releases.
While there be no shortage of Adult Fans of LEGO who embrace these sets enthusiastically, those thirsting for classic nostalgia deem them of little relevance to the LEGO Pirates theme and a missed opportunity for something greater.
Let the Lamenting Begin!
LEGO Pirate fans have longed for more sets based upon small ships, such as the “Merchant’s Cutter” which appeared in 6277 Imperial Trading Post. After all, historically, these were pirates’ vessels of choice, opposed to the larger galleons or frigates.
Beyond rafts, not one independent small ship set released within the LEGO Pirates theme! Curious really, given three were released within the LEGO Castle theme, both predating and during the Pirate theme’s tenure; 6049 Viking Voyager (1987), 6057 Sea Serpent (1992), 1547 Black Knights Boat (1993). Furthermore, even the Orient Expedition saw the release of 7416 Emperor’s Ship (2003) years after the LEGO Pirates theme submerged into hiatus.
So instead of a pirate-themed playground, the LEGO Group could have released an actual pirate ship, complete with a brick-built hull and a material sail.
Further ingraining frustration is the continual rejection of 10K Pirate submissions on LEGO Ideas, not to mention the Castle and Space releases for the LEGO Group’s 90th Anniversary; 10305 Lion knights Castle, 40567 Forest Hideout, 10497 Galaxy Explorer and 40580 Blacktron Cruiser – the latter three being 21st century updates of classic LEGO sets, a strategy first employed by concealing a 6285 Black Seas Barracuda update within 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay.
Exactly who is requesting pirate-themed playgrounds anyway? Somewhere on the vast Internet sea are AFOLs commenting; “Well, my LEGO City definitely needs more piratey attractions… I think a playground would be nice this time!”
No, probably not, but here’s a dose of reality…
LEGO Pirates fan, this isn’t about your nostalgia and what YOU prefer! LEGO is first and foremost, a children’s brand with AFOLs constituting a small minority of the consumer base (some estimate less than 1%). Determining which sets to release is based upon broader market appeal, and quite frankly there just aren’t enough LEGO Pirate fans to justify more frequent releases. In reality, Classic Pirates is the largest slice of a very very small pie.
Wait a minute… this is a Gift With Purchase! Children don’t posses credit cards so it’s adults purchasing the sets that allow the gift acquisition to be possible. It’s not like 40589 Pirate Ship Playground will hit retail shelves and the kiddies will gleefully spot it during their regular toy store browsing. So if I’m buying all these LEGO sets for the youngin’s, why can I get a free gift for myself?
Don’t be stupid LEGO Pirate fan – you’re meant to buy the LEGO for yourself and give the Gift With Purchase to the kids!
Why Report Non Classic-Style Sets?
Some may perplexion may arise because the name of this fan community is “Classic Pirates“; so why bother reporting non classic-style sets? Wouldn’t it demonstrate higher integrity to simply ignore them?
Like every facet of existence, there are reasons beyond the immediate obvious, so here be a few:
- Some LEGO Pirate fans are genuinely interested in these pirate-related sets, even if they’re not strictly classic-style. So for their benefit, we like to keep them informed. Collecting the set may not be the primary objective, in certain instances the parts may be useful for building.
- Classic Pirates needs to appeal to recent fans. Not all LEGO Pirate fans jumped onboard back in the late 80s and 90s – we’ve picked a few up along the way. Some fans came on board as recently as 2020 with 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay and 31109 Creator Pirate Ship, so sets like 40589 Pirate Ship Playground are the only pirate-themed releases in the time since… and you’re no doubt aware of the exorbitant cost of classic sets \on the aftermarket.
- Classic Pirates must attract new fans. Let’s face it, there aren’t nearly as many LEGO Pirate fans as LEGO Castle fans due to the fact Castle had a longer run with more sets. So if these pirate novelties help pique the interest of newcomers, this only serves to our advantage by growing the fan base.
- If Classic Pirates didn’t report them, we’d go years without sharing any official news… and official news get the views! It certainly drives traffic to our website and social media profiles/groups even if the release isn’t strictly a classic-style set.
- Search Engine Optimisation strategy. The majority of LEGO blogs and fansites report on these sets, so if Classic-Pirates.com doesn’t, we miss out on vital keywords for the Search Engines to index, and in turn we lose relevance in Search Engine rankings.
Some LEGO Pirate fans may have grumbled because we created a forum topic and reported on 43212 Disney Celebration Train just because it had a new sail piece, but this was done with strategic foresight
Only Bad News for LEGO Pirate Fans?
Perhaps not… some consider it a promising sign that the LEGO Group continues to produce pirate-themed torso prints, headgear and accessories – after all, this is evidence they’re keeping the moulds and templates alive! And don’t allow 31109 Creator 3 in 1 Pirate Ship* to slip our minds, at the time of writing, this set is/was still in production, and found a place on retail shelves for more than 3 years.
* Affiliate link provided by Rakuten advertising
We can also hope at least one pirate-themed submission entered into the 2023 Bricklink Designer Program: Series 1 gained sufficient votes to be produced as an official set.
During early 2023, Brickset conducted a poll to determine which classic set should be revived for a Gift With Purchase – guess which set topped the poll… a set from the LEGO Pirates theme of course! 6235 Sabre Island. Although, it must be noted this was an unofficial poll which may have no influence over future GWP sets.
And also there be a rumour… Rumblings of a 2,509 piece D2C (Direct to Consumer) pirate-themed set to be released in July 2023 for US$215 – but a rumour is all we have for now…
What Do Yer Think?
What are your thoughts on non classic-style pirate-themed LEGO sets? Do you think the LEGO Group is widening the appeal of LEGO Pirates by releasing these sets? Or do you feel like they’re taking shots in the dark and hoping they’ll sell?
Should Classic Pirates keep reporting on them? Or should we stay true to the classics and only report on classic-style sets? Continue this discussion further in the LEGO Pirates Forum or on Facebook to share your opinion…