- This article is about theme. For other uses, see Pirates (disambiguation).
Pirates was a LEGO System theme introduced in 1989. It was the first completely new theme that appeared after the three initially introduced main themes Town, Castle and Space from 1978. It focused on the classic idea of Caribbean pirates that were pitted against soldiers of colonial empires and would occasionally encounter indigenous people. During its initial run from 1989 to 1997, the theme saw continuous releases in every year. While the pirate faction remained largely unchanged, their imperial adversaries were subject to various visual changes.
The theme was the first to feature LEGO versions of firearms and introduced the first minifigures without the standard smiley-faces as well as specific elements for the construction of large sailing ship models, which were one of the outstanding features of Pirates.
Following a long hiatus starting in 1997, the theme was reintroduced in 2009, combining the established look from the past with recent LEGO elements and building styles. The theme will be re-introduced in 2015, with a similar, but still updated, style as the 2009 wave of sets.
Description[edit | edit source]
Pirates was a highly popular LEGO theme introduced in 1989, running until 1997. A comic book titled "The Golden Medallion" was released in 1989 to market the theme, as well as give some backstory on the main characters. As the series progressed through the years, more factions were introduced and the older ones were phased out of production.
In 1992, the first major change was seen when the Imperial Soldiers were replaced by the Imperial Guards, who wore red coats instead of the traditional blue. In 1994, another change came, and a third faction, the Islanders, were introduced to be a neutral faction. Then in 1996, the Imperial Guards were replaced with the Imperial Armada. The theme came to a close in 1997, much to the dismay of consumers.
In 2009 the Pirates theme was relaunched with the release of eight new sets. Also, the Imperial Guards made a comeback in a visually upgraded version. This re-release of pirates included the largest, and most detailed pirate ship in the whole theme.
In 2015, the Pirates theme was revisited with five new sets. Unlike the past release in 2009, the soldiers wear blue outfits with white epaulets, as opposed to red outfits with blue epaulets. Minifigure-held stud launchers introduced in 2014 are utilized as small cannons alongside the larger ones from previous waves of the theme, and wigs from the Minifigures theme will be used on some of the soldiers. The pirates will also have a new mould for their bandannas.
Pirates[edit | edit source]
See Main Article Pirates (faction)
The Pirates were one of the first two original factions in the theme to be introduced. They were the only faction not to change over time, but they expanded with more and more sets added with each change of the good faction. Their symbol was the Jolly Roger, a black flag with a skull and crossbones. The Pirates boasted three of the largest ship sets, Black Seas Barracuda, Red Beard's Runner, and Skull's Eye Schooner. They operated out of the Forbidden Island, Rock Island Refuge, Skull Island, and Pirates Perilous Pitfall sets.
The initial release of the Pirates was hugely popular. The sets released in this era were some of the largest in the theme, including Black Seas Barracuda, Forbidden Island, and the Rock Island Refuge. Some still consider this the "Golden Age" of the Pirate theme, with a comic book and several other books released to boost the theme.
Around late 1993 to early 1994, there was a minor split in the Pirate faction. Another captain emerged as the leader of the new Renegade Pirate faction. The two sides were not enemies, nor were they friends.
The final year of the theme saw radical changes to Hispanic themed Pirates, and much of the Pirate sets were redone to match the Imperial Armada. The theme only ran for 1 year before it was ended.
After more than ten years without any new Pirates releases, the theme was relaunched in 2009 with visually upgraded Minifigures.
Imperials[edit | edit source]
The Imperials were the good side of the Pirate theme. They were the one side that saw the most radical changes over the years, and actually worked backwards through time, starting with the Imperial Soldiers/Guards, based on the British (redcoats) and French (bluecoats), and ended with the Imperial Armada, based on the Spanish Armada and the Conquistadors.
Imperial Soldiers 1989-1993[edit | edit source]
See Main Article Imperial Soldiers
The Imperial Soldiers were released in 1989 along with the Pirates. They were the good faction to the Pirates, and were the protectors of the Caribbean. They were led by Governor Broadside and Lieutenant de Martinet, and their only goal was to capture or kill Captain Redbeard and his crew. Their flag was a blue flag with a large white cross that divided it into four small blue fields at each of the corners, (based on Quebec's flag) with a crown and crossed cannons in the centre.
Imperial Guard 1992-1996, 2009[edit | edit source]
See Main Article Imperial Guards
Introduced in 1992, the Imperial Guards were essentially the same as the Imperial Soldiers, the only main difference being the colour of the uniforms. Instead of the traditional blue jacket, a brown or grey backpack and red or yellow epaulets, the Imperial Guard wore a red jacket, a brown or grey backpack and blue or yellow epaulets. Their flag also saw a change to a red and white horizontal striped flag with a crown and crossed cannons in the centre.
The soldiers that appear in the new Pirates sets use the same flag and similar uniforms.
Imperial Armada 1996-1997[edit | edit source]
See Main Article Imperial Armada
1996 saw a different turn in the Pirate theme. Almost the entire theme was reworked and revamped. The result was two completely different factions. There were still the Pirates and the Islanders, but the Imperials changed to a more Spanish Armada based theme.
Even in this new theme, which only introduced a few sets, the Imperials were still outmatched by the pirates. Their main ship, the Armada Flagship, was still small in comparison to the Skull's Eye Schooner.
The Armada wore two colours, red or green, and wore the metal conquistador's helmet and metal breast plate armour of the era. The symbol of the Imperials also changed to a crown above a large shield divided into four sections.
Islanders[edit | edit source]
See Main Article Islanders
The Islanders were introduced in 1994, during the Imperial Guard era of the theme. They were loosely based on natives of the Pacific islands, and introduced a third faction into the theme. The Islanders were considered to be neutral, but were known to have pirate and Imperial prisoners. Their leader was the mischievous King Kahuka.
The Islanders were based out of their Enchanted Island, and had a smaller outpost at the Forbidden Cove. They used no firearms like the other two faction, but instead used more primitive weapons such as bows, arrows, and spears, as well as traps.
2009 Remake[edit | edit source]
In 2009, the Pirates line made a reappearance. The anti-pirate faction was based on a later version of the Imperials, and the pirates were lead by a new captain called Brickbeard. For the first time, the pirates seemed outmatched, given that their ship was just slightly over 1/2 of the size as the Imperial Flagship.
The theme only ran for six months and just released eight sets, although the Imperial Flagship was released after the main theme ended, in 2010. It was theorized that the theme was discontinued to make way for 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean theme.
2015 Remake[edit | edit source]
On April 4, 2014, it was announced on LEGO Rebrick (an experimental LEGO networking site), that at least one new Pirates set would be released in 2015, The Brick Bounty, a ship. Rebrick also launched a contest to name the ship. The 2015 remake features five new sets and visually updated minifigures, and makes use of newer elements such as soldier wigs and stud launchers.
Pirates in other toylines[edit | edit source]
After a longer hiatus that started in 1998, Pirates was introduced in 4+ series in 2004 and first launched as DUPLO series in 2006. It was was eventually relaunched as System theme in 2009 for one year. In 2011 LEGO released Pirates of the Caribbean
Four DUPLO Pirates sets were released in 2006. The theme ran only for 2 years and then was discontinued. Four sets were the only ones released.
History[edit | edit source]
First released in 1989, the Pirates line was initially sold under the LEGOLAND banner, like Town, City, and Space. Following the introduction of a single minifigure head (with red hair and a headset) in Space Police II which deviated from the classic smiling face previously used on all minifigures, the Pirates line introduced the next wave of more personalized LEGO faces featuring beards, eye patches, and lipstick. Pirates sets were also the first to include uninterpretative firearms (Space sets leaving the use of lights on their ships and figures ambiguous). 
List of sets[edit | edit source]
Classic[edit | edit source]
This list is incomplete, see List of LEGO Pirates sets instead
2009 Revamp[edit | edit source]
During 2009, Pirates was rereleased for one year. This may have been due to the 20th anniversary of LEGO Pirates. But the old Pirate ships used more bricks instead of the new ones. The following sets were introduced in 2009:
|8397||Pirate Survival||16||Pirate||$3.49 / €2.99||2009|
|6239||Cannon Battle||45||Pirate, Imperial Soldier||$5.99 / €5.99||2009 (First sold in 2008)|
|6240||Kraken Attackin'||78||2 Pirates||$9.99 / €9.99||2009|
|6241||Loot Island||142||Pirate, Castaway, Imperial Guard||$19.99 / €19.99||2009|
|6242||Soldiers' Fort||367||Captain Brickbeard, Soldier (3)||$49.99 / €49.99||2009|
|6243||Brickbeard's Bounty||592||Pirates (3), Mermaid||$99.99 / €79.99||2009 (First sold in late 2008)|
|6253||Shipwreck Hideout||310||Captain Brickbeard, Skeleton||$39.99 / €39.99||2009|
|8396||Soldier's Arsenal||17||Imperial Guard||$3.49 / €2.99||December 28, 2008|
|10210||Imperial Flagship||1664||Admiral, Governor's Daughter, Captain Brickbeard, Cook, Lieutenant, Imperial Guard (Four)||$179.99 / €149.99||January 4, 2010 (US and UK)|
2015 Revamp[edit | edit source]
|70409||Shipwreck Defense||84||Pirate, Bluecoat Soldier||2015|
|70410||Soldiers' Outpost||164||Pirate, Bluecoat Soldier (Two)||2015|
|70411||Treasure Island||181||Pirate queen, Pirate, Bluecoat Soldier||2015|
|70412||Soldiers' Fort||234||Bluecoat Governor, Governor's daughter, Bluecoat Soldier, Pirate (Two)||2015|
|70413||The Brick Bounty||745||Pirate captain, Pirate cabin boy, Pirate cook, Pirate first mate, Bluecoat Admiral, Bluecoat Sergeant, Bluecoat Soldier||$89.99||2015|
Merchandise[edit | edit source]
- 4226614 Pirate Eye Patch - 2004
- 851933 Pirate Sword - 2007
- 4226681 Pirate Scimitar - 2005
- Pirate Hook - 2005