Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 7:03pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It is time once again for another wonderful set review. This time Bfahome takes a look at the most recent, and of of the largest, Pirates set, the Imperial Flagship! To find out if this set is worthy of breaking your bank, you'll have to read on!
Before I say anything else, I'd like to apologize for any inconsistencies in picture quality or setup. My camera's been acting weird lately.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Pictured: left, Flagship box; right, 40,000,000-foot-tall robot
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this box is very large. Now that I've gotten that unfounded assumption out of the way, let's look at the design, shall we?
A majority of the front is taken up by the Flagship itself, sails billowing, cannon firing, and crew squabbling. A truly imposing sight. Down the left side are the ever-present LEGO logo, age range (hah, no maximum age this time!), set number, and piece count. At the lower left there is a small image showing the three removable parts of the Flagship. On the upper right is the set's name in both English and French, and below that is another smaller image, this time showing what the dimensions of the ship are.
On the top of the box is a miniaturized version of the parts list that's at the end of every instruction booklet. Next to that is an "actual size" image of one of the minifigures in this set, the captain's daughter. As is customary, it's not quite "actual size", but close enough.
Down the right side is a lineup of the minifigures contained in this set. Brickbeard tries to escape but is pursued by three soldiers and the lieutenant. The fourth soldier is at the back, readying a cannon, while the captain observes through his telescope. In a seemingly unrelated turn of events, the captain's daughter appears to have stolen one of the cook's frying pans and is holding it just out of his reach, mocking how short he is. There's also a rat boldly guarding his crate of cannonballs.
Along the left side and bottom there are some nice "parchment" images of the lower deck and the captain playing his organ, as well as an image of the Flagship sitting just offshore, silhouetted by moonlight. Kudos to whoever thought of these; they're really a nice touch.
On the back there's the usual array of images showing what you can do with this set. On the left there's a view of the back of the Flagship as it sails to shore (is that really the best time to leave the wheel unattended?). That cook seems to be more trouble than he's worth, really. Down the right, there are smaller pictures of the captain channeling his inner Davy Jones, a soldier indicating how the capstan can raise the anchor, two soldiers and a rat escorting Brickbeard to (or from) the brig, a soldier and the captain at the helm, two soldiers readying and firing two of the cannons, and that troublesome cook cutting a carrot.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
That's how long it took to build this. Hours. There are no in-build pictures, but I did make a video of the building process (sped up, of course), although it seems it wasn't recording throughout the entire thing. Here's the high-quality video for hose with broadband connections, and here's the link to the smaller vide for those with dial-up connections. (Obligatory comment about how you should download the videos, not stream them.)
The building process starts with the ceremonial Arranging of the Polybags, which was preceded by the un-ceremonial Dumping of the Polybags.
Here we see the many bags of varying sizes, along with the unbagged hull pieces. Some bags contain the long pieces in the set, and one bag has the sails. Unfortunately, none of the bags are numbered. Hoo boy, this build should be fun!
The first part of the ship you build is the hull. This includes the kitchen, boat jail (no I am not calling it the brig, for it is BOAT JAIL), cannon deck, and bow with mast. Some of this part is a bit repetitive. The first steps are rather annoying, as the four middle hull pieces are connected to each other with your standard 2x4 LEGO bricks, which refuse to stay in place until you're well into the build. That means it's hard to put anything over the gaps between the hull pieces without it popping off at least once. Once you build up the sides, though, they stay together, but you may need to push the bricks back into place every once in a while.
The next part of the build is the first of two deck sections. Despite the fairly solid look, it's made up of rather small plate pieces. It starts with the basic frame, followed by the opening grate and two masts. The masts are build with extremely long plus rods up their center, so that's kind of cool. However, the sail construction is unbelievably repetitive. There are so many rod connectors that need to go together that my mind went numb, I messed up on one of them, and I didn't notice it until the next day. After you're finished building this section, you're instructed to attach it onto the hull via four of the studs on the cross-beam.
The last thing to be built is the cabin area. It starts out somewhat similar to the first deck section, but quickly receives more details. The deck and mast are pretty much the same as the other section, so the cabin is the real fun part of the build. It's neat to slowly watch it grow as bits and pieces are added on. A few times I wasn't sure why I was doing what I was doing, but those moments were followed shortly by "I see what you did there" moments. After completing this section, you stick it on the hull the same way you stuck the other deck piece on.
That's it. You can now step back and gawk at the big pretty shiny thing you made.
Here are all the spare parts, or at least the ones the instructions didn't tell me to put on. There actually is a spare set of handcuffs, which I will probably use to stick another pirate into boat jail.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Since the bags weren't numbered, I dumped all the pieces out in a big pile. Here you can see the chaos that resulted.
This set has no new or unique molds, but there are some interesting parts that definitely deserve a mention. Along the top is one of the extremely long plus rods that go in the masts. Below that are Brickbeard's handcuffs, the yummy chicken legs, capstan piece, Brickbeard's/the captain's hat (Brickbeard's is unprinted too. Sadface.), gold coins, tricorne, imperial flag, anchor, the captain's daughter's hair, one of the fish, the carrot and one of the torches, a black skeleton leg, the two colors of plume and trans-orange flame, sextant, map, the captain's daughter's dress piece, rat/mouse, pistol, both colors of epaulettes, a cutlass, musket, the sawfish figurehead (lovely), one of the upper mast pieces, and rigging.
Well here are all the minifigures in the set. Four soldiers, who all dress the same, one lieutenant, the same as the soldiers except for the hat, the captain, the captain's daughter, the cook, and Brickbeard.
All the minifigures have back printing, which isn't really big news nowadays, since most do. The captain has the least printing, with only two buttons on his back. The captain's daughter also has a second face, more angry than her other one.
And here's the beauty herself. This ship has so many details I'll probably forget to mention about half of them.
Here we have Brickbeard's luxury suite at the front of the ship. It contains a bed and a rat. Only the best for our prisoners! I do find it ironic, though, that Brickbeard has the only bed on the ship. The soldiers are probably pretty angry about that. Also in the front you can see the anchor mechanism, which raises and lowers the anchor depending on how you turn the capstan. It seems a bit stupid of the imperials to lock their pirate captain prisoner up with their only method of braking, but maybe they figure he can't do much with only one functioning hand.
Here are the cannon bays in the lower deck. There are four cannons and eight spots, so each has to be moved to one side or the other depending on who the ship's shooting at. There are two white crates with five dark grey cannonballs each (I'm a bit annoyed at the inconsistency there, as other sets had black ones). There is also a crate by the boat jail that has two sponges-on-a-stick for cleaning out the cannons (I think, but honestly I have no clue). At the other end is the entrance to the kitchen, on either side of which is a musket and torch.
This is the kitchen, a feature I don't think any other LEGO ship has had before. It has a rotisserie with two chicken legs, a table with a chopped carrot and goblet, and two fish in a.. crate? Huh? Anyway, on the other wall there are two knives, a pot, and a pan.
The front is nice. It has some interesting flexible TECHNIC tubing for railings. Beneath that are some nice Studs Not On Top (SNOT) sections that extend the bow upward a bit. The figurehead is a sawfish, which is a piece that hasn't been used for quite a while. It certainly looks more like a figurehead than the strangely realistic mermaid on the bow of Brickbeard's Bounty.
There isn't too much on this section compared to the others, so don't expect much of a description. Basically you've got two masts, one taller than the other, and the opening grate. The top of the taller mast has a flexible plastic flag with the imperials' color and logo on it. Since that mast is a bit taller, the rigging on it is extended by a ladder piece on each side. It looks a bit weird, buy hey it works. I'm also going to mention how nice the sails are. Usually LEGO ships' sails have vivid stripes down them, but these subtle, more realistic sails look much better in my opinion.
The front part of this section is similar to the other deck section, but I think the cabin is the most detailed part of the entire ship. It has two doors on the front with a ladder up between them. A bit strange for the ladder to be there, since it's rather cramped with the mast so close. I suppose it's nice to actually have a ladder up to the helm, though. Speaking of which, the helm and deck are rather spacious. You could fit a bunch of guys up there. It has nice railings, too. The wheel looks good with the GPS (read: sextant and telescope) on either side. The back of it is beautiful, with four dark blue plumes and railing framing the backward-slanting windows. Along the top there are three lanterns. These lanterns actually have two differently-colored 1x1 round plates rather than just one solid color. That shows just how much effort the designers put into this set.
The deck lifts off to show the cabin's interior, where the captain keeps his personal belongings. Between the doors is chest of drawers with a map and, according to the set description, a poison bottle on top. That's just awesome. Against the left wall is his treasure chest, where he keeps his stash of jewels and coins. Against the right wall is a stand with another telescope looking out the window. However, my favorite part is the pipe organ against the back wall. It has both black and white "keys", five pipes on the back of varying heights, and what I assume is a place to put sheet music. It's a really excellent touch that gives the cabin, and really the whole ship, that much more personality.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
Well, as someone who only has two other LEGO Pirate sets, both of which were bought for parts, I can't say much for playability. However, people who are massively rich may be able to get this set and another LEGO pirate ship and pit them against each other, or buy some other large "historical" LEGO sets and use them as a port. There are a bunch of possibilities. But there are a couple of functions the ship has to offer for playability.
Like most recent pirates sets this set comes with firing cannons that can shoot 1x1 cylinders when you pull and release the back. They shoot rather far, so you'll need to be careful or you might lose some ammo. The anchor can be raised and lowered, but it doesn't go very far. It doesn't need to travel that far, though, since this ship is not waterproof and would sink instantly. Sadly, that's all I can say for playabiliy right now, so I'll just say this is probably more of a display set than a rough-and-tumble play set. However, there is one thing I like doing...
Yes, I also bought five Manta Warrior sets specifically for this purpose.
I also want to take this chance to let you know that the knives, cutlasses, muskets, and rigging pieces are made of softer plastic that most assuredly will be scraped, dented, or damaged if you try to put them in a minifigure's hands. To me this kills a bit of the playability too, unfortunately.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- A beautiful and highly detailed set
- It is HUGE
- Comes with eight minifigures, four cannons, and a good number of accessories
- It is HUGE
- Uses some older and uncommon pieces such as the sawfish and cookware
- I believe this is the first LEGO Pirates ship to actually have brown-colored masts (as opposed to black)
What's not to like?
- Price is extremely expensive for the casual buyer (it's like the antithesis of impulse sets; only the timely intervention of gift money allowed me to purchase it)
- Lacks significant playability on its own (is really more of a display set)
- The usual soft plastic issue with some of the accessories
- Have I mentioned how absolutely terrifying it is trying to carry this set up or down a flight of stairs when the light is off?
I'm not going to end this review by telling you to go out and buy this set right now, since I know that's unrealistic. Instead, I'm going to tell you that this is a very beautiful and detailed set that I feel is well worth the money, and if you're a LEGO Pirates fan looking for just the right ship then this may be the one.
Be sure to thank bfahome for reviewing this massive set in the Talkback topic, where you can also ask any questions you may have. Of course, be sure to keep checking back for more reviews and Bionicle and LEGO news, right here at BZPower!
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