Over the years the stable of LEGO® themes has grown vastly and across these themes, LEGO Designers have showcased their creative spark immensely. But there is one theme that really shows how creative you can be with LEGO bricks. LEGO Ideas started as a simple way for LEGO fans to show off their build skills, with the possibility of getting their design turned into a LEGO set. For over 10 years there has been a steady flow of great sets and a couple of not so great ones as well. There was a major turning point in 2017 with the release of the NASA Saturn V rocket. Up until then, Ideas sets were quite small and you could almost guess which projects stood a chance of being turned into a set, due to this. The Saturn V was a huge set, both in terms of scale and piece count, plus it carried a much higher price point than usual. That didn’t put people off and the set was a massive success, selling out each time it was restocked. This changed LEGO Ideas, bigger sets could sell and it made Ideas more exciting, suddenly any projects, regardless of size, had a chance to become a future LEGO set.
This gave way to other larger sets like the Old Fishing Store, Voltron and one of my favourite LEGO sets ever, the Tree House. But there is a new contender for the LEGO Ideas creativity crown and it’s a set which also harks back to the early days of LEGO past. Pirates were one of the early LEGO themes and is as much-loved as Classic Space and Castle. So it’s no surprise that they all inspire numerous projects on LEGO Ideas. So when Pablo Sánchez added The Pirate Bay project to the platform, it soon gained the required 10,000 fan votes to move it onto the review stage. Fast-forward to earlier this year and the final design was revealed. This took a vastly different route than the original project, it’s more colourful, packed with fun nods to past LEGO sets and can be rebuilt into a modern version of the classic Black Sea Barracuda ship.
Instead of the usual review, I thought I’d just share my sheer love of this set. First thing you’ll notice after building the set is the size of it. I knew it was going to be a large-scale set but it’s still surprisingly huge. Which makes it a little tricky to display but boy does it look amazing. The set is built in sections, which certainly helps with the size of the set. So there are two sections of an island and three sections of the ship, which has been repurposed by the pirates as a cool little hide-out. These two sections of the island have a surprising amount of detail, packed into them and also act as the main source of colour.
You can just imagine the grand Barracuda ship, limping out of its final naval battle and being salvaged by its motley crew as a lawless tropical haven. This has been perfectly captured across the set, with the light blue ocean, golden sands and lush green palm trees. It’s far more colourful than the original project, which I prefer to be honest. Partly because it gives it a more jolly-looking appearance and it also allows for some fun little details. You notice coral and shells in the tropical waters, a pig on the beach tucking into some tasty grub, the skeleton of a fallen Imperial Soldier and even the half-buried throne of King Kahuka.
The mismatched remains of the Black Sea Barracuda are equally detailed. The ship may not be whole, but all the sections of it still maintain their sea-faring needs. The Captain’s quarters are filled with ornate treasures, the crew’s digs double up as a tavern and all the battlements are still in place should the Imperial Navy happen upon this island hideout. Many of the sails remain on their masts, although some are a little tricky to hold in place in their rolled-up form. The natural elements of the island have also weaved their way into the wreckage of the ship, with leaves and vines dotted here and there.
The modular-style build of the set serves another purpose, with the sections of the ship being connected together to allow the Barracuda to set sail once more, I’ll be detailing that in another feature. Despite the set being built in sections, it fits perfectly together and doesn’t look forced. There are some sets which have clearly been created to ‘transform’ or be rebuilt and you can tell that the prime build has needed to incorporate certain things to allow for this. (I’m looking at you Emmet’s Dream House) This isn’t the case here, in fact, once the set was complete I thought as vast dismantling and rebuild would be needed to turn the wrecked ship into a seaworthy vessel. Instead, once each section is unclipped from the island bases, you just need to add a couple of extra elements, unfurl the sails and you have a modern-day take on the classic 1989 Pirates ship.
But ye can’t have a ship without a crew and the set features a motley bunch of eight Minifigures, nine if you count the imprisoned skeleton. When LEGO Pirates first set sail all those years ago, the sets would be the first to feature Minifigures with different facial expressions. They would also be the first to feature characters. Since then the legend of Captain Redbeard has lived on through the ages. Including him and his crew in this set, is not only a nostalgic nod to the bygone early days of LEGO, but also adds a little more fun to an already delightful set.
The crew is a mix of classic characters and a couple of new faces, all of which take advantage of modern-day Minifigure design. I love that Captain Redbeard is showing his age, with a little greying in his famous facial hair. The rest of the crew is a little more diverse than it was back in the 80s (and again in the early 2000s) with more female Minifigures included. One of which makes excellent use of the new tricorne hat element, also used in the latest LEGO Minifigures series. Modern-day elements also help to give other classic characters an improved appearance, for example, the Broadside Brother now have actual moustaches. The Minifigures may only be a small part of a set of this scale, but they help to ignite memories for older LEGO fans who may have grown up with the original LEGO Pirates set. Plus they add a little fun story to inspire younger builders just setting off on their own LEGO adventures. As we have seen with numerous LEGO sets, especially just recently, these sort of connected threads which unite stories and characters from different eras of LEGO history are welcomed by LEGO fans. Something which began with the Pirates sets so only seems fitting to be incorporated into the amazing Ideas set.
I’ve become quite the fan of LEGO Ideas sets, it’s a theme where creativity is key and sets such as this are the pinnacle of that. I enjoy the licensed sets, LEGO Ideas creates, as there give use stuff which wouldn’t warrant an entire theme, but it’s original ideas like this, which are the most fun. I adore the Tree House but I think that the Pirates of Barracuda Bay just edges it for me as the best LEGO Ideas set yet. So much through has been poured into the set, from tweaking the original fan submission to incorporate classic LEGO characters to the box which also takes inspiration from old-school LEGOLAND box design. Sure it’s a little pricey but you’ll get an amazing build and a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Plus a chance to build the legendary Black Sea Barracuda, either for a second time around or for the very first time.
Rekindle nostalgic memories of childhood LEGO® construction projects with this LEGO Ideas Pirates of Barracuda Bay (21322) shipwreck island model for display and play. Enjoy some calm, quality time alone building – or share the fun with others.
Rebuild into a classic
Discover the captain’s cabin, food store, kitchen, bedrooms, supply dock, farm, toilet, jail cell, tavern and hidden treasure, plus lots of fun accessories, 8 pirate minifigures, assorted animal figures and 2 skeleton figures to inspire action-packed stories. This set includes an island that can be split in half and rearranged. The shipwreck can also be dismantled and reassembled to make a ship inspired by the Black Seas Barracuda pirate ship LEGO model from 1989.
- Set Name: Pirates of Barracuda Bay
- Set Number: 21322
- Pieces: 2545
- RRP: £179.99/$199.99/199.99€
- Measurements: measures over 59cm high, 64cm wide and 32cm deep
- Minifigures: Captain Redbeard, Lady Anchor, Robin Loot, Tattooga, Quartermaster Riggings, Port & Starboard
- Availability: LEGO retail
This set was provided to BricksFanz by the LEGO Group for purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are that of BricksFanz and do not reflect those of the LEGO Group. Providing the set for free does not guarantee a favourable opinion of the set. By clicking on affiliate links within this article, BricksFanz.com may earn a small commission. This in no way influences our opinions or shape the content we cover.