All LEGO Pirate Ships Ranked From Worst To First
15th February 2022
Over the years Lego has released a number of pirate and naval ships, primarily across the classic Pirates theme and the licensed Pirates of the Caribbean theme. The Pirates theme was first introduced in 1989 and ran until 1997. The 20th Anniversary year then prompted the release of some fresh Pirate sets in 2009, with more following in 2015, and 2020. Running from 2011-2012 and then 2017-2018, the Pirates of the Caribbean theme gave us some incarnations of ships in the first four films of the franchise. There have also been some ad-hoc releases as part of the Lego Ideas, Creator, and Creator Expert themes.
Pirates has always been a highly popular LEGO theme, due to the great playability of pirate ships and the endless maritime battles that can be played out between the pirates, colonial soldiers, and indigenous tribes that the theme centres upon. A ship adorned with all its sails also looks beautiful on any shelf as a display piece. We cast a critical eye over all 16 ships Lego have given us to rank them from worst to first.
16. Cross Bone Clipper (6250)
Coming in at the bottom of our list is the miniature sized Cross Bone Clipper. However, the size of the ship is not our main gripe with this set, although it is a serious downside. Instead, it's the gaudy colour scheme that portrays zero historical accuracy. The smiling skull and crossbones on the sail and mast slightly mocks the whole Pirate concept and makes the build look very childish. The figurehead is also very simplistic.
15. Renegade Runner (6268)
The compact Renegade Runner offered a cheaper Pirate experience for Lego fans. We always appreciate efforts by Lego to make their products more affordable, and this set offered good value for money with a generous offering of 4 minifigures and a decent brick count. However, the smaller proportion obviously has its limitations, and the set is also missing some key components like an anchor and ship's wheel. There are also some odd colour choices, such as a blue rudder and red stern. For these reasons, the Renegade Runner ranks low on our list.
14. Red Beard Runner (6289)
The Red Beard Runner was released in Lego's third wave of ships, and in Lego's attempt to trump the Black Sea's Barracuda and Skulls Eye Schooner that came before, they introduced some new features, which compromised the ship's design. One of these gimmicks was a collapsible mast, which increases the playability when reenacting battles at sea, but meant that the rigging didn't reach the deck, which looks slightly ridiculous. It also forced the sails to be placed right at the top of the sails, which again looks a little odd. The mechanism for the ship's other feature, an exploding bow, meant that there was no room to accommodate an internal cabin.
These criticisms aside, the set had some strong plus points. It was the first to feature tattered sails, which could be raised by pulling on strings, and we also like the skull built into the bow.
13. Armada Flagship (6280)
This set saw a departure from the Imperial Guard as the adversaries of the pirates by replacing them with Spanish conquistadors. The minifigures included were the first to feature morion helmets and were a nice change from the norm. The ship's blue striped sails really set this ship apart and look fantastic with the inclusion of the royal crest. The downsides are the size of the ship, which isn't really sufficient to earn the “Flagship” title, and the kaleidoscopic colour scheme, which is not to everyone's taste. If it wasn't for these drawbacks, the Armada Flagship would be higher up on our list.
12. Caribbean Clipper (6274)
The Caribbean Clipper was released in the first wave of pirate ships alongside the Black Seas Barracuda and acted as the good guy pairing, meaning it was naturally smaller and not as impressive. However, the Clipper is still a good little ship with a solid design, and like the Barracuda has stood the test of time well. The colour white, blue and yellow scheme works well and nicely matches the uniforms of the crew. The parrot / eagle figurehead is also an excellent feature. The ship is missing an enclosed cabin, a proper deck, and an additional sail on the rear mast. The proportions are also slightly off, as Lego used the same hull pieces as they did for the longer Black Seas Barracuda, which meant that the Caribbean Clipper ended up looking too spherical. If it wasn't for these, this ship would be higher up our list.
11. Imperial Flagship (6271)
The original Imperial Flagship appeared in the second wave of ships in 1992. In this set, Lego introduced the narrower hull pieces to give the smaller ships a sleeker look. The Flagship is a medium sized vessel and features two gunports for the cannons. The ship's wheel also functions properly and turns the rudder. The sails have a nice off-white colour and look splendid adorned with the Imperial logo. Our gripes with this set was the lack of a figurehead, no deck, and no real cabin because of the space that was needed to house the rudder mechanism. However, this set is a decent seafaring vessel and makes for a nice addition to any Imperial army.
10. The Brick Bounty (70413)
The Brick Bounty came off the back of a long hiatus for the Pirate theme and the set fell a little flat. While there are no major complaints with the build, it looks a little childish and uninspired. If this was Lego's attempt to try and reboot the theme, they could have been a lot more creative and introduced some new building techniques, like they did with the Creator Pirate Ship released in 2020. There are some little delights to be found in the set though, such as the hinged windows of the cabin which create an appealing outward slope, and the traditional red colouring that harks back to the Black Seas Barracuda.
9. Silent Mary (71042)
The Silent Mary was the last of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme and is a love it or hate it kind of set. It is strikingly different from any of the other ships and is certainly interesting to look at in a display case or on a shelf. But that's where the set should remain as it has zero playability, due to the fact that the ship is essentially a ruin and can't be picked up without several pieces becoming detached. Aside from the striking visual aspect, the main selling point was the minifigures. The ghostly crew all look fantastic and now all fetch a decent price on the aftermarket. We doubt whether Lego will release another ghost ship anytime soon, so this set closes out the top ten due to its uniqueness.
8. Brickbeard's Bounty (6243)
This ship is not to be confused with The Brick Bounty, all the two are very similar in name and appearance. This was the first pirate ship to be released in 20 years and we think Lego fans would have been fairly happy with it. It has some good playability, with a generous host of minifigures, plenty of weapons, treasure, a shark and the welcome addition of the ship monkey. The colour scheme is more reserved, which we appreciate, and it is slightly more adult-like than the Brick Bounty, although for some reason they changed the skull and crossbones on the sail to depict it as frowning, which looks daft. The standout feature is the mermaid figurehead and was the best that Lego had given us to date.
7. Pirate Ship (31109)
The Creator 3-1 Pirate Ship is very different in its construction and design from the other ships in our list. Being a 3-1 set, and with the need to be able to use the bricks to create two alternative models, the ship does not use the large hull pieces found in other ships. This also means that the sails aren't fabric and instead are made up of white bricks. This departure from the norm is definitely likely to divide opinion on this set and we're still not sure what to make of it. The bulk of the ship features some nice decorative elements and has a pleasing red and orange colour scheme. There is a cosy captain's cabin and a proper deck and below deck compartment housing four gunports. The lookout post on the top of the front mast is nice to have and trumps those of most other ships. Our only criticisms are that the set contains only 3 minifigures which is far too few for a ship of this size. We also prefer the traditional fabric sails, but this is a matter of personal taste, and so many other Lego fans are likely to place this ship much higher up the list.
6. Black Seas Barracuda (6285)
The Barracuda was the first large pirate ship Lego brought us, and although this set is now over 30 years old, it set a high standard for others to follow. Even today it still holds its own against the more modern releases. A lot of AFOLs today have very fond memories of this set, if they were lucky enough to have it, and it packs a very strong nostalgia punch. One of the best features of this ship was the inclusion of the holds that allowed you to access the below deck compartment, which is a feature that has been rarely repeated in subsequent sets. The proportions of the ship are very pleasing, and we imagine the beautiful red and white sails must have been ground-breaking at the time. The whole aesthetics and playability of the set are great, but for sentiment alone, this set places high up our favourites list.
5. Black Pearl (4184)
The infamous Black Pearl just makes our top 5. This beautiful build lives up to the legend of the ship that anyone who's watched the film franchise will know about. The all-black colour scheme looks stunning and sets it apart from all the other ships Lego have released. The build is relatively simple, but this gives it a very sleek look that befits the fast-paced nature of the ship. Many Lego fans will have picked this set up for the minifigures, the best of which being Davy Jones, which now goes for a handsome price on the aftermarket.
4. Skull's Eye Schooner (6286)
It was a hard act to follow the Black Seas Barracuda, but the Skull's Eye Schooner managed to deliver. The secret was not to reinvent the wheel but instead tweak a winning formula. The improvements included a working anchor, the addition of a rowing boat at the rear, and an extra sail above the captain's cabin.
It also slightly beat the Barracuda in terms of size, with the bow and stern of the ship extending further outwards. The black and white colour palette and the skull and crossbones printing on one of the main sails also gave this set the edge in terms of evilness.
3. Queen Anne's Revenge (4195)
This is one of the most striking ships Lego have released because of the dark red colour scheme and sinister details that decorate the ship. A series of skulls and human bones run down the length of the vessel, which certainly makes the Queen Anne the most foreboding ship in this list. There are also some beautiful stickered windows at the rear of the cabin which we haven't seen on any other pirate ship.
As is often the case with licensed models, the minifigures are what grabs most people's attention, with Blackbeard being the most sought after of the crew. While this set offers nothing amazing in terms of playability, its looks spectacular on display, both in terms of scale and appearance, and it therefore makes our top 3.
2. Pirates of Barracuda Bay (21322)
While the main build of the 2020 Lego Ideas Pirate's of Barracuda Bay is a shipwreck, it can be transformed into an updated Black Seas Barracuda. This set essentially takes the original Barracuda and improves on it in every way. It adds fantastic detail and finer decorative flourishes, as well as gorgeous colours and a more realistic portrayal of a pirate ship.
The ship includes an excellent vibrant yellow figurehead and great use of flexible tube pieces to connect this with the ship's bow. All the finer elements, such as storage boxes and barrels on the deck, beds below deck, lanterns, and rotating capstan to name but a few, really elevate the build and make it feel more like a working vessel. This set captures the classic Pirates theme perfectly, whilst at the same time adding some nice innovations, and only narrowly misses out on the top spot.
1. Imperial Flagship (10210)
Coming in at the top shop is the mighty Imperial Flagship. It's the largest and most historically accurate ship that's been released. The two decks, three masts, and seven sails make for a very substantial and imposing ship, and for once it belonged to the good guys, who had previously always been drastically underpowered and outgunned by the larger vessels of the pirates. This set finally gave the soldiers some firepower and a ship that could match up against any pirate ship to wage an epic battle.
The build is detailed and contains a fully stocked kitchen, a jail, and a nice captain's cabin equipped with organ. The shark figurehead is also unique amongst the other ships.
It's not perfect. There are eight gunports and only four cannons, and the top deck would have benefited from some more stuff on it, as it looks a little sparse. However, if you've got some spare pieces lying around, and you're prepared to use your creativity to modify the build, this ship can be elevated to something truly special.
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