LEGO to discontinue Pirates line [News]

A few days ago, Andrew reported that the Pirate Advent Calendar would not be available in North America. Now we find out that the entire Pirate line will be discontinued by the middle of 2010. This is not to say that it won’t be back, but there are currently no plans for new sets. This is especially frustrating given the fact that LEGO has repeatedly made comments that Pirates would now be a regular theme. In an interview with Gizmodo, LEGO said that Pirates would be an “evergreen” theme. Also, in the 2009 Company Profile, Pirates is called a “perpetual” theme, along with Town and Castle. However, Vikings is also listed and, as we all know, that theme had a very short lease on life. While I am not an avid Pirate collector, I have bought all the sets and I share the frustration of the Pirate fan community.

Ben Ellermann, on Forbidden Cove, has started a petition. You can also make your feelings known here and our resident Lego Ambassador will be able to forward that information onto LEGO.

There is also a thread on Classic Pirates discussing the same issue.

UPDATE: Steve Witt from The LEGO Group writes:

Pirates isn’t gone, its on hiatus like every other line that isn’t one of our primary themes:


Pirates isn’t going away, it’s just not going to be a constant theme. It’s going to phase in and out just like every other theme that isn’t one of those three… I just wanted to reassure you guys that pirates isn’t disappearing. Just taking a break. :-)

21 comments on “LEGO to discontinue Pirates line [News]

  1. David4

    Yet another incredibly poor choice by LEGO, great job!

    They make all these new pieces for a theme that lasts one year? Did not enough people buy them? We got one ship, what are the ‘good” guys supposed to use as a boat?

    Pretty soon the only sets with yellow minifigures will be City.

  2. alldarker

    1. Disney ends licenses with Mega Brands
    2. Lego gets Disney licenses (including Cars, Toy Story and Prince of Persia)
    3. Disney announces new Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC: On Stranger Tides) movie, to be released in 2011
    4. Lego announces ending current Pirates line, as of the middle of 2010, which (if it had continued into 2010) would definitely have competed with PotC merchandise…

    A series of totally unrelated events, or not? duh duh DUH!!!

  3. Daedalus

    They might also be the victim of a price hike. City, Castle, and Space lines were on the shelves with the 10:1 brick ratio (more or less) while the Pirate line was noticeably more expensive. The largest set I bought was Loot Island (which I always mistakenly call ‘Booty Island’…) and that was primarily for the nice new base.
    The stores in my area never seemed to move Pirate sets very well, and I know that’s the reason I hardly bought any. The Disney tie-in is an interesting possibility, though. I guess we’ll see what comes of it.

  4. Creative Anarchy

    I really think that Pirates didn’t get a fair shake. We hadn’t seen them on the shelf for about a decade and when they came back there was one boat and a handful of other sets. They were good models but there wasn’t enough of a collection to build interest and they were released against a lot of other good sets. I’ve noticed that Lego is cancelling lines much more quickly then they once did, sometimes giving them just a year to get traction. I realize continuing to support a model line that isn’t selling well hurts the company’s liquidity but I don’t think the market responds as quickly as Lego believes it will. Pirates has a strong core fanbase and a very accessible theme. I think it’s foolish for Lego to retreat from the line after producing less than a dozen sets.

  5. Fred

    Well on the bright side they’ll be discounting the sets soon. I could just never get into the 3 brick ships hauls. I’d love to see a traditional brick UCS ship in minifig scale.

  6. CatJuggling

    This is disappointing. I echo the price point comments Daedalus made as that’s why I haven’t been been to invest in a lot of the sets this time around with my very limited Lego budget. Maybe someone should convince Steve Jackson to try and pitch his Pirate Game to them agian.

  7. Puddleglum

    @alldarker: In the past I’ve said that LEGO PoTC wouldn’t happen. I even got annoyed when people would bring it up all the time. But with the series of events you mention, plus the fact that LEGO themselves called the line an “evergreen” line just recently … well, it’s hard not to wonder if something is afoot there.

  8. BreadMan

    I’m actually ok with this. There is the promise from Steve that it will be coming back. A couple year break seems reasonable to me, how many variations can you really do on a cast-a-way raft, soldier fort, and pirate ship? A few years time will mean new pieces and new colors available which will increase the value of the sets for fans.

  9. Tolwyn

    37 year old collector. Yeah, I have some of the 1976 sets… Still intact. I dunno. Pirates didn’t do much for me or my kids in the “dramatic” play area. The King/Troll/Castle line does a better job (from what I’ve seen). The more socially ambiguous the better. Space Police line may see the similar fate; however, the more ambiguous Mars Mission should not. This just comes from 3 decades of Lego collecting.

    I don’t know what an “Evergreen” line means (Christmas?). I think this is why the Agents sets work so well. They work with other sets. They work with Aqua Radiers, houses, Town/City. They integrate well. Pirates is stand-alone (yes, you can say Star Wars does as well, but lets face it… Star Wars is a better-selling franchise for lego).

  10. CatJuggling

    @Breadman: I would have liked to have seen a couple more ships, and there can be a lot of variation on “bases” without getting too close to Castle.

    @Tolwyn: I understand your point and agree with it to a point. To that end, though, I would like to see them make a swing one way or the other with Pirates. Either make the series bigger, better, shinier on its own with real characters and storylines, or swing a little closer to the castle/fantasy side of things (we did get a Mermaid this time). Like I said above, more sets with better variety (which can be applied to any line, of course) would mean more appeal. Then agian, if it had better appeal now, it wouldn’t be taking a break.

    Then again, maybe alldarker has a point.

  11. Teddy

    I’m really gutted.
    I splashed the cash on this line. I was really hoping it would continue for a while…. I waited for a #$%## 13 years. I was expecting at least another round of sets with at least a soldiers ship. Just one ship in the lineup is a bit silly. I’m feeling really frustrated and powerless right now. If this is becasue of some Potc line, than I’m thinking of boycotting that line. I’m not going to spend cash on something that killed of my favourite theme. I don’t know if others in the Lego community feel the same. Ah, the utter disappointment.

  12. Jai

    I’m kind of glad.

    Not because it’s going away (On hiatus), exactly… but because the new line was practically ALL a heavy retreading of old ground. I didn’t like that — at least, it was not interesting to me. The very few new things about it WERE almost all notably appealing, and as everyone’s said, the relaunched line just had a minimum number of sets that did not do anything to round out the theme. It’s possible that the mothballing is due to the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but that would also make me sad because I do NOT want pirate fleshies. I just want the theme to come back with some better ideas than “pirate ship set, small castaway set, raft octopus set, and small military outpost set”. Taking inspiration from the PotC movies would be a good thing. Maybe we’d get “rowdy town set, actual sea monsters set, island natives (Islanders again, hooray! Heheh) set, civilized town attacked by pirates set, military fortress (A “retread”, but a good idea) set, military vessel set”, etc.

  13. KryptonHeidt

    Hm. While the SPIII line interests me more, the discontinuation of this theme really frustrates me.

    It does seem like Lego is quick to pull the plug on lines, but remember, this has been going on for quite a while. Remember Rock Raiders? Insectoids? Even some of the better lines, such as RoboForce, were discontinued after one season. There are examples older yet even that I have not listed here.

    Right now, I’m starting to think that Lego brought back the Pirates theme for one season *just* to shut up the AFOLs, and didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it as a result.

  14. David4

    Steve Witt was told to lie to us by the LEGO company, it’s that simple.

    While City/World City/Town/City Center has been around for decades with new sets almost every year (I think the only year is 2002 because they made the switch in styles) since when was Castle a big deal? They went years and years without a Castle theme. Space died in 1996, and there wasn’t Life on Mars until 2001, then Mars Mission in 2007-2008 and now Space Police in 2009, so because they have had Space for the last three years it’s considered a Classic?

    Of course Pirates is “just taking a break”, a break that will be over a decade like the last time.

    Alldarker might be right, and I really hope he isn’t, that the new Disney Pirate movie might bring the theme back with fleshies. Pretty soon LEGO will stop making yellow minifigures all together.

  15. Josh Post author

    @David4 – You have no proof that Steve Witt was told to lie to us. Until you do, I suggest that you don’t accuse anyone. It’s ridiculous. Why would anyone need to lie? Its not needed. If LEGO wants to discontinue something, that is their call. I don’t agree that Pirate should be put on hiatus or discontinued, but its not my company. However, there is no need to lie about it. I know Steve personally. He is not a liar. I find your remarks insulting.

    Also your comments about Castle and Space are ignorant. There have been Castle sets released nearly continuously since the 80s. There have been new castle sets every year since 1983, with the exception of 1999. I’m not an expert on Space, but I know there have been Space themes after 1996. You might not have liked them, but they did exist. You might consider checking your facts. Just because the themes weren’t called “Castle” and “Space” doesn’t mean the themes didn’t exist.

  16. Josh Post author

    @legomason – There were also a couple of service packs. But you are right, not much came out during those three years. By the way, for Castle sets, you might want to check out Classic Castle’s set archive. Its more complete than Bricklink’s list. However, David said that there were no new sets for “years and years”. I was pointing out that there have been sets every year except ’99. They may not have been great and they may not have always been in decent amounts, but they have been there.

    @Jai – The offensive thing is that Knight’s Kingdom II was made at all. ;) KKII is the new Fright Knights, the theme everyone loves to hate, myself included. The first Knights Kingdom was never much of a problem…not great but not a failure. Though, to be honest, you can always find “anti-fans” for any theme or subtheme.

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