Imagine being a pirate and looking along the horizon to see the flagship of the royal navy barreling your way. Say, Stephen Chao‘s Royal Guardian, for example. With more than enough canons to knock the wind out of anyone’s sails, it’s a sight to behold. To be honest, I like history but I’m not a huge history buff; yet I can’t imagine there was ever a pirate ship as formidable (except in movies). I suppose its only downfall would be the speed it would lose with the weight of those canons.
Logistics aside, this build is well detailed and impressive in more ways than one! It’s very busy but clean at the same time. And not only does it look realistic and have superb shaping, it’s also fully furnished. Because, go big or go home, right? The mammoth ship comes complete with captain’s quarters, a galley, a full arsenal, and more.
Like the kind of ships that sail upon the oceans blue? Check out this unique swashbuckler, or maybe another with a gorgeously sculpted stern.
“The sea, she’s like a lady. You dance with her you dance by her lead otherwise she chew ye up and swallow ye whole.” How do you like my grizzled sea captain impersonation? Needs work? Yeah, you’re probably right. I was just channeling Ahab, Nemo, and a bit of Quint from Jaws who, as it turned out, needed a “bigga boat.” This historic LEGO harbor scene by Vaionaut has all the quaint charm of Amity without the danger. Upon further inspection, the cannons, soldiers, pirates, and other details do suggest danger and intrigue–though likely not shark related. Everything from the expertly crafted curved wall, to the granite sailing ship model, to the intricate detailing on the rooftops is a treat to behold. My favorite feature is the hanging sailor-capped albatross totem bearing a close resemblance to Donald Duck.
This is like the opening chapter of a great seafaring adventure novel with each page leaving me wanting more. As it turns out, there is a bit more as this was part of a collaborative pirate build presented at Bricking Bavaria and can be seen at Rogue Bricks. Though if you click there, be sure to brush up on your German. All the German I know, I’ve learned from Rammstein, which, like my sea captain impersonations, has proven to be unhelpful while traveling abroad.
The evergreen popularity of the LEGO Pirates theme has seen many a pirate’s hideaway constructed, but we’ve not often seen as impressive an Imperial fortress as this beauty from Greg Dlx. The fort is beautifully detailed, with grey accents around the windows providing some lovely texture against the white walls. The domed roofs for the towers add an unusual design feature which creates a sense of the exotic, a feeling enhanced by the dense jungle foliage which surrounds the buildings. There’s a couple of different techniques used for trees, and I love that their leaves play host to a colony of parrots.
Look closely and you’ll spot the killer detail in this scene — the half-plate height increase between the dark and light sand along the shore. It’s a tiny difference, but it adds immensely to the feel of wave-washed sands — an example of the attention to detail you see in the best LEGO creations.
No LEGO creation impresses me more than a well done microscale build. When building bigger, you can essentially sculpt any shape imaginable with basic bricks and plates. With microscale however, the parts you choose can make or break your design. Take david zambito’s Calm Seas for example, and focus on the trees and the ship. AT first glance, the trees might look pretty straightforward since he uses a leaf to represent a tree canopy. For their trunks though, he’s used a long horn instead of a straight bar, and this choice makes the tiny palm trees lean in a way that feels natural.
Next up is the brilliant little ship. Before I gush about the bow and sails, I’d like to recognize the apt use of a droid arm as the bowsprit. While it wouldn’t have been my first choice, now that I’ve seen it, I can’t think of a better piece to use in its place. Now on to the true stars of this build…. The obvious standouts are the crocodile heads as sails, which stand out as trapezoids, whereas most LEGO elements are rectangular. What’s more, the ridges over the eyes make them appear to be blowing in the wind. My favourite aspect of the entire build is the mummy’s headdress as the bow of the ship. Not only does the part fit in with the scale, but its functional areas are both used: the ship connects to the inside where a minifgure head would normally go, and the stud on the front of it is the connection point for the bowsprit. Take a closer look yourself and see what other amazing parts usage you can find.
With all the amazing official LEGO themes of today, it’s not surprising that LEGO builders are often inspired to create models that fit within these themes. Other fans enjoy exploring classic themes which have either been retired or only surface occasionally. You might be most familiar with the likes of Classic Space and Pirates, such as this Imperial Outpost built by Tammo S. Judging by the model’s name, it appears to have been inspired by LEGO set 6263 – Imperial Outpost It’s a lovely tribute to such a treasured theme. Nice touches include the simplicity of the low gray wall, along with the beach and water constructed from side-mounted bricks and plates. However, my favorite part is the brick-built flag, seemingly flapping in the wind.
The trading of cannon broadsides was surely the bluntest form of projectile warfare. Huge ships, passing within yards, blasted cannons into each other’s sides as quickly as the sailors could reload. Simon Pickard brings the fury of battle under sail to vivid life in this LEGO creation — a frigate and a galleon all set to pound one another into matchwood. The tightly-cropped image creates a real sense of action and drama — you’re just waiting for the splinters and blood to start flying. The brick-built ship hulls are impressively shaped, and the sails are beautifully done. This is a close-up view from a large-scale pirate-themed LEGO layout we featured previously, put together by British building collaborators Brick To The Past.
When LEGO launched the Islanders line in 1994, it made for an interesting addition to LEGO Pirates. In carrying on the legacy of this cherished theme, LEGO fan website Eurobricks has created a fictional pirate-themed universe. The lost city of Myzectlan, in particular, is reminiscent of the Islanders. Eurobricks’ “Daily Life in Myzectlan” collaborative building challenge has inspired some excellent models, such as this lush and lively jungle scene by Stefan G. With a big cat on the prowl, two Myzec travelers bide their time by hiding out in a miraforma. In the Myzec world, miraforma are used to hide from predators on the jungle floor. They also make for good lookout posts.
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The original wave of LEGO Pirates sets from 1989 have a special place in my heart. They are some of the earliest LEGO sets I remember, so this microscale scene by Corvus Auriac fills me with a warm glow. These miniature renditions of the classic sets Eldorado Fortress, Caribbean Clipper, and Black Seas Barracuda are notable not only for the way they evoke memories of my childhood, but also for some great building techniques.
My absolute favorite detail is the use of red flippers as the cannon bases. I learned of the existence of this modified 1×2 plate with three claws / rock fingers piece when inspecting the details of the miniature “ramp and pit” baseplate. The 1×2 curved wedge slopes also work great on the sails of the ships.
Want more retro goodness from Corvus Auriac? Don’t miss the re-imagined Guarded Inn we recently featured.
After six years in the making, master shipbuilder Sebeus I has completed his sensational LEGO version of the Flying Dutchman. The 3-foot-long ship has been fittingly constructed from a muted palette of grey, dark tan, and sand green bricks, giving it the perfect spectral hue. It also allows for an amazing amount of detail to be packed into the vessel’s decaying hull.
The tattered sails and rigging are particularly well realised, looking most effective as she glides out of the gloom. Sebeus’s photoshop skills enhancing the atmosphere to good effect.
Click to see more of the amazing Flying Dutchman
Before Star Wars, pirates were among the original rogues. The LEGO community of RogueBricks decided to do a pirate-themed collaborative build for German fan event, Bricking Bavaria 2018. Builder markus19840420 answered the call with this prodigious pirate ship. His ship is dressed to impress, thanks to the curvature of the hull and custom rigging and sails.
See more views of this fantastically detailed sailing ship
If your LEGO pirate ship crashes on the rocks, what do you do? Easy, rebuild! Travis Brickle has embraced this idea, skilfully repurposing the recognisable aspects of his vessel into a makeshift cottage on its own remote island. It’s a ramshackle affair with the hull doubling as roof replete with dormers; I love the turtle shell fix to one of these. The mast stands tall as a look out post, I assume to scour the horizon for rescue. A ship’s wheel hangs above the door, a reminder of past maritime glory. Yet, even when a pirate’s shipwrecked, you can’t take the buccaneer out of the man: there are sailors still to walk the plank, treasure to plunder, and rum aplenty to be swilled.
Following up on his lovely micro version of the LEGO Pirates Skull Island set, Letranger Absurde (aka Vitroleum, aka Pacurar Andrei) is at it again. Here’s his take on 6278 Enchanted Island — and it’s a cracker. The landscaping is perfect, with tan curved and wedge plates peeking from beneath the green to suggest the curve of the beach. The textured rock parts are used well, the palm trees are excellent, and the red canoe is a nice touch. But the star of the show has to be that central rope bridge constructed from bucket handles. Lovely.