LEGO

Playmobil Pirate Ship (4290)

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Ahoy! This is one massive pirate ship. I have the pirate ship of a few years ago, (3940) and this one seems even bigger. And don’t think that because you have this or an earlier pirate ship that you don’t need another… take a look at all the improvements in this one, and you’ll see its a whole new toy.

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The first new addition is the stealth mode, in-fact the whole ship is designed around the idea of a stealthy pirate ship full of surprise attacks. My original pirate ship came with 2 cannons, and I slowly beefed up my artillery by buying additional cannons from direct service and the add-ons catalog. This one comes fully armed with 5 cannons (and no room for any others). These cannons are like the one on the dinghy, that actually fire rubber cannon balls that have a “tail.” Actually you get enough ammo to load up four of the cannons, you can place a grappling hook in the fifth. Sweet! The first tractor beam of the high seas. Just point, aim, shoot, and drag the victim’s boat up to your side. It’s nice not having to outfit this ship any further. It feels complete.

The the real cool think about the cannons is that they’re on a rotating wall. Pull back on the notch, and they quickly fall below deck, to appear that they’re unarmed. It’s quite fluid actually. So you can quickly hide your cannons if your ship starts coming up on an unsuspecting boat. They’re not so unsuspecting if you use the grappling hook though. Speaking of which, you can lift two panels and stow that cannon in the Captain’s quarters, for further protection.

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In addition to hiding the cannons, you can also roll up the flexible pirate flag, and hide it in a hollow tube. Yank the rope and the tube reveals the pirate flag in a flash! This seemed cheesy as I was putting it together, but I really got giddy about how it pops out. SNEAK ATTACK! (remember that from the Empire Strikes Back Kenner commercials?) It’s easy to roll it up and stow it again, and I can see the kids getting a kick out of it. I’d like to point out that the set comes with non-pirate flags, if you want to be a “good” ship… but seriously, who does that? I like the option though. And the masthead can easily rotate, displaying either a harmless coil like the top of a Roman pillar, or the dread pirate skull.

My other favorite addition is the plank! My old pirate ship didn’t have a plank, but this is nice. The portion of the railing flips down easily (on either side) and there is a clip in which to securly hold the plank. Line ’em up and march em off. Now you can really relive that scene from Goonies. Above the plank, on the main mast, there is a great pulley driven crane. There are two cranks on either side of the crows nest. Turn the one side for raise and lower the hook at the end of the rope, turn the other crank to raise the arm itself (bringing the payload closer or further away from the ship’s galley. And because it’s ratcheted, you can display it any any position. I’m impressed with all the detail that went it to this.

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There are one or two downsides. I love this ship and think it’ll be a lot of fun, for a lot of kids, but there were one or two sacrifices of “features” that I missed. Actually they’re not features, it’s space. The Captain’s Quarters are downsized now as it’s mainly a hiding area for the cannon. In myship, that part of the deck came off, to give you full access to the room, and I loved hiding all the good guns under the captain’s mattress. In fact I proposed to my wife by hiding her ring inside the treasure chest inside the captain’s quarters. Classy stuff I tell ya. Also, allowing room for the rotating cannons, there’s less room in the galley. It’s more of a storage spot rather than a whole “below deck.” But to be fair it is somewhat of an improvement over the old ship, because you couldn’t do much more than retreat the loose cannons, and lose the little tiny pieces down there.

But here’s my favorite part, the sail rigging has been replaced with very easy to snap on plastic pieces! The pirate ship I had before took about 2 hours to complete the rope rigging. In fact, they gave you one piece of string, and you had to measure where to cut! This was so much nicer, one-two-done. Now some elitists may not like it, but I don’t think they really sacrifice any detail here. I was happy to have it put together that much faster, and it was still enjoyable.

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Overall it seems bigger. There are two sails on the two main masts, there’s a lot more play function to this piece. There are also loads of accessories. There are some cool pirates (I love the bald pirate!) Two of the pirates have a cool sash that lets them hold two pistols (or swords) Awesome! There’s also a parrot, a bell, a spider monkey with a clip on rubber baby monkey, and lots of food for them to keep them happy over the long voyage. No accordian however, I wonder if that is an improvement too?

I love this ship, I think it’s really well done. It goes in the bathtub (though no ballast weight was included), and you can purchase the underwater motor and attach it to the underside to really get it going. You can pick up this pirate ship at your favorite local toy store or playmobil.com

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This pirate line really knocked it out of the park. I was initially expecting rehashes of earlier sets, but each one of these is really bringing something new and worthwile to the table. I think it’s great of playmobil to keep revamping their classics. Though play value is injected more here and there, I think that the collector is still being addressed, and served, well.

I put together a Playmobil Pirate Map you can download and print out. It has pictures of these three sets, plus the Nessie monster. You could even print it out in black and white, and your little pirate could color it if they wanted to. Either way, enjoy!


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