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LEGO Pirates was a theme introduced in 1989 with an impressive rollout. Both the Pirates and the Imperial Soldiers were introduced, fully fleshed-out with a variety of sets each. Like many other themes in LEGO, Pirates also featured bigger, more interesting sets for the bad guys. Arguably, the most notable and sought-after set from the entire run of this theme is #6285 Black Seas Barracuda, the largest and most expensive set that rolled out with the introduction and had a number of unique and interesting features. This set proved so popular that LEGO reintroduced the set (as #10040) for a short run in 2002.

This theme was also notable for its introduction of a wide range of specialized parts such as ship bow, stern and mid-section hull pieces, masts, functioning cannons and several different animals to include monkeys, parrots and sharks. The theme also introduced a special character, the Pirate Captain Red Beard, who had a unique peg-leg, Hook Hand and eyepatch.

Like all LEGO themes, Pirates evolved over time with the introduction of newer sets. In 1992, the 18th century French-modeled Imperial Soldiers were replaced with the 18th century British-themed Imperial Guards. (no, not those imperial guards). At the same time, nearly all the pirate sets were replaced as well. This year saw the introduction of the Skull's Eye Schooner (#6286), the largest Pirates ship until 2010, as well as the popular Imperial Flagship (#6271) sets. The Imperial Flagship name was given to a new and much larger set (#10210) introduced in 2010. It currently is the largest single Pirates ship sold by LEGO.

The theme was expanded in 1994 to include the Islanders, based loosely on pre-colonized native tribes, but not specific. Led by King Kahuka, the Islanders inhabited a number of hazardous but treasure-laden islands and atolls. Sets included interesting bits such as canoes and catamarans, fancy head-dress pieces and crocodiles.

In 1996, the theme was refreshed again and the Imperial Guards were replaced with a 16th century Spanish-themed "Imperial Armada". Many fans argue that this change marked the decline of the Pirates theme overall, as the sets began to lose quality. They focused more on gimmicky features such as collapsable masts and less on actual substance and creativity for the player.

Since 2011, the Pirates theme has been removed from the LEGO line, and though they have a theme based on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it shares no relation to the Pirates theme.

Among fans, the Pirates theme is one of the most fondly remembered and popular for collectors and AFO Ls. The Pirates theme has even spawned large scale table-top style games played on living room floors, including one by none other than Steve Jackson, who is an avid and vocal fan of the LEGO Pirates theme. His game rules and instructions can be found here.

As for the sets themselves, a complete guide can be found here.

Some notable LEGO Pirates LEGO ship sets :

Tropes seen in this LEGO theme :

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