LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle review

910038 Ominous Isle is a challenging and at times frustrating build that ultimately creates one of the most visually stunning and complex LEGO Pirates sets ever produced.

As part of the BrickLink Designer Program Series 2, 910038 Ominous Isle was designed by a fan rather than a LEGO designer, and it shows. This set is radically different to most builds, is a little too fragile for display and is quite difficult to build, but the finished result features a level of detail that has never before been possible in an official LEGO model.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle set details —

Theme: LEGO BrickLink Designer Program Set name: 910038 Ominous Isle Release: June 6, 2024 (pre-order, shipping scheduled to start in November 2024)

Price: £189.99 / $239.99 / €219.99 Pieces: 2,809 Minifigures: 5

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LEGO: Available for pre-order from the BrickLink website now

— Where to buy LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle

As part of the BrickLink Designer Program, purchasing 910038 Ominous Isle is slightly more complicated than a typical model. The set is available for crowdfunding through the BrickLink website from June 6, 2024, and provided at least 3,000 pre-orders are made, the set will be manufactured.

Only 30,000 units will be produced in total, meaning that supplies are strictly limited. After the crowdfunding window has ended, the sets will be manufactured and shipped in November, but no additional stock will be made available. Thus, anyone looking to purchase 910038 Ominous Isle must do so during the crowdfunding window, starting on June 6, 2024.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle build —

It’s important to be aware that 910038 Ominous Isle is not a standard LEGO set. As a BrickLink Designer Program model, this is not the work of ordinary LEGO designers, but rather a fan creation that BrickLink and the LEGO Group are selling in small numbers (less than 30,000 copies) during a brief crowdfunding window.

BrickLink has been selling fan-designed builds since before the community was purchased by the LEGO Group, but the latest iteration of this initiative has been given a huge overhaul so that it can run more smoothly, providing multiple series of fan-designed sets per year.

This particular set is the work of fan designer Jared Le Cras, who has created a model that pays homage not just to LEGO Pirates, but to the kinds of displays featured in LEGO catalogues from his childhood.

910038 Ominous Isle is certainly an impressive achievement, featuring an incredible level of detail that would never have been possible for a typical LEGO set. There have been many different attempts at producing these short-run, crowdfunded model, but with the current program, it seems that BrickLink and the LEGO Group have streamlined the process significantly and built a production schedule that allows for a constant conveyer belt of new sets, all designed by fans.

The BrickLink team insists that these sets feature almost all the same product checks and refinement processes as regular LEGO creations. It’s clear from building 910038 Ominous Islee, though, that the set has not been subject to the same aggressive level of standardisation as most LEGO Ideas entries, which are initially designed by fans but then often entirely overhauled by LEGO designers.

910038 Ominous Isle, then, feels a bit more raw than a LEGO Ideas set. Where a LEGO designer might choose to simplify an element of an Ideas project to make it sturdier, easier to build, or simply a little less complicated, most of Jared Le Cras’ original design has been left untouched.

This is a double-edged sword. Just looking at this set, it’s clear that 910038 Ominous Isle has more in common with a small-scale MOC than a typical LEGO model. The level of detail on display is phenomenal, and the set utilises a lot of complex and often fiddly design techniques that it would be difficult to imagine an actual LEGO designer approving.

All of this makes the build a tremendous challenge. The building experience is not as straightforward as most sets, it’s easy to make mistakes, and occasionally the builder will be required to squeeze pieces underneath overhanging elements in a way that almost feels like cheating.

The trade-off here is that while the set is quite tricky to put together, and not hugely stable in places once completed, it does bring a level of fantastic detail that typically simply isn’t possible with a set that’s been sandpapered by a LEGO designer.

Make no mistake: this is not a great set for play. There are some play features such as a moving drawbridge, but the space inside is cramped and difficult to access, and the design of the build ends up feeling very fragile, with pieces falling off without too much provocation.

As a display piece, though, this is possibly the best thing LEGO Pirates fans have ever been able to officially purchase. Some may prefer 21322 Pirates of Baracuda Bay, but there’s a level of excess in 910038 Ominous Isle that easily elevates this above most sets.

For example, while treasure is a fundamental part of any LEGO Pirates model, no previous set has ever featured quite this much gold, with piles upon piles of ingots and studs stacked up to create a treasure trove which quite literally outshines anything that has been seen in an official LEGO set before.

910038 Ominous Isle feels like a set where, for the first time in a long time, a LEGO fan designer was given free reign to build whatever they liked, and Le Cras has absolutely taken that opportunity and run with it.

Other creations within the BrickLink Designer Program may or may not feel similar, depending on how far each designer has been willing to push the boat out, and it’s likely that going forward, this entire program will feel very inconsistent in terms of design styles and standard building practices.

Of all the entries in Series 2, taken at face value 910038 Ominous Isle feels like the most radical departure from the standard LEGO set design principles. It can be confidently stated, then, that this set is every bit as interesting and frustrating as it appears in photos: both a delight to look at and a real pain to actually put together.

This set is not ideal for those who don’t already have a deep familiarity with the LEGO system. This is not a set for beginners, nor for LEGO fans who need a guiding hand when building.

That said, the target consumer base for the BrickLink Designer Program is – naturally – LEGO fans with a bit more experience and who are looking for the kind of challenge that they might not get from a standard LEGO set. Those who are eager to add another highly detailed Pirates build to their collection will not be disappointed, even if the building process hits rocky waters along the way.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle characters —

The five minifigures, one skeleton and two seagulls that are included within this set will all look slightly familiar to anyone who’s up to speed with the latest LEGO Pirates offerings from other sets. There’s no unique printing on display here – the pieces that make up these minifigures are already in wider circulation. This is true across the BrickLink Designer Program as outside of stickers, all elements must come from the existing LEGO catalogue.

It is therefore unsurprising that none of the minifigures or other characters in this set feel particularly special or noteworthy. 910038 Ominous Isle comes with five pirate minifigures with the standard bandanas, corsets and peg legs that have been seen many times before.

It’s unlikely, of course, that anyone will be looking to pick this set up for the minifigures. The elements have been chosen well and fit the theme, but these pirates simply provide window dressing for the model. The isle itself is the main star of the show.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle price —

910038 Ominous Isle costs £189.99 in the UK, $239.99 in the US and €219.99 in the EU. Considering the relatively high 2,809 piece count, this is within the standard range for sets of this size, although there is a fair amount of variation depending on theme and brand IP.

The fact that the price is as low as it is marks a radical departure from previous iterations of the BrickLink Designer Program. Earlier incarnations of the program saw sets sold at a premium – a move that wasn’t too surprising given the short production runs and slightly more homespun nature of the BrickLink team’s efforts.

This time around, it seems an effort has been made to bring prices more in line with the standard cost of similar models within the LEGO catalogue. This is likely a result of access to production pipelines within the LEGO Group that weren’t available when BrickLink first started making sets. It’s a welcome change that helps to make these builds feel like better value for money for earnest collectors.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle pictures —

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle pros and cons —

910038 Ominous Isle is an absolutely beautiful set which provides ample challenge for even the most experienced builder. The build feels a little rough around the edges compared to a typical LEGO set and is not particularly sturdy in places once complete, but it makes for an excellent display piece with a level of detail that is tremendously rare even for a LEGO set of this size.

910038 Ominous Isle pros910038 Ominous Isle cons
Beautiful build with loads of detailBuild process can be tricky and frustrating
Generous piles of treasureVery fragile in places
Modular to suit many different displaysMinifigures aren’t particularly special

This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.

Support the work that Brick Fanatics does by purchasing your LEGO through one of our affiliate links.

— Alternatives to LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle —

The obvious alternative to 910038 Ominous Isle is 10320 Eldorado Fortress, which also works well as a companion piece to this set. Both feature strong classic LEGO Pirates branding.

Alternatively, someone looking for a different oceanic set from the BrickLink Designer Program Series 2 may wish to consider 910036 Ocean House, which similarly features a home on the water’s edge, but has fewer pirates and more fish.

— LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle FAQs —

How long does it take to build LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle?

910038 Ominous Isle took around seven hours to build for this review. This time may be reduced for the finished model once the instructions have been completed, but the build will likely still be very time-consuming.

How many pieces are in LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle?

910038 Ominous Isle contains 2,809 pieces. This makes it the second-largest set in the BrickLink Designer Program Series 2.

How big is LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle?

910038 Ominous Isle measures 30.6cm tall, 60.6cm wide and 39.3cm deep. This size can be adjusted as the set is modular and can be displayed in different positions.

How much does LEGO BrickLink Designer Program 910038 Ominous Isle cost?

910038 Ominous Isle costs £189.99 in the UK, $239.99 in the US and €219.99 in the EU. This is around typical for a set of this size.

Author Profile

Matthew Loffhagen
Matthew Loffhagen
When I was a kid, my bus ride home from school featured a daily stop at LEGOLAND Windsor. The bus drove all the way up to the front gate, let eager tourists on and off, then drove back out of the park and on its merry way. Maybe if I’d got on a different bus every afternoon I’d have ended up with a proper job, but then, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

Matthew Loffhagen

When I was a kid, my bus ride home from school featured a daily stop at LEGOLAND Windsor. The bus drove all the way up to the front gate, let eager tourists on and off, then drove back out of the park and on its merry way. Maybe if I’d got on a different bus every afternoon I’d have ended up with a proper job, but then, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

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