There is something special about LEGO Pirates 6285 Black Seas Barracuda. Many LEGO sets hold nostalgic feelings for adults that remind them of childhood, but this particular set is a bit more unique than that. It actually lives up to the memories that people have of it and encapsulates everything that made the LEGO Pirates theme a hit in the 1990s.
If any proof were needed about how beloved this set is, the release of LEGO Ideas 1322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay is just that. A modern update of the classic set that can also be displayed as a shipwreck island, it is an homage to everything that was wonderful about 6285.
It was 1989 when LEGO Pirates arrives on shelves, bringing a band of pirates to LEGO shores. The first year saw a selection of sets featuring the cutlass wielding, eye-patch wearing treasure seekers, as well as their enemies, the bluecoat soldiers. While many of those sets were neat and complemented each other well, it was 6285 Black Seas Barracuda that defined the launch.
The reason for that is obvious – pirates are pirates when they are sailing the high seas. Islands are great, small ships are neat – but a big, impressive vessel is what pirates are all about.
As a toy, 6285 The Dark Shark – as it was named in the UK – was very special. It was a long build, requiring plenty of patience to build up the decks and add the many details that it featured. The string had to carefully threaded through the sails. Once that build process was complete, the ship was in a wonderful scale to the minifigures, allowing plenty of space to place them and move them around.
Everything had been thought through – the cannons peeked out of the lower deck, minifigures could climb the rigging and the monkey could hang from the string. The play potential is already inherent in a pirate ship, but when it is then packed with well-thought out details, children can be captivated for hours. And hours. And hours.
While the amount of time spent playing with this ship is the reason that many remember it so fondly, its look is also incredibly important. Thanks to it being such a staple on the toy shop shelves and children’s bedrooms, those red and white sails have become synonymous with LEGO Pirates. Even those who haven’t touched a brick for 20 years would recognise the set.
6286 Skull’s Eye Schooner was another excellent pirate ship that in some areas surpassed 6285, but because 6285 was the original and came up with that design template that all such LEGO vessels would be influenced by, it deservedly became an icon. One of the few LEGO sets that deserves the word classic.
It is a wonderful testament to the original that it has been lovingly updated in 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, which is faithful to the design of that classic model while bringing it up to modern design and build standards. Having it sat on a shelf brings an interesting feeling of delight, as while the details might be different in places, that ship profile with red and white sails is something very special.
Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.