October 1, 2023

Old Versus New Pirates Pieces

I have often thought about writing an article that compares old LEGO® pieces with their newer counterparts. With the release of Pirates of Barracuda Bay (21322), the time seems right. This LEGO® Ideas set really takes you back to the Pirates theme of old. There are so many familiar little odds and ends. However, many of these familiar bits are not identical to their predecessors. As part of True North Bricks’ ongoing Pirate Week, today we examine old versus new Pirates pieces!

Old versus new pirates flags.
Old versus new pirate flags

The first difference I noted was the Jolly Roger. While the change is not drastic, it has taken on a more Minifigure-ish look in my opinion. Incidentally, this is not the first time the flag has changed in LEGO® form. The return to Pirates in 2009 saw another variant. However, the image above shows the version I remember next to the new one from Barracuda Bay.

Out with the old and in with the new… and some pirates too!

Old versus new pirates accessories.
Old versus new pirate accessories (old version on the left in each pairing).

Next up are the pirate accessories. Barracuda Bay includes a great many. Additionally, several of them are not that different from the usual LEGO® fare, including bottles, barrels, and boxes. I did not notice much difference in the canons from back in the day either. Additionally, weapons remain more or less the same. However, close inspection of certain ones shows different molding. The cutlass for example has a slightly less defined pommel in the newer version. Also, while the treasure chest remains the same, the treasures inside are not. Pirates sets of old almost always had gold coins. Bullion and various gems fill coffers in Barracuda Bay.

Old versus new pirates boats
The old boat (left) had extra, hollow studs to hold the oars.

Heading out onto the water, the rowboats are a little different too. This is not a huge change, but the boats of old had two hallow studs near the bow. These served to hold the oars upright when they were not in use. I liked that feature because the oars were not loose in the boat if a Minifigure was not holding them. Sadly, that is not the case on the newer boat. Incidentally, this is not the first time this new boat appears in a set. I am only discussing it now in relation to the Pirates theme.

Sharks have evolved somewhat since LEGO® pirates last sailed the seas…

Old versus new sharks.
Old versus new shark (new one is on the left).

One of the larger changes comes in the shark. Again, this is not the first time that this “new” shark appears in a set. However, it is markedly different that the sharks from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The older sharks were much less detailed, lacking printed eyes and gills. Additionally, the old sharks could not attach directly to a base plate. You had to insert a 1×2 tile onto their undersides, meaning they sat a little above the base plate. These new sharks can attach directly. I like having both from a geeky, science perspective because now my LEGO® seas have a living fossil species that is less evolved than the common shark 😉.

Old versus new trees.
Palm trees are markedly different, and there are no monkeys (old tree is on the left).

Palm trees are another big difference. In the image above, I added an old palm tree to Barracuda Bay just as a source of comparison. Interlocking ball-and-socket pieces made up the old palm trees. This allowed more posing ability for the tree trunks. However, the LEGO® Group no longer produces these pieces. You will note that the leaves are also different. The “old” leaves are still in production though. I also threw in a monkey into the picture. Sadly, Pirates of Barracuda Bay doesn’t include any monkeys. That is the one staple from the original theme that I miss in this kit.

You look a little stiff…

Old versus new skeletons.
The new skeleton (left) has less shoulder mobility.

Skeletons are another difference. Interestingly, I like the old skeletons more. Their dangling, swinging arms are more fun that the less mobile new variant. However, the new arms are sturdier and probably hold up to rough play a little better. In terms of other figurines, Pirates of Barracuda Bay comes with a lot of familiar faces. Captain Redbeard is meant to be the same character from the early sets. The other characters all have older counterparts. I recreated many of them using pirates Minifigure pieces from my old sets. My Robin Loot and Doubloons characters (last two in the image) are the only ones that feature a few non-pirate parts.

Old versus new pirates Minifigures.
Hey… wait a minute… Quartermaster Riggings’ eye patch switched eyes…

The final big difference is that the hull is no longer one solid piece. The bow of this ship comes together in similar fashion to Destiny’s Bounty from the Ninjago Movie. The differences mentioned in this article don’t really bother me in any way, shape, or form. Except, perhaps, the lack of monkeys. Pure frivolity inspired me to write this. I thought it would be neat to look at the old versus the new. Here’s hoping you enjoyed this little side-step from my usual posts and have also been enjoying Pirate Week!

Until next time,


p.s. This post was part of Pirate Week on True North Bricks. To read more Pirate inspired posts, check out:

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