Pirate Ship (31109) Review

After Pirates of Barracuda Bay in early 2020, I have been on a pirate high. Consequently, I was thrilled to learn that 2020 had a second pirate-themed set in store. The LEGO® Group included a Creator 3-in-1 Pirate Ship (31109) in the summer 2020 offerings. While European markets received this set on June 1, North America had to wait. Complications and shutdowns due to COVID-19 delayed the set’s release. However, the new wave of sets is now at Canadian retailers. Consequently, I recently got my hands on the Pirate Ship at the LEGO® Store. I was so excited to find this set that I cancelled all my plans on the day of purchase and spent the evening building. Therefore, this week we are taking an in depth look at the latest pirate-themed offering from the LEGO® Group!

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PIRATE SHIP (31109) SUMMARY

  • NAME: Pirate Ship
  • SET #: 31109
  • THEME: Creator 3-in-1
  • COST: $139.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 1260
  • MINIFIGURES: 3 + 1 skeleton
  • RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2020 (June 1 in Europe)
Pirate Ship (31109)

PIRATE SHIP (31109) QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 88% (Very good value at full price, $0.11/brick, and $0.71/minute).
  • BUILD: 90% (Great looking ship, some smaller details are lacking.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 74% (Wonderful pirate minifigs and accessories, but not enough of them.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (Nice display piece, great play value.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%
“Land ho!”

PIRATE SHIP (31109) REVIEW

VALUE: 88%

The Pirate Ship costs $139.99 in Canada. With 1260 pieces, the set has a cost-per-brick of $0.11. Therefore, even at full price the set is a great value. Comparatively, my average cost-per-brick is currently $0.14. I rate the value-per-brick in this case at 90%.

The new Pirate Ship (31109) captain.

This set took me three hours and 12 minutes to build (192 minutes). However, I only built one of the three possible constructs. Even so, the cost-per-minute of build time is $0.71. My average value in this category is currently $0.83/minute. Therefore, Pirate Ship is a good value in terms of build-time. I rate it at 85% in this category. However, because there are two alternate builds included in the same kit, the value is better than that in reality. Averaging the value-per-brick and value-per-minute scores gives an overall value grade of 88%.

BUILD: 90%

The Pirate Ship looks great. The hull design is masterful considering there are no large hull pieces. The overall feel is that of an older, slightly more rickety ship. However, that is not a complaint. The less refined nature of the boat works well. It feels like the pirates on board are not the most dreaded out on the seas but make do. It tells a nice story.

The Pirate Ship (31109) hull is not built from hull pieces, but individual bricks!

Additionally, the ship has a lot of detail.  The lower deck is open to the elements, adding to the makeshift feel of the boat. However, there are four gun ports and two firing cannons on board. Other than the cannon area, the lower deck is not accessible. However, the main deck of the ship is easy to access for Minifigure placement and play. It also has the captain’s quarters. Those are accessible by raising the quarter deck or by opening either side of the cabin’s walls.

This ship tells a nice story.

Pirate Ship (31109) deck.

Online, AFOLs have commented a lot on the ship’s sails. Incidentally, the ship features brick-built sails and not cloth. I am a little torn on this. Overall, I do not think that the sails look bad. The larger ones look good. However, the smaller sails do not. I am particularly not fond of the foresail and spanker sail. They are triangular plates with no rigging. Ultimately, they just look flat. The main sails at least look dynamic. I have a similar issue with the ship’s flags. They are also simple plates.

Pirate Ship (31109)

I also have some minor issues with little builds in this kit. Creator 3-in-1 sets never come with molded animals. Therefore, I probably should not complain about this. However, I generally do not like brick-built animals. I really wish this set offered an alternative means to get one of the new City theme sharks. Same goes for the bird. Finally, I dislike the mermaid masthead. It just does not match the overall feel of the ship. I will modify mine to hold the skeleton figurine that came in the set.

I only have minor issues with the design of this ship.

Despite having issues with some of the sails and smaller builds, I like the Pirate Ship a lot. The build was fun. Additionally, I learned some new techniques in building the hull. Again, there are no large pieces. You build everything from standard bricks and arches. Additionally, this set allows you to develop you angular building techniques. Overall, my complaints about the set are limited to small portions of the overall build. Those complaints are also limitations of the theme. To offer three builds, you need a variety of bricks, not cloth sails and molded animals. I rate the overall experience at 9/10 (90%).

MINIFIGURES: 74%

The Pirate Ship comes with three proper Minifigures. Two of them have torso prints like characters in Barracuda Bay. However, the captain’s design is unique as far as I can tell. His face is one from 2015 though. The captain also sports a peg-leg. Contrary to previous captains though, his peg is metallic grey and not brown. That little detail gives this ship captain a more unique personality. He could be Captain Iron Leg or something similar.

Pirate Ship (31109) Minifigures

Otherwise, all the Minifigures come with the standard parts. Additionally, all of them have front and back torso printing. However, none have leg printing and only one has a double-sided face. On the plus side, the ship comes stocked with accessories. You get a skeleton, two cannons, a treasure chest, four diamonds, two pistols, three cutlasses, a map, two epaulettes, and a chalice. The accessories make up for any lack of printing on the characters. Therefore, I rate the character design at 100%.

In addition to the Minifigures, you also get the skeleton. It is not a minifig per se, but it counts towards to the brick-to fig ratio. The set has 1260 pieces. That equates to a ratio of 315 bricks to a figurine. For a set this size, that is awfully bad. Comparatively, my average brick-to-fig ratio is 152:1. This kit really needs more Minifigures. Female characters are particularly lacking. Both Barracuda Bay and Minifigures Series 20 have a nice pirate female hairpiece/hat. Since they are concurrent characters, including one here as well should be easy. I rate the ratio score at 47%. Averaging the ratio and design scores gives an overall Minifigure rating of 74%.

The Pirate Ship (31109) does not come with female characters, however the female pirate from Minifigures series 20 looks right at home.
Female pirate from Minifigures series 20 on board the Pirate Ship.

ENTERTAINMENT: 100%

As a Creator 3-in-1 kit, the Pirate Ship has three alternate builds. You can assemble the namesake pirate ship, but you can also convert the same bricks into an inn or a pirate island. All three constructs look amazing based on the box art. Since I have Barracuda Bay, I am not interested in building the island. However, a second kit is tempting just to build the inn without demolishing my ship. I love the ship. It looks great with Barracuda Bay. As a pirate fan, this set checks all the right boxes and makes a great display piece. Additionally, I had two pirate ships as a kid, and they were endless hours of fun. I do not know how relevant the theme is for kids today. However, I will still rate the entertainment value for this set at 100%.

The row boat is not included in the set, but makes for a great photo op.

OVERALL SCORE: 88%

The Pirate Ship (31109) is a great set. You get three nice looking builds. However, most importantly you get an amazing pirate ship. Additionally, the set is a good value even at full price. I have some minor issues with certain design choices, but the overall look and feel of the ship overrides those. The only major downside to the Pirate Ship is that you do not get enough Minifigures for a set of this size. There are no female pirates either. Minifigures Series 20 concurrently offers a female pirate that I will include in my ship’s crew. However, given the poor brick-to-fig ratio of this set, I think the LEGO® Group should have included at least one girl. What are your thoughts? Comment below or reach out on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

What do others think?

Brick Insights is an awesome site that aggregates LEGO® set review scores from around the web. Based on their statistics, you can see what other reviewers think of the Pirate Ship (31109) below.

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