Pirate Ship (31109) Revisited Review

In summer 2020, the LEGO® Group treated AFOLs to a brand-new pirate themed set.  For fans who grew up with the original theme in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, the offering was quite a treat. True North Bricks actually reviewed the set shortly after its release. However, the new schooner is not part of a new Pirates wave. Sadly, it is a standalone offering in the Creator 3-in-1 theme. In our previous review, we examined only the main ship build. Since then, the LEGO® Group sent a second copy of 31109 to us for another look. I was thrilled by the offer because it meant I did not have to disassemble my ship to try one of the alternate builds. Consequently, this Pirate Ship (31109) revisited review focuses on the Pirate Inn version of the set.

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use my usual rating system (click here for more information) and provide my honest opinion.

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
Pirate Ship (31109) alternate inn build.

PIRATE SHIP (31109) REVISITED QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 94% (6% increase over the original review due to increased build time.)
  • BUILD: 80% (10% decrease from original review due to less sophisticated build.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 81% (7% increase over original review due to changed review metrics.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 80% (20% decrease from original review; the inn is not as fun as the ship.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84% (4% decrease from the original review)

PIRATE SHIP (31109) REVISITED REVIEW

VALUE: 94%

Obviously, the cost-per-brick for this set has not changed since our original review. At full price, the set costs $139.99 in Canada and features 1260 pieces. Consequently, the cost-per-brick is $0.11. Similarly, the average cost-per-brick that we keep track of at True North Bricks has also not changed since we published the review. As such, the score in this category remains 90%. However, we have introduced a new metric when looking at the value-per-brick in the last year. That 90% score comes from a comparison with all LEGO® sets reviewed on the blog. In this Pirate Ship (31109) revisited review, we also need to consider the cost-per-brick compared only to other Creator 3-in-1 sets. While the value remains good in that regard, it is not as good and earns a score of 86%. Taken together, the cost-per-brick rating for the Pirate Ship is 88%.

Pirate Ship (31109) Inn ground floor.

The build time for this set changed markedly since assembling the first model. Interestingly, the Inn variant of the set uses considerably less pieces. However, it takes considerably more time to piece together. Why is that? When assembling the Pirate Ship proper, you build in the typical fashion of one numbered bag at a time. When working on the Inn, you empty all the bags at once. Consequently, you have to search for each piece in a sea of 1260 bricks. It takes a lot longer. Five hours and ten minutes to be precise. Comparatively, the ship build took me three hours and 12 minutes. Whether compared to LEGO® sets in general or just to other Creator kits, that is a phenomenal build-time value. Solid 100% in this category. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 94%.

BUILD: 80%

Oddly enough, this is the first time that I have built an alternate version of a Creator 3-in-1 set. In the past, other models appealed to me, but never as much as the main model shown largely on the box. The same was true of this set to a certain extent. However, I love pirates sets and the inn looked like fun. I was psyched to get a second copy of 31109 so I didn’t have to disassemble my pirate ship. Additionally, I imagined a custom version of this build to add onto Pirates of Barracuda Bay. The latter set already features an inn, but it is open backed. Sealing that build off on the other side with a version of this inn’s façade is an interesting prospect.

Pirate Ship (31109) Inn

In any case, this inn is a fun set. However, I do not like it nearly as much as the original ship in terms of design. The building has a hinged design allowing the back wall to swing open. The feature seems pointless because the back wall is largely open already. Additionally, opening the back wall does not make accessing the bottom floor any easier. The exterior water wheel axle juts straight into the room making large portions of the space useless for play or display. Additionally, a support column centrally located in the room makes access to the rest of the space really hard.

The inn does not use all of the bricks in this set. In fact, there are a large number left over. When I mod this kit, I will eliminate the water wheel and the support column. Among the extra pieces are a number of unused arches. If the arches go towards supporting the upper floor, the lower level becomes accessible.

Pirate Ship (31109) leftover bricks after building the inn.
Leftover pieces from building the Inn.

Otherwise, the exterior of the inn looks amazing. The mast and crows’ nest on the roof mesh well with the look of Barracuda Bay. I also like the old-style building. It looks good along side similar styled builds like the Harry Potter Hogsmeade Village Visit and Diagon Alley. If you want to build a portside town for your pirates minifigures, these sets are all adaptable to that end. All the same, since the design renders the whole bottom floor and swing-open wall useless, I rate the build at 80%.

Arr! How’d ye be reaching that there winch?

MINIFIGURES: 81%

The Minifigures are the same as in the original review, so I will not spend much time on this section. With that said, the score does change a little. Similar to the value score, when I originally reviewed this set, I compared it to LEGO® sets in general, and not only to other Creator 3-in-1 sets. Creator 3-in-1 kits tend to have high brick-to-fig ratios, meaning you do not get a lot of minifigs based on the set size. In the original review, this set scored 47% in this category. Since the spreadsheet we use is a living document, that score has increased to 50% in the last year based on changing averages. Additionally, in a Creator only comparison, Pirate Ship earns 71%. Averaging these gives 61%. The design score remains unchanged from the first review at 100%. Therefore, the overall Minifigure score is now 81%.

Pirate Ship (31109) Minifigures.
I mixed up the minifig parts this time around.

ENTERTAINMENT: 80%

My opinion from the original review remains unchanged. This is an amazing set. However, if we consider only the inn variant, it does not function well as playset. As mentioned before, you cannot really use the bottom floor. I like the outside as a display piece in a pirates scene as well as for its customization potential. But that is the key term here: potential. This set needs a bit of an overhaul before I would plop it into my own displays. I rate the inn’s entertainment score at 80%.

Run, ye hampster, run!

OVERALL SCORE: 84%

The Pirate Ship (31109) revisited review scores lower than the original, but not by much. If you have only one of these kits, the actual pirate ship is the way to go. The inn variant is fun, but the pirate ship build blows it out of the water in terms of design. However, if you want an old-school, long build without numbered bags, the inn provides that. The experience was truly reminiscent of my childhood builds where much of the time went to finding pieces. That is not necessarily a bad thing but be prepared for it. Which version of this set do you like the most? Comment below or reach out on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

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2 comments

  • When I buy a 3-in-1 set, I almost always buy three of them. Or at least two, if the third build looks unexciting to me. Taking a cool thing apart and putting it back together again differently is just not a fun experience for me.

    • I find it hard to part with cool builds… Then I run out of storage space and have to make tough decisions… In either case, alternate builds rarely happen for me.