Pirates Chess (40158) Review

I was a big Pirates theme fan in my KFOL days. I still have all of my sets. During my dark ages, I missed out on the 2009, 2013, and 2015 sets. The recent resurfacing of pirate sets like the Pirate Rollercoaster, Barracuda Bay, and the Pirate Ship have made me nostalgic. I wish the LEGO® Group would reboot the theme. For now, all I can do is rebuild my older sets or try to scour the secondary markets for sets that will not break the bank. While that takes time, I have been successful in certain instances. This week, we take a look at one of the sets I missed out on in my dark ages: the Pirates Chess (40158).

If you are curious how scores are generated in this review, check out our rating system.

PIRATES CHESS (40158) SUMMARY

  • NAME: Pirates Chess Set
  • SET #: 40158
  • THEME: Pirates
  • COST: $59.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 857
  • MINIFIGURES: 20
  • RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2015
Pirates Chess minifigures

PIRATES CHESS (40158) QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 99% (The original market value was amazing in terms of cost-per-brick and build time.)
  • BUILD: 70% (Lacks detail and finesse but does the job.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 89% (Lots of minifigs and accessories, but character are mostly generic.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 90% (Hours of entertainment beyond simply building.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 87% (Very good set.)
Pirates Chess minifigures.

PIRATES CHESS (40158) REVIEW

VALUE: 99%

Originally, the Pirates Chess Set retailed for $59.99 in Canada. From a Minifigure value standpoint, that was amazing. Flashforward to 2022, and there are two LEGO® chess sets on the market. One comes with no Minifigures and the other only has four for $69.99 and $79.99 respectively. Pirates Chess Set originally cost $0.07/brick. It retired around the time I came out of my dark ages and started tracking set statistics. Consequently, I feel it still compares to the modern average cost-per-brick of $0.139. This set offered an amazing value-per-brick, earning a score of 100%. At present, I do not have enough Pirates data to make a theme specific comparison.

Pirates Chess took me an hour and 54 minutes to assemble (114 minutes total). At full price, that meant a cost-per-minute of build time of $0.53. Compared to LEGO® sets in general, that is excellent. The True North Bricks average currently sits at $0.85/minute. Once again, Pirate Chess Set amazed in terms of value, landing a score of 97%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 99%.

Of course, Pirates Chess is no longer available for the recommended retail price of $59.99. The set retired in December 2016. The only way to get one is through the secondary markets now. At present, a new, sealed box goes for around $100 on BrickLink. They tend to cost more on eBay. Of course, in both cases, you have to tack on shipping as well. However, if you scour often enough, you might get a good deal. I found mine on eBay for $65. While I had to pay shipping on top of that, I was happy to pay only $5 more than the original price.

BUILD: 70%

You assemble this set in four main pieces. There are two decorative 8×32 strips to adorn the sides of the main chessboard. One features a beach-type scene, the other is mostly water with a couple of bits of shore and a palm tree. The chessboard comes together in two halves, one with blue walls and the other with tan. Each half features two removable lids and a hollow interior for storing game pieces. The lids are tiled in black and white with knobbed plates strategically placed for game pieces to stick to in play.

Pirates Chess storage compartment.

The set looks nice; however, I do have some issues with it. Firstly, the half blue, half tan look is a little simplistic. The sides of the chess board should be a little more decorated. Also, the knight, rook, and bishop are all brick-built pieces. I do not have an issue with that as such, but I would have preferred more Minifigures. With that said, the set comes with a lot of minifigs already. So, if brick-built game pieces were a must, they should be a little nicer.

On the Pirates side, I actually do like the barrel with a parrot as the rook. The skull for a knight is a good idea too. However, the catapult for a bishop is not great. I am not a fan of any of the brick-built game pieces on the Imperials side. The rooks are my least favorite. The others are passable since they display pirate accessories. Ultimately, I rate the build for this set at 70%. It lacks some detail and finesse but does the job.

MINIFIGURES: 89%

In terms of the characters you get, the set includes 10 pirates and 10 imperial soldiers. Each character comes complete with all the standard parts, as well as front and back torso printing. However, none of the characters have leg printing, and only three have double-sided faces. Most of the pawns are fairly similar on either side of the board. There are three pirate variants and three imperial variants. In terms of accessories, there are nine cutlasses, three barrels, two parrots, three maps, a wine glass, eight rifles, a baguette, a banana, a bottle, a sextant, a frog, and a rat. Most of the characters are fairly generic, as such these pirates earn a design score of 78%.

Pirates Chess Imperial Minifigures

If you were looking to bolster your Minifigure pirate population, then Pirates Chess was a great set to acquire. The set includes 20 minifigs. For an 857-brick set, that is an amazing number of characters. Essentially, you get one minifig for every 43 bricks. Comparatively, the average brick-to-fig ratio at True North Bricks is currently 170-to-1. Pirates Chess easily scores 100% in this category. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 89%.

Pirates Chess pirate minifigures

ENTERTAINMENT: 90%

I think Pirates Chess holds appeal beyond LEGO® Pirates collectors like myself. Afterall, the set is a chessboard. I do not even play chess, but this board tempts me to try a game or two. Additionally, I might even keep the board out to inspire conversation or play with visitors. I think fans of the game will enjoy the playful LEGO® spin on chess as well. Personally, I like a chessboard covered in Minifigures rather than brick-built game pieces currently available on the market. The set might even inspire younger builders to learn chess. However, as I mentioned in the build section, I wish this board was a more ornate display piece. Overall, I think Pirates Chess offers hours of entertainment beyond simply building. I rate the entertainment score at 90%.

OVERALL SCORE: 87%

Pirates Chess is a great set for fans of the classic LEGO® theme and chess players alike. The original value of the set was amazing. However, you will be hard pressed to find that same value now that the set is retired. It is not impossible, but I had to look for a long time to find a factory sealed box for only $5 more than the original price. My main complaint about the set is the lack of detailing in the build. Otherwise, you get a load of pirate Minifigures for your MOC scenes. This set was in stores just as I was emerging from my dark ages. I did not buy it for budget reasons and regretted it for years afterwards. I am really happy to have Pirates Chess now. What do you think of the set? Comment below or reach out on social media.

Until nest time,

-Tom

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