In early 2022, I happened across bin containing 13.6 kg of LEGO® bricks on Facebook Marketplace. I shared the find in the third episode of Bargain Bricks. I do not usually buy mixed bins like that because you never know what you are going to get. However, in this particular bin, I saw a pirate ship hull from the original Pirates theme. I watched the bin for a time, until the price dropped (it was originally $500). Subsequently, I picked it up for $280. I figured, if the ship was complete, it would be worth that cost alone. Besides, who knew what other goodies lay hidden in the bin? As it turned out, the ship was the Imperial Flagship (6271) from 1992. It was one of the sets I dreamed of owning as a kid.
The Imperial Flagship was one of my dream sets as a kid.
Ultimately, the ship was 93% complete. Based on mass and the cost of the bin, those parts cost me $9.25. I ended up acquiring the missing parts from Bricklink in order to have the full set. Those parts cost me $118.70. I shared the details in Bargain Bricks Episode 5. Ultimately, I was missing two of three sails and one very rare blue “palm tree top” brick, along with a few smaller odds and ends. The resulting total cost of my Imperial Flagship was $127.95. As I write this, the average cost for a complete, used ship on Bricklink is $295. Therefore, despite having to pay a lot on Bricklink, I still acquired a complete Imperial Flagship at a pretty good price. This week, we take a deep look at the set itself.
IMPERIAL FLAGSHIP (6271) SUMMARY
- NAME: Imperial Flagship
- SET #: 6271
- THEME: Pirates
- ORIGINAL COST: $54.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 317
- MINIFIGURES: 4
- RELEASED: 1992
IMPERIAL FLAGSHIP (6271) QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 84% (Based on set values from 1992 and a modified build time criterion.)
- BUILD: 85% (Instructions are not always clear and there’s no real cabin space.)
- MINIFIGURES: 84% (Great minifigs for the era, but not many compared to other Pirates sets).
- ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (Lots of play and display value, but I’m a little biased 😉)
- OVERALL SCORE: 88% (Very good set.)
IMPERIAL FLAGSHIP (6271) REVIEW
The Imperial Flagship originally retailed for $54.99 in Canada. A marked difference from the $295 average a used ship currently goes for on Bricklink. It has been 30 years since this ship originally released, and the value has increased more than five-fold. I paid a little more than double for mine. However, if we consider the cost-per-brick based on the original value, each brick in this set cost $0.17. By today’s standards, that is a little on the pricey side. But that is not really an accurate comparison. The average cost-per-brick today is around $0.14, but that was not the case in 1992.
I do not have a lot of pricing information from 1992. It is surprisingly hard to come by in Canadian currency. However, I recently found an old retail catalog that listed a number of Pirates sets. Based on that, the average cost-per-brick for the original Pirates theme was around $0.18. Consequently, the Imperial Flagship was a little better than average for the time. Based on a comparison to the limited Pirates data I have from 1992, I rate the cost-per-brick at 84%.
The cost-per-brick for 1990s Pirates sets was around $0.18 CAD.
Build time is another hard criterion to evaluate retrospectively. Since the pricing was different back then, the cost-per-minute does not translate well to our usual statistics based on modern sets and pricing. With that said, the Imperial Flagship took me 57 minutes to assemble. Based on the original price, each minute of build time cost $0.96. By today’s standards, that is satisfactory, but still on the expensive side. However, again, LEGO® was generally more expensive (believe it or not) in the past based on cost-per-brick.
Perhaps a better comparison is bricks-per-minute. In other words, how many bricks can I place per minute of build time. That comparison looks at build time versus brick count. We do not normally evaluate sets this way, but I think it is a more translatable comparison between old and modern sets that does not depend on price. I took some time to go through the sheets of build time and set data that I have. Subsequently, I figured out that the average number of bricks I place each minute is 6.22. For the Imperial Flagship, I placed 5.56 bricks/minute. Consequently, I placed fewer bricks each minute than I usually do, meaning more build time. Based on this new metric, I rate the build time at 83%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick gives an overall value rating of 84%.
The Imperial Flagship comes from a simpler time in terms of set design. The elaborate build techniques and details we see today were not a thing. Compare this ship to Pirates of Barracuda Bay or the Creator 3-in-1 Pirate Ship, and the details are just not there. However, for a ship of the era, it was quite good. The ship looks wonderful when complete. It has two printed flags, and two of the three sails feature printing as well. Interestingly, the boat also has a play feature. Turning the helm causes the rudder to move. The set also comes with 125 cm of rope for realistic rigging.
In terms of unique parts, the sails only appear on this ship. Additionally, the hull only came with one other model, the Renegade Runner (6268). Finally, the aforementioned “blue palm tree top” came in two other sets, Skull’s Eye Schooner (6286) and Pirate Treasure Chest (1788). Thankfully, the hull was complete in my bulk bin, and I had one of the two palm tree tops. However, I had to buy two of the three sails and one palm tree top, which raised the cost of my Imperial Flagship considerably.
The Imperial Flagship includes unique sails and several rare parts.
The build experience was more frustrating than I am used to. I had forgotten what building LEGO® was like back in the day. Incidentally, the LEGO® Group has improved instruction manuals by leaps and bounds since 1992. With this build I missed a lot of small steps. That required going back over previous pages in the manual multiple times to find where I went wrong. The old manuals did not highlight new bricks on each step. It was easy to miss parts.
I do wish this boat featured a cabin. The space under the helm is hard to access and filled by the rudder apparatus. The Imperial Flagship has no shelter from the elements. Again, the sets from the original Pirates theme do not compare to modern detailed models. However, even as a child, I remember wishing my pirate ships had proper cabins (I had the Armada Flagship and Cross Bone Clipper).
The instructions are hard to follow at times, and there are no cabins onboard.
Otherwise, the build is solid. Parts stay in place well. I probably like this ship as much as my Armada Flagship, and more than my Cross Bone Clipper. It loses some points for hard-to-follow instructions and a lack of cabin space though. The instructions were what they were for the time, so I won’t deduct too much for that. I rate the Imperial Flagship build at 85%.
Much like value and design, Minifigures were different back in the ‘90s. They did not feature anywhere near the detail we see today. Consequently, I am going to modify the Minifigure rating scale for this set. Firstly, Minifigures did not have leg printing, rear torso printing, arm printing, or double-sided faces back then. However, Pirates was the first theme to ever feature more than just a simple smiley face character. Usually, I rate Minifigures out of 15. But these characters were not able to have the level of detail we see today. So, I will knock off some of the usual rating criteria and score these characters out of 12 instead.
The Imperial Flagship came with four minifigs. Only one had the generic smiley face. Otherwise, they all had the standard parts and front torso printing. Three of the characters also had epaulettes. In terms of accessories, the set included a backpack, a pistol, two rifles, a compass, two cutlasses, two canons, two lances (used as flag poles), a treasure chest, and two sets of golden coins. By today’s standards, they might not seem like much. However, back in 1992, they were quite detailed and came with loads of accessories. I rate the Minifigure design at 100%.
Four Minifigures in a 317-piece kit is amazing by modern standards. The resulting brick-to-fig ratio is 79 bricks/fig. Today, that would earn 98% compared to the average of 171 bricks/fig. However, based on my research into the original Pirates theme, the average was about 40 bricks/fig. Pirates gave you a lot of Minifigures per set. By that comparison, the Imperial Flagship provided fewer minifigs than average. I rate that at 68%. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 84%.
I am quite biased when it comes to Pirates sets. This was my favorite theme growing up. Additionally, the Imperial Flagship was one of those sets from my childhood wish list that I never had. I am so excited to have one now. I am going to display this set in my LEGO® room. In fact, it inspired me to build some other old sets, like my childhood Pirates ships.
Thinking back to my childhood, I loved my Pirate ships. I played with them for hours on end. I think even in a modern context, kids would enjoy pirate ships. AFOLs would love the theme too out of nostalgia if nothing else. I rate the Imperial Flagship’s entertainment value at 100%.
OVERALL SCORE: 88%
The Imperial Flagship (6271) is hard to rate compared to modern sets. It comes from a simpler time in terms of set design. Additionally, set valuation was different. I have modified True North Bricks’ usual criteria for this review and have tried to compare this set only to other Pirates sets from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when possible. Based on those modifications, the Imperial Flagship is a very good set. Is it my favorite? That is hard to say. I have not had a chance to build many of my dream sets from childhood. It is among the top Pirates sets I built from that era though. However, it will cost you a pretty penny to acquire in this day and age. What do you think of the Imperial Flagship? Feel free to comment below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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