Piracy has been around for as long as Man has travelled the seas, and is still with us today, but for many people the term conjures up images from what is called the 'golden age of piracy', which was the later 17th and early 18th centuries, and this set seems to be aimed at that period. Some of these pirates are still household names today, and thanks to the considerable amount of fiction written about them (including a series of films with the same name as this set) there is a common but distorted image of how they lived and operated. Still there is no denying the fascination they provoke, hence this is the latest of several sets on the subject.
One advantage of making a set of pirates is they pleased themselves in terms of dress and weapons, so it would be hard to get either wrong in a set of figures. Those in this set have a wide variety of costume, with many tricorn hats and large coats on show, which fits with the golden age dating. Pirates dressed much the same as other seamen of the time, but on occasion more expensive clothing might come their way, so the rather exotic collection to be seen here seems to fit the subject, although this is more likely to be true of captains than the ordinary seamen. One figure requires special attention however, and that figure is the first on the second row. This is evidently a woman, and while there were certainly some female pirates they usually wore male attire, not the plunging neckline, skin-tight leggings and thigh boots on show here. This might well generate very few complaints, but in truth the figure looks more at home in a theatre than on the high seas.
A pirate’s first choice of weapon was sheer terror. If a ship could be persuaded to surrender without a fight then any cargo and prize was undamaged and no pirate got hurt. However if necessary most pirates would try and board, so close quarter weapons like swords and pistols were favourites, although muskets, axes, pikes and knives were also often used. The figures here have a pretty fearsome arsenal, but this includes several swords that are absolutely massive - too long to wield properly in any conditions, never mind on the deck of a ship. All the muskets are fairly standard, which is fine but we would have liked to have seen a blunderbuss too.
The poses are fairly flat but a reasonable array. They are mostly nicely animated and portray a boarding party very well. Note there are no poses serving a cannon, which was an important part of a pirate’s arsenal but clearly has not been covered here.
The set contains four identical sprues, but in our review sample we found two very different qualities. Two of the sprues had fairly little flash but also had one figure (the third in the last row) with much of his right leg missing - in fact his upper and lower leg was separated by fresh air when there should have been a knee. On the other two sprues the leg was whole, but there was something of a riot of flash all over the place, and that is the sprue pictured above. Unfortunately our sample was in a dark purple colour which is virtually impossible to photograph, so we applied a thin coat of grey paint to allow the figures to be seen. However what is clear to see is the flash, which is virtually everywhere on these figures and in places such as the swords can double the width of the item. Which type of sprue you get in any given box we do not know, so look before buying if you can, or be prepared for one or the other if you can not. The detail on the figures is adequate but this is not a particularly good sculpting job.
If you cut down the over-long swords then you have a pretty authentic set of pirates, leaving aside the pantomime principal boy. Choice of poses and weapons is OK, but be prepared to put in a lot of work to rescue some reasonable figures from the very messy bits of plastic you may find in your hand.