24 March 2020

LEGO® Ideas set review: 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay

Posted by Admin
Just revealed, 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay is the next LEGO® Ideas set and we have not one but three articles about it for you this week! Later we have a fascinating interview with the designers Milan Madge and Austin William Carlson, but first up Jonas Kramm reviews the set across two articles: today he looks at the ship, bay and Easter eggs and next will be the new parts and the minifigures.

Ahoy sailor! Did you ever wonder what happened to Redbeard and his beloved vessel, the Black Seas Barracuda? Then come closer and I will tell you the tale of the Pirates of Barracuda Bay: the newest LEGO® Ideas set.

Pitched by Pablo Jiménez (Bricky_Brick) as “The Pirate Bay” in 2019, the submission that took only 25 days to reach the required 10,000 supporters has now been turned into an official set and will be available from 1 April 2020. It contains 2,545 pieces and the price point is US$199.99/ CA$259.99/ €199.99/ £179.99/ 1599DKK.

On first sight, you will say: “This looks nothing like the Pirate Bay I voted for”. And you are right; especially the colour scheme is different. But wait, doesn’t it look familiar? Remind you of something? Yes, this is the return of the iconic Black Seas Barracuda! And not only will it get used as a hideout as proposed, but also you will actually change it back into a seaworthy pirate ship.

In today’s part of the review we will take a look at the building of the set and how it can be turned into the vessel, highlighting the building techniques and the “Easter egg” references to the original 6285 Black Seas Barracuda set from 1989.

The Island

The build in general is pretty straightforward. It starts with the right half of the bay and switches between building the landscape and building the ship. I found the building of the ship more interesting, even though there is also a lot going on with the beach.

For the water, LEGO designer Milan Madge chose Medium Azure, which represents the natural colour of the Caribbean sea more closely than the darker look of the fan design. The smooth sand is made from two sizes of round corner slopes.

The first subtle Easter egg referencing the Black Seas Barracuda is this Bright Yellow/ Yellow flower (6000022|98262). Back in 1989 it was used on the ship as a decorative element on the back of the captain’s cabin which was very creative part usage, especially for that time. Perhaps it didn’t fit anywhere in the redesign of the ship and so ended here in the water?

©1994 The LEGO Group

The next reference is a bit more obvious and gives credit to the Islander theme that came out in 1994 as another faction of the Pirate world. A couple of sets (6262 King Kahuka's Throne and 6278 Enchanted Island) came with almost-identical brick-built idols to the one that lays here in the sand. I especially like the use of cow horns to recreate the old mould as best possible, and by the way, this decision will make this type of horn much more accessible.

On top of the beach, the first structures get built including a simple but good-looking lamp design, which was already in the fan design. When the first half of the base is done it still looks a bit unfinished, but that is because one part of the ship will stick onto the Technic pins later.

The second part of the base continues the sea and the beach with similar techniques. In the back is a hidden landing place with a skeleton of an imperial soldier who got lost here. Also there are stored some goods including a barrel moulded in Black: that colour was only used for this piece in one set 30 years ago.

There are more pieces in new colours than it first looks. A list of them, the printed pieces and the minifigures will be in the second part of my review! But let’s continue with the build for now.

The Ship Segments

Middle Section

Starting point of the redesigned Black Seas Barracuda is the central section of the vessel. The base is made of big boat hull pieces in Reddish Brown, which make it a solid construction. I don’t mind that at all and it reminded me of the positive experience when building Ninjago 70618 Destiny's Bounty.

As the hull grows you will also start adding the interior. Aside from the captains cabin, the classic Black Seas Barracuda had no interior; instead the cannons were located down here.

One half of the hull here is filled with the bedroom...

... and the other one houses the tavern.

To make the ship chunks fit in with the overgrown aesthetic of the bay you add some plants here and there, but they can easily be removed later.

On top of the middle section the obligatory prison is placed and suggests that these pirates didn’t really care about their latest prisoner.

Building the mast and threading many 2x2 round bricks on a 32L Technic axle is tedious, but definitely pays off in the end. It’s way taller than I expected!

Added to the bay, this part of the boat sits on the very right and is the inn of the hideout. A sign specifies it as “Jose’s Inn” and the printing on this piece is definitely inspired by the sign from 6067 Guarded Inn from 1986. As for who Jose might be, see our interview with the LEGO designers of this set to find out.

Front section

Next is the ship’s nose which is built upon another hull element. I wasn’t sure about what one feature represents, but I think it's the toilet.

This section includes a clever built anchor wind that is placed around the second mast and also the jib boom. After adding the yellow railings, flex axles and the figurehead on front it looks really beautiful. Some exceptional shaping is going on here and everything fits together in a very pleasing manner.

I also love the use of sails made from fabric and the decision to include some as hoisted sails here. Together with the many LEGO strings included they really help to transport the nostalgic feel.

In the layout of Barracuda Bay, this part of the ship fits on the right. By using Mixel joints it’s angled in two directions and adds a lot of dynamism to the whole scene.

Back Section

The rear end of the vessel has to be my favourite as there are many interesting angled sections and a detailed interior. It starts by angling the walls on each side and creating a great effect using bowed bricks.

Also, the walls are connected upside down, which allowed the designers to use the inverted bow, thus getting rid of the unattractive intakes of the regular bows.

Later, when changing the pirate’s bay into a ship, this section will be connected to the tavern, so it makes sense to put the caboose here. Featuring a new colour of masonry brick! More on that in part 2.

In the story, above lays Captain Redbeard’s cabin. The walls are angled, narrowing the shape of the ship at the end. The captain's chair is fun little piece of furniture and in case you wonder why the Dark Red plate is placed that way, remember that Redbeard has a peg leg.

Particularly in this room, a lot of details from the original submission can be found. For example the many candles, the stack of maps and the bed. Originally it opened to reveal a secret passage, but that didn’t fit here, so it just folds to make more space inside.

Within the wreckage scene, this section makes the tall building in the middle, which really stands out.

My favourite detail is the rudder blade that turns into a door.

The Barracuda Bay

When completed, the bay is full-on pirate mania. So much is going on!

It’s quite amazing how all the different chunks you built fit together.

The New Black Seas Barracuda

In its last few steps the instruction booklet shows you how to change Barracuda Bay into the infamous pirate ship. First you remove the chunks from the island and remove all the plants and additional details like the sign, lamps and the prison.

Making use of some extra Technic pins, strings and the missing sails it becomes more seaworthy, step by step. Also the door behind the rudder blade gets sealed with a fitting wall. The transformation isn’t that quick and takes a few minutes, especially to set sail.

When done it’s a beautiful sailing ship that looks really defined and detailed everywhere. I’ve never seen the 10210 Imperial Flagship in person, but from the pictures I would say this looks better. Especially the rigging here is a big plus.

Not only the colour scheme but also certain details make it convincing that this is the Black Seas Barracuda. Very prominent are of course the yellow railings, the white lattice panes in the windows and the red flags for the portholes.

My favourite reference is the shape built over the windows which is clearly the brick-built version of the extinct decorative brick 1x4 (4088), which appeared three times within the original Black Seas Barracuda.

I think I have to admit that I like ship even more than the bay.

"What happened to the Pirate Bay I voted for?"

Original fan design © 2019 by Bricky_Brick

When a fan submission gets approved and then turned into an official LEGO product there are always changes, which lead to fan community discussions about whether they were needed and if they make the model better or worse. One tendency for sure is that the designers try to add more play value to the MOCs, which are often focused on looks. You’ll learn a lot more about the changes made by reading our interview with designer Milan Madge.

My first impression of Pirates of Barracuda Bay was a bit of let down. I had this image in my head of the original fan design with this mysterious, dark atmosphere, a lot of brown and dark brown and some palm trees. I didn’t expect the final product to be as dark, but my first impression was a completely different one.

Then I noticed the possibility of changing the hideout back into a complete vessel, and my impression started changing. Not just that it could change, but also that the ship was a redesign of the iconic, very first pirate ship. Honestly, I’m even younger than the ship, so I don’t have the memories most of you probably have.

Diving deeper in the build I accepted the concept more and more. I like that they decided to do it right or not at all; they added a backstory, a classic comic in the booklet, all those little homages and they didn’t even stop when they got to the box art.

Also when looking closely you can still see the overall idea of the fan designer. They kept the composition of the buildings the same and also used many of the little ideas from the original model.


Usually I have three categories for sets: “That looks gorgeous, I’m gonna build it!”, “Those parts will be handy, but not one to build” or “Meh. I’ll leave this one out.” This set doesn’t really fit in one of these categories. It made quite the ride: from something that didn’t look too promising on first glance, to a set I loved building and exploring to a final model that has great details. The overall look, however, is too overloaded for my taste. When changed into the vessel it’s an amazing ship and the perfect example how a bigger size of model, new parts and new techniques can make a worthy redesign.

It will be interesting to see how different generations react to this set, so feel free to leave your opinion!

A huge thank you at this point to my New E colleague Ben Davies for collaboration and helping me out with the photos of the old Black Seas of Barracuda set! Continue now to read the second part of my review, where we take a close look at all the new bits and the minifigures. Fair winds and following seas!

21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay will be available from 1st of April. It contains 2,545 pieces and the price point is US$199.99/ CA$259.99/ €199.99/ £179.99/ 1599DKK.

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Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group. All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.


  1. Damn it.
    I was glad when I saw it looked so different to the original submission which I loved. "Great!" I thought, "I can spend the money on toilet paper!"
    But then I saw the details, the play features and the fact the ship can be rebuilt from its wreck was the last straw.
    Sorry my dear bottom, Captain Mutant needs a new Caribbean hideaway...

  2. This is the perfect update on a classic theme. Please make this into a series!

    1. Thats a win then! We will pass it on to TLG! Thanks for the comment.

  3. I never had any pirate set when I was a kid and therefore have no nostalgia for it. In fact, don't like this set too much...the colour combination looks pretty ugly to me and I don't find the shape of the ship to be too interesting either. I much prefer it in the island form, as a shipwreck but even then it's not something I'm too thrilled about...overall it's a "meh" but maybe seeing the details up close could make me change my mind (even though I doubt it)

    1. Fair enough, we will pass it on to TLG! Thanks for the comment.

  4. This is beautiful, I love that window shaping! I hope we get a new galaxy explorer and a yellow castle to complete the classic trilogy. You mention the boat build being seaworthy, I’m assuming you don’t mean that it floats?

    1. Correct, boat does not float. Seaworthy in imaginary seas :)

  5. Thank you for a great review! I loved the original design but I love the final set as much if not even more! Such a great combination of new parts and part usage but still keeps the vibes of the original pirate era. Awesome job Lego!

    1. We will pass it on to TLG! Thanks for the comment.

  6. I am on the fence about this. On the one hand I already own a re-issue Black Seas Barracuda from 2002 but on the other hand the Black Seas Barracuda holds special memories for me (as a kid I was given the original as a reward for learning to ride my bike) and this set does have a lot of cool and new parts...

    1. I can see why. It will never live up to the original in your mind of course but will trigger a lot of happiness it seems... if only the new parts :D

  7. Never had any pirate sets in the house as a kid, but I remember them from you catalogs and with the last incarnation of the theme I ended up getting the whole line.

    I generally get mildly annoyed when TLG substantially changes a fan design, but in this case the revised concept is so much more compelling that I don't mind. Being able to rebuild the shipwreck as a slick new version of the BSB makes me much more interested in this set, even without a strong personal nostalgia factor.

    1. Remember them from *toy* catalogs, that is. Back when those were a thing.

  8. This looks amazing! I have very fond memories of the original Shipwreck Island from 1989, but one thing I've wanted to see for a long time from the Pirates line was a variation on that concept that would actually have all the parts to reconstruct the original ship. I figured the finished product would *look* good, but the functionality really puts it over the top for me. If only I had the space for it...

    1. Maybe break a vase or something? Space is easy :)

  9. Just love it. Pirate has always been my favorite theme. Have 5 large ships displayed on my office and many islands stored, and just can't wait to get my hands on this set. When I initially saw the submission, I was very pleased by it, but the changes actually made it match the original theme, so even though the color scheme is not realistic, its 95% Lego Pirates! (Took 5% off because of the use of reddish-brown bricks)

    1. I don't get the 'not realistic' comments. Which colours do you mean specifically? Glad you like it still!

  10. Please convince the original designer to release the plans for his version. This set does not appeal anywhere near as much as the original ideas submission.

  11. I was never a big Pirates fan, although I'm old enough to remember the originals, and I can appreciate the fun factor of building Pirates after assembling a collection of the 2015 sets, including the amazing Imperial Flagship. While Pablo's fan submission had a lot of presence, I prefer the Ideas changes to give it that retro feel. I think it was an excellent move to make the ship parts reassemble into a new Black Seas Barracuda. It adds a great fun factor to the set, and gives folks who never had the opportunity to own the original a nice substitute that, from a technical standpoint, offers a more robust and interesting build experience due to the techniques employed to recreate the look, especially in the case of retired elements. I'm not sure if I'm going to get it myself, but I applaud the final design for what it offers, all the way down to the nostalgic box art. Now give me a Classic Space set in the same vein.

  12. The day of redemption has come after selling my original Black Seas Barracuda for $20 as a broke teenager twenty years ago. I love what TLG has done with this set. When compared to the original fan design, they are actually very similar. Who would have thought, a Pirate Bay and Black Seas Barracuda w/original crew in one set. Absolutely genius. Thanks for the great review. (I have a slope piece ready to go in case it's missing in mine as well)

    1. Haha! Ah, I think so many of us share that woe of the teenage/twentysomething dark age sale of childhood dreams. Glad this hit the spot so squarely for you!

  13. It was day one for me, especially for the possibility to build the whole ship together. Otherwise I would have waited the end of the year for Amazon-like discount price.

    Since I got the amazing 6286 Skull's Eye Schooner as a kid, I went back to Lego as an adult with steam-punk 70810 MetalBeard's Sea Cow. It was like becoming a kid again.
    I also really appreciated 70618 Destiny's Bounty.

    I really hope that TLG will re release 10210 Imperial Flagship or 6286 Skull's Eye Schooner, wether it is like they did in 2002 with an original copy of Black Seas Barracuda or like now with this redesigned one.

    Thank you for the review and the interview :o)

  14. I also would like to let you know that Pablo Jiménez (aka Bricky_Brick) also has proposed an imperial flagship that you can vote for :

    I also came across 3 very nice ships from aka Babyteeth :

    Especially the Caribbean Clipper wich already has 6.5k supports so far and also has the labbel "staff pick" :

    We could hope to get one more ship in the future produced by Lego if they reach 10k votes ! :o)

  15. This is the set that did it; I left my old school Lego and Brink link buying to get the real new set.

    I'm way to old too have fond memories of the old Pirate themes (my Lego days were in the sixties), but I love the story telling potential of this set, and the many moc possibilities it offers.

    I reckon this set -perhaps together with the 3in1 31109 pirates set- as a great way to get into old Lego ships and into the nautical theme...