Celebrating 4 years of LEGO Pirate Photography with the Pirates of Barracuda Bay

Today is a special day.
The new LEGO Ideas set, the Pirates of Barracuda Bay, is publicly revealed.

But Sunday, I noticed it’s even more special to me.

For the past 10 days, I’ve been playing with the new Pirates of Barracuda Bay LEGO Ideas set, taking pictures for LEGO. All this in secret. This has been a very special project for me as I have a special relationship with pirates.

And today, on the day I can finally talk about it, it also appears it is the 4th anniversary of one of my favorite photos. The One that changed everything.

My relationship with pirates

Contrarily to other themes, like Space or Adventurers, LEGO Pirate wasn’t a big thing in my childhood. I mostly remember a small pirate set that contained my first LEGO skeleton. But as a kid, the problem was that LEGO Pirate boats don’t float. (And they also break.) You can’t really play in the bath with them. So I was more interested in the LEGO ships that fly and can be swooshed around.

Fast-forward many years later, it’s while studying at the university that I started to become fascinated with pirates. With movies like the Muppet Treasure Island and the first Pirates of the Caribbean, seeds had been planted during my childhood and teenage years.

Filled by a growing desire for freedom, exploration, and travel, I started to idealize pirates and the romanticized version of piracy. Already fascinated with the North back then, some of my friends ended up nicknaming me “le Pirate Suédois”, the Swedish Pirate in French.

Pirates and photography

Some 10 years later, the idealized pop-culture Pirate icon is an integral part of my photography.

All of this started 4 years ago while being in Tokyo. A few months before, I decided to put more focus on (outdoor) toy photography. Without knowing it, I was on a quest to find my vision.

I had brought two pirate figures with me to Japan, as I had in mind of creating a Pirates vs. Ninjas photo. The photo never really happened. But something else happened. I took the one that somehow changed everything afterward. The one that made a difference. The one that took my toy photography to the next level.

Photographing the Barracuda Bay for LEGO, before it was publicly revealed, has been quite an honor. And when I noticed on Sunday that today’s also the anniversary of this photo, it only became even more special.

The Pirates of Barracuda Bay

The set

When I picked up the shipping box containing the Barracuda Bay, I was quite eager to see how the set looks and compares with the original LEGO Ideas project. While I really liked the original quite dark color choice, it wasn’t a surprise that they added some yellow and references to classic pirate sets.

What I didn’t expect though, was that the set would be inspired by the 1989 legendary Black Seas Barracuda. The story is that Captain Redbeard was lost at sea for 30 years, and the wreckage of his iconic ship can now be found on the island, alongside his crew.

The official image of the whole set.

It’s also huge: 59cm high, 64cm wide and 32cm deep. Even though it’s “only” 2545 pieces, it feels almost as big and tall as the Disney Castle. The base is actually bigger which was a bit of a problem for taking the set outside… While the mast doesn’t reach the same height as the Castle’s tower, it really feels tall compared to other ships I own, even the Ninjago one.

But what surprised me most, is the ability to transform the wreckage back into a ship so the crew can go hunting for the Captain’s buried treasure. This is a truly awesome feature that (as far as I know) wasn’t part of the original project.

While I couldn’t fit the set in a box (as an Island) to go out take pictures, I managed to transport it once transformed as a ship. I couldn’t resist having the pirates sailing on the lake.

The minifigures

The Pirates of Barracuda Bay is without a doubt to 2020 what the Treehouse was to 2019. So I can’t resist comparing them. One of the nicer features of the Barracuda Bay, when compared with the Treehouse, is the selection of minifigs, skeletons, and animals.

Starboard, Tattooga, and Robin Loot are ready to plunder!

I’m particularly fond of Robin Loot, Lady Anchor, and Tattooga. I also love the included pink pig. While he doesn’t have an official name, I decided to name him Roberto.

Roberto the pig is making a new friend on the beach.

The set will be available on April 1st… And I’m sure it will be a big hit with all the LEGO Pirate fans, considering it only took the original project 25 days to reach the 10k votes.

The fate of the Lost Pirates

My two pirates, who I later named Jack and Morgan, kept on traveling with me ever since that day, 4 years ago, on the artificial island of Odaiba. While I haven’t photographed them a lot in the past years, they never left the box of minifigs that stays in my backpack.

Their series of photos isn’t my most prolific. Yet, it is one of the dearests to me. The ideas that sparked this series, and its first photo, can be found in many of my other photos. Freedom, Wanderlust, and Adventure are among the central elements defining my photographic vision.

In the past months, I’ve been thinking about ending my old photo series that aren’t progressing anymore. Including the one with the two lost pirates. Once done with taking pictures of the Barracuda Bay for our friends at LEGO, I had to make one with my two Lost Pirates.

My makeshift studio for photographing the Barracuda Bay.

My original idea was for Jack and Morgan to land on Barracuda Bay, the Pirate Utopia they have been searching for the past 4 years. But I struggled in my makeshift studio. Creating the photo I had in mind ended up being more complicated than I thought. Eventually, I managed to get something I was happy with, yet something completely different from what I had envisioned.

They finally found it! Barracuda Bay!

Now I wonder… Is this truly the end of their story? Or the beginning of a new one?

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4 years ago

Maelick, a most personal post. You will have to tell me more about the one, as I saw you linked to one of my defining ones.

This set is absolutely fantastic and at the same time a pain to shoot as it is soo huge. Much bigger than the box tells you. I can only say to everyone on the plank of buying this one. Get your orders in early, this is most probably one of the best sets of 2020 and the number set of LEGO Ideas.

Stefan Matthies
Stefan Matthies
4 years ago

My goodness!! I have to be honest: the pirate theme and myself have mostly been living seperate lives. I hardly have display space for such a huge set, BUT… the tattooed pirate torso and the pig alone are TWO reasons for me to consider getting this box. And maybe I should–finally–read “Treasure Island” and “Moby Dick”…

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