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    Set Review: 4181 Isla De Muerta
    ReviewThursday, May 19th, 2011 at 10:58pm

    Captain Jack Sparrow is making his way into the Isla De Muerta to seek revenge on Barbossa and his crew, but Barbossa has different plans involving Elizabeth Swan and a chest full of cursed gold. But watch out for the moonlight or else a creepy, skeleton surprise awaits for any pirate foolish enough to steal some of the treasure. All that and more comes with this LEGO set highlighting the climax of The Curse of the Black Pearl. Set sail for a full review of 4181: Isla De Muerta.

    LEGO made an ambitious move in commandeering, eh, buying the rights to make Pirates of the Caribbean sets, but it just might have been a decision saving them from walking the plank. Never have I seen such detail put into a licensed theme since the Star Wars sets came out, and each character minifigure and play feature that comes with the set makes the payoff of booty worth it, regardless of the $20 price tag for a set that has only 152 pieces.

    Presentation
    From the design of the treasure and goodies to the map leading the way, these are the first things you see before building the set.

    Box Front Box Back

    The box is bright and fun, accurately depicting all the minifigs and play features that are a part of the scene at hand. There are, of course, the LEGO and Pirates of the Caribbean logos along with an age suggestion, set number and name, and piece count (a mere 152, but that might be alright).

    The back of the box is more detailed when it comes to the set's playability, showing the switch-a-roo Barbossa can make to become a skeleton and that some of the environment can move as the fight heats up. More on that later.

    Treasure Contents Map Poster

    Inside there are the basic polybags, an instruction manual, a boat placed in freely, and a poster! One side contains a map just like the one Jack had at the end of At World's End, but the reverse is a neat scene relevant to the set at hand (which I can assure you I am putting up on my cabin room's wall next time I set sail).

    Building
    Half the fun is had digging where X marks the spot. How fun is it to find and how easy or challenging is it?

    Pieces! Minifigs! Rowboat

    The pieces of eight laid out and free, free like a pirate wants, are organized nicely by size. A lot of the colors vary, making looking for particular treasure parts easier. The instructions, as usual, begin with the minifigs. Jack takes the spotlight, but both Barbossa and Elizabeth have nice clothes which would be useful for custom minifigs. The rowboat is next in line, which concluded getting the simplest building bits out of the way.

    Building the base Look, a turntable! Almost complete One big happy family?

    Building the cave scene, while interesting, is slightly simple. However, merging the rock floor with the waterbed, not to mention creating a small rock-face, is a nice building experience. Next is a turntable that uses a LURP—that's Little Ugly Rock Piece for the land-lubbers. Add in the minifigs and the chest of gold the instructions also had built and the set is complete.

    There is not much else to say about the set's build. It is fairly straightforward, studs up, and small. But once it is built, there is plenty of room to explore its playability.

    Set Design
    Now that the goods are ransacked, we can judge how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.

    Gold! Compasses Pieces of more than Eight Spare pieces

    One of the first things noticeable about the pieces once they are spread out is the amount of treasure to be had. Not only do we spy some new bars of gold and gold coin previously unseen, but the amount of new and special pieces is a sight to behold. First off would be the fact that the set comes with not one but two tiles that are Jack's special compass. They look cool and have plenty of building potential.

    Among the bounty are neat minifig torsos (and Ninjago body partss), some apples (something not quite commonly found), the news flames/feathers, hats from the Collectible Minifig Series 4 Musketeer, and some cutlasses. But probably most surprising are the belts for the swords, which seems to be a mix of Indiana Jones' satchel and the Prince of Persia back sword holder. Regardless, it is quite cool and makes a nice addition. (Finally, while not a deal-breaker, there are quite a few nice spare parts to look forward to.)

    That Ghost Jack Sparrow Back of the head

    The detail placed into the figs are highly notable. While Barbossa and Elizabeth have their period attire, LEGO has gone above and beyond the norm while crafting Jack's hair and head scarf. While such carefully crafted elements might raise the set's price up a little, that probably has more to do with it being a licensed theme. Also of note is that this Jack is hatless, that quality reserved for the more-expensive sets it would seem.

    Playability
    The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set squawk like a parrot and is it enjoyable to set sail with?

    Head-swapping

    Now, lads and lassies, would you expect anything less of a set than for it to have a few figs with split personalities? Nay, ye wouldn't! It just so happens that Miss Swan can change her face to looking angered and worried, and Jack's skeleton-mode can be made by turning his head around. Speaking of which...

    Swashbuckle Turntable action Skeleton battle Mast up Mast down

    They fight, they sneer, they swashbuckle! But when Captain Jack and Barbossa step into the moonlight, the curse takes hold and they change into skeletons. With this set there is a a turntable for Barbossa to jump on and the rockface can turn around, revealing his less-attractive form. Don't forget to change Jacks' face too and allow the fight to continue! And did you notice that the mast in the background fell throughout all the excitement? Just another play feature placed in the set which is simple and creative.

    Chest closed Chest open

    Finally, the chest lid rests on a brick in the corner which allows for it to turn open to reveal its treasure. But don't be too greedy or you shall meet the same fate as the crew of the Black Pearl, or worse!

    Final Thoughts
    Once it's all said and done, how does the set hold up at sea? Should I give it a second look through my spyglass?

    Pros
    What's to like?

    • Character minifigs
    • Clever play features
    • Neat and new pieces
    • Climatic scene of the original movie.

    Cons
    What's not to like?

    • Simple build
    • Despite the license and the new molds, the price is still a little high.

    The set, built, and awesome

    In the end, buying this set probably depends on what it is worth to you and how much you would pay for it. I am super-excited to put my Captain Jack minifig on display and use some of the gold pieces. But there are some other cool Pirates sets out there too depending on your mood. Choose wisely, or it'll be to the bottom of Davey Jones' Locker for you!

    And yes, I totally built this set while listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks. Yaar!

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